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Mystery Monday – Murder Charge

Murder Charge by Wade Miller

Review by Matt B. (buffalosavage)

In this noir thriller from 1950, the Syndicate sends its rep Harry Blue to sunny San Diego to organize the local vice barons. Taking exception to outsiders bringing competition and Eastern ways, the barons greet Harry with shotgun blasts. With the shot-up gangster in hospital, the city cops persuade PI Max Thursday to impersonate the gangster and collect information on the merchants of vice in order to break up their rings of iniquity.

In his travels, Max deals with a diplomatic spiritualist faker, a one-armed WWII veteran gone bad, a Basque thug, and two female troublemakers. Max undergoes both distress and violence.

I know, like time travel stories, impersonation stories cross the border Into Lame Land in terms of plausibility. Plus, the prose in this novel, though always lucid, often feels grey and flat. Making up for these downsides, the action and incidents provide surprise and interest. The rapid pace and jumpy tone will appeal to fans of the noir genre.

Wade Miller was the brand name for the writing team Robert Wade and Bill Miller. They teamed up to write about 30 hard-boiled and adventures stories. They are best known for A Touch of Evil (a great noir movie by Orson Welles) and the wonderfully titled Kitten with a Whip (later made into a movie with Ann Margaret and John Forsythe).





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