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Murder Is My Business (2010)

Murder is My Business (2010)
3.47 of 5 Votes: 2
084396328X (ISBN13: 9780843963281)
hard crime case
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Murder Is My Business (2010)
Murder Is My Business (2010)

About book: I like to think that I know a little something about American mystery/crime novels. I’ve read Chandler, Hammett, Thompson, Cain, Block, Westlake and dozens of others. And even what I haven’t read, I thought I had at least a passing familiarity with. (For example, I’ve never gotten around to Ross MacDonald’s Lew Archer series, but I know they’re out there.) And of course, just as I get to be a little smug about my vast store of knowledge, along comes a Hard Case Crime reissue of Murder is My Business to show me that I don’t know dick.Check out this blurb from the cover:“One of the most popular detectives of all time, Mike Shayne starred in more than 70 novels, a dozen movies, a TV series, radio dramas, comic books, and the long running Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.”And I had never heard of him. Even worse, I loved the movie Kiss Kiss Bang Bang from film maker Shane Black and apparently he’s a HUGE Mike Shayne fan and the movie is very loosely based on one of the Shayne books. Hell, part of the plot of KKBB involves a series of mystery novels that were obviously Black’s tip of the hat to the Shayne books, and I still was walking around clueless even though I’ve seen the movie a couple of times.I am deeply shamed. *sigh* Anyhow, it’s 1944 and World War II is still going on. New Orleans private eye Mike Shayne gets a visit from an old woman who wants to hire him to look into her son’s death. Her boy had been working in Mexico and came back to the U.S. to take part in a what seems to be a very outlandish scheme involving enlisting in the army under a false name. The day after completing his fake enlistment, her son was run over and killed in El Paso by Jefferson Towne, a wealthy candidate for mayor.Shayne knows Towne from a case he worked for him ten years before, and even though the mother can‘t pay much, Shayne smells money and opportunity and is off to Texas. Before long he’s embroiled in a plot that involves soldiers sneaking into Mexico, a bitter mayoral campaign, a journalist with the ethics of Fox News, and Towne’s drunken daughter.Although you can tell that it’s of the classic hard boiled era, this seems a bit different then a lot of those of private eye tales. Shayne is much more of a thinker than a man of action. He’s also not the usual outsider battling the system either. He works closely with the cops in Texas and in Mexico, and they’re more than willing to accept his help. Plus, Shayne makes no secret that he’s come to town to try and make some money off the deal, and he engages in a bit of shady behavior to make sure he won’t walk away empty handed. This had a clean and quick style to it along with a very engaging mystery. It isn’t the best writing I’ve read from this era, but it holds up a lot better than many other HCC reprints. Now I just have to figure out how the hell I never heard of it before….

It's 1944 and Mike Shayne has a little old lady show up at his office in New Orleans wanting his help with her son. She shows him a letter saying he'd enlisted in the army under the name James Brown because he was to help with a spy ring operating out of El Paso. She then hands him a newspaper clipping showing a Private James Brown was killed in a traffic accident the day after the letter was mailed.What interested Shayne was the name of the car driver that had hit him: Jeff Towne, a man running for mayor of El Paso, a man who'd been a client of Shayne ten years before when he wanted the PI to dig up some dirt on his daughter's boy friend. When none was found, Towne had wanted Shayne to manufacture some, at which point he'd bailed, having his own sort of rough honesty.When he gets to El Paso, almost everyone warns him off, including Towne, even after Shayne pushes for an autopsy that shows the soldier was already dead before the car hit him. Even then, Towne wanted him to leave it alone.Throw in a thirty year old daughter still pining for that lost love, the lost love with Nazi connections in the interim, two silver mines, a newspaper reporter that doesn't Like Shayne, plot twists that keep coming, it makes for a quick, satisfying read.
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A neat little mystery. I had never read any Michael Shayne books before. He's little tame for my tastes. He does like the drinking, and the bartering for money, but he's basically an honest good detective, which is not as much fun in my mind. The character of Carmela Towne in this book seems horribly depressing. I can't imagine the way that her relationship plays out, but spending your entire life willowing away because you're being used in a scam is pretty bad. At no point in the story does she look as strong as on the cover of the book.
I needed a couple of easy reads after Cortazar and this fit the bill. It went down as easily as good Scotch on the rocks. (Apparently NOT Mikes drink BTW.) I'm reigning in my stars so I probably would have given this 4 stars a month ago. It's simply a good "hardboiled" detective yarn with a plot just complicated enough to make you pause and recap now and then.If you like the genre you'll like this. Some minor points I found interesting considering the book was written in 1944. In a nightclub scene the band plays "Estrellita" and "Besame Mucho" - two songs that you don't have to go too far out of the way to hear today. The other thing - a sympathetic character tells Mike early in the book about "forces moving us towards fascism in the US...."
This was a pleasant discovery. Mike Shayne is a bit more cynical than most, and he certainly makes sure to get paid. But those are not bad traits as he finds out the truth at the end. The story has as scheme to smuggle army deserters into Mexico, something about a silver mine, and murder. These items are certainly a good recipe for a mystery that Mike Shayne slowly unravels. The author does put in a bit misdirection, but if you are an attentive reader you can figure things out as you read along. Then again, as many detective stories, you will find out the real truth at the end, and I have to say, I did enjoy the ending quite a bit. I will certainly keep my eye out for other Shayne mysteries now. Also, the book is a pretty easy read, so if you enjoy hard boiled detective fiction, you will certainly enjoy this one.
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