Saturday, April 21, 2012

April in Peril

Stumbled across a review of the William Campbell Gault story April in Peril the other day. The review mentioned the story had appeared in Mean Streets, the second Private Eye Writers of America anthology edited by Robert J. Randisi. I was pretty sure I'd read it, Gault being one of my favorite PI writers, but I couldn't recall the tale, so I dug out the book this evening and gave the story a read. In this one private investigator Brock Callahan, a former Rams football player, is hired to play body guard for a young actress named April Fielding. Seems a local mob guy is trying to shake the girl down over some blue movies she did when she was trying to get a career started. Her agent is willing to pay, but he wants Brock to protect the girl while he deals with the mob. I'd forgotten how smooth Gault's writing was. No Chandler imitator, Gault didn't bother with similes or metaphors or any of the other surface trappings those who haven't properly digested the hard-boiled style seem to cling to. Just nice, straight forward prose. Like much PI fiction the tale is slightly melancholy, as Brock finds he's very much attracted to the pretty young April, but he knows there's no future there. They have a sweet interlude just before all hell breaks loose. I remember reading several of the Brock Callahan novels as well as older books about Gault's earlier PI protagonist Joe Puma. In an odd crossover, Brock would eventually have to solve Puma's murder in a book called The Cana Diversion. William Campbell Gault is yet another under appreciated writer who deserves to be rediscovered. Think I'm going to dig out a few more of his books real soon.

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