So who's Thomas Black? I know nothing more about him than that he wrote this book narrated by private-eye Al Delaney. The book was published in hardcover by Rinehart and went through at least two printings in paperback from Bantam (my copy is of the second). After that, as far as I know, Black and Delaney disappeared. Maybe Black is a pen name. I looked on the Thrilling Detective website and found no trace of either him or Delaney, but maybe I wasn't careful enough.
Anyway, what about the book? Well, it sure has a complicated plot. Al Delaney works for a big detective agency, and he's called in when one of their clients, a bakery, wants to find out about four dead mice found in the dough. From there we get into an old crime, a dead man, a currently planned caper, and lots of tangled relationships. And a San Quentin Quail. That's what Delaney calls her, and this part of the book might make some readers these days a big squeamish. The SSQ is about fourteen, but she has a lot of appeal to adult men. And she's sexually active. She even appeals to Delaney. She's murdered fairly early on, and it's her murder that drives him through the rest of the plot. When it's finally all wrapped up, you might be like me, with your jaw dropped to the floor, or you might just go with it.
I liked the narration, and I even liked the complexity for a while. Then it all got away from me and veered over into the too-hard-to-believe. I'd read another book by black, though, if there was one.