Friday, June 20, 2008

Forgotten Books: TOO FRENCH AND TOO DEADLY -- Henry Kane

I've always suspected that Henry Kane's P. I. protagonist, Pete Chambers, worked for more paperback publishers than any other P. I. ever did. I'm not going to enumerate them all there, but there were a lot of them after Chambers left hardcovers. (The hardcovers were reprinted by Dell.) In 1955, Chambers was working for Avon, and this is another one of those editions in which the print is so tiny that even the whippersnappers will be considering a magnifying glass.

Not everyone is fond of Kane's wise-cracking style, but I like it in small doses, and this is one of my favorites among his books. It's a medium-boiled locked-room story. There aren't a lot of those around, and I don't think it should languish in obscurity. For that matter, there are a lot of Kane's novels that deserve a second look. I'm not so sure about the ones he did for Lancer when he was trying to cash in on the sexy success of books like The Man From O. R. G. Y., but the others are worth a look if you're interested in something a little different in the P. I. vein.

8 comments:

  1. I like Chambers a lot. He lives in a Manhattan much like the Seinfeld, Friends, and Sex in the City gangs.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What I forgot to mention is that that there's a mystery writer named Peter Chambers. His books shouldn't be confused with Henry Kane's books about Peter (or Pete) Chambers.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Kane also has Chambers solve a locked-room problem in The Narrowing Lust, which was reprinted in The Locked Room Reader, edited by Hans S. Santesson.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'd need to check on this, but I think it's the same novel but a different title.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That Locked Room Reader sounds like fun. See you can even come on a forgotten book in the comments.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous10:30 AM

    Too French is Narrowing Lust, as you thought. I've always liked Kane, particularly Chambers' habit of winking at the reader whenever he served up particularly ripe private eye cliches. There was a short-lived radio show, Crime and Peter Chambers (I'm listening to an ep now) written/produced/directed by Kane, starring Dane Clark as PC.

    Art Scott

    ReplyDelete
  7. I thought I recalled that the titles referred to the same book. NARROWING LUST was probably the title of the British edition. I didn't know about the radio show.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm not familiar with this character. The only Henry Kane novel I own is Peter Gunn.
    It looks like another PI I'll have to try.

    ReplyDelete