Tonight I got to thinking about people -- the people who hire me and my gun and my ways, the people I'm hired to find or trap, or beat up, or even kill -- and the people who live in safe, comfortable seclusion, never knowing how the other half dies. Maybe, I thought, all these people should get together, and me -- I'm just the guy to introduce them to each other, because I work with all three types every day. So it occurred to me to let the secluded half know what makes the other half tick -- and stop ticking. Like the time I got that phone call . . . .
Okay, I know it doesn't make much sense, but it's obviously a conscious attempt to ape the Spillane style. West knows most of the words, but he hasn't got the tune. West had a tin ear, and everything in the book shows it. The dialogue is especially ripe. I'll never forget the first time I stumbled on one of West's books, thinking it might be something to take the place of Spillane, who wasn't writing at the time. Even as a callow youth, I knew that I what I was reading wasn't up to the master's level. That it was, in fact, ludicrous.
So John B. West is probably justifiably forgotten. The thing is, though, that if you're in the right mood, reading one of his books can be kind of fun. They're so bad that they have a fascination of their own. If you were fifteen or so and wrote Mickey Spillane fan fiction, this is the kind of book you'd write. Take a look at one sometime when you need a grin.