The Kiss-off was Heyes' first novel, and Signet no doubt hoped the book would appeal to Mickey Spillane's audience. There's a half-page ad for Spillane's books on the final page of the novel, and the book begins with the description of a brutal double murder that's about as graphic as anything you'd find back in 1951. Then it switches to the first-person narration of Steve Mallory, who has his own p.i. agency, with a partner and several operatives. Mallory is hired by an attorney to find his missing wife. Naturally, complications ensue.
There's some great hardboiled dialogue in this one, and Mallory proves to be one tough cookie when facing up to a gangster or being almost burned alive. I could almost hear Bogart speaking some of the lines. I think the book was influenced as much by Chandler as by Spillane, but it doesn't really matter. It clocks in at 144 pages, just about the ideal length for a book like this, and it grabbed me from the start. If you ever run across a book by Heyes, pick it up. I don't think you'll be disappointed.