Sad to think that I've neglected to read John Flagg all these years. Stark House has been publishing some new editions of his Gold Medal novels, though, and I've been catching up. The latest from Stark House is a sort of Triple-Decker, two novels and a short story, with an introduction by none other than James Reasoner.
I chose to read Death and the Naked Lady not just because of the title but because of the intriguing setting. The entire book is set on an ocean liner traveling from France to the U.S. in 1950. Aboard is Mac McLean, a nightclub singer who's suddenly had a big success in France and is now set up for his debut in New York. Also on board are spies, counterspies, crossers, doublecrossers, and killers. Not to mention a MacGuffin, a case of jade pieces. And of course the famous Naked Lady.
McLean finds himself involved with all of these, and he also learns that maybe his sudden career boost hasn't come about solely because of his own efforts and talent.
The setting of the ocean voyage (no place to run, no escaping the villains) adds a lot to the interest of the book, and the complex plotting kept me guessing. It's no wonder that Flagg was the first author to published by Gold Medal, and it's great to have these books back in print.