Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Revenge of Kali-Ra -- K. K. Beck

Okay, you hardboiled fans can stop reading now. If you haven't already. This one's likely not for you.

As for me, well, the book's dedicated "to the memory of Sax Rohmer, the Baroness Orczy, H. Rider Haggard, E. Phillips Oppenheim, and many others," so I couldn't resist. Two of those writers, Haggard and Rohmer, were a big part of my reading when I was a much younger guy. I didn't get into the Fu Manchu novels so much as the Gold Medal originals about Sumuru, and judging from this book, I suspect that maybe K. K. Beck read one or two of those, herself.

But I digress. I was going to talk about the actual book. It's about an actress who comes across a pulp novel in the style of the writers mentioned above and decides to make a movie starring herself as the Queen of Doom, Kali-Ra. The actress believes that everyone's forgotten the novels, but soon a college professor, the author's last living relative, the author's wife, and a number of others, including gangsters and assorted nutjobs, have all gathered at the actress's house. Good-humored fun ensues, as in all good country-house mysteries. Murder figures in, but not the murder you're expecting. This is a mystery novel, all right, but it's not a standard one by any means. Check it out sometime when need a few laughs.


Elizabeth Foxwell said...

_Kali-Ra_ was my choice over on The Rap Sheet as a vastly underappreciated mystery. For more of K.K. Beck's humor, see her 1920s mysteries _Death in a Deck Chair_, _Murder in a Mummy Case_, and _Peril Under the Palms_ in which a reporter only speaks in newspaper headlines: "Comely Coed KO's Criminal."

Bill Crider said...

The Body in the Cornflakes is pretty funny, too.