Friday, February 20, 2009

Forgotten Books: THE BLUE KIMONO KILL-- Walt Sheldon

Walt Sheldon wrote several books for Gold Medal. He wasn't up there with John D. MacDonald or Charles Williams, but he was a good second-tier author that nobody ever mentions these days. The Blue Kimono kill was published in 1965, and the others a few years later. Though a couple of them have the word kill in the title, they aren't part of any series. They're all standalones.

In The Blue Kimono Kill, cultural anthropologist Bob Marlin is in Japan to do some research. He's reminded that his old friend, Harry Crowell, who saved his life in Korea, is there and decides to look him up. Harry, unfortunately, is recently deceased. Murdered, as a matter of fact, and the crime remains unsolved. Marlin, who turns out to be one of the toughest cultural anthropologists in crime fiction, decides to poke around. Soon he's tangling with hired goons and beautiful women. There's plenty of action and some kinky sex in the grand Gold Medal tradition.

Sheldon writes very well, he's very good with the Tokyo setting, and he knows how to keep a book moving right along. The politics will seem dated to whippersnapper readers, but you old guys shouldn't have any trouble recalling the days of the Red Chinese menace. I enjoyed reading this one again, and I've liked all of Sheldon's Gold Medal books. Check 'em out.

[Digression: Holding and reading this one again, I was reminded of my aunt Birdie. She spent her declining years pretty much as a recluse, reading paperbacks all day, smoking, and drinking bourbon. When Judy and I would visit, she'd tell me to take any of the books I wanted. This is one of those I picked up from her. She had good taste, did Birdie, and I salute her.]


pattinase (abbott) said...

I think Aunt Birdie deserves a novel of her own.

Fred Blosser said...

Great cover illo, design, and blurb. You can't beat those GM's from the '60s for eye-catching covers. The Russians have re-emerged as the bad guys in Jack Higgins' last few novels, so maybe the Red Chinese will have a resurgence too.

James Reasoner said...

Who's tougher, cultural anthropologist Bob Marlin or certified public accountant Steve Bentley?

Charles Gramlich said...

I've heard his name but have never read one of his books. I'll have to keep a look out for this one.

RJR said...

Read and enjoyed this one, as well as The Red Flower Kill and the Lancer published The Devil's Box. I've always enujoywed Walt Sheldon's work.


Juri said...

This one is good, Bill, and I congratulate you heartily for picking this up (both from you aunt and for the FFB series), but my favourite from Sheldon's list is GOLD BAIT (Fawcett 1973), the only PBO I know that's constructed from letters and diary notes. Yet it moves along very smoothly. I don't thinka anyone else tried this. Sheldon was a true professional.