Friday, July 02, 2010

Forgotten Books: THE TELL-TALE TART -- Peter Duncan

I have two books by Peter Duncan, one a Dell First Edition called Sweet Cheat, and this one. Pat Hawk's great pseudonym book tells us that Duncan's a pen name for B. M. Atkinson, Jr., whose other major credit seems to be a nonfiction book called What Dr. Spock Didn't Tell Us, though you might find the occasional story by him in Collier's. Why someone who could sell to two of the best paperback publishers of his time would do only two novels for them is a puzzle.

It's not because the books aren't good. They're both very entertaining, and this one (and Sweet Cheat, too, as I recall) contain an element of what's sometimes referred to now as the "woo-woo" factor. In the case of this book, it's a ghost.

Pete Farrell is a two-fisted magazine photographer who's sent to the private island of a rich and successful novelist (is there any other kind?) to take photos for a story to be written by the lovely Laura Ames. The novelist's secretary has recently died a mysterious death, and his new secretary, the voluptuous Cuba, complicates things for Farrell quite a bit. Besides the ghost, the secretary, and the novelist, the island is home to the writer's alcoholic aunt, a housekeeper, and a handyman. There are a lot of sexual hijinks of the 1950s Playboy variety, including a couple of pretty funny sex scenes. Duncan's touch is light, and his style is smooth. If you can get past the '50s attitudes (I can), then this one's fun to read. And it's short, too, the usual 144-page Gold Medal product. I enjoyed visiting it again.

1 comment:

Todd Mason said...

One has to wonder what happened to Atkinson...did the two make him Enough money, did illness or tragedy or changing interests on his part end his literary career...or might he simply have started publishing under names Hawk didn't come across...