Friday, April 19, 2013

Forgotten Books: The Graveyard Shift -- Harry Patterson

I'm cheating again, since no book by this writer is really out of print or forgotten.  But it's forgotten as being by Harry Patterson because all the recent reprints give the author's name as Jack Higgins.  It's a case of the pen name becoming more famous than the real one, so the switch was made.

This is an early book by Patterson/Higgins, and it shows.  He still hasn't developed the easily recognized style of his middle period books (my favorites), but you can see that he's working in the right direction.  The main character is Nick Miller, a cop, but one who's rich, who plays piano, who owns great cars, who has refined tastes.  Naturally at least one of the older men on the force doesn't like him in the least and tries to show him up by doing something on his own. Big mistake.

Ben Garvald has just been released from prison.  Money from his last robbery has never been found. His former sister-in-law goes to the police and claims that Garvald might try to harm her sister, Bella, who's divorced Garvald and married to a gangster and nightclub owner, who happens to have been Garvald's partner.  Miller eventually catches up to Garvald, who nicks Miller's car and escapes.  He's later found shot to death.  Miller has to find the killer, and there are plenty of suspects.

Miller's an abrasive character and takes a little getting used to.  He's thoroughly hardboiled, and he'll do whatever it takes.

I always enjoy Patterson/Higgins' books, as I've said any number of times on this blog. This one's not one of the better ones, but it has its moments.  Cheap copies abound on the 'Net.


George said...

I read THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT back in the Seventies when I binged on Harry Patterson/Jack Higgins books. Always enjoyable!

Fred Blosser said...

This one was reprinted under the Higgins name a few years ago. I think he was influenced by the cop and gangster movies that the U.K. turned out in the early '60s with Stanley Baker, pre-Bond Sean Connery, and others. The best "Patterson" novel probably was a later one, THE VALHALLA EXCHANGE, when he was publishing a couple of novels a year in the early '80s, using Higgins for one and Patterson for the other.