© 1951, Fawcett Gold Medal Books, Greenwich, CN
The local hospital auxiliary’s annual book fair is quickly approaching (July 7-9 this year), so it is only fitting that I just completed another pulp find from a previous year’s browsing. This time it was a thriller by Edward S. Aarons. Aarons (1916-1975) wrote a variety of mystery/thrillers under his own name as well as the pen names of Paul Ayres and Edward Ronns, most notably the “Assignment” series featuring Sam Durell. As a writer, you will find his work easy to read and fast-paced with the occasional glitch provided by either the overuse, underuse, or just plain misuse of the editor’s pen (could be any number of these).
The title of this pleasant little diversion is somewhat of a decoy. Ben Sherman returns from fruitless research trip to California only to find himself embroiled in a politically charged frame up in Sea County. The cast of characters who might play the part of decoy grows with almost every new chapter. Is publishing heiress Angela Pomeroy just playing Ben? Or is it one of his partners—Charley Dykes (whom he’s known since college days) or Evan Toller (surrogate father and friend who’s been missing since Ben’s return)? Or maybe the decoy is the local political puppet master, Jimmy Branch. Toller’s body eventually surfaces, and Ben seeks out his boyhood pal and sometime mobster Pinky Malone to find the answers. Some would like to blame Malone for the whole mess—murder, bribery, and fraud. Sherman himself may discover that he has been used as a decoy to the truth, if he can ever discover the truth.
This is a great read. Since it’s over half a century old, some of the references are archaic, but updating it to modern times would be almost as bad as the new version of Hawaii Five-O. Get to your local paperback store (or better yet, show up at our book fair) and grab a copy of this thriller. It’s perfect for a summer read. Four out of five reading glasses.
—Benjamin Potter, June 24, 2011