The Corpse Came Calling by Brett Haliday (pen name of Davis Dresser), (c) 1942, my copy (shown) 1964 Mayflower-Dell paperback.
When an old friend calls begging to see him immediately, Mike Shayne is surprised to say the least. He hasn’t set eyes on Jim Lacy in ten years, and time has not been kind. Jim’s face is deeply wrinkled, and his eyes are glazed. There’s blood seeping through his shirt as he gasps “They didn’t get..” and dies, collapsing on Shayne’s office floor. He’s dead before he hits the ground.
Shayne reaches into Lacy’s pocket and pulls out his wallet. Emptying it, he finds a little more than $200. He takes $200, enough for a retainer fee, leaving the rest. A further search of the body reveals a scrap of cardboard in Lacy’s clenched hand. With that as the only clue, he pockets it and leaves just before the police arrive.
Mike Shayne won’t rest until he catches whomever shot Jim Lacy and sent him to die on Shayne’s doorstep. But first he will have to convince the police that he was not the man who pulled the trigger.
As usual with these Shayne novels, there are lots of twists and turns, a straightforward telling of the tale, many characters, some tough and some likable. The usual cast of Miami and Miami Beach friends and opponents are here too. The war is a plot element in this one as well. These are always enjoyable, and one of the twists near the end surprised me. Good one.