FFB: The Corpse Came Calling by Brett Halliday

The Corpse Came Calling by Brett Haliday (pen name of Davis Dresser), (c) 1942, my copy (shown) 1964 Mayflower-Dell paperback.

The blurb:
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.

My Take
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.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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11 Responses to FFB: The Corpse Came Calling by Brett Halliday

  1. Jeff Meyerson says:

    For whatever reason (none that I can think of), I never read Mike Shayne even in the days when PI fiction was most of what I was reading. Don’t ask me why. The one thing that interests me in the review was “the war is a plot element” in the book, as I like it when what is really going on in the world plays a role. It can give a book verisimilitude.

    • I’m surprised, since the Shayne books are solid hard-boiled novels for their time. I still enjoy them a lot, and have quite a few left to read. In this one, there’s a FBI agent and much talk about with the country at war things are different, and patriotic duty and stolen government plans and such. It’s not the main motive, but it’s there throughout.

  2. I was a huge Mike Shayne fan during the early 1960s. Loved the Bob McGinnis covers! The Kelley Collection has 213 books by Brett Halliday.

  3. Patti Abbott says:

    I have never read him either. Not sure why. Also have never read Erle Stanley Gardner. Maybe because my mother favored these writers and I thought of them as old school.

  4. tracybham says:

    I have that Mike Shayne book. Haven’t read it yet. I have two copies, the one you have and a Dell Mapback.

    We recently bought a set of five Mike Shayne movies starring Hugh Beaumont. They are not as good as the movies starring Lloyd Nolan but they are fun. We have only watched two so far.

    • I’m not a big fam of the movies, but I like the books. I wonder, what scene is shown on the mapback?

      • tracybham says:

        The mapback edition I have is #168. Apparently there is another version published a couple of years later, #324, with a different cover (at least the front).

        My edition has a Gerald Gregg illustration, with the profile of a woman’s face, apparently wearing a mask, and a baggage claim ticket. The back shows Michael Shayne’s Apartment Scenes (floor plans).

  5. I’d estimate I’ve read 30-40 Mike Shayne paperbacks. That 213 number also includes a bunch of MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE issues, too.

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