Monday, March 19, 2018

"The Fools in Town..."

The post-war crime/detection/espionage authors I have particularly enjoyed include John D. MacDonald, Dick Francis, John le Carré, Elmore Leonard,  and Ross Thomas. I haven't read Thomas recently but have a lot of his titles, each one of which I've read and enjoyed. Most, if not all, are still in print. From his 1995 NYT obituary:
.... Mr. Thomas, who also wrote under the pseudonym Oliver Bleeck, won critical praise for his stylish, well-told suspense novels enlivened with a dash of wit. The writer Stephen King, noting Mr. Ross's gift for character and witty dialogue, once called him "the Jane Austen of the political espionage story." Other critics placed him in the hard-boiled tradition of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.

Mr. Thomas reveled in bleak tales of political corruption, string-pulling and behind-the-scenes scheming. "I do use the fact that I've been in the back rooms where the deals are being cut," he once told an interviewer. "If there's a trace of cynicism in my books, it's only based on reality."....

In 1965...Mr. Thomas turned out his first novel, The Cold War Swap, which he wrote in six weeks. The novel, a tale of skulduggery by the Central Intelligence Agency, received an Edgar Award for best first novel from the Mystery Writers of America.

His many novels include Cast a Yellow Shadow (1967), The Porkchoppers (1972), The Money Harvest (1975), The Mordida Man (1981) and Out on the Rim (1987). Briarpatch won an Edgar Award as best mystery novel of 1985. His most recent novel was Ah, Treachery! (1994). ....
Mysterious Press says that he wrote a book a year for twenty-five years. I only have seventeen of them, mostly paperbacks. One of mine is The Fools in Town Are on Our Side (1970). From its cover:
Lucifer Dye was born in Montana and raised in Shanghai's most distinguished bordello. Recently dismissed from Section Two, a secret American Intelligence Agency, he heads for San Francisco to be debriefed. Dye and Section Two are parting company because of the sudden, unexpected death of a Red Chinese double agent...a death which resulted in Dye's three month billet in a Singapore dungeon.

Unemployed, armed only with a passport, a severance check, and his wits, Dye is approached by a man named Victor Orcutt. Orcutt's vocation is the cleaning up of corrupt cities through the application of Orcutt's First Law: "To get better, it must get much worse."

Orcutt proposes a $50,000 fee. Dye's assignment: to corrupt an entire American city. ....