John Flagg, pseudonym of American crime writer John Gearon who died in 1970, delivers a barrage of murder and mayhem in two fabulous 1951 mysteries… with the added bonus of a suspense-packed short story.
Death and the Naked Lady features a thrilling tale of stolen jewels, murder and espionage on board a luxury ocean liner, while The Lady and the Cheetah focuses on a deadly case of blackmail and sabotage among European nobility at a palace on Lake Maggiore, Italy.
In Death and the Naked Lady, American nightclub singer Mac McLean, who has ‘skyrocketed’ to fame in central Europe, returns to New York for a major gig but quickly discovers that his patron, Georges Fournier, has been murdered in Paris and Fournier’s valuable jade figurines have been planted in his cabin, making him the prime suspect.
It isn’t long before others learn of the precious jade owls and when the determined Louis Devois of the Deuxième Bureau boards the ship, it’s a race against time for Mac to unravel the mystery and prove his innocence.
Flagg fills the deck of the deluxe French ship, the Dauphiné, with an array of powerful, duplicitous characters with secrets aplenty and veiled motives.
In The Lady and the Cheetah, the central character – a nomadic, devil-may-care newspaper correspondent named Rafferty Valois, discredited for fabricating news stories – has the same playboy qualities as Mac. They both enjoy extravagant, hedonistic lifestyles, they live in luxurious hotels in picturesque European cities, drink hard, play hard and rack up debt while socialising with celebrities and aristocrats. Unlike Mac, however, the redheaded Rafferty is ‘short and pixyish’ and ‘not at all good-looking.’ All the same, he’s still something of a womaniser.
Highly entertaining and full of exciting twists and quirky characters, Death and the Naked Lady and The Lady and the Cheetah are a wonderful pair of vintage tales of murder in high society which have aged remarkably well and will charm a new generation.
My review of Death and the Naked Lady / The Lady and the Cheetah by John Flagg is published today in the Lancashire Evening Post and syndicated to 25 newspapers across the UK.