Litchfield Reviews Lead With Your Left and The Best That Ever Did It by Ed Lacy

“Singled out by Edgar and Anthony Award-winning biographer Marvin Lachman as worthy of rediscovery, these two forgotten novels are reprinted this month in a Stark House combined edition.

The first story, initially published in 1956 in Mercury mystery book magazine as ‘Keep an Eye on the Body’ and serialised in newspapers, was expanded and published by Harper & Brothers in January 1957 under the title Lead With Your Left. Engrossing and action-packed, it features a very ‘cocky’ 21-year-old New York police detective named David Wintino who is assigned a homicide case involving a retired policeman shot dead in an alleyway while working as a messenger for a brokerage house.

The second novel, The Best That Ever Did It, published by Harper & Brothers in March 1955 as part of their hardback suspense series, is a lively, fascinating tale about a private eye’s investigation into the apparently motiveless killing of a contest winner and a police detective outside a dive bar in New York City. Again, Lacy presents a three-dimensional, sympathetic narrator who strays from the norm… this time, Barney Harris, a big, tough, 18-stone car mechanic who moonlights as a private investigator.

Famed New York Times book critic and author Anthony Boucher, an avid reader of Lacy’s work, selected The Best That Ever Did It as one of the best books of 1955, describing it as ‘the year’s most original and off-trail variant on the private-eye theme.’ As with Lead With Your Left, it’s certainly a riveting, stimulating novel, with a particularly engaging, likeable protagonist, a sure-footed plot, believable characters, smart dialogue, and hard-hitting prose.”

Nicholas Litchfield’s review of these two exceptional mysteries from Ed Lacy is featured today in the Lancashire Post and syndicated to 20 UK newspapers. You can read the review here.

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