Litchfield Reviews The Action Man and Terror Tournament by Jay Flynn

LEP.CO.UK - The Action Man and Terror Tournament by Jay Flynn

A former US Army soldier and journalist, the late John M. Flynn was a prolific American author of crime and espionage novels, occasionally contributing Westerns using the house name Jack Slade.  In a career spanning from the late fifties to the late seventies, he penned somewhere in the region of thirty novels, mostly for Ace Books, Avon Publications, Leisure Books, and Belmont Tow

He started out as a crime reporter for the Portland Express, also contributing to the San Jose Mercury and other California papers. He is perhaps best-known for his five satisfying adventure novels featuring the distinctive character McHugh, a rough, hard-drinking, two-fisted, Irish-American bar owner and secret agent.

McHugh aside, Flynn’s other notable success was his standalone novel The Action Man, a crime caper published by Avon in 1961 and adapted into the French film Le soleil des voyous (The sun of thugs), directed by Jean Delannoy in 1967. It’s a tense, neatly plotted, and ultimately thrilling tale about a calculating businessman and his elaborate plan to make off with over two million dollars of Army payroll from a bank in northern California. The central character, Denton Farr, who is cut from the same cloth as McHugh, is a smart, bold, tough-talking hard case with an eye for the ladies and a talent for getting what he wants. He is also a successful criminal with close ties to the Eastern crime syndicate.

Terror Tournament, Flynn’s third novel, was first published as a hardback by Mystery House in 1959 and reprinted in paperback by Ace Books as an Ace Double. Like most of Flynn’s novels, it’s a gritty, action-packed drama, heavy on suspense and with a tough lead character on the hunt for a significant amount of money.

This welcome double novel from Stark House also includes, as an introduction, an amusing, revealing, and utterly riveting article on Flynn by his friend, Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Bill Pronzini, which first appeared in Mystery Scene magazine. It’s the perfect companion piece to this pair of scintillating gems pulled from Flynn’s treasure trove of forgotten novels.

My review of The Action Man and Terror Tournament is featured today in the Lancashire Post and syndicated to 20 newspapers in the UK. The full review can be found at the web link below and elsewhere:

https://www.lep.co.uk/lifestyle/books/the-action-man-and-terror-tournament-by-jay-flynn-book-review-1-9464066

Litchfield Reviews Death and the Naked Lady and The Lady and the Cheetah by John Flagg in the Lancashire Post

LEP.CO.UK - Death and the Naked Lady/The Lady and the Cheetah by John Flagg

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.

Read the full review here.