Although this is the third book that Frank Kane has written, this is a good starting point if you want to get into the Johnny Liddell series since all the main characters start here. First, you have Inspector Herlehy, the gum chewing homicide detective. Then there is Jim Kiely, editor of the Dispatch. Then of course, there is the introduction of Keily’s daughter, Muggsy Keily, who is the girlfriend of Liddell throughout the series.
In this story, Liddell works for Acme Company as an op for this insurance company. His boss, Steve Baron, strikes a deal with a gang of jewel thieves to buy back the jewels that they stole for a price. In the opening scene of Slay Ride, Liddell is blindfolded and taken to meet with the people involved. They set a time and place for a second meeting where Liddell would bring the money and the jewels would be returned to him.
Once Liddell is back in the office, he tells Baron that he doesn’t want to go on the second meeting. It’s decided that they will send another op named Steve Raymond. Raymond just started with the agency and is anxious to do more work. Raymond would leave to meet with the thieves with the money but would be killed. The money disappeared and he had no jewels to take back with him.
Liddell feels guilty over Raymond’s death and is determined to find out what happened. He enlists the help of Jim Kiely, the editor of the dispatch, a long time friend who helped him out on other cases. Liddell would then meet Muggsy and Jim at Lugi’s restaurant, a place that didn’t have a sign but had food ready for the customers if they came in for a late dinner. Eventually, Liddell would be introduced to another character called The Dummy, a man who has people on the street can follow people among other things. The Dummy isn’t a regular in many of Kane’s books.
From there, the story is fast paced and intense as Liddell tries to track down the people who murdered Steve Raymond. It’s not just a Q&A with the suspects and usually, there are fights and shoot outs and it’s hard to find the right suspect since many of them are murdered in the story. Along the way, you get some snappy dialogue from Muggsy and Liddell that keeps the story moving as well with a lot of humor while working Liddell works with Herlehy.
By the end, Liddell is ready to solve the murder and I was surprised by who did it. Kane even brings Sherlock Holmes into the story as one of the later clues which I thought made the story even more fun to read.
This action is fast paced with great dialogue with Muggsy and Herlehy, making it a five star story. It’s a great read even though it’s only 160 pages.