It’s hard for me to say that this is a novel since it’s 141 pages so I’ll go with a novelette in this case. The name Mike Roscoe comes from two authors, Michael Ruso and John Roscoe. It’s a shame that they were only able to write five books.
Here is the first paragraph of the book. It gives you an idea of what kind of writer Mike and John were and how creative they were with Johnny April.
It was raining. Goddammit. It was raining. Long cables of wet lashed the sky and earth together. Thunder ricocheted off the heavy, gray clouds. Rain is romantic in San Francisco. In Miami, it’s conducive to a number of interesting things. In Kansas City, it’s a godawful mess.
Riddle Me This is a detective series with Johnny April, a private investigator in Kansas City. If you want to define his character, you could say that he is really nasty, cold character, and may even be considered by some to be dumb but you can’t help but root for him as he investigates the murder of Paul Benson, an African American man who was a detective that asked him for advice when he got into the business.
Here is some dialogue with his secretary, Sandy, that gives you an idea of what kind of character April is after he started his investigation.
“Oh. Oh. Johnny, I’m sorry. I’m”
“Forget it. A man is born. He lives. He dies. Today they wanted Paul. Tomorrow some other guy will get his retirement papers.”
“Sorry,” Sandy said bitterly. “I forgot that this office was the abattoir of emotion.”
“Shut up. Goddammit, shut up.”
“All right. All right.”
You could say from the start of his investigation that since this book took place in the 50’s, April was dealing with characters that were racists and he wasn’t pleased with their behavior. It didn’t help when the people that were suspects - whether it was the police or other people - used racial slurs. All that did was make April even angrier and you could say that he took manners into his own hands in dealing with people like that.
April really drives his this book with his personality and dialogue which makes the story an unpredictable read that is filled with action and suspense. During the book, he is involved in a romance that made me wonder which way it will go since you never knew what April would do or say next.
When April wasn’t working on the case, he was dealing with a very obnoxious client that only made him more angry. Somehow, he finds a way to make the client feel more embarrassed about his own behavior without yelling at the man.
For me, the book was a satisfying read that never let up. I loved the way April went after the suspects and this only made the book even more fun for me to read. One of my favorite pulp fiction books that is worth more than five stars.