Death Pulls a Doublecross by Lawrence Block (Gold Medal, 1961)
Block wrote and sold this one to Gold Medal the same year he did Mona, but it’s not as good as Mona (aka Grifter’s Game). This is a private eye novel — Ed London is a gumshoe with a Ph.D., likes to smoke from a pipe and listen to chamber music. No rough Matt Scudder here.
It opens with London helping out his brother-in-law by tampering with evidence. His sister’s hsuband has been cheating with a sexy blonde and he’s found her dead body, with her face shot off, in her apartment and he’s afraid that he will be accused of the crime and his wife will find out he’s a cheater.
Why does London help the guy? And why is London so willing to get himself in trouble by moving a dead body, wrapped in a rug, from a Manhattan apartment to Central Park? Doesn’t make any sense. Plus, he as spotted by some bad guys, two at least, who now threaten him because they want a briefcase they think he has.
Block was obviously influenced by Dashett Hammel because there’s a loit of Maltese Falcon in here — instead of the falcon statute, it’s a briefcase, and an assortment of quirky criminals (who could be played by Peter Lori) show up at his door with guns and apologies.
But this was a young man’s effort at the P.I. book, and Block never (as far as we know) wrote another Ed London yarn, probably for the best.
It was reprinted as Coward’s Kiss.