I’m hosting the weekly Friday's Forgotten
Books feature for Patti Abbott today, so she can have a little vacation. Next
week, FFB will return to Patti's blog,
taking a special look at the works of Ross Macdonald.
I'll start off with Ghost of a Chance by Kelley Roos, but if you scroll down to the bottom of this post, you'll find all the latest links from around the blogosphere.
William Roos and Audrey Kelley started out as actors and playwrights but eventually combined their
surnames as a pen name, Kelley Roos, to write mysteries. Their first book, Made Up To Kill (1940) featured the husband-and-wife
sleuth team of Jeff Troy, a photographer and jack-of-all-trades, and Haila
Troy, actress, who live in Greenwich Village.
Ghost of a Chance from 1947 was the sixth of nine novels featuring the Troy duo. It starts off with a cryptic phone call to Jeff from a mysterious stranger who wants Jeff's help because an unnamed woman is going to be murdered. The Troys follow the stranger's instructions to meet him, hopping through bars and on to Times Square, only to find the stranger dead beneath a subway train. Believing the man was pushed to his death, but unable to convince anyone else, the Troys begin a suspenseful hunt to find the identity of the woman who is being targeted before the murderous gang behind the plot gets to her first—even as the Troys themselves are followed, shot at, and held virtual captives in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse.
As with the other Troy novels, Jeff does most of the detecting (something New York homicide cop Lt. George Hankins prefers to call "meddling"). Haila narrates the action, spotting clues, and proving she's far from a typical damsel-in-distress, all the while engaging in non-stop cheery banter along with her wry asides.
Ghost of a Chance was filmed as Scent of Mystery (1960) starring Denholm Elliott, Beverly Bentley and Peter Lorre (with Elizabeth Taylor making an uncredited cameo). The location was changed to Spain, and the film was scripted by William Rose, but Kelley Roos turned around and created a novelization of the film, published to coincide with the movie release. Interestingly, the movie was made in the short-lived technology Smell-O-Vision, where the theatre was equipped with a system that gave off various odours synched up with the film, such as the opening scene with a butterfly flitting through a peach grove that called up peach scents, and later a smashed barrel of wine.
Following in the tradition of Hammett's Nick and Nora Charles and also Pam and Jerry North (written by another husband-and-wife duo, Richard and Frances Lockridge), it's a shame that the Troys have been largely forgotten. Although thanks to Rue Morgue Press, four of the Kelley Roos/Troy novels have been reissued in paper within the past several years, including Made Up to Kill, If the Shroud Fits, The Frightened Stiff and Sailor Taking Warning.
Sergio Angelini – Deadly Weapon
by Wade Miller
Joe Barone – The Singaphor School of Villainy by Shamini Flint
Les Blatt – Dracula Meets Charlie Chan by Earl Derr Biggers
Brian Busby – Vengeance of the Black Donnellys by Thomas P. Kelly
Bill Crider – Murder Plus by Marc Gerald
William F. Deeck - The Leaden Bubble by H.C. Branson
Martin Edwards - Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate
Curt Evans - The Clue and The Curved Blades by Carolyn Wells
Jerry House - One Step Beyond by Lenore Bredeson
Randy Johnson – Blue Murder by Robert Leslie Bellum
Nick Jones – The John Craig spy novel series by James Munro
George Kelley – The Comedians by Graham Greene
Evan Lewis – Hashknife of the Double Bar 8 by W.C. Tuttle
Todd Mason - What If? edited by Richard Lupoff (and more!)
Patrick Ohl - The Shootist by Glendon Swarthout
Peggy Ann - Out of the Black by Robert Barnard
James Reasoner - The Savage Hours by L.P. Holmes
Karyn Reeves - The Happy Prisoner by Monica Dickens
Kelly Robinson – The Scarlet Plague by Jack London
Richard Robinson - Terror in the House by Henry Kuttner
Charles Rutledge – Marvel Comics horror series
Michael Slind – Book Case by Stephen Greenleaf
Kerrie Smith – Death of a Hollow Man by Caroline Graham
Matthew David Surridge – All Hallow’s Eve and other novels by Charles Williams
TomCat – Fire in the Thatch by E.C.R. Lorac
James Winter - Iguana Love by Vicki Hendricks