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Pardon My Body
Originally Published 1951
Harlequin Vintage Collection 2009
Pardon My Body is one of the six pulp mystery novels from the fifties reissued by Harlequin to celebrate its 60th Anniversary. Harlequin used to do mysteries and had a stable that included the great James Hadley Chase. Dale Bogard was a TV writer who also adapted TV series into books, notably The Avengers and Cannon. This is the lesser book in the series and certainly not the “tough expose of the American Underworld” the cover claims.
In Pardon My Body, Dale Bogard is a reporter who just quit his job to work on that long-forgotten novel. A drive up a country road on a rainy night leads to an encounter with Julia Casson, a young woman lying in the middle of the road. That encounter leads to the murder of two business men who owned a textile company, one of whom employed Ms. Casson. This gets Bogard interested even if he is warned off by his pal Detective O’Cassidy and a few other people. This also leads to more bodies.
Pardon My Bodies is an interesting enough yarn. The problem is Bogard can really overwrite pulp fiction, “I eased a size eleven brogue off the accelerator….” Another problem is at the heart of every such mystery novel is a dame and here the dame is introduced and then shuffled offstage. Finally, Bogard smokes a pipe and no self-respecting American detective smokes a pipe.
There is something over the top and right out of a thirties gangster movie in this mystery that doesn’t quite work. There are also little details here and there that jar willing suspension of disbelief.
This is not the best pulp fiction mystery of the 6 Harlequin reissued for its 60th anniversary. The others are I’ll Bury My Dead and You Never Know With Women by the great James Hadley Chase, No Nice Girl by Perry Lindsay, Virgin With Butterflies, and Kiss Your Elbow by Alan Handley.