Sunday, January 15, 2017

Death is My Shadow by Edward S. Aarons

I’m a fan of the Sam Durrell thrillers that made Edward S. Aarons a best-selling author, but he also wrote the occasional stand-alone mystery. Death is My Shadow is one of those, published in hardcover in 1957 and reprinted in paperback by McFadden in 1965. I don’t think it’s his best book by any stretch, but Aarons was good at his craft in so many different ways that I’ll still recommend this one. Peter Byrum, a Navy man released from service after an accident that haunts him, returns home to New Orleans to pick up the pieces of his life. His girl, Clemi, is waiting for him, and his pal, Steve Dulaney. Byrum learns that his pal Steve has been accused of murder, and his involvement with the blonde giant of a man named Rudge and Serena Thayer lead Byrum down a road of deceit, seduction and death. The plot is complex, at least in its presentation, but once you peel back the layers the true level of skill employed in crafting this nifty thriller will be apparent to all. The New Orleans mob will not be happy with Byrum by the end of this one, but he’s a man with confidence and inner strength. While the action sometimes feels rushed, I still enjoyed it. Aarons is infinitely enjoyable. What he does with fourteen chapters and 128 pages should be a lesson for suspense writers who these days take way too long to tell their story. I gave up on the padded and overlong novels flaunted as “best-sellers” specifically for that reason. Aarons gets right to it, and when its over you’ll feel like one of his heroes – a little worn out but tough-as-nails and happy to have survived the thrill ride.

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