Cancelled in Red

Hugh Pentecost. Bold Venture, $14.95 trade paper (236p) ISBN 978-1-5229-4937-4
First published in 1939, this reissue marks the debut of NYPD Insp. Luke Bradley. A formulaic whodunit set in the stamp collecting world, it includes an unlikable murder victim, a plethora of suspects, an engaging amateur attempting to aid the police, and a budding romance. Manhattan stamp dealer Larry Storm is consulted by the attractive Lucia Warren, whose late father was a regular customer of his. Crooked auctioneer Max Adrian disposed of Lucia's father's stamp collection, but the sale yielded a much lower amount than she expected. Larry, who knows of Adrian's shady reputation, suspects that he substituted fakes and agrees to help Lucia get justice. But before his effort can make much progress, someone shoots Adrian in his office, and Lucia calls Larry for help after she finds the corpse. His involvement in the case and his attempt to conceal Lucia's role arouse Bradley's curiosity. Since she wasn't the only person the dead man cheated, the inspector has plenty of alibi-checking and interviewing to do. Larry overshadows Bradley, who isn't a particularly colorful sleuth. Still, many readers will enjoy this installment and want to seek out Pentecost's other works. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 04/18/2016
Release date: 01/01/2016
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