Saturday, March 9, 2019

A can of worms - James Hadley Chase

Read between Feb 2nd, 2019 to Feb 3rd, 2019

Edition Details:
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 175 
Publisher: Mastermind Books
ISBN: 9788184680942
A can of worms - James Hadley Chase
A can of worms - James Hadley Chase

First Sentence:
The offices of the Parnell Detective Agency were situated on the top floor of the Trueman building on Paradise Avenue.


Russ Hamel is a best selling author. He has married for the second the time. His wife Nancy is 22 years younger than him. When Russ starts receiving poison pen letters hinting that Nancy is being unfaithful to him, he decides to acquire services of a private detective agency. His first wife had cheated on him. He wants to be sure that he's not getting burned again.

Bart Anderson has been assigned the task to watch Hamel's wife. He is one of the best operators that Parnell's Detective Agency has.There is only one issue with him though. Bart is always spending more than he can earn. He's always in debt. He finds out that there is a secret that Russ's wife is hiding and decides to do business with her. He wants some thing in return to stay mum.

But then people start dying and Bart feels he has opened a can of worms.

Will he get out unscathed from the situation? Was Nancy really carrying out an affair or was it something more sinister? Who is killing people and why?


Major Characters:
Colonel Victor Parnell - Owner of Parnell Detective Agency in Paradise City
Charled Edwards - Accountant of Parnell Detective Agency
Glenda Kerry - PA of Victor Parnell
Chick Barley - One of the twenty operators that Parnell Detective Agency Employed
Terrell - Chief of Police Paradise City
Bart Anderson - The detective and Protagonist of the story
Russ Hamel - A best seller author
Mr Mel Palmer - Literary Agent and Manager of Russ Hamel
Nancy - Russ Hamel's current wife
Penny Highbee- Nancy's friend
Mark Highbee- Russ' Attorney
Al Barney - A drunk that used to live near the city's waterfront
Sam Barkeep of the Neptune Tavern
Josh Jones - The guy who sailed Russ Hamel's boat
Nick Hardy - He had a chopper service
Bertha Kinsley - Bart's current girlfriend
Ernie Bolshaw- A gossip columist
Wally Simmonds - City's PRO
Gloria Cort - Ex-wife of Russ Hamel
Alphonso Diaz - Owner of Alameda Bar
Toni Lambertti - A guy who gave boats for hire
Harry Meadows - Man who headed Parnell's laboratory
Peter Lewinski - An ex-cop that was now a drunk and lived in waterfront
Lu Coldwell - An FBI field agent that was located in paradise city
Aldo Pofferi - An Italian Terrorist who belonged to a group called red brigade
Detective Tom Lepisky and Detective Max Jacoby- Police detectives
Lucia Labretti - Aldo Pofferi's wife
Tom,Jimbo,Joey- Peter's boys whom he used to gather information
Fanney Battley - Night clerk in charge of Paradise City the herald's morgue
Mike O Flagherty -  Security Officer at Paradise Largo
Solly Herschenheimer- A eccentric rich guy who thought everybody was out to get him
Jarvis - Solly's butler
Carl - Another of Solly's guard
Washington Smith - Russel Hamel's servant
Solly Finklestein - A loan shark
Theo Danrimpel - A rich guy

The can of worms is noir (although the protagonist is a detective here but he's also suspect,perpetrator of crime and is self destructive. So, in spite of protagonist being a detective i think it would qualify as a noir) novel by James hadley Chase.

The book tells the story of a private investigator Bart Anderson,who prodded by his girl friend decides to blackmail his quarry. But when he starts things start going south and he finds himself in the middle of an international conspiracy. Now, both police and FBI are looking into the matter and chances are they could find out what Bart had planned and if that happens Bart would have to spend a lot of time in jail.

Soon, we see Bart trying to stay away from the clutches of the law. People keep dying right and left and he finds out that he has ruffled some feathers which could dictate a ruthless end for him too. But he needs his money and in spite of everything going south he keeps trying to get something out of the situation. There were times when i chuckled at his audacity.

The story moves fast. There are enough twists and turns that would keep you hooked till the end. The characters are not likeable but it interesting to read about them.

Bart is the protagonist and we see things happening from his perspective. He has problem managing his finances and the reason behind it is mostly his expensive tastes. I have seen guys like him. I couldn't feel sympathy for him although i believe he was let off very easy in the end. Although initially he's been goaded by girl friend but once he get's the taste of that black mail money he keeps on thinking of ideas to get some dough. This leads to situation that are funny to read.

The other characters in the book complement the story. They are as colorful as they come.Most of the characters in the book are broken as hell and are twisted.

There is Bertha Kingsley. She is beautiful and knows how to en-cash her beauty. I have seen girls like her who would keep there money close to their hearts but would not mind spending other people's  money. Although, i don't blame them  they often find suckers like Bart to finance their lives.

There is Al Barney. He's a drunk and knows a lot about a lot of things. I had met Al Barney in a novel called An ear to the ground.  He was the one there who had narrated the story to the the writer then. It was like meeting an old acquaintance here. We are not given Al Barney's history. I would have loved read how he came to be.

 There is Peter Lewinski. He is a good guy to whom circumstance haven't been that great. He's chose to be  victim of his circumstances and because of it ended up being where he was now. Once he was cop, but now he's a drunk and one of the  riff-raffs.

There is Gloria cort  who once married Russel Hamel but then since she was not satisfied sexually she cheats on him.She now works as a show girl in a third rate bar and is in relationship with that bar owner,Alphonso Diaz. She has made some terrible choices and is trying to escape from there. She'll do anything to get away.

The bar-owner Alphonso, himself is into various shady practices and could scare a shit out of any living thing . There comes a time when Bart finds himself standing against Alphonso and has difficulty in gathering his nerves.

Then there's Aldo Pofferi and his wife. They are dangerous characters. The are fugitives and would do anything to survive.

The books does justice to all these characters. There is a final twist at the end which i could guess before Bart but it doesn't mar the reading experience.

If you want an entertaining, fast paced weekend read, then this would not be a wrong choice. I enjoyed reading it. I hope you'd too.


My rating: 3.5/5

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts about it?

If you haven't read this one then you can get this from the following link:
Kindle

I have read other works of James Hadley Chase. You can read my thoughts about them by clicking on the following link:
James Hadley Chase

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