My man-crush with hack writer Michael Avallone continues with the third in his thirty-book Ed Noon series, Dead Game. This one has quite an audacious set-up. Noon gets the case when a dame, Mrs Arongio, walks into his office and sets him to shadow her husband who she suspects of cheating. “Mrs Arongio had her doubts that all of Mr Arongio’s daily chores kept him busy with antiques. For fifty bucks, I had all of Mrs Arongio’s doubts. And some of my own.”
The man in question owns both an antique shop and a passionate interest in Edgar Allan Poe memorabilia (which becomes relevant later). Noon follows him and it’s quickly apparent he’s a queer old bird, “he was as big and as wide as Broadway with a nose like the pistol grip of an old Western shooting iron”. Noon follows him from his shop to a swanky hotel where visiting baseball teams stay . Arongio storms out in a rage, all the way to the Polo Grounds where the Giants are at home for a pre-season exhibition against minor-league out-of-towners, the Ravens. It’s here that Avallone’s flair for the spectacular arises.
At the bottom of the ninth, the Giants hit a game-winning triple and as the crowd roars with the runners, an out-fielder drops in a faint. Arongio vaults the rail and seems to rifle his pockets before running off. Chaos ensues and Noon finds the baseball player is dead, stabbed in the back with a stiletto. A man-hunt ensues.
Noon once more gets on the wrong side of NYPD, this time because while chasing down a lead with a young uniformed cop, they bust in on Arongio who lets rip with his pistol, gunning down the cop and making good his escape. NYPD blames Noon for getting their fellow into such a scrape and pull his detective license. I won’t spoil any of the plot (all this happens in the first three of 24 chapters) but it’s the usual fare of shifty dames, illicit under-the-table gambling, shakedowns, and everyone working an angle.
Given that I’m not writing spoilers, what on earth can I say in reviewing a third Ed Noon story that I didn’t cover with The Tall Dolores and Spitting Image? Not a lot really. So, here’s a photo of a hot bird with her tits almost hanging out.
I like Avallone’s short punchy sentences and lean attitude to scene dressing. He cuts a fine jib with his cheesy phraseology, such as in this case upon discovering Arongio has beaten the living shit out of his wife and ransacked her room.
“Give me a break, Noon. I’d die if anybody saw me like this. I’ve got to go away. Take a few weeks to fix myself up…”
“It’s going to take more than that to fix me up, lady. I need information bad.”
“Okay.” She shrugged and stood up. “Put that thing away. I’ll spill it. But give me another drink will you?”
I grinned at that and turned to the bottle. It was pure reflex. Simon pure. Simply Simon pure. Dames always get me off base anyway.
The bottle was empty and I’d known it. She’d known it too.
Before I could find where I’d left it, she brought it down on my head from behind with all the force and rage she could muster in her one-hundred-odd pounds. She mustered plenty. The bottle came down hard.
I took the floor the same way.”
You see, there’s a pattern to these Noon stories. Here’s a few story beats I can guarantee every single one of them will include: (i) a good-looking dame comes into his office and lies her ass off, assigning him a job which is really a feint for her real purpose, (ii) a corpse shows up and his NYPD buddies decide yet again to forget every time Noon has been right in the past, and suspect him of involvement and playing them false, (iii) somebody cracks him over the head and knocks him clean out, (iv) on a separate occasion, he’ll be on the wrong end of a gun held by the primary bad guy, or flunky thereof (v) one good-looking dame has a squeeze on him (vi) one good-looking dame, possibly the same one, absorbs the mother of all beatings or is simply murdered. Brutally.
If thirty times isn’t enough and you’d rather have essentially the same story told to you one hundred and sixty times, consider my memoir series here.
 This novel was written 1954 when baseball and boxing were the only US sports worth a lick. The NFL didn’t come on strong until 1960s and NBA until 1970s.