Sunday, 10 June 2012

Ben Benson - The Affair of the Exotic Dancer (1958)

I've enjoyed Benson's series of mysteries involving Ralph Lindsey which are a combination of police procedural and bildungsroman. Lindsey is a young Massachusetts state trooper who not only makes mistakes at the outset of his career but also pays the price for having made these mistakes. I picked up The Affair of the Exotic Dancer thinking it was a non-series mystery but soon discovered that it features Benson's other series character, Captain Wade Paris of the Massachusetts police; thirty-something, fair, diplomatic, hardened by experience, the type of police veteran into which the callow Ralph Lindsey might develop.

The shooting death of a small business owner is the crime that Paris investigates in The Affair of the Exotic Dancer. However, this novel is not a who-done-it. Rather the story alternates between the police routine work and chapters entitled The Suspect which give the killer's backstory, so that early on the reader knows the identity of the killer and eventually the motive for the crime. It is to Benson's credit that, even knowing this information, the reader's interest is held by this no-frills police story.

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