Thursday, October 03, 2013

Dell Shannon's With A Vengeance

Totally by chance, I read Dell Shannon's With a Vengeance, a police procedural published in 1966. It was intriguing because the protagonist is an incredibly smart and dapper Hispanic police lieutenant in Los Angeles. Further, Dell Shannon is a pseudonym for Elizabeth Linington, a prolific crime/mystery novelist.

So what we have is a great snapshot of 1960s Los Angeles, and in this case with a killer on the loose who leaves note cards by his bodies saying "The vengeance is just." Mendoza and his colleagues go around L.A. looking for clues, with what is sometimes a bewildering array of characters. What we also see are the steak lunches, always with scotch. And smoking--lots of smoking. It is a period piece and it is interesting to read almost entirely for that reason. The story is fine but not particularly engrossing.

And Mendoza himself, along with his Anglo wife and sometimes his colleagues, keeps using little Spanish phrases (ay Dios mio! or the like, all different kinds) in a way that keeps emphasizing his (I figure) Mexican heritage. Funny to see framed positively in a book that old, and also for an author who, apparently, was very right wing (I didn't see much political in the novel, though the rigid gender roles/portrayals were very clear).


Mandramas 9:30 AM  

Del Shannon, is the same one from "Runaway"?

Greg Weeks 9:34 AM  

No, it's a pseudonym so she just made it up. I assume that was before anyone had heard of the pop star.

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