Anyone picking up a cheap, pulp detective novel from the early fifties should do so knowing that most are Hammett, Chandler, and Spillane wannabes AND that most will NOT come close to measuring up to them. So if one approaches this Ed Lacy novel with "realistic" expectations (which is to say somewhere between "low" and "much lower"), one will probably not be disappointed by it. It is what it is--and what it is isn't necessarily all that bad.
The story involves a vertically-challenged (as in "short") but tough private eye, who is more comfortable selling protection than handling a murder investigation, and who suddenly finds his life and the lives of the people (primarily pretty women) around him in danger because of a seemingly innocuous case he is working on. After a shooting or two, a particularly brutal murder of a young female acquaintance, a police sergeant who does not take kindly to private investigators, a ransacked office, a rather remarkable bullet, several more murders, much tough and smart-alecky talk, some hidden money, marked bills, and some less-than-brilliant detection, the culprit is finally revealed, dramatically confronted and appropriately dispatched so that our hero (nearly beaten to a pulp in the process) can recover in the loving arms of the one gorgeous gal who didn't get killed along the way; all this in three very busy days!
These are pretty standard ingredients of 60-year-old paperback pulp detective fiction, tales which are typically hardboiled, violent, and sexist, but nevertheless entertaining to their presumably male readership (but probably NOT as enjoyable to those of either sex who prefer reading something higher up the literary food chain). Nevertheless, though it's certainly not great, nor even good, literature, I still enjoyed reading it and will probably read other works by Ed Lacy from time to time for some additional mindless, escapist entertainment. But because I don't consider such books "keepers" to be read, archived in the cloud, and later re-read, I will go to Munseys.com to obtain them temporarily and for free (as I did this one). A buck, however, is certainly a fair price for anyone who desires the convenience of directly and immediately acquiring this book from the Kindle Store.
FYI: Readers who enjoyed this book may also wish to consider "Night Squad" by David Goodis, also a public domain freebie at Munseys.com and $.99 in the Kindle Store. Sharing many story-elements with this book, and with the same "feel," it has received many positive reviews.