The Saturday spotlight is a way to feature some nearly forgotten pulp stories. This isn’t going to be the place for the giants of the pulp world. With that in mind, I decided to start the series off with a pretty random selection. Nothing about the plot, hero, villain, or author stand out in a genre full of memorable plots, heroes, villains, and authors…perfect for my intentions.
A Private Killing
Author: James Benet
Cover Art: ?
Originally Published: 1949
Reviewed Edition: Bantam 825 (1950)
Ben Spencer, a New York newspaper man is on assignment during his vacation to interview genius inventor Arnold Barrett. The death of one of Barrett’s houseguests propels Spencer to investigate the strange circumstances. His interest in the murder was really an excuse to spend more time with the beautiful Mercy. His searching leads to missing plans for a new invention and a host of shady characters inhabiting the area.
The novel (one of only two mysteries penned by newspaper journalist, James Benet) is quick paced and mildly entertaining. The science aspect of the novel is quaint and amusing given the advances since 1949. It is actually Benet’s use of scientific discovery and invention that makes the novel stand out. The use of remote controls, microwaves, and other ‘new’ technologies make the book a lot of fun. There really isn’t much more to get excited about in the book itself. The characters are pretty run-of-the-mill and the plot is nothing to get excited about. Every character acts exactly as one would expect for this genre. Ben Spencer is a decent enough hero, but he is essentially a second-rate hero in the genre; not worthy of follow-up adventures.