Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Review of Five Little Rich Girls by Lawrence Block (1974, Signet)

Chip Harrison is dating Melanie Trelawney, a rich young woman who is slumming in small apartment in New York, and has taken a job as assistant to Leo Haig, a self-declared genius detective and tropical fish breeder.  Two of Melanie’s five sisters have recently died in unusual circumstances and fears for her life.  Chip arrives at her apartment to find her naked and dead on an inflatable bed, having apparently taken an overdose of heroin.  While the police conclude it was a suicide, Chip is not convinced and nor is his boss.  Together they start to investigate, worried about the safety of the two remaining sisters.

First published in 1974, Five Little Rich Girls was published in the US as Make Out With Murder.  It’s a somewhat tongue-in-cheek PI tale, with a fair splattering of in-gags for fans of crime fiction, with the central character’s boss being a mystery novel aficionado seeking to ape the success and notoriety of Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe amongst others.  The tale is written in the first person from the perspective of Chip Harrison, a high school drop-out and street smart young man, who investigates the suspicious death of his girlfriend and two of her sisters.  Whilst the story starts out as a parody it progressively takes the investigation more seriously, turning into a genuine whodunnit.  It never quite loses its light hearted, sometimes improbable nature, and at times is quite racy.  Overall, an okay read that got better as it progressed.

1 comment:

George said...

I enjoyed the Chip Harrison books. The pastiches of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books are nothing but fun.