Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, March 9, 2018


End of a J.D. by "John Gonzales" (Robert Terrall) (1960)

The second of six novels featuring Harry Horne, former newspaperman and current magazine writer (and, later, roving reporter), End of a J.D. is an entertaining, fast-moving, and somewhat flawed Gold Medal original paperback.

Harry has just been released from a ten-day stay in prison for refusing to reveal a source for a recent story.  It's anyone's guess whether the judge will order him back to prison if he continues to defy the court.  (That doesn't matter to the reader since the plot quickly moves away from this.)  Harry, refreshed by a shower and "several shots of scotch," heads out to his favorite nightclub to meet his favorite chanteuse/stripper Sandra Burke.  Over the course of their (unfortunately) platonic) relationship, Sandra has been a "good girl," but she is beginning to waver in Harry Horne's case.

It looks like all of Sandra's barriers are down.  When Harry takes Sandra back to his apartment things fall apart.  Spread out on Harry's bed are a woman's clothes, with an amply sized brassiere on top of the pile.  A woman's voice from the bathroom calls out to Harry that she's in the shower.  A naked, voluptuous, young woman whom Harry had never met comes out of the bathroom and hugs him.  This rightly cools Sandra's ardor and she storms out of the apartment, leaving Harry with this naked stranger clinging to him.

Of course, you know what happens next.  She stabs Harry, then calmly leaves the apartment.  Harry wakes up in the hospital where a young thug tries to finish the job.

Basically we are in Richard S. Prather territory now.  Harry has Shel Scott's libido and appreciation of women.  Like Prather's hero, Harry goes haphazardly from situation to situation, breezily figuring things out as he goes -- an imperfect, sometimes bumbling, hero trying to do good while enmeshed in a wacky case.

Along the way we meet the sexy widow of a murdered gangster, a cop who giggles at Harry's sexual misadventures, a gang of juvenile delinquents that does not appear to be too rebellious, a crime kingpin who previously tried to kill Harry with a bomb, and assorted thugs and mugs.

Although entertaining, this is a second- or third-tier Gold Medal and may not be to everyone's taste, but I had a great time with it.

About the author:

Robert Terrall may be best known for more than twenty ghosted books about Mike Shayne after Shayne's creator Brett Halliday "retired" in the late Fifties, and for his Ben Gates mysteries written under his "Robert Kyle" pseudonym.  J. Kingston Pierce wrote a wonderful piece about Terrall shortly after the author's death in 2009.  I've added the link below because it is certainly worth your time.


  1. You had me at: Basically we are in Richard S. Prather territory now.
    I liked the Ben Gates mysteries. Thanks for the link!

  2. And AMAZON has THE ARMCHAIR DETECTIVE BOOK OF LISTS for $2.45. A bargain!

  3. The title says End of a J.D. (for juvenile deliquent, I guess). But then you have D.J. throughout the post.