Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, November 17, 2022


 You've Bet Your Life by "Gordon Ashe" (John Creasey), 1957

This was the fourth and final stand-alone novel that Creasey published under his "Gordon Ashe" pseudonym; the remaining fifty novels under this pseudonym featured Patrick Dawlish and his Crime Haters organization.  I've found the Dawlish novels to be eminently readable.  This one...meh.

Creasey's novels usually feature a British hero coping against long odds.  Even Mark kilby, the hero of six books by Creasey under his Robert Caine Fraser pen name, although based in America, was a Britisher through and through.  For some reason, Creasey made the hero in this book, Johnny Elmes, an American in New York City.  It just did not work for me.  At one point, Johnny gets a phone call from a stranger, who ends the call with the words, "You bet."  From this Johnny knew that the caller had to be from the American west, but not from Texas.  Say what???

Johnny had recently returned from an unsuccessful business to England.  He had patented a new type of box and had hoped to sell the British rights to the Willeson Folding Box Company in London but was unable to meet with the company's head, Clare Willison, who flat out refused to see him.  Now he has received a message that she is in New York and wishes to meet withbim at his office. raising the inventor's hopes.  She never shows.  She has vanished from the hotel where she was staying.  Later, he gets a call from Alice Byrne, Clare's best friend and business associate.  She wants to know if Johnny has seen Clare and is worried because he has not.  Before she can meet with Johnny, she is kidnapped but managed to escape.

It turns out that clare was given complete ownership of her compnay by her father, who had passed over her older step-brother because he was a drunk and a crook.  The brother apparently has conceocted a scheme to force Clare to sign over half the company, as well as complete control, to him.  If threats to Clare did not work, kidnapping her best friend and threatening her life might.

Add to the mix a mysterious Wyoming visitor (yeah, the "You bet" guy) who shows up out of nowhere to help rescue Alice and inserts hinself in efforts to find Clare.  For her part, Alice is leery of Johnny and suspects he might be part of the plot against Clare.

Then the seven-year-old daughter of Johnny's lawyer and best friend is kidnapped to be used as a wedge to against Clare.  There have been a spate of chikld kidnappings and murders recently and this could be the work of the same people.

I don't think there was a single plot hole in this book that Creasey did not feel fit to drive a truck straight though it.  Creasey tries to wrap things up neatly in a pell-mell rush in the final pages of the book, but his explanations just did not gel --  a bad habit that Creasey usually reserves for his more outlandish plots of world destruction in his Dr. Palfrey thrillers, and a habit that he seldom gets intoin his straight detective novels.

Three positive things about the book:  1) it's a fast-paced, albeit ridiculous, read,  2) Johnny gets the girl, and  3) there are no flying coyotes overhead.

This one was an Ace Double paperback (perhaps original -- I could not tell) and was bound with Terror Package by Robert Chavis.


  1. I know I read a few of his books but they didn't stick with me apparently because I can't remember a single title.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.