Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Cash Madigan #01 - The Buried Motive

Bruce Cassiday was one of those authors who transitioned nicely from the pulp magazines to paperback original novels in the 1950s. He wrote a few Flash Gordon books in the 1970s and a host of other genre novels under an army of pseudonyms. He also wrote a biographies of Dinah Shore and Betty Ford, if that’s your bag. For awhile, he served as the fiction editor for Argosy Magazine and the brains behind many of their “book bonus” features.

Cassiday also authored two crime novels in the “Cash Madigan” series (if two books can even be called a series) - both released in 1957. One was half of an Ace Double titled “The Buried Motive” and the other was “While Murder Waits,” published by Graphic Books. The intended series order probably doesn’t matter, so I am hereby declaring “The Buried Motive” as Cash Madigan #1.

Cash is a Manhattan “bonding investigator,” a career that surprisingly doesn’t require a leather vest or a ball gag. Instead, he investigates employee embezzlements for a big company that insures employers against such losses. Cash’s job is to chase down the embezzler and recover enough stolen money to make his employer whole after the claim is paid. He’s basically a collection agent for an insurance company.

“The Buried Motive” assignment brings him to the small farming town of Gotham, Missouri to meet with an informant. The stool pigeon has info to provide Cash regarding the whereabouts of an embezzler who disappeared with $200,000 in payroll funds from a New York manufacturing company insured by Cash’s employer.

Upon Cash’s arrival in town, he reports to the trailer of his informant only to find that someone has butchered him with a carving knife. Although the logical suspect is the missing embezzler, Cash is quickly arrested for the stoolie’s murder. A baloney alibi from the town cutie springs him from police custody, but Cash remains in town to solve the murder, find the embezzler, and recover the missing dough.

Cash is a stereotypical wisecracking, tough-guy private eye in the mold of Shell Scott or Mike Hammer. The first-person narration is easy to read and follow, and Cassiday’s plotting is solid, if unremarkable. The mystery was pretty basic and nothing you haven’t read before. There’s murder and blackmail and deceit and missing money and if you haven’t read a warehouse of private eye paperbacks already, “The Buried Motive” will seem fresh and interesting. However, if you read a lot of these types of books, you’ll probably find this one to be just an average outing.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

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