Popular crime-fiction author Wade Miller was actually a collaborative pseudonym utilized by two writers – Bob Wade (1920-2012) and Bill Miller (1920-1961). While the two mostly concentrated their efforts on stand-alone titles, they did launch a successful six-book series in 1947 starring private-eye Max Thursday who works cases in and around San Diego, California. The series debut, “Guilty Bystander”, was adapted to film in 1950 and switched the location from San Diego to New York City. I've always enjoyed the Wade Miller brand, so I'm sampling this series with the third installment, “Uneasy Street”, published by Signet in 1948.
It's December 23rd and our private-eye protagonist wants a quick job before the Christmas break. Instead, an older client named Syliva Wister engages Thursday to transport a music box for her. However, after being told where to deliver the goods, Wister is murdered and Thursday immediately becomes the prime suspect. Teaming with series ally Lieutenant Clapp, Thursday hopes to clear his name while also determining what's so special about the music box. Who wants it? What secrets does it contain?
As much as I hoped to enjoy this novel, I found it incredibly dull. The authors incorporate dozens of characters and involve them with a handful of crimes. By page 80, I was dumbfounded by PI fiction's two important elements – the client and the mission. These should be easily defined but in this case it's a moving target. The plot becomes a confusing chain-reaction of bribery for nude photos, a stolen painting, international smuggling and murder. It was so dense I couldn't tell the murdered from the murderer. I think the authors were flying by the seat of their pants – winging it all the way.
If you are a Wade Miller completest, maybe this is worth owning. It’s also available as a cheap ebook. However, be prepared: “Uneasy Street” was a quite uneasy read. You may just want to leave it alone.
Buy a copy of this book HERE