She Murdered Me with Science
The joy of pulps is how some are so hard to categorize, case in point this terrific novel set in an alternate 1950s. It’s part detective story, Hitchcock chase thriller, and all-out pulp adventure all rolled into one.
Noel Glass is a disgraced scientist whose experiments with microwaves went horribly awry and killed six of his colleagues, including the woman he loved. Disgraced and banished from the scientific community, Glass, fifteen years later, is self-employed in Chicago as a private detective, a rather unique gumshoe in that he uses his genius intellect to help the police with difficult cases. Keep in mind the setting is the fifties, before forensic sciences were even known, let alone available. Glass is very much the science-detective to his small number of associates.
When a wealthy industrialist approaches him and reveals the tragedy that ruined his life was no accident, but a manipulated murder, Glass is propelled into the most important case of his career. In the process he becomes framed for murder and branded a spy and traitor. Suddenly, he’s being hunted by the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the Army as one of the most dangerous men in country. The only positive note in the entire affair is the fact that he is not alone in his dilemma. Accompanying him as he races across the South West attempting to evade the authorities, are a Japanese entrepreneur with extraordinary martial arts skills named Wan Lee and a gorilla of a gunman named Vincent.
Before their journey reaches its conclusion, these three will deal with Russian sleeper agents, the assignation of Joseph Stalin, and the many tentacles of a super secret organization bent on destroying the world so as to rebuild it into some technocratic utopia. Oh, and there’s also a beautiful femme fatale songstress somehow involved with it all. Talk about throwing in the kitchen sink, this book has it all and then some.
The writing is brisk, peppered throughout with colorful slang true to the era. Its pacing is very Saturday matinee cliff-hanger, as Glass is forever falling into one dangerous situation after another and having to extricate himself any way he can, either with sheer brute strength or his exemplary mental prowess—all the while trying to solve the riddle of his past.
This is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year and David Boop is a writer you need to put on your radar. He’s fresh, original and laces his work with a spirit of zany, madcap fun that is truly infectious. Pick up a copy of She Murdered Me with Science. You can thank me later.