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VINE VOICEon June 21, 2010
This is my favorite of the four Doan and Carstairs stories now available in Kindle format. It was published in 1943, and fully develops the partnership of Doan and Carstairs, the Great dane as large as a Shetland pony. it is a wonderful example of early pulp fiction. Unfortunately, Norbert Davis, the author of SALLY'S IN THE ALLEY, is not as well known as other pulp fiction writers of the 1940's for three reasons. First, his stories encompassed a wide array of genres, so he never built a reputation as a practitioner of a specific type (e.g. detective, SF, etc.) . Second, his detective stories included a strain of humor which was highly unusual for the period, a hard boiled detective story was not supposed to be funny. Third, he committed suicide at age 40, supposedly after he had been diagnosed with cancer. Thus, his potential literary legacy was truncated. However, among his peers he was regarded as in a class with the best writers of the era, including Hammett and McDonald. He graduated from Stanford with a law degree, but never took the bar exam - choosing instead to pursue a career which he had already established by being published while still in college, usually being paid at the going rate of a penny a word. Hopefully, the advent of ebooks and specialized small presses will allow many more potential fans to enjoy his works and dog lovers will be irresistably drawn Carstairs' collaborations with Doan.

Doan, who is employed by two G-men to serve his government by locating Dust-Mouth Haggerty, an eccentric individual who claims to have discovered a large ore deposit which the U.S. government believes being sought by the Japs. (Remember, it is WWII and there is no political correctness here.) His undercover identity is H. Pocus (yes, it really is), and he and Carstairs head for the Mojave desert and the town of Heliotrope, which neither California or Nevada want to claim as part of their state. On the way, he picks up a hitchhiker named Harriet Hathaway who is traveling to join the war effort by enlisting in the WACC. In combination with Mr. Blue, who she attempting to educate and reform, she adds comic relief and social commentary to the story.

Among the several other individuals who populate the story are Free-Look Jones, Doc Gravelmayer (also the ME) and of course the captivating actress Susan Sally and her manager Mr. McAdoo. McAdoo has seen some defense training films in which Carstairs participates and tries to convince Doan to allow him to sign carstairs to a film contract based on his talent. And the local sheriff belongs to the SEC, no not the agency to discourage financial crime but rather The Society to Encourage Crime, in order to keep all law enforcement officials employed. (Gee, maybe that's why they let Bernie Madoff keep operating for so long, lots of work for everyone to clean up the mess.)

As the "plot thickens", Doan decides to become I. Doanwashi, believing that this identity will help convince Haggerty that he is really an agent of the Japanese government. And, all this in a story that barely reaches the length of a novella. Short scenes and constant action, perhaps a precursor of the James Patterson style but with much more humor, a lovable aristocratic dog, and incredibly convoluted plotting. (Be sure to track of all the characters as they wander in and out of the story.)

As my review title indicates, Carstairs saves the day and he and Doan return a few years later in what was unfortunately to be the final installment of the series - OH, MURDERER MINE. Totally enjoyable and great fun!

Tucker Andersen 6/21/2010
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on April 28, 2010
that was fun. a look back along with humor and mystery. no sex no foul language just a quick fun read.
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on March 9, 2011
What fun books. The gent who wrote these had such a drawl sewnse of humor and so sad he couldn't hang in there at a young age. Even though the Great Dane doesn't solve crimes or talk his presence is appreciated. His master, who won the dog in a card game, is a less than cool guy, but betwixt them both they put on a good show.
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on May 3, 2014
Doan may be the man of this human/canine sleuthing duo, but I'm pretty sure the only reasons Carstairs the Great Dane keeps him around is because he needs a driver, needs a feeder, needs someone to glare disdainfully at, and occasionally needs someone shot or punched rather than bit. This humor-laced mystery moves along so briskly and presents such a rapid-fire cavalcade of zany characters the reader can barely keep up with the wacky situations and snarky dialogue. It makes it all so easy to miss the clues that Davis drops openly. It's a wonderful story of a dog and his man who get co-opted for a ridiculous government mission and how they accomplish it, more or less. The only thing for the modern reader to keep in mind is that the book was written in the midst of WW2, so there will be all sorts of unfamiliar references--ration books, price limits, dimming regions, car governors, etc. If you have trouble with them, just ask your great-grandparents...or I suppose you could drop me a line. After all, in the scheme of human history it was only yesterday.
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on May 12, 2014
The only sad thing about this book is that it's the last in this series. As per usual, I jumped the gun and read the second and third book. Now I'll go back and read the first book. Then there's the novellas still to be read. The relationship between the super dog and its owner makes you smile and cheer at times. They are definitely the best duo you could find. You can't read just one.
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on October 2, 2011
This is #3 in the available Doan & Carstairs mysteries for Kindle. In my opinion, the 2nd is still the best. I enjoyed Sally's in the Alley, but I found the ending strangely lacking. The characters were fun and all had their individual personalities (even when those personalities grated like fingernails on a chalkboard) and there was the usual amount of chaos and mayhem, all of which I liked. It was just the ending that was unsatisfactory - the author seemed to be tying up the story, but there were just too many things that had no motivation or no 'backstory' to put them in the context of what had gone before.

As I said, I enjoyed the story up to the last few pages, so I would recommend this book, and let readers make their own decision on how satisifying the ending is.

Note on Kindle formatting: Very good. I did not notice any issues.
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on April 30, 2011
A Great Dane with an attitude. A private dick with a sarcastic comment at the ready. This is one of the best crime novel duos I've encountered in a long time. The story is fast-past, witty and just a lot of fun especially if you like a little history (or a lot of dog) with your fiction. I recommend it.
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on February 7, 2011
One of the other reviewers said this is the perfect intro to Doan and Carstairs and that is true. An absolutely wonderful, irreverent and mysterious journey with the private detective Doan, or Doanwashi as he is called throughout this hilarious tale, and his canine partner, Carstairs. However "canine" might not be correct. You will have to read Davis' own hilarious description of Carstairs to understand.

Davis wrote this novel in the early 1940's so the plot centers on newsworthy places and events like the war, rationing, blackouts, etc. It is really fun to see Doan go into a butcher shop at one point and order three pounds of porterhouse steak (ground naturally) for the grand total of $2.00. With all the humorous elements that fill this book I almost forgot I was reading a mystery, but Davis kept me riveted for several hours on who-did-what. The linguistic fun that Davis has with these characters presages both Monty Python and Douglas Adams by about thirty years. Tremendous fun and highly recommended. Who is Norbert Davis and why did he only write four novels would be an interesting Jeopardy question.
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on April 15, 2012
Poor Carstairs! Well, I know, he's just a dog, but really! Doan gets into such messes and man's best friend can barely get out alive! So, what if the government recruits you, do you really need to find bodies everywhere you go? Doan and Carstairs, so glad you're saving our nation from..ah, what was it? Thanks anyway, good reading!
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on December 21, 2011
I enjoyed this 3rd book of the series more than the others as it was more about Carstairs the Great Dane. Funny, Funny, good light reading and was expecially enjoyable as my son has one of these lovable dogs.
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