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“It’s a lulu, it’s a honey, it’s a good book”
—San Francisco Chronicle
Death and Taxes, 1st ed.

Death and Taxes

(1941)
Publishing History
  • New York: The Macmillan Company, 1941
  • London: Michael Joseph, 1947
  • New York: Popular Library, 1948 (PL 168)
  • Eugene, Or.: Bruin Books, 2010 (Bruin Crimeworks); ISBN: 978-0982633922

Buy the Book: Amazon

Series Character Setting
  • San Francisco, California

 

   “Macmillan will bring out (in July) a moiduh mystery with a Thin Mannish S.F. background; it’s called ‘Death and Taxes,’ and was written by David Dodge, a local accountant, f’goshsakes ...”
   --Herb Caen, San Francisco Chronicle, June 2, 1941

   George MacLeod had a bankroll, a good-looking brunette wife, and a weakness for blondes. He was reputed to be one of the best tax men in San Francisco, and people of means paid him substantial fees to pare their income down as far as they would go without giving the G-men an opportunity to talk about fraud. George was smart enough to keep business and pleasure apart; he did pretty well in both fields until he got involved with a girl who had yellow hair and tax troubles. The combination was fatal to him.
   Death and Taxes, Chapter 1

Summary

   San Francisco tax accountant James “Whit” Whitney is summoned home from a vacation in Santa Cruz to help his partner, George MacLeod, recover a hefty tax refund for a beautiful blonde client named Marian Wolff. When he returns to his office, Whit finds MacLeod dead in the firm’s vault, “with a small hole in the bridge of his nose.” In order to complete the tax return and uncover the murderer, Whit becomes a reluctant detective and nearly gets himself killed in the process. To prevent Whit’s murder, if possible, the SFPD assigns him a bodyguard named Swede Larson. Whit and Swede tangle with ex-bootleggers and Telegraph Hill gangsters in their efforts to unravel the mystery, which climaxes with a shootout in the Mission District and a dramatic car chase across the Bay Bridge. Along the way, Whit resists the advances of Marian Wolff and begins a romance with Kitty MacLeod, George’s widow.

   Before becoming a novelist, David Dodge worked as a Certified Public Accountant and, since you write about what you know, his first fictional hero was also a tax man. A notable aspect of the Whitney novels is the volume of information about taxes and finances that Dodge effortlessly weaves into his plots.

 

Death and Taxes, 1st UK ed.
 

Death and Taxes, PL168
 

Death and Taxes, 2010 ed.

Cast of Characters

Albert
Fred Carpenter
“Buster” DeWitt
J. Dabney Dwight
Eddie
Ernie
Frances
Gladys
Elwood Hall
Edward Harrigan
Peter G. Hemingway
Jack
Joe
Miss Kelly
Krebs
Swede Larson
Mabel
George MacLeod
Kitty MacLeod
Frank Marston
Sam Mendell
Murphy
S.G. Putnam
Ramon
Roberts
Rogers
Swift
Tommy Ward
Webster
Whit Whitney
Harald Wolff
Marian Wolff
Adolph Zimmermann

Book Reviews
 
Shear the Black Sheep (1942) Next novel
 

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