Dodge Home
What the Critics Had to Say ...

Death and Taxes
Shear the Black Sheep
Bullets for the Bridegroom
It Ain't Hay


Death and Taxes

AAAA. DEATH AND TAXES. By David Dodge. New York: The Macmillan Company; $2.
   This department met and liked David Dodge even before "Death and Taxes" was published. Even before we read the book. And we liked the guy, see. He told us a couple of swell stories and we obliged with a few of ours and we downed some lemonades together and we laughed and had a swell time. (We were with a couple of other guys whose wives were away in the country, tra-la, tra-la, tra-laaa. N.B. They're back now, the wives.) Anyway, life was good and the lemonade had a purring quality and we were sure that David Dodge's book would be a good book because it was written by a good guy and the lemonade was good and we felt good and ...    And the next day came as next days will and we were worried. Just suppose, we said to ourself ... Just suppose "Death and Taxes" is a stinkeroo. What on earth will we ever do? Shall we be honest and kick it around and next time we meet him look at the ground? Or shall we weasel and rate it high so we won't have to cringe when we meet the guy? 'Twas the critic's dilemma and we were sad because by that time we were sure it was bad.
   Well, it isn't!
   It's a lulu, it's a honey, it's a good book.
   But you're suspicious, eh? Okeh, read it yourself. Discover why George MacLeod lay "on his back on the vault floor with a small hole in the bridge of his nose."
   There's half a million dollars mixed up in it. A tax refund for Marian Wolfe whose father apparently hadn't been done right by. Marian was a blonde and MacLeod had "a bankroll, a good looking brunette wife, and a weakness for blondes." Which complicates matters, too. For the reader as well as for James Whitney, MacLeod's partner and our story's hero.
   The story, incidentially, is laid in San Francisco and if you've ever wondered how it would be to travel across the Bay Bridge at 80 miles an hour you can find that out, too.
   Highly recommended.
   This World (San Francisco Chronicle), July 20, 1941, p. 20
   (reviewed by Edward Dermot Doyle; "AAAA"=Excellent)

DEATH AND TAXES--David Dodge--Macmillan ($2). A huge tax refund on a dead beer-baron's estate motivates the murder of an income-tax expert. The expert's pardner (sic), who likes liquor, ladies and a good scrap, helps California police clean up a tricky case. Hard-hitting and well-knit--the "find" of the month.
   Time, vol. 38, no. 5 (Aug. 4, 1941), p. 76

DEATH AND TAXES, by David Dodge. George MacLeod, reputedly the best tax consultant in San Francisco, gets into trouble when he tries to smooth out the difference between a blonde and some G-men. By trouble it is meant that George gets killed and stuffed into a vault. fine, meaty story involving bootlegging and a half-million dollars in taxes.
   New Yorker, vol. 17, no. 22 (July 12, 1941), p. 72

DEATH AND TAXES. By David Dodge. 277 pp. New York: The Macmillan Company. $2.
   Since the author of this book is a tax consultant, one may assume that the details of income-tax law and procedure which come into it are correct. The rest of us wouldn't know, as we have learned by bitter experience. Please do not jump to the conclusion that the story is concerned only with tax problems. The main theme is murder, and the first victim is a public accountant and tax consultant who is about to claim a refund of something like half a million dollars on behalf of the estate of a deceased client. George MacLeod is murdered before he has a chance to reveal to his partner, James Whitney, the grounds upon which he is basing the claim. He may have been killed to prevent him from passing that information along, or there may be other reasons, for MacLeod was a notorious philanderer. While Lieutenant Webster of the San Francisco police tries to track down the murderer, Whitney bends most of his energies to an examination of the office records with a view to discovering what MacLeod had found in them to justify the reopening of an old case. The story has plenty of swift, violent action and a starling finish. The tax details, in case you are worrying are made clear enough so that even the layman can understand them.
   The New York Times Book Review, vol. 46, no. 27 (July 6, 1941), p. 10
   (reviewed by Isaac Anderson)

DEATH AND TAXES. By David Dodge....277 pp. ...New York: The Macmillan Company....$2.
   This rapid-fire affair should give you some new ideas on refunds, blondes, murder in various forms, bootlegging, heavy drinking and that sort of thing. All about how beautiful Marian Wolff got mixed up with the Treasury Department over her inheritance, how a certified public accountant tumbled out of an office vault in a state of rigor mortis, two others got theirs and so forth to a conclusion that satisfies all the requirements of rough-and-ready detection. The opus fairly swarms with questions pertinent to the complex yet lucid plot. Did somebody kill Marian's father on the trip to Washington? Who was the pilot of the plane? Must one always file a return? Did Adolph Zimmerman commit perjury? Where is that envelope? And how would you like to have a million dollars? The story picks up remarkably after a heavy dose of financial details and winds up at lightning pace. Mr. Dodge works overtime to pump alcoholic and fleshly thrills in to a tale that needed no such desperate measures. Fast and easy to read.
   New York Herald Tribune Books, vol. 17, no. 47 (July 20, 1941), p. 9
   (reviewed by Will Cuppy)

Death and Taxes. By David Dodge. Macmillan, $2.00. Sophisticated melodrama, in which the elements which justify the title are three murders and half a million dollars of disputed taxes on a bootlegger's income. Nothing would have happened if the bootlegger's daughter had not been a dizzy blonde. The part about the taxes ought to be authentic, for the author is a tax consultant.
   The Christian Century, vol. 58, no. 31 (July 30, 1941), p. 959 


Shear the Black Sheep

SHEAR THE BLACK SHEEP. By David Dodge. 284 pp. New York: The Macmillan Company. $2.
   Somewhat reluctantly, James Whitney, C.P.A., takes on another job of sleuthing. He does not know that it is going to be a murder case, and neither does John J. Clayton, who employs him, but that is what it turns out to be, and Whitney is just stubborn enough to stay with it after the police have warned him that they want no amateurs butting in. The murder is done during a poker game in which Whitney has taken a hand, knowing full well that some of the other players are professional, whose purpose is to fleece John J. Clayton's son, Bob. The motive for Bob's death is obscure, for the sharpers were doing well enough with the cards without resorting to more drastic methods of laying their hands on the money Bob has been withdrawing from his father's business. An envelope containing $25,000 is missing, and Whitney thinks he knows who has it. That is one of the reasons why Whitney continues his investigation after the police have taken over. The other reason is that he has a personal grudge against one of the card sharpers. The story is full of unexpected developments and lively action.
   The New York Times Book Review, vol. 47, no. 29 (July 19, 1942), p. 16
   (reviewed by Isaac Anderson)

SHEAR THE BLACK SHEEP. By David Dodge. New York: The Macmillan Company. 1942. 284 pp. $2.
   Mr. Dodge's dedication reads, "This is for Monnie." We appreciate the absolute honesty of these words, and we hope he makes a lot of it. The story is a good one -- about a C.P.A. who goes to Los Angeles. This C.P.A. isn't like the ones you or I know; you wouldn't recommend him to Cousin Mary professionally unless she were trying to beat the income-tax laws; but he would make her a fine companion for a New Year celebration. (On second thought, you wouldn't recommend him to Cousin Mary at all; he might stop that sentence after "her.") Mr. Dodge works most of his magic by formulae (Dashiell Hammett's), but they are good formulae, particularly the one for a Bloody Mary. Of its type, all you can desire!
   The Saturday Review of Literature, vol. 25, no. 36 (Sept. 5, 1942), p. 8

SHEAR THE BLACK SHEEP. By David Dodge....284 pp. The Macmillan Company...$2.
   Better add David Dodge to your list of household necessities, if you care for vigorous puzzles with the business touch and plenty of other trimmings. James Whitney, his prize thinker, is a certified public accountant who gets involved with murder every so often, with pleasant results for the cash customer. Whit's current job is in Los Angeles, where Bob Clayton, son of a wealthy wool broker, is up to no good with the old man's funds. Seems to be spending it on Gwen Storey, who may be a blackmailer or just a vamp. There are also some hard-boiled poker players, probably a gang. At one of their sessions a certain person succumbs, with symptoms of strychnine. The settings vary from hotels to jail, a Rose Bowl football game and a tour of Hollywood spots. Captain Henry, a quick worker, tells all at the proper moment. You'll hardly guess the identity of the guilty wretch. Mr. Dodge is rough at times, but not too rough, and who cares if the final stages of his pipe-dream are somewhat restrained? Whit is still madly in love with Kitty MacLeod, widow of that awful George MacLeod who was erased in "Death and Taxes." At one point she's in dreadful peril, at another point Whit is the same. They're going to be married soon, and it ought to work out well.
   New York Herald Tribune Books, vol. 18, no. 47 (July 19, 1942), p. 12
   (reviewed by Will Cuppy)

SHEAR THE BLACK SHEEP, by David Dodge. A San Francisco C.P.A. is sent to Los Angeles by John Clayton, a cotton broker, to investigate some large bank withdrawals by Clayton's son. The C.P.A. meets a little fast company, a murderer, and an angry police captain. If the author, who is C.P.A. himself, can figure out tax exemptions as well as he does mysteries, we must all nobly resist any impulse to drop in to see him before next March 15th.
   New Yorker, vol. 18, no. 22 (July 18, 1942), p. 60

Shear the Black Sheep. By David Dodge. Macmillan, $2.00. Summer fiction of the better sort. It would be misleading to call it a mystery story, though in a sense it is one. Mr. Dodge, being a certified public accountant and a professional wrestler with other people's tax problems, is strictly within the field of his competence when he takes for his hero a C.P.A. The reader will get no helpful hints toward making his next income tax returns, but he will have a lot of fun following Jim Whitney's adventures in untangling a snarl of a wholly different character.
   The Christian Century, vol. 59, no. 29 (July 22, 1942), p. 911 


Bullets for the Bridegroom

BULLETS FOR THE BRIDEGROOM, by David Dodge (Macmillan). James Whitney and his girl Kitty, who have already solved some murder cases in San Francisco, arrive in Reno at four in the morning to be married. Some dubious-looking men who are sitting around the J.P.'s house try to prevent the marriage and, later on, keep trying to kill the Whitneys during their honeymoon. Fifth-column activities are at the bottom of this unpleasantness. After a good deal of slugging and shooting, the enemy is balked by Whitney, operating rather lukewarmly in cooperation with the F.B.I. Fast and exciting.
   New Yorker, vol. 20, no. 27 (Aug. 19, 1944), p. 60

BULLETS FOR THE BRIDEGROOM. By David Dodge. 245 pp. New York: The Macmillan Company.
   The scene is Reno, but this is not a story of divorce. James Whitney and Kitty McLeod [sic] have come to Reno to be married and to spend their honeymoon there. After some difficulty they succeed in getting married, but their troubles continue and grow steadily worse, all because certain persons who are up to no good have the mistaken notion that Whitney is connected with the FBI. Whitney does not know what it is all about, but he does know that he is in danger. Instead of running away, as he is advised to do, he undertakes to find out what is going on. By so doing he is in at the finish of an exciting spy hunt and takes his full share of the risks. Much blood is shed, and most of it comes from persons who are ripe for the gallows.
   The New York Times Book Review, vol. 49, no. 34 (Aug. 20, 1944), p. 18
   (reviewed by Isaac Anderson)

BULLETS FOR THE BRIDEGROOM. By David Dodge....245 pp. ...New York: The Macmillan Company....$2.
   Remember James Whitney, income-tax consultant, and his perennial sweetheart, Kitty MacLeod? This time they started for Reno to get married before Whit joined the armed forces, but life for them is not so simple as that. They ran into a nest of hideous villains, one of whom may be a Nazi, met other dubious citizens in various bars, became involved in murder and generally carried on in their jovial, thin-mannish fashion. One of the more enigmatic characters is Casey Jones, an electrical engineer disguised as a tramp. Why? Other questions you may ask yourself: Who was the plump, bald victim in the first chapter? What goes on at Masiliko's joint? Who is Weasel Face? Is there a G-man in the shrubbery and what about Lorenzo Colusa, a wolf? The slightly unhinged effect of this narrative need not keep you from guessing.
   New York Herald Tribune Books, vol. 20, no. 51 (Aug. 13, 1944), p. 14
   (reviewed by Will Cuppy)

BULLETS FOR THE BRIDEGROOM. By David Dodge. Macmillan. 245 pp. $2.
   James Whitney and Kitty McLeod, arriving in Reno at 4 in the morning, want to get married right away and settle down in a hotel for a quiet honeymoon. They get married and settle down right into a mess of trouble.
   Whit, who is inquisitive by nature, can't help it if he wants to find out why some ugly characters are more than casually interested in his reasons for being in Reno. Nor can he help wanting to know why a former friend, now dressed in the rags of a derelict, should duck out of sight when Whit looks interested. In thus sticking his nose into things he also sticks out not only his own neck but those of several other people.
   The situation gets hectic fast and stays that way. If, by the end, you decide that the limit of credibility has long since been passed, you will at least have had a busy time en route.
   The Chicago Sun Book Week, vol. 2, no. 50 (Oct. 8, 1944), p. 10
   (reviewed by Elizabeth Bullock) 


It Ain't Hay

   It is far easier to commend the bald but skillful melodrama of David Dodge's fourth novel about James Whitney, a C.P.A. with a sinister clientele curious for advice on tax evasion. It Ain't Hay (Simon & Schuster, 218 pp., $2.50) is a thriller that, without insisting upon it very formally, makes plain by livid illustration how appallingly nasty a weed marijuana is. And the tale is one of those rare tough ones in which the toughness is as convincing as it is unstinting. The facetiousness of the title is very grim indeed and Dodge's narrative as tight and rapid as its sound predecessors.
   The Chicago Sun Book Week, vol. 5, no. 12 (Jan. 12, 1947), p. 6
   (reviewed by James Sandoe)

IT AIN'T HAY. By David Dodge....218 pp. ...New York: Simon and Schuster....$2.
   Lively semi-tough item continuing the adventures of Whit Whitney, San Francisco tax consultant. Fellow calling himself Barney Steele, complete with black beard, comes into the office and states that a friend of his (but it's Barney himself) made $250,000 from illegal activities last year, and what can he do? Pretty soon, when Whit and his wife Kitty are in Marko Rajkovich's bar, a tea-blower, or hay-puffer, enters and bites the proprietor and we hear that a young boy killed his whole family with a baseball bat after smoking two reefers he bought in a pool hall. What about Max, Joe and Tony connected with Santiago Escombro's boat, the Sea Witch?
   After swatting his readers on the head with a chapter of income tax stuff, Mr. Dodge turns to more fascinating material, including more dope, dire danger for Whit, murder and such. There's also a psychiatrist in the picture, and Lieutenant Webster. Whit and Kitty give with thin-man chatter and Whit has a wonderful secretary, Miss Keely [sic], who sews on buttons and tells him he's not getting old and fat. She's worth the money.
   New York Herald Tribune Weekly Book Review, vol. 23, no. 21 (Jan. 12, 1947), p. 16
   (reviewed by Will Cuppy)

Title and Author: IT AIN'T HAY David Dodge (Simon & Schuster: $2)
Crime, Place, and Sleuth: Income tax expert Whitney, kicked around by California racketeer's strong-armers, gets revenge on bearded reefer baron and his murderous mob.
Summing Up: Startling data on marijuana traffic, explosive action throughout, and effective detecting both by lone-wolf Whit and cooperating cops.
Verdict: Top brackets
   The Saturday Review of Literature, vol. 30, no. 3 (Jan. 18, 1947), p. 28

IT AIN'T HAY. By David Dodge. (Simon & Schuster, $2). You remember that hard-fighting C.P.A. James Whitney, and you remember his creator's tight vigorous prose; they're among S.F.'s better products. This time Whit get involved in the marijuana racket, which results in copious mayhem (largely in his and my favorite local restaurant) and nearly breaks up his marriage. Tough, colorful story, admirably and terrifyingly told.
   This World (San Francisco Chronicle), vol. 10, no. 37 (Jan. 19, 1947), p. 19
   (reviewed by Anthony Boucher)

IT AIN'T HAY. By David Dodge. 218 pp. New York: Simon & Schuster. $2.
   Tax consultant James Whitney is brutally beaten up by three thugs because he has refused to make out a fraudulent income tax return for a racketeer named Barney Steele. What Steele's racket is Whitney does not know, nor does he know where Steele is to be found, but he is determined to run the man down and repay him in kind for the beating. After that he will let the police do the rest. Despite the warnings of the police and the pleas of his wife, Whitney proceeds on the course which he has laid out for himself and does not desist until he has had his revenge and has put an end to a peculiarly vicious racket carried on under the cloak of a legitimate business. Individual revenge is not an ideal motive for a detective, but in this case it makes an exciting story with enough violence and murder to satisfy the most bloodthirsty reader.
   The New York Times Book Review, vol. 52, no. 3 (Jan. 19, 1947), p. 33
   (reviewed by Isaac Anderson) 


 
Next page of Book Reviews Next reviews
 

David Dodge Home | Novels | Travel Books | Short Stories | Travel Articles | Plays | Biography | Scrapbook | Miscellany
Copyright © 2000-2001 Randal Brandt <rbrandt@library.berkeley.edu>
All rights reserved. All images copyright of the publishers.
Updated December 4, 2001.