McKimmey wrote a number of paperback originals for Dell. I’ve enjoyed them all and that includes this one about gambling and the underworld.
Mark Steele is an engineer who drifts from job to job. Right now he’s in San Francisco. He gets a visitor at his hotel who looks almost just like him. It’s Thomas Byrd, the twin brother he never knew he had.
Byrd is a playboy and a gambler and hasn’t worked a day in his life. His rich Uncle Gosset controls the family fortune. He never approved of the boy’s father’s marriage and that’s how the twins got seperated.
Byrd is in trouble with some gamblers in Las Vegas. He dropped a hundred thousand and they want their money now. He has sixty thousand. He wants Mark to masquerade as him and deal with the gang. He says Mark is a tough guy while he’s a coward. He’s due to inherit a trust fund in eight months. The gangsters can’t wait that long.
He offers Mark ten grand plus if he gets the bad guys to except fifty thousand, he can keep the difference. Mark says okay and goes to Reno. He figures no one there knows Byrd and he can be contaced there. He’s also counting on the fact that the ranch where Byrd gambled was dark enough that no one would recognize the difference between the two.
He talks with a croupier in a sleazy club he’s sure is a contact for mobster Nick Nicole. Later he meets Linda and they go to his room. When things start to happen he glances out of the corner of his eye and sees a face. He hustles Linda out without an explanation.
It’s the croupier. The two get into a slugfest and Mark gets the best of him. He calls Linda. She hangs up. Now into his room comes Julie. They leave in her car and it runs out of gas outside of town by an abandoned house.
In side are Freddie and Billy, two of Nicole’s boys. He says he can write a check for fifty thousand. Word gets back to Nick and it’s okay. They leave and Julie drives off leaving him to hitchhike back to Reno. He gets things straightened out with Linda and says he’ll meet her in her room.
Freddie and Billy are in his hotel room. The check bounced. Now they want to bounce him. He gets the best of them and decides to head back to San Francisco and then grab a train and hunt up Byrd in Beverly Hills.
The pace is really fast without rushing over the storyline. You just might put off doing anything until you finish it. This is a real good one.