The author of the classics “Little Caesar”, “High Sierra” and “The Asphalt Jungle” used an alias for this one book about a tough but fair cop known as Big Stan The Merciful. He’s assigned to track down a man who is terrorizing women. This is one of the better Gold Medal originals.
Stanislaus Hinchman is assigned to the notorious station 12 in Polishtown. His job is to catch the criminal known as The Black Phantom. The name comes from the black mask he wears. With him is his friend and fellow officer Joe Fay.
The Phantom is peeking into windows and assaulting women on the street and stealing their purses. At station 12 Stan and Joe meet policewoman Eva. She’s flirty and one night she and Stan go across the street for a sandwich.
That night Stan’s wife Ruth gets an anonymous call about Stan and Eva. He manages to explain the real deal. Later on Ruth sees the Phantom peeking in her window. Eva is used as a decoy to trap the man. He takes the bait and is killed by an officer that’s been keeping an eye on Eva. Everyone’s happy. Case closed.
Stan now works for a Detective who glad hands everyone but does little work. It doesn’t matter because he’s well liked. Stan does the paperwork. The calm ends as a sixteen year old girl is killed in Polishtown.
Stan’s back at station 12 with Joe. Joe is always joking and keeps trying to get something going with Eva. Stan gets a hunch about the head of the police garage and investigates. Is he the Black Phantom?
This isn’t a classic but it’s still a good read from one of the crime masters.