Hot Dam-Neil MacNeil (Willis Todhunter Ballad) (1960) (Tony Costaine-Bert McCall Series)

Fourth book in the seven book series about P.I.’s  Tony Constaine and Bert McCall. The first was 1958’s “Death Takes an Option” and the last was 1966’s “The Spy Catcher.” They charge high rates and both were formerly with the FBI and OSS.  Tony is the brains and Bert is the brawn. He’s 6’5″ and weighs in a two fifty.

In this outing they’re paid thirty-five grand to investigate problems in upstate New York. Dan Fowler is building a dam that will result in the flooding of a valley. The town of Ryker will be destroyed but Dan had a new one built for the residents to live in after the flood. Trucks and other equipment are missing and four men were killed in what’s thought to be accidents.

As soon as Tony and Bert arrive they see a girl being kidnapped. During the rescue Bert kills one of the men and the rest take off. The girl is Dan’s niece Mary. The kidnappers are members of the McCall Clan of Scotland. Just so happens that’s the same Clan Bert is a part of.

The McCalls are all over 6’5″ and their ninety year old leader is close to seven feet. They don’t want the dam built…at least not yet. Tony and Bert also have to deal with a ghost. One has been seen in the hotel over the years. The place was owned by bootlegger Eddie Hull. He’s now in Sing Sing for killing the husband of his mistress.

Some silliness creeps in as Bert gets involved with the McCalls. Bert even calms them down with his bagpipes. Bert is fond of his booze and is surprised to find out they have high quality Scotch in what seems an unlimited supply. They say it comes from the whiskey mine. The Clan holds Druid like ceremonies and eventually make Bert a Druid with lots of booze, dancing and combat.

Tony and Bert suspect Dan’s foreman but Dan swears by him. They are also suspicious of some of Dan’s other top men but Dan has solid trust in them. One day Tony and Bert spy on the new town and see a line of McCalls building a vault.

The book is a fun read even though the storyline is weak. It’s always nice to revisit the Gold Medal Originals.


About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
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