Sunday, December 18, 2022

Best Vintage Mystery Reprint 2022, part two

 The nomination process continues across the vintage mystery blogosphere this weekend.  Others have theirs posted.  I was away the entire day yesterday, up in Milwaukee to see their version of A Christmas Carol, a delightful adaptation with some stagecraft wizardry I'd never seen before, that was partly inspired by the British Christmas pantomime tradition (the artistic director of Milwaukee Repertory, Mark Clements, is originally is from the UK). Anyway, here I am a day late with my second offering for this year's award for the Best Reprint of the Year or the ROY as it has become known among the  mystery novel cognoscenti.

Once again I've picked a book I've already reviewed in previous years.

No Questions Asked by Edna Sherry

Seems it takes a long time for my tastes in books to appear in new editions.  Stark House Press has managed to snag rights to a rare Edna Sherry book that has never seen a reprint since it first appeared back in 1949. The new edition includes the requisite introduction by our own Curt Evans and gives great detail into Sherry's interesting life, both personal and professional.  He traces her writing roots back to her pulp fiction days and mentions her partnering with two male writers (as I did oh so cursorily in one of my Sherry posts) while also offering up fascinating biographical tidbits.

I first read and reviewed the book back in September 2021. Here are a few paragraphs from what I wrote:

Sherry’s novel is a brilliant mixture of multiple subgenres, a well-oiled machine of suspense and complex conflicted characters. Steve [Lake, the cop protagonist] is enraged with jealousy on one page then overcome with guilt on the next. His snarky and mean spirited lieutenant, a bully of a rival back at the station house, is an opportunistic cop eager for the captain’s desk at the start of the book then morphs into one of Steve’s allies by the end. Vicki [Steve's wife] is torn between telling her husband the truth and continuing with her weakening deceit. The novel is also an intriguing study of the tacit policemen’s code of honor and what cops will do for one another when one of their own is implicated in behavior that could ruin his career and life. In that regard this book is more timely than ever and might be cause for debate among those highly critical of such unwritten and questionable ethics.

No Questions Asked would have made an excellent film or TV episode. Brimming with cinematic details, excellent characters, and the requisite twisty plot peppered with unexpected moments this is a second novel that shows a real pro at work. Some enterprising Hollywood type ought to get a hold of this still resonant and suspenseful novel and could make it as memorable as Sherry's debut novel Sudden Fear that in its cinematic adaptation garnered four Academy Award nominations.

The novel mixes traditional detective novel structure and plotting with espionage and inverted detective novel narrative. We get a mistrustful wife, jealous cop, rival cop looking to shame his colleague and take his place as captain, a Red Scare subplot with a dash of spy stuff, and because this is an Edna Sherry novel some colorful scenes at the horse racetrack. I enjoyed this book quite a bit for its intriguing mix of subgenres and the action oriented story.  I'm glad Stark House brought it back from the limbo of Out-of-Printdom and hope it gains a wide audience. Edna Sherry deserves to be known for all her work not just her debut, Sudden Fear, an excellent crime novel in its own right.


  1. I read the other story in the Stark House Press twofer and I found it okay, but not Sherry's best. So I am glad the half you are nominating is a better read.

    1. I knew the second title in this twofer is a lesser work. Still haven’t read it. But I do like No Questions Asked. It’s her third best, IMO.

  2. This too seems as interesting as your first nomination, John. It is wonderful that the books that you championed on your blog before we even knew about them are finding publishers. Recently I read Jean Potts' The Man with the Cane and what a gripping and moving read it turned out to be.

    1. I seem to have some psychic ability when it comes to predicting reprints. Maybe it’s just an eerie influence. My track record is kind of astonishing for reviewing books years ahead of the reprint.

      You can never go wrong with Jean Potts, I say. Though some of her later books are not the best I’d still read her over many other “hit or miss” writers.

  3. I have never heard of Edna Sherry, but will-do now. Reading an introduction by Otto Penzler to Cayton Rawson, only last year, he mentioned in passing that the only female spinster cigar-ash expert more famous than Miss Marbles was Hildegard Withers. And I had never knew. But bought Puzzle of Happy Holigan. Beats John McDonald hollow, to have an unattractive leading lady,