ace D-17a | Roney Scott (=William Campbell Gault): Shakedown… | Flickr

Shakedown was the very first of Gault’s Joe Puma novels, but it has very little to do with the other Joe Puma novels. It seems likely that Gault simply reused the name Joe Puma for his new private eye five years later in End of a Call Girl.

Shakedown is nasty and hardboiled with almost no soft edges. The Joe Puma here is capable of just about anything and little more than a crook, a conman, a conniver, a backstabber, a pimp, a tough guy, a blackmailer, and a witness tamperer. It is the story of a rotten unsentimental guy who thinks he knows a way out a frame up and has no loyalty to anyone. It’s a narrative told by a tough guy operator from his perspective and it works real well as a hardboiled story.

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