This is Old Bloody's day of atonement, when he screams mea culpa for the good ones that he should have ticked off earlier than this. But to adapt one of the better drama's title--maybe Heaven waited, just for you. Ask your favorite bookstore to get them for you. Each one is worth its weight in ice chips sprinkled on your spine.
For what could be more delightful for us crime aficionados than a tale of the many triumphs of the famous Vidocq, the French predecessor of Sherlock Holmes and the cafe chum of Balzac and Dumas? All the charm and wit and naughtiness of Gay Paree spice I Am Vidocq, by Vincent McConnor (Dodd Mead: $16.95), with Vidocq himself ratiocinating in its spotlight. Pour yourself a nice wine, keep the bottle chilled and handy, take off your shoes and live it up with this one. I'll bet a pocketful of phony francs that you will revel in it.
And add to your catch-up list The Moseley Receipt, by Kenneth Royce (Stein & Day: $15.95). In this, Britain's XYY man, Spider Scott, traces backward through time a series of baffling murders linked only by a paper signed by Sir Oswald Moseley, Fascist admirer of the prewar 1930s. Oddly, perhaps, Spider is blocked at each move by Britain's Home Office, the Foreign Service and MI 6. What the devil goes on? Whose toes are getting mangled? Who dreads post-war exposure? But Spider doesn't really give a damn about the Old Boys' Gang. Either truth will out--or he will.
And yet another that digs down into that peculiar period in Great Britain's history--Back Toward Lisbon by Allison Cole (Dodd, Mead: $14.95). Mystery No. 1, who exactly is the author, said by the publisher to be "living in California under another name." You'll see why as you read it, for involved somehow (oh, you'll find out!) is the former chauffeur of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, who themselves were involved--ah, but just how involved is for you to determine. An enigma wrapped within a mystery wrapped--something like that, or maybe just baloney. Figure it out yourself.
And yet another dandy, in which you, gentle readers, face the test of your deductive powers--The Fourth Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders (Putnam's: $17.95). Murder most foul has climaxed the career of psychiatrist Simon Ellerbe, who knew too much about what made his patients tick, and tick, and keep on ticking--until at last one of them blew Dr. Ellerbe to hell and almost back again. But why? May I suggest a double sedative while you are pondering this? The author of "The Anderson Tapes" has banged the bull's-eye once again. Dead center, you could say.
More intrigue, more tragic intrigue, this time dating back to that dark day in Dallas--Nov. 23, 1963--when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. This novel, The Back of the Tiger by Jack Gerson (Beaufort: $14.95) treats fictionally, and extremely well, with an American tragedy that I, for one, would not prefer to think of as the motivating factor of a thriller. I recall too well the shocking horror of that day. But that is personal--I was leaving Dallas on that day, by plane, and just as we were pulling out, bystanders screamed the news at us. Most of us wept.
Old Bloodie (me, that is) forever seems to be apologizing for delays in ticking off the good ones that he reads, and here I go again. For Pete's sake and your own get The Long Journey Home by Michael Gilbert (Harper & Row: $13.95)--his 26th novel, but the first of them I've read. Imagine this--one guy, thought to be dead, not only is alive but has managed to antagonize the Mafia in Italy, the Union Corps in France, plus the bigwigs in a London corporation that is tops in the computer business. Oh, he's also got pals--a monk, a smuggler, a pawnshop operator and a very special gal. The odds look sort of bad right on until the denouement.
And for our finale today we get curiouser and curiouser (apologies to Wonderland's Alice) with The Twelfth of April by Roy Doliner (Crown: $16.95). Its major premise, around which its plot and the action revolve, is that President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not die naturally at Warm Springs--he was murdered, and the great cover-up already is under way. Not the fact of Roosevelt's death, of course, but the reasons behind it. I'd do you no favor to disclose them here, except that they involve the post-war fate of Europe, and eventually perhaps the world.