Dividend on Death

Dividend on DeathA Mike Shayne Detective Story
by Brett Halliday

Dividend on Death is the first Mike Shayne detective novel (I believe there were some short stories before this book). Its central mystery involves an elderly man on the brink of death, his wife (who’s murdered), and her daughter by a previous marriage who may or may not have murdered her. Some thoughts:

  • There’s plenty of punching throughout the novel. Shayne gets beaten to unconsciousness a couple times; it just makes him more ornery. Oh, and he gets shot, with four bullets, and survives.
  • Shayne thinks a lot of himself — and why not? The hot dames all want some red-head detective action. One passage of particular import in this regard:

    Mike: Who killed Mrs. Brighton?
    Charlotte: Who cares? Kiss me again, Mike.
    Mike: I care. I’ll kiss you plenty…after you tell me.

  • One part of the mystery, the debutante who may have killed her mother, turns on a crazy psychiatrist who cared more about science than people. Fits with the usual themes in your classic hard-boiled detective novels: figures of authority are untrustworthy. Also, Mike gives the new police detective, a hard-ass named Painter, a real runaround.

I think I liked A Taste for Violence better, but mostly because the mystery was a little less convoluted. The solution to this one was a little more muddled.

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