Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Review: Gil Brewer, The Three-Way Split (1960)

The Three-Way Split begins with Gil Brewer reworking the opening of one of of his short stories. In “Death Comes Last” (Hunted Detective Story Magazine, October 1955), Brewer begins with an aggrieved protagonist, who runs a modest charter-boat service, getting shafted out of his fee because his obnoxious clients didn’t catch any fish and one of them lost a watch overboard. The Three-Way Split begins with another aggrieved protagonist running a charter boat, and this time a necklace falls into the Gulf. On this occasion, however, our protagonist—Jack Holland, which also happens to be one of Brewer’s pseudonyms—manages to find the necklace, and he finds something else too: a recently uncovered sunken ship. Perhaps it contains treasure? After this, Brewer rushes to get his other characters on stage: Jack’s girlfriend, his girlfriend’s sister, his friend the old treasure hunter, his ne’er-do-well father, and the men who want to kill his ne’er-do-well father. If you like this sort of thing, how much you ultimately like The Three-Way Split will probably hinge on how effective you find its ending. Currently available as part of a two-fer reprint from Stark House Press. Grade: B-

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