The car was hot, and so was the blonde who drove it. A smart shamus like Rusty Forbes should have known better than to hole up with her in a tourist cabin. By the time that little picnic was over, he found himself custodian of a corpse–and on the trail of enough loot to stock a department store.
Too bad for Rusty that some of Chicago’s rougher citizens viewed the situation with alarm. It wasn’t enough that the corpse brought the cops down on him. He also had to battle a horde of hoodlums.
Fortunately, the hot blonde had a cool friend–even bigger and blonder. She gave Rusty, among other nice things, a tip on how to come out of the deal with a buck or two. Whereupon he quit being a fugitive from justice and dished it out instead–with the aid of his pet .38 equalizer!
Milton K. Ozaki was an early Asian-American crime fiction writer who published over twenty novels between 1946 and 1959, under his own name and under the pseudonym Robert O. Saber.
He was only a fair-to-middling pulp writer, but he did have what Bill Pronzini, in Son of Gun in Cheek, calls Ozaki’s “uncanny ability to manufacture similes and metaphors of rare exuberance ingenuity.” That ability pulls his books out of the category of so-so pulp detective fiction and into the ranks of cracked-prose genius.
My favorite Ozaki line is from The Deadly Pick-Up (quoted in Son of Gun in Cheek):
”The back of my head jumped spastically like a caterpillar on a hot stove and my cranial cavity seethed with thick volatile chili juice.”
But Dressed to Kill has some good lines too:
”The blonde strolled to the cabin and unlocked the door. She went in, leaving the door invitingly open. I looked at it and my red corpuscles began to get redder.”
”The hours crawled like invalid eels.”
”I tried to signal him for a refill, but his eyes were devoted to the girl, who wore a sweater which bulged in a way which shouldn’t happen to pure virgin wool. The fellow with her had the lip of a bugler and the hair of a bowling ball.”
And what book-lover could resist this one?
”Musicians, actors, dancers, singers, con men and jeweled ladies—in short, guys and dolls of talent—all flocked to the Frolics as regularly as book-lovers to Kroch’s.”
Dressed to Kill, by Milton Ozaki. Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey: Graphic Books, 1954. Original price: 25 cents. Paperback first. $15.00.