Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Kill Me In Atami


Burns Bannion #6: “Kill Me In Atami” by Earl Norman (Norman Thompson). This one could have been a Bud & Lou comedy film. Bannion is hired by a wealthy widow, Mrs. Hikonami. She wants a renter removed from her estate. Legal action would take years, but she wants Bannion to see that he leaves early, even if it means a karate chop to back of the neck. But there’s more to the case, as he soon finds out. The widow’s husband was murdered by a karate blow to the back of the head, forcing the head into a sharp instrument, but everybody says it was a suicide. En route to the estate, Bannion picks up a ‘wooley booger’ girl (read the book to find out) who loves sex, but someone hangs him and pins a suicide note on his chest. Arriving at the mansion, he finds the widow’s sister, Fujiwara, and Mrs. Hikonami’s daughter, Asako.  The three women are exact images of each other. Over the next three nights, the power goes off, and one of them enters his room to seduce him, but he never knows which one. Except that it isn’t the 300-pound maid, who also knows karate. There are hidden passages behind a bookcase, tunnels beneath the mansion, and monsters lurking about the tunnels and an abandoned sanitarium nearby. More supposed suicides happen, men hanging in the tunnel, and Bannion’s wooley booger girl inside the sanitarium. This is one of my favorites in the series. Thought Hedges is mentioned, he isn’t in this story. Inspector Ezawa introduces Bannion to Mrs. Hikonami, and then we don’t see him any more. Oddly, this is the only Burns Bannion novel not reprinted in the ERLE Edition in Japan. It’s only available in the American Berkley 1962 printing. I might add at this point that the Berkley editions were well edited, while the Japanese ERLE editions were not.

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