Book Review: Johnny Staccato by Frank Boyd

Title: Johnny Staccato

Author: Frank Boyd

Format: Electronic edition, Coffee Cup Press

Published: 2015 (electronically)


It’s no secret that I love tv tie-ins.  What may be becoming apparent with each of these reviews I do is that I actually have a preference for tv tie-ins related to obscure shows, the less known the better, actually.   I have plenty of tie-in novels from well known series, but the books based on shows very few remember have a special place in my reading heart.  So, stumbling across the electronic version of Johnny Staccato was a bit of good fortune for me.

Johnny Staccato was a television series that ran for 27 episodes from 1959 to 1960 featuring John Cassevetes. Staccato was a hep Private Eye who had already made a name for himself as a noted Jazz key ticker, a piano player.

In the novel written by Frank Kane, using the pseudonym of Frank Boyd, Staccato is hired by an old girlfriend who has made a name for herself as a singer to prove she is not a murderer. The victim was an influential Disc Jockey who used his ability to make hits for singers to essentially get his way with singers and to make money from the record companies and music publishers, pretty much based on the Payola scandals of the 1950s.  Staccato sets out to figure out who killed the platter spinner that no one likes and has plenty of suspects available to accuse.  All he knows for sure is the woman he once loved with a voice like an angel is not a killer, even as the bodies start to pile up.

Johnny Staccato is a whole lot of fun.   The jazz influence of Staccato being a pianist adds a certain atmosphere to the book, both to the narrative and to the dialogue, which is always cool. The mystery is fairly standard and hits every mark that it needs to: a violent murder to start with, more to follow, plenty of suspects, and Staccato being on the outs with the police.

With all that, the mystery in this book isn’t the only thing that is standard.  There’s nothing about Johnny Staccato that makes it stand out as a mystery, as a tv tie-in, or as a book in general. Boyd (Kane) tells the story in the third person and goes to little to no effort to describe Staccato or anyone else in the story, unless they were female and attractive.  Is it worth a read? Sure, if You enjoy this sort of book.

Johnny Staccato earns three out of five pages.  A definite read for people who enjoy jazz touched Private Eye 1950s/60s type tales, but really nothing to make it a must add to anyone’s list.

It’s also an average three out of six bullets for my own scale.  Because it’s a tv tie-in and because it’s a PI novel, I enjoyed it.  It was worth a read and that was really about it.

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