Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dying for a Refund

I’ve been waiting for months to post this book jacket. And I could hardly have picked a better day than this: April 15, aka Tax Day in the United States. While political right-wingers and Fox News talking heads, upset at President Barack Obama’s campaign to repair the sour U.S. economy left behind by his predecessor, gather in ragtag “Tea Parties” at various points around the country to protest progressive taxation, government spending, the supposedly detrimental ideas students are taught in college (as if ignorance were really bliss), and the general fact that one of their own isn’t in charge anymore, everybody else will be filing their tax forms or feeling smug that they already completed that annual deed weeks ago.

The title of this book comes, of course, from a saying attributed to U.S. Founding Father Benjamin Franklin: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” However, Franklin makes no appearance in the novel.

It’s the work of David Dodge (1910-1974), a onetime certified public accountant, who, after making a bet with his wife (he insisted he could come up with a novel that was better than those they’d been reading), produced Death and Taxes, a 1941 mystery starring hard-boiled San Francisco tax expert James “Whit” Whitney. According to a write-up at the Web site, A David Dodge Companion, Death and Taxes finds Whitney
summoned home from a vacation in Santa Cruz to help his partner, George MacLeod, recover a hefty tax refund for a beautiful blonde client named Marian Wolff. When he returns to his office, Whit finds MacLeod dead in the firm’s vault, “with a small hole in the bridge of his nose.” In order to complete the tax return and uncover the murderer, Whit becomes a reluctant detective and nearly gets himself killed in the process. To prevent Whit’s murder, if possible, the SFPD assigns him a bodyguard named Swede Larson. Whit and Swede tangle with ex-bootleggers and Telegraph Hill gangsters in their efforts to unravel the mystery, which climaxes with a shootout in the Mission District and a dramatic car chase across the Bay Bridge. Along the way, Whit resists the advances of Marian Wolff and begins a romance with Kitty MacLeod, George’s widow.
The cover of this 1948 Popular Library edition was illustrated by Rudolph Belarski, who, beginning in the 1930s, created paperback covers that featured “voluptuous dames in distress mixing it up with square-jawed detectives and thugs.” Belarski’s distinctive creations were also familiar from works by Steve Fisher, William Irish, Helen Reilly, and other authors.

READ MORE:Tea Party Fallout: Independents Turned Off, Some GOPers Worried,” by Sam Stein (The Huffington Post); “Taxes, in Context,” by Steve Benen (The Washington Monthly).

6 comments:

Joseph Travis Garnett said...

Hey, I little tax revolt sound like a good idea to me. Unless you would like to contribute more yourself, I wouldn't begrudge any American from non-violently voicing their right to question what any Gov't (Federal, State, or Local) takes from their paycheck.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

I don't have anything against peaceful protests. But I wish that the people doing that protesting were better informed than to make ludicrous statements such as "Obama is a fascist" or "the Obama administration is going to take all of our guns away"--neither of which has any basis in fact. Most of the small number of people shouting and whining for the cameras yesterday were simply spouting Limbaugh Party lines and are likely set, in any case, to receive tax decreases under the president's economic plans.

It's a sad day, when their statements represent the level of political discourse in the United States.

Cheers,
Jeff

Joseph Travis Garnett said...

I don't understand. If a Republican or Moderate gets on a public stand and participates in a peaceful and organized protest, it's called whining and a sad day for the United States. But when those whacked out leftists are out there, its called "concerned citizens upset at the direction our wayward nation is headed."

Come on! Only Democrats and the far left can have "structured" protests?

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Nope. Dumb statements and ignorant people are the same, no matter whether they're Republicans, Democrats, or Independents. And yesterday's protests seemed to bring out mostly uninformed folk, goaded on by organizers and FOX "News" personalities who apparently see some benefit (at least to them) in spreading anger rather than information.

Cheers,
Jeff

Joseph Travis Garnett said...

I think when the Dems and the Left see Republicans protest like this, It scares them. They had the corner on this type of activity and a new message is appearing. Obama and the Left Media that put him in power are taking note, they didn't expect this movement that has just started. More will come and they are fearful for the 2010 elections.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Oh, please. Yesterday's ragtag protests demonstrated the paucity of political understanding from some quarters of the U.S. population, not any meaningful new movement. I suspect that the Republican/Limbaugh Party will again someday find its footing and regain some authority in the United States--if it doesn't completely split apart, the extremists heading off a cliff that the moderates know better than to tread near. But it's probably not going to happen anytime soon, and it's definitely not going to occur because a bunch of angry know-nothings spout insults fed to them by FOX "News" personalities.

This line of debate is getting boring, however. The Rap Sheet isn't supposed to be about politics. So let's end this discussion right here and get back to crime fiction.

Cheers,
Jeff