"Better Safe Than Sorry"

cowritten with Michael Avallone

Mike Avallone, who used to bill himself as "The Fastest Typewriter in the East," wrote hundreds of books filled with some of the most outrageously careless prose you will ever read. Bill Pronzini devoted an entire chapter to Avallone's unique "style" in Gun in Cheek, his survey of bad detective fiction — and another chapter in the sequel, Son of Gun in Cheek.

Avo was a legendary self-promoter — loud, brash, often obnoxious — and the major mystery editors eventually grew tired of him and stopped publishing him. That's why this story — which is a tight, taut, terrific little tale and devoid of what critic Mike Nevins called "Avalloneisms"— wound up appearing in the semiprofessional Hardboiled instead of a higher-quality publication.

It's a shame, really. This story deserved a wider audience, and it never got one.

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