Ed Noon was amused at first when Lucille Prentice came up to him in Benny’s, his favorite drinking place and across the street from his office. You see, Lucille was a ten year old girl and she asked him, “Are you Mr. Noon?”

She wanted to hire him because she was afraid her daddy was going to hurt her mommy and she had money. One small hand held out $1.98 in change.

Noon liked the “little” people and decided to take her home and straighten things out.

The amusement went away when he found a woman in the apartment with her face blown away with a .45 lying beside the body. Paula Prentice had certainly been harmed by somebody.

Guy Prentice was the father and a famous actor and he had a successful play on Broadway. The cops came and Ed filled them in. Guy Prentice seemed almost unconcerned about his dead wife and said he had a show to do that night.

Noon wanted to see the show and wangled tickets to the sold-out with his usual BS. The next thing to happen is someone takes a shot at Prentice, hitting him in the leg and shutting down the show for the night.

A minor wound, Prentice seemed unconcerned about that as well. He did want to hire Noon to protect Lucille, amid protests by Wally Wilder, the play’s author and Helen Tucker, Prentice’s manager. She was one of those perfect women out of Noon’s league, exactly the kind he was attracted to. She made her dislike plain. And Wilder from comments and anger over Noon’s snappy patter was evidently in love with Tucker and he promised he would “discuss” it with the PI later.

The case went downhill fast after that.

Wilder showed up at Benny’s ready to have that “discussion” with Noon. He outweighed Noon by considerable, was younger, and probably in better shape. His problem was that he insisted on fighting fair. Noon had no such scruples.

The pair ended up drinking and talking after it was all over and Noon headed home across the street. On the third floor as he was fishing for his office door key, he was rushed in the dark, chloroformed, and thrown out the window.

Luck was with him as a clothesline strung in the alley broke his fall enough that his landing in the garbage left him with only a badly damaged knee and a headache from the chloroform.

Obviously connected, but how?

It’s soon learned that Paula Prentice was four months pregnant and Prentice admitted they hadn’t had relations in seven months. He was in love with Helen. The marriage had been a mistake to start with, a rebound after his first, to Lucille’s mother, and it was soon to be over.

Noon, bad knee and all, keeps lugging along. Another try by the two goons follows as Noon begins to figure some things out.

Glad to see the Noon series coming back as ebooks. VIOLENCE IN VELVET was the fourth(the first three I had in the original paperbacks). The family intends to bring them all back as well as three nver published Noon adventures.

Bring them on. The Michael Avallone home can be found at the MOUSE AUDITORIUM.