Medical Examiner (1963)

William H.A. Carr
Magnum Books

Before there was Quincy, there was Medical Examiner! 

Alan Blake M.D. is just out of the Air Force and looking to establish himself in a good honest career.  After a stint as an Assistant Medical Examiner in New York, he accepts his cop brother's invitation to apply for the head job in another city.  As advertised ("A young doctor turns medical sleuth--in a city rigged to kill him"), Blake gets caught up in a pulp mystery.  But mainly the book is about the masculine pleasures of a job well done.  Here is Carr describing the simple act of Blake's morning preparations for work:

He finished shaving, sang ribald songs from his Air Force days as he showered, then put on his trousers of gray tweed.  He filled his tobacco pouch, selected a fresh pipe from his rack, filled his lighter, and moistened the humidifier in the pouch.  He put a rep tie of black and gold about his neck, tying it with a Windsor knot.

Beyond these manly rituals, there is also a new staff to supervise, colorful beat reporters to negotiate, and pretty young women to evaluate as potential marriage material.

Blake apparently has moved to a town of idiots, since right out of the chute every single case he investigates has been mishandled by the police. Father accused of spanking his son to death...No! The boy had a tumor on his thalamus, he died of "natural causes."  Obvious suicide clutching bottle of pills...Ho Ho, Oh no!  The husband forced her to write a note at knife point and take the drugs!  

Most of Blake's time, however, goes into solving a suspicious hit-and-run, which becomes especially suspicious after he gets the crap beat out of him by two thugs attempting to dissuade him from going any further with the case.  But he does anyway, leading to an ending that would make any civic-minded citizen recognize every city's need for an honest M.E.

In classic pulp fashion, Blake takes time out to have a one-night stand with a sexpot looking to hire him as a private consultant on another case--but ultimately opts for the cute stenographer at the hospital who, in addition to having a good sense of humor, can listen to him dictate autopsy notes without retching. 

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