A murder mystery that takes place entirely inside a stuck elevator.
That's the "log line" that's going to sell this book for a film. But since we have a little bit more time to talk about it, let's do that. Although attempting a light, amusing tone, this book splits the difference between Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie, combining hardboiled private eye antics with the pure brainteaser format of the classic "locked room" mystery.
Dack Willman plays the detective game in Los Angeles, just after The War. Hard to pay the rent when you're competing for business with the likes of Philip Marlowe and Mike Hammer, but a man's gotta do what he's gotta do. One hot summer afternoon, the power goes out, trapping Dack in his office building's elevator, along with his "researcher," Palmer Patterson, and six other strangers. Or are they really strangers?
The elevator stops. The lights go out. When they come back on, Palmer is dead. Who did it, and why? There's plenty of time for Dack to interrogate the other passengers in the elevator, who all have hidden motives for seeing Palmer dead. It will take all of Dack's potent powers of observation to ferret out the real killer, but he's determined, and shouldn't be counted out. Can Dack find out who the killer is before he or she strikes again?