Long considered one of the best of the Black Mask authors, author Robert Reeves’s longest-running detective character actually first appeared in the 1939 novel, Dead and Done For. Cellini Smith, accountant for a New York City pinball gangster, must clear his boss’s name after being accused of murder. Featuring an introduction by Black Mask editor Kenneth S. White, and a cover illustration by the great Rafael de Soto.
“The three men stepped out of the elevator and walked down the corridor. The thick maroon carpet absorbed their foot-falls. They stopped at the fifth floor. The man with the soft fingers drew out a thirty-eight. He was no longer nervous. The man with the pleasant voice pulled a shotgun from under his topcoat. Then the big man flung the door wide open. There was a body sprawled over the floor of the living-room. Someone had been there before them….
“And to Tony, the wise-guy, the big-shot, who had a beautiful alibi for the time when he walked into that room but had none at all for earlier in the day, was a cinch for the cops. To whom could he turn? Only Cellini. A scholar and athlete, he was nevertheless a gangster’s employee. He know his way around. Tony got his money’s worth out of him. By the time Cellini got through, there were other corpses….”
“[Reeves] can hold his own with the best, giving you as sharp and action-packed a story-line as any of them, brightened by vivid dialog and enlivened by the presence of Cellini Smith, who is unique among hard-boiled private eyes in being admittedly an intellectual—and tough enough to get away with it.”
— Anthony Boucher