It has to be said that the movie incarnations of Mike Shayne bear little resemblance to Halliday’s hardboiled creation.
Mike has reason to be less amused when his latest case goes bad. Really bad. He was hired by a wealthy woman, Mrs Ramsey (Helen Heigh), who’s been receiving threatening letters. Mr Ramsey (Pierre Watkin) then offers Mike a thousand dollars to help him pull an insurance swindle, which of course Mike has no intention of doing. Then two people wind up dead and an old pal of Mike’s, an ex-con named Joe Darnell who’s been trying to go straight, seems to be responsible. And Mike is implicated. Mike is certain it was a setup. To clear Joe’s name (and his own) he’ll have to find the murderer and he won’t get any help from the cops.
There’s also night-club owner Buell Renslow. Since he’s played by Lyle Talbot we know he’s up to no good.
Fred Myton’s screenplay is solid enough, providing us with numerous suspects all of whom are involved in shady dealings but shady dealings don’t necessarily add up to murder.
Sam Newfield was an incredibly prolific but reasonably competent B-picture director and he keeps the pacing satisfyingly brisk.
Being a PRC production means that this was a very low budget feature but you don’t need much money to make a decent private eye flick. As Jean-Luc Godard once said, all you need is a girl and a gun.
Murder Is My Business is slightly more hardboiled than the 20th Century-Fox Shayne movies. You could describe it as mediumboiled. Fortunately there are no irritating comic relief characters. It offers a decent mystery plot and a likeable lead. There's plenty of action and lots of fistfights (and a catfight as well). It all adds up to very solid B-movie entertainment. I actually enjoyed this one more than the 20th Century-Fox movies. Highly recommended.
I’ve reviewed the 1945 Brett Halliday novel Murder Is My Business which appears to share nothing with this movie other than the title!
I’ve also reviewed the four 20th Century-Fox Mike Shayne movies - Michael Shayne: Private Detective (1940), The Man Who Wouldn't Die (1942), Sleepers West (1941) and Blue, White and Perfect (1942).