Wednesday, July 10, 2019

45. Deadly Welcome by John D. MacDonald

So I was in Vancouver and did some fairly decent book-hunting. One thing I noted was the messiness of used bookstores.  Even the main Pulp Fiction store on Main was uncharacteristically cluttered with boxes so that you couldn't get at some shelves.  Macleod's was absolutely out of control.  There was literally a horizontal pile of books going along the back wall as if they had been dumped there by a bulldozer.  I am sure there are major space limitations and it may be that used books are coming in at an unprecedented rate as 20th century book owners die off.  Nevertheless, I find it deplorable.  There are ways to organize your stock to allow customers access and to allow you to more efficiently get the sellable stuff on the shelves.  Sometimes I want to just volunteer myself to spend six months in some of these bookstores whipping them into shape.

That being said, I did make a really nice little find at Macleod's.  7 of the late Ed Gorman's top 10 non-Travis McGee John D. MacDonald's all in a pile on the floor.  I have spoken before (and had some nice comments about) the ubiquity of his books, but these were just too beautiful to pass up.  Plus any opportunity to render hommage to Mr. Gorman I will take.  Check these beauties out!

Unfortunately, the first one I read, Deadly Welcome, I did not like as much as Ed.  It starts out as a spy novel, where an agent is sent back to his home town to convince a retired genius engineer to come back and work for the government.  The old engineer is holed up in this Florida shithole because his wife, who was from there and dragged him back there, was also murdered there and he can't move on.  So it veers quickly into a murder mystery.  The small town is portrayed exquisitely (and depressingly) and the brutal deputy sheriff who dominates the downtrodden of the region with the tacit support of the law-abiding citizens is an excellent antagonist.  Unfortunately, it all felt a bit rushed. The mystery was not mysterious and the resolution was only extended with a kidnapping of the main female character (and burgeoning love interest) you could see coming for pages and felt very unecessary.  I am not too critical because this was originally a short story that MacDonald expanded into a novel, but so far probably my least favourite of his non-McGee novels.  As Gorman said "Not all JDM fans like this novel but I’ve read it three or four times and enjoyed it every trip out." and I must include myself in that group of not all JDM fans.

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