August 10, 2002: Here's my take on Gold Medal writer Wade Miller (actually a writing team), as posted to rara-avis, the hardboiled listserv:
I thought I might as well read Wade Miller's THE TIGER'S WIFE (1951) for a very good reason: I'd never read it before. I'd read several others by the Miller team, though, including the one that's probably my favorite of theirs, THE BIG GUY (1953). Before reading THE TIGER'S WIFE, in fact, I scanned THE BIG GUY to see if it was as good as I remembered. It was. Great opening: "Joe Drum glanced dispassionately at the blood on his knuckles. It was not his own blood. Even if it had been, the mere sight of blood would have lighted no fire of emotion in his eyes, which were a rusty-brown color like old armor plate. Noe one ever knew what went on inside Joseph T. Drum, and he was proud of that. He dried his knuckles on the clothes of the mand held pinioned before him." And there's an even better ending, which really impressed me Back in the Day. I read it again, and it's still good. I won't quote it because it's a spoiler. I wonder, though, if Peter Rabe didn't go to school on Wade Miller.
But I digress. Back to THE TIGER'S WIFE. Another classic GM situation: a guy meets a beautiful woman and they marry in haste. As the book goes along, he begins to discover that she isn't at all what he thought she was. That's the case here. Lucius Bohy is a knockaround guy, gun-runner, soldier of fortune, nicknamed The Tiger. You know the type from other GM books. He meets Jill Spring and before he realizes it, his life is really changed. This is definitely not a feminist tract. Maybe it's the reverse, but again I don't want to give away too much. Readable and slick, and if there's way too much of that irritating love talk, there's a good reason for it. The psychology is very 1950s, but that's part of the book's appeal for me. There's some hot (for the early 1950s) sex, some of it just a little kinky. And another great ending.
If you have any of these early Miller books in your collection, give one a try.