Friday, February 25, 2011

Forgotten Books: Never Live Twice -- Dan J. Marlowe

I'm a sucker for amnesia stories, so this one can't miss with me. The narrator doesn't just have amnesia. He has double amnesia.

The story opens when his wife and her brother are committing what they hope is the perfect murder, but he survives and disappears. For a while. When he returns, he has no idea that the two of them tried to kill him, and he begins to put his life back together.

Except not quite. He has a memory of when he was someone else entirely, and that memory gets him involved in some hanky-panky that was going on without his knowledge. It's the reason his brother-in-law wanted to kill him. And then . . . .

Well, it's complicated. Trust me. And the plot is a little muddled by things that Marlowe obviously didn't plan too well when he started
writing. I'd tell you more, but you don't want to know.

I will tell you that there's one scene that made me very uncomfortable, a scene that I might not
have noticed so much back
when I first read the book, but one that's almost guaranteed to make me squirm now. It's supposedly germane to the plot, but still . . . .

That aside, the book has the kind of readability that the best of the Gold Medal writers give you. If the plotting's a little shaky, so what? They don't write 'em like this anymore, no matter how much they might like to.

11 comments:

Fred Blosser said...

Great read that speeds along like a bullet. Someone really should bring this one and Marlowe's other GM novels back into print. It was interesting to see the original GM cover; the edition I have is a 1974 reprint from when GM was bolstering the new Earl Drake "Operation:" titles with some of Marlowe's backlist.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I love amnesia stories too. That and time traveling tales. I will look for this one.

Todd Mason said...

Who and his wife are trying to kill him? (That's missing above.)

Charming 1950s sensitivity bits?

Well, it does sound interesting...

Bill Crider said...

Fixed the glitch, Todd. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

RANDOM HARVEST, Patti?

Donald Hamilton also did an amnesia story, if I remember correctly.

Jeff

Julia Madeleine said...

Ahh the old amnesia angle. Love it. I like the caption on the book cover, "Can't a woman change her mind about murder?"

John said...

I found this Marlowe title in my favorite used bookstore a few weeks ago. Now I'll have to go back and see if it's still where I stashed it. Was cashless at the time and the store is a cash only place. Yes, they still exist - even in the Windy City.

Jeff - The Hamilton book is called NIGHT WALKER. Woolrich's excellent THE BLACK CURTAIN is one of my favorite amnesia books. Also, NET OF COBWEBS by the underappreciated Elisabeth Sanxay Holding.

Deb said...

Love NET OF COBWEBS, although I think the protagonist is actually suffering from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (that makes his memory hazy and unreliable) rather than amnesia.

Coincidently, I just finished George Baxt's THE AFFAIR AT ROYALTIES about a catatonic woman found clutching a knife in a blood-stained kitchen. When she comes back to consciousness, she has no memory of what has happened to her.

Juri said...

Doesn't sound the book I've read (in Finnish translation). Is the main character's name Ted Blaine?

Bill Crider said...

That's one of his names, Juri. maybe i just didn't describe it well.

Juri said...

Okay, thanks, Bill. It is the book.