Friday, April 13, 2012
Forgotten Books: Weep for Me -- John D. MacDonald
Would it be worth it to buy one? To a fanatic collector, sure. To a reader? Probably not. As the author himself was aware, this isn't top-shelf MacDonald. He wrote a letter about it to The JDM Bibliophile back in the days when I was a subscriber and called it an imitation of James M. Cain. I guess that's not too far off. It's the story of Kyle Cameron, a bank teller, who's stuck in his dead-end job and engaged to a perfectly sweet but boring young woman. Then the bank hires Emily Randolph. Uh-oh. She's one of those hot noir women that men can't resist. Well, Kyle can't, anyway, and he's soon obsessed by her. Can you guess what happens?
Well, maybe you can't, since Emily doesn't want him to kill her husband. All she wants him to do is help her embezzle $250,000 from the bank. Of course he does it, and of course complications ensue. Plenty of them. By the time they get to Mexico (on their way to the no-extradition-treaty paradise of Argentina), the wheels really come off.
Since this is a John D. MacDonald novel, it has a lot of virtues. For the most part, it's fast and engrossing. It has some flaws, though. There's some embarrassing dialogue (but then there's some of that in a lot of MacDonald's work), the characters aren't as effective as most in MacDonald's novels (at least not Cameron), and the ending is really weak. It doesn't work at all, at least for me. I'll bet it didn't work for MacDonald, either, when he thought about it. Still, if you ever run across a copy for half the cover price, snap it up. You won't regret it.
Bonus: Here's a link to my flickr page with photos of the covers of my JDM collection.