Stark House is bringing out a great Day Keene triple-decker. You couldn't buy even one of the original editions of the three books included here for the price of this volume, and if you did, you'd miss out on David Laurence Wilson's introduction. It's mostly about Joy House, and if you're interested in paperbacks of the '50s, it's a must read. Wilson's re-edited the original manuscript for this volume, so that's another big bonus.
I read Wake Up to Murder because I have a copy of the original edition that I've never read. It's a bit fragile, so I was glad to have this new copy. The story's about an ordinary guy, Jim Charters, who has an okay job, lives in an okay house in an okay neighborhood, and is married to a beautiful woman. He drinks too much now and then, and when he's fired on his birthday (which his wife seems to have forgotten), he goes out and ties one on. He wakes up in bed with no memory of the night before and a woman who (and this surprised me) is very much alive. Plus there's an envelope with $10,000 in it.
So what does someone want Charters to do for the money? And how did he get it? When he drinks, he talks too much, so he probably shot off his mouth about something, but what? And to whom? Did he say something about the woman that he'd just visited in the Death House? Why would anybody care about her? Even more complications ensue, and soon Charters is on the run, accused of murder, and his wife has been kidnapped. It's just one thing after another until it's all wrapped up.
Wake Up to Murder is one of those paperbacks that seems to have been aimed at Gold Medal and just missed. That means it's still very well done, and it's worth reading just for the descriptions of the Sunshine Coast of Florida in the early 1950s. Keene's excellent on the details. Great stuff.