Monday, January 30, 2006

The Work of the Devil -- Ennis Willie

In a weird example of synchronicity, I, like James Reasoner, went to Half-Price Books not long ago and picked up a rural crime novel from a sleaze publisher. While the book James found cost him three bucks, I got mine for a quarter. And while James's was by Glen Low, mine was by the semi-famous Ennis Willie, who wrote a lot of hardboiled novels featuring a guy named Sand.

This isn't one of those books. It's about Rick Jason, a drifter passing through one of those small southern towns that feature in a lot of books like this. There have recently been two murders in town, so naturally a beautiful woman hires Rick to be her "handyman" and guard her against the killer. The woman's husband has been dead for five years, so Rick knows what she really wants, and he gives it to her on his first night on the job.

The sex is mild by today's standards (the book was published in 1961), but Rick is so busy dishing it out to various women that there's hardly any time for detection, though of course he solves the murders by the end of the book. While this isn't in the same league with Harry Whittington or Day Keene when it comes to backwoods thrills, I was plenty entertained and kept turning the pages. I'd recommend that you read it, but I doubt that you can find a copy. There don't seem to be any available even through Internet book dealers.


Anonymous said...

Any updates on if and when Mr. Willie's books will be republished?

Unknown said...

I haven't heard anything more. A collection of stories was in the works, but that was all I knew about, and I don't know the publication date.