Friday, October 16, 2009

Forgotten Books: MURDER -- Harold Adams

Murder is the first book in Harold Adam's series about Carl Wilcox, an ex-con living, for the moment, in Corden, a small town in South Dakota during the Great Depression. I don't know how many books there were in the series, but one of them, The Man Who Was Taller than God, won a Shamus Award from the Private-Eye Writers of America.

Wilcox isn't a private-eye, however. He's a hobo and a sign-painter, but he always seems to be around some small town when a murder takes place. It's a good thing he's so good at solving crimes.

In Murder, Wilcox is fresh out of prison (armed robbery), and settling in back in his hometown. Before long, however there are three murders, and Wilcox decides that he'd better help solve them before the sheriff decides that an ex-con is just the man to take the blame.

The Wilcox novels are sold, old-fashioned entertainment. By that I mean they aren't flashy. They don't involve plots that affect the fate of the world. They're set in small towns and peopled with small-town characters. Wilcox likes women and booze, but he's trying to avoid the latter and go straight. He makes an engaging narrator as Adams talks about the way things used to be, when murder was personal and people weren't so very different from the way they are now, though the times certainly were. The next time you want to take a trip back to a simpler era, you could do a lot worse than to sample one of Adams' books.


Gerard said...

I remember buying this series but I never read one.

Ed Gorman said...

A master writer. I talked him into writing a short story for an anthology. He said he hadn't had much experience with the form. His story was a brooding piece on how outsiders are treated by society. It was heart-breaking and perfectly done.