Friday, February 19, 2010

Forgotten Books: To Kiss, or Kill -- Day Keene

Yes, it's yet another of those free books from Munsey's. So once again I read it on the Kindle rather than taking a chance of breaking the brittle spine of the GM edition I own. Here's the opening:

You can never tell what a big, tough Polish boy will do when he finds a nude blonde in his bathroom. Especially if he is a heavyweight fighter who was born back of the yards, is married to a million dollars, and has a psychiatric record.

He might do a number of things. He might tell her to get out. He might yell for his wife. He might blow what's left of his top. He might even do what Barney Mandell did, come to his addled senses.

It really happened, in Chicago. It happened to Barney Mandell on the afternoon of the day he was released from the asylum as cured, because he hadn't wrung a parrot's neck in two years.

Oh, yes. The nude blonde was dead.

Now, I ask you: Who could resist reading on after a beginning like that? Not me, that's for sure.

Interestingly enough, this book's plot bears a strong resemblance to that of Gil Brewer's Flight to Darkness, reviewed right here on your favorite blog two months ago. There's the guy who's just out of the asylum, there's the woman he loves, there are all these weird things happening to him, and there are people dying all around him. Brewer and Keene were friends in Florida, and I suspect they talked about possible plots. We know they collaborated on one Keene novel. This one's quite different from Brewer's book in the way it plays out. The Chicago setting along makes sure of that. And then there's the parrot.

As usual with Keene's work, there's plenty to enjoy, all in a nice, tight package. Considering that Munsey's has this book in 10 different formats, there's no reason you can't check it out if you want to.


pattinase (abbott) said...

It is amazing you can get older books on Kindle and that does serve quite a good use.

George said...

I'm getting more and more tempted to buy a Kindle.

Richard Robinson said...

That's a great cover! I wish you'd put a larger image of it up when we clicked... The book sounds interesting, and I;ll bet it doesn't run much past 110 pages and probably doesn't need to. Does the ending wrap it up or do the characters (those still alive) just kind of wander away, something I've seen in other Keene books?

Unknown said...

I was too lazy to scan my own copy, Rick, so that's the image I pulled from the Munsey's site. The ending of this one it pretty much tied up neatly, with no wandering off.

August West said...

This was the first Day Keene novel that I read. And that was a long time ago, so long that I don't remember anything about the novel. What I do recall was that I wasn't overly impressed with it. But it did get me to read more of Day Keene's work. And after I read more, he became one of my favorite authors. Novels that I really enjoyed - "Joy House," Bring Him Back Dead," "Take a Step to Murder," "There Was A Crooked Man" and "Home Is the Sailor." Also with a great cover,"If the Coffin Fits."

Unknown said...

That last one has the great "needle cover," doesn't it?

Evan Lewis said...

Hm. That's a good selling point for Kindle. A lot of my old pbs are so brittle I'm afraid reading them will make the pages fall out. This seems especially true of the old Harlequin mysteries.

Eric Beetner said...

Great opening! This is one to keep an eye out for. I had no idea there were free Kindle versions of old pulps. Sounds like a winner though.
And Bill, I am ashamed to say I missed your mention of our book but just went back to it. Thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed it.

August West said...

A good memory. Yes, it is a "needle" cover and I believe the publisher was Graphic.