Friday, August 16, 2013

Forgotten Books: Stranger at Home -- George Sanders (Leigh Brackett)

When Ed Gorman did a post on this novel a year or so ago, I thought that I'd like to read it.  The other day I ran across another reference to it and decided that it was time.  

Although George Sanders is listed as the author, most sources credit it to Leigh Brackett.  After reading the book, I believe them.  (Sanders' other crime novel was supposedly written by Craig Rice; I haven't read that one.)

Micheal Vickers returns home after having been missing for four years.  While on a trip with three of his buddies, he disappeared in Mexico.  One of the three drugged his drink, slugged him in the head, and left him for dead.  Vickers survived, and what happened in Mexico is only hinted at, though it was probably something like what happened to Lloyd Wescott in John D. MacDonald's The Empty Trap, which has a little in common with Stranger at Home.  Whereas the MacDonald book concentrates on Wescott's time in Mexico, Vickers' experiences there are merely hinted at.  The concern here is his unexpected return and his interest in finding out which of the three men tried to kill him.  Another concern is how Vickers has changed.  He's come to realize that he was a pretty terrible person.  He's different now, but he's still ruthless.  

Besides the three friends, there are questions about Vickers' wife.  Was the loyal to him?  All three of the friends were in love with her, and it's pretty certain that was one reason for the attempted murder.  And then there's the wife's companion, Joan.  She's hated Vickers ever since she met him.

There's not a lot of action in the book.  It's all atmosphere and psychological suspense told in a terse, hardboiled style, with some great local color with Los Angeles in the late '40s, too.  It all works very well.  Check it out.


Kelly Robinson said...

Dumb trivia of the day: Mike Vickers was in Manfred Mann. I didn't know Leigh Brackett wrote any crime novels. I'm only familiar with the sci-fi (and the only one I've read is 'The Long Tomorrow', while on a post-apoc kick).

Unknown said...

Check out No Good from a Corpse or An Eye for an Eye or A Tiger Among Us.