Friday, June 02, 2017

FFB: Virgin Cay -- Basil Heatter

I read all Basil Heatter's Gold Medal novels, including Virgin Cay when they were first published, and I've often wondered why there was so little discussion of them.  Heatter was a very good writer, his plots were twisty, and his work was always entertaining.  He wasn't in the top rank of Gold Medal writers, but he was close.  Now that Stark House has reprinted some of his work (this book is due in July), maybe there'll be a Heatter revival.

Like some other Gold Medal writers (Charles Williams, Donald Hamilton, John D. MacDonald), Heatter was really good at the nautical stuff, and there's plenty of it in Virgin Cay, which opens when Gus Robinson's boat goes down in a storm.  He manages to swim to shore, which is quite a task, guided by the light from the house where Clare Loomis is staying.  Gus is a hardy soul, though, and he recovers quickly enough to enjoy Clare's sexual favors.  And it turns out that she has a proposition for him, something that would pay him $20,000, enough to buy a new boat.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that he'd have to murder somebody to earn the money.

It wouldn't be fair to detail any more of the plot.  You should enjoy all the twists for yourself.  I did, and rereading this made me think that it was time for me to reread another Heatter novel Real Soon Now.  Or maybe I should just read A Night Out, which wasn't published by Gold Medal.

I always praise the Stark House introductions, but unfortunately the one by Steve Lewis for this volume wasn't available in the ARC that I read.  I can guarantee that it'll be good, though.  Everything tht Steve writes is good.


Jeff Meyerson said...

Never read any of his, but this sounds good. Definitely Charles Williams country, or Ron Faust's Dan Shaw books.

George said...

I have some Basil Haetter books, but haven't gotten around to read them (the story of my Life!). This new STARK HOUSE volume looks good.

MimiandMona said...

I never read Heatter, but, now that his books are being republished, I want to read one. Always enjoy your reviews of authors/books.

Steve Lewis said...


Here's my review of VIRGIN CAY, which Greg at Stark House used to make up the second half of the introduction:

Unknown said...

Thanks, Steve.

Unknown said...

I've never read him and rarely see his novels in used book stores--sometimes that means the original owners hang on to him. Basil is the son of one of the most popular radio newscasters in Old Time Radio: Gabriel Heatter. His catch phrase in the WWII era was "There's good news tonight!" He'd be out of work in our era as that phrase is almost never true. He played himself in several movies including "The Day the Earth Stood Still". Jean Arthur (one of my favs) had a great line in the 1948 movie "Foreign Affair": I'll go to the President and if that doesn't work, I'll go to Gabriel Heatter!"