Friday, June 1, 2018

Forgotten Books: THE BODY LOOKS FAMILIAR / THE LATE MRS. FIVE by Richard Wormser

Last week, while reading the new Stark House edition of these novels, I posted Bill Crider's fine Introduction (that's HERE). Now that I've read them, the best I can say is, "Bill was right!" 

I read The Late Mrs. Five first, because I was in the mood for first person, and it really hit the spot. As Bill noted, there were several likeable characters. In fact, just about all of them, including the antogonists, were likeable, which is quite an accomplishment. Wormser swatted his hero with a fistful of trouble, and just when it looked like his predicament could get no worse -- it got a way, way, way worse. 

The author was clearly having fun with narration, and I was too. There were plenty of witty and creative lines, and they seemed to get more plentiful as the story rolled on. And just when I thought I'd figured out where the story was going, it went somewhere else. And then somewhere else. Great job.

After taking time out for another of Will Murray's latest Doc Savage adventures, The Valley of Eternity, which was another great read (stay tuned for details), I turned to The Body Looks Familiar. 

As Bill said, not only are The Late Mrs. Five and The Body Looks Familiar about as different as two mysteries can be, The Body Looks Familiar is about as different as a mystery can get. It features two despicable protagonists doing their best to destroy each other, and a couple of well-meaning minor characters who represent the redeeming qualities of the human race. It's an intricate game of back-stabbling chess, in which the Deputy D.A. commits a murder in hopes of framing his arch rival, the Deputy Chief of Police. Innocent bystanders are advised to stand clear, because these guys are taking no prisoners. 

Right from the start, I had no idea where this one was going, and it kept me wondering right up to the end. If I enjoyed it a bit less than Mrs. Five, it was due to the unlikeability factor, but it was a unique experience I would not have wanted to miss. 

1 comment:

Elgin Bleecker said...

After reading your post and Bill’s introduction, these are on my list. Thanks.