Friday, May 4, 2018

Terror in the Town (Friday's Forgotten Books)

Terror in the Town (1947) by Edward Ronns [Edward Sydney Aarons] finds a coastal Massachusetts fishing town terrorized by the killings of three lonely spinsters. The women were known to live alone and were strangled by someone with powerfully big hands, possibly powered by a maniac's rage. Everyone is quick to blame Manuel, an unbalanced man who has recently escaped from the home where he's been stashed for everyone's safety--including his own. 

Verity Farland, recently married to the town's newspaperman, is new to the area and sees things from an outsider's perspective. She begins to wonder why the killer is targeting women who were at a certain bridge party--a party that she herself attended. The killer also leaves behind ransacked libraries and a trail of missing jewelry. A maniac might collect trophies from his victims, but would he be interested in searching the women's books? There is also the fact that all the women owned a share of the Morgan, an old whaling ship that is rumored to contain treasure and if it doesn't, is worth money to the owners if they can agree to sell it to a film company. 

Verity isn't sure that Manuel is the culprit, but she also doesn't know who it might be. There are so many people roaming around town in the night--from the Sheriff's deputy to her husband's drunken assistant to the doctor who seems to be on extra-friendly terms with some of the ladies in town to the town her very own husband. No one is where they're supposed to be at night and her own husband won't stay put. And after all, they didn't know one another very long before they got married....and he was rumored to be a bit wild before he settled down with her. Can she trust him? And if not him is there anyone she can trust?

Ronns builds up the suspense quite nicely in this fairly short book. His writing is economical, but completely on-point. He doesn't really give the reader a chance to catch their breath, moving things along rapidly until the climax. He manages to provide several possible suspects and motives and draws enough of a cloud over them all to keep us guessing. Once a few clues fall into place, it's possible to spot the villain of the piece but it's not obvious. A thoroughly enjoyable suspense/thriller. ★★and 3/4.

I submit this for the Friday's Forgotten Books post found at pattinase's place.

[Finished on 4/26/18]


J.G. said...

This sounds like a great choice, with multiple suspects but not a lot of distractions. Glad you enjoyed it so much!

Mathew Paust said...

I'm think her husband might be Kolchak the Night Stalker. Sounds like a fun story.

Mathew Paust said...

Just last week I had to change my comment mgt to require approval. I'd gotten what I think was my first pornographic solicitation from some robot in Vietnam. It's getting crazy out there!

Bev Hankins said...

Matthew: So far I haven't had any solicitations (yikes!). Keeping my fingers crossed that I won't....