Sunday, October 6, 2019

Let's Kill George

Let's Kill George (1946) by Lucy Cores

George Banat was a film script writer trying to make himself into a playwright. He also liked to cast himself in the starring role of god in his little world. It amused him to arrange the lives of others and to disrupt them where he saw fit. His wife Sophie didn't seem to mind and even tolerated his Zeus-like need to indulge himself with the pretty mortals who came into his orbit. His daughter Monica also seemed to go along with his decrees on her marriage arrangements. His son didn't care much for the way George exercised his powers, but Mons Banat had joined the army and traded his father's orders for Uncle Sam's so he isn't home much. Jacques Mariner, his contemporary, also takes issue with George's assumption of god-like powers. And Shelley Ames...well, Shelley is George's latest protege but she doesn't quite understand the designs he has on her virtue and the plans he's laid ready for her. 

She's a naive young actress who thinks the great man has taken an interest in her career and plans to help her. But attendance at a weekend party with her boyfriend Ralph in tow gives her a quick education in George's methods. By the end of the weekend, Ralph is no longer her boyfriend, George has ticked off several in the house of them badly enough that they decide to end George's interference for good. Shelley is surprised to find herself a suspect and also finds an unexpected ally in Mons (who has come home for a spot of leave). 

This is a decent mystery, but quite honestly it wasn't as entertaining as I anticipated. I definitely didn't mind that George got knocked off--he really was a nasty man--but I also didn't find myself having much sympathy for those around him. I'm quite sure we're supposed to sympathize with Shelley at the very least, but she spends the first part of the book as a weak character who obviously doesn't know what she's doing and then suddenly at the end she transforms into a little firebrand who is equal to anything Mons can throw her way. And she somehow acquires in depth insight into his character even though she's been horrible at character analysis up till then. Quick learning for a weekend. Her boyfriend is pretty brutal to her--totally willing to take the word of a man (George) whom he just met over that of the girl he supposedly loves. Mons spends two-thirds of the book being pretty offensive as well and the rest of the crew are not much better or--in some cases--worse. 

Cores does a fairly good job of spreading the suspicion around and keeping the reader guessing till the end. I didn't see the solution coming and had picked out someone quite different. ★★ and 3/4.

Calendar of Crime: January (Author's Birth Month)
Deaths = 2 (hit on head)

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