Kiss Off The Dead by Garrity
Gold Medal 948, copyright 1960
Max Carey is a big lug who has to do it his way. He talks tough and preaches to the reader on how you got to handle things. His mind is set to make people pay and to kill, kill, Kill... Throughout the novel we anticipate the "big payback" and then when the time comes -nothing... Instead of the "big payback" we get the "big letdown."
"I was in a fix. A lousy rotten burn-in-the-chair kind a fix, and it looked like I was going to walk the last mile all the way."
Max Carey was an honest tough NYC cop, until the day he decides to take payoff money to keep his "loving" wife accustomed to her high living standards. Disgraced and kicked off the force, she leaves him and for three years he hunts her down. He locates her in the coastal city of Seaside, and they both realize the love they share is still strong and undying. That night she is found dead and Carey is framed as the murderer. He vows revenge on the persons responsible for killing his "loving" wife and setting him up. The city rackets are involved and a couple of hired guns are always around the corner. With the help of a hatcheck girl, Carey eludes the cops and the guns. This girl falls deeply for him, after only seeing him for about five seconds. Carey is so torn up over his wife's murder, that he's in bed and in love with the hatcheck girl soon after. Eventually he turns the tables from being hunted, to being the hunter. He pounds shoe leather and his noggin to settle the score. Garrity has the plot building and we are waiting for the final big action that really doesn't materialize.
There is nothing like a slap in the face to convince a dame you're not playing games. She got one, a hard open-handed one that smacked like a pistol shot and left an imprint of my fingers that she'd be wearing for a few days to come.
To Dave Garrity's credit the dialog is hardboiled and Max Carey is a big, hard customer. Mickey Spillane was supposedly an acquaintance of the author, and there is definitely an influence here. The ending does have a bit of a surprise waiting for the reader, but I expected a bigger showdown when Max Carey confronts the reason for his pain. Carey has trouble thinking this one out and fails to see clues in front of him. He acts foolish at times; like walking into obvious avoidable situations and being sapped three times, twice by the same dame. Also Carey drags on, explaining the why and how, for what he's "gonna do." He carries this too far, causing the story to be jagged and the reader being confused about the character's true cognizance. (Garrity should of looked over Spillane's shoulder more closely. After all, the Mick was a master of getting through to the reader.)
This is a novel about a man wronged and him setting out to right it. And in these novels we want the one's responsible to pay and pay through vengeance. In the end, we are left disappointed, waiting for blood to spill and butts to be kicked - that never occur.
Maybe I was expecting more out of this then I should of.
Known novels by Dave J. Garrity:
Kiss Off The Dead (1960), Gold Medal 948
Cry Me A Killer (1961), Gold Medal 1170
Dragon Hunt (1967), Signet 3203
Hot Mods (1969), Signet 3899
Rim of Thunder (1973), Signet
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Kiss Off The Dead by Garrity