Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Big Kiss-Off by Day Keene

The Big Kiss-Off By Day Keene
Graphic 75, Copyright 1954

Day Keene was an author that made you sweat when reading. His books are usually set during the hot days in the South, with an average guy who just wants to be left alone. 'The Big Kiss-Off" is a noir-ish adventure that stands on it own sea legs.

Cade Cain spent two years in a POW camp in Korea. During that time his wife divorced him and now he just wants to stay on his boat in the Gulf and let life go by. That's not going to happen. One day he finds six bodies in the muddy tide and later the local sheriff is found dead on his boat. Someone is framing him and he doesn't know why. With no alibi, he sets out to find some answers. An illegal immigrant called Mimi turns up and is caught in the frame-up. The trail leads to New Orleans and to Cain's ex-wife. His rage grows as he starts to unwind the mystery, along with his interest in Mimi.

" The bastard, thought Cade. The big Irish bastard. Sweat started to trickle down his sides. Cade felt the butt of the gun in his pocket, as he walked out on the pier."

Day Keene was a real pro and I find all his books very enjoyable. He spun a good story here, with a character that you can’t help but side with. There’s always something about the veteran who comes back from war, looking to get back to a normal life and trouble finds him. This theme was used throughout the 50s in paperbacks and Day Keene was one of the best in creating a good novel with it. Published by Gold Medal, Lion, Pyramid, ACE, Signet, Graphic, Zenith-he never seemed to have to look for work. Keene wrote many short shorts and these should not be overlooked. And being a guy who loves a good western, he wrote a damn good one in 1967, "Guns Along the Brazos."

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