Friday, June 16, 2006

Book Review: A Touch of Death

Classic pulp fiction at its pulse-pounding best

A Touch of Death (Hard Case Crime) (Mass Market Paperback) by Charles WilliamsFrom the instant Lee Scarborough spotted Diana James sunning herself sans bikini top, he should have known she meant trouble. The ex-football star was trying to sell his car to pay rent money. Diana James just happened to live in the same building as a prospective buyer. And she recognizes a useful pawn when she sees one: the healthy, athletic Scarborough has all the tools she needs to pull off a caper.

Diana invites him up to her apartment, tests her mark, and then lays out what seems like a simple plan. A banker had embezzled $120K of currency and then hidden it in his estate home... just before turning up up dead. Diana knows the embezzler's wife and intends to take her on a drinking binge on the gulf coast while Scarborough enters the home and locates the dough. Scarborough and James agree to split the $120 grand after they pull off the caper.

Soon Scarborough finds himself in the dark and cavernous home, scrounging around for the bankroll. One little problem: the widow, Madelon Butler, is in the home, drunk as a skunk. And, to complicate matters, someone else is also in the house...

As the tale unfolds, you'll find yourself startled and impressed with the crafty Ms. Butler -- who plays all of the characters around her like fiddles. Charles Williams has created an elegant, captivating story of exceptional quality: built like a Swiss watch, the plot just keeps unwinding... along with Scarborough's life. This is a tremendous story and one that should be optioned into film, just like Williams' Hot Spot.

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