Monday, February 24, 2014

The Late Mrs. Five (Richard Wormser, 1960)

Found this paperback in a one-euro bin at a flea market, liked the cover and decided to give it a try. Had never heard of Richard Wormser before so I didn't expect much but was pleasantly surprised.

Not at the start though. It begins as a pretty formulaic tale of wrongly accused man being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not my cup of tea these kind of stories, especially when they take place in some suburban/rural surroundings and when the main protagonist is a traveling salesman. Of course sometimes exception does prove the rule but this one just didn't promise much because the whole plot was based on same pretty incredible coincidence: our hero's ex-wife was killed on the same day when he had arrived to this small town and he didn't even know that she had remarried and moved into that very same small town. I mean - you calculate the odds of this happening yourself...

It soon turns into a man-hunt thriller (only logical turn with such a premise) but then it suddenly becomes quite good and interesting. The thing is that only a handful of characters are introduced and usually this means that it's going to be very easy to pick up our whodunnit guy. But here our prime "bad guy" candidate Mac becomes quite likeable towards the end and the lawyer Lighton - "the good guy" - turns into a greedy bastard (Andy even says that he's like Mephisto in Faust). I'm not saying that this is some heavy shit character study but things (people) are definitely not simply black and white.

Cool stuff. Just like they did it in the good 'ol days - sweet and short and well written (although I did miss some humor and a snappy line or two)!



My name is Paul Porter, I'm vice-president in charge of marketing for Hydrol Machines Inc., a Chicago firm.

Lowndesburg in Lowndes Valley near Chicago. But it's probably imaginary town since Google maps has no idea about it.

Body count: 2

Edith Stayne Porter Hilliard aka Mrs. Five - Paul's ex-wife - "She had been, and in my memory she still was, the most beautiful woman I had ever seen". There's also Andy, a local girl who quickly becomes Paul's new flame.

nope, I can't think of a single one. Which is a bit odd considering all the shit Paul had went through.

Pretty straightforward (but still cool sounding) - Mrs. Five was killed and therefore now she's late Mrs. Five.

Very nice illustration of a hot redhead. I assume she's the late Mrs. Five because "She had the most beautiful legs I've ever seen. And a face that made you dream of a woman without guile, malice or greed. ...It almost surprised you that she had to eat, like other mortals."

Cool lines:  
"Where do you cops get your talk?" I asked. "Is there a course in police school on how to talk tough?"


  1. I fancy I've read (and written) a lot of books, but I confess I'm not familiar with the phrase "unconscious moment." Can you provide a definition?


    1. Hi Jeffrey,

      and thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment.

      Cannot give you no formal definition I'm afraid :) as this category is of course joke. As you know in most crime/mystery novels hero usually gets knocked out at least once so these "unconscious moments" are somehow formulaic and therefore I decided to include them into my facts section.

      But yeah, I agree it's not well formed expression. Probably also not grammatically correct (moments of unconsciousness?) and I'm thinking to change it into something more cool sounding. Like maybe "blackouts". Any suggestions?