Monday, February 5, 2018

Kiss and Kill

Richard Deming was a 20th century pulp author with a specialty in crime fiction. Later in life, he wrote branded paperback tie-ins for 'Mod Squad', 'Dragnet' and 'Starsky and Hutch'. His 1960 short crime novel “Kiss and Kill” was a mid-career effort originally published in the US by Zenith Books and since reprinted by Armchair Fiction.

The book is a darn masterpiece.

Small-time con-man Sam Carter meets a fellow bunco artist named Mavis. They decide to marry, team up and seek out bigger cons. The angle they develop involves posing as brother and sister, targeting wealthy spinsters for Sam to marry and then making off with his new wife’s cash.

Without spoiling anything, the first person narration (Sam tells the story) recalls a Jim Thompson styled sociopathic anti-hero. Mavis is a sexy and devoted partner toggling between her role as a lusty wife and a chaste sister. The plotting is crisp and efficient and reminded me of Harry Whittington at his best. Finally, the twist ending will leave you howling and dying to read more of Deming’s work.

Fans of hard-boiled con-game crime fiction should drop everything and get a copy of this one. It’s hard to understate the perfection of this quick read. Highly recommended. Essential reading.