Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tractor Girl

In the 1950s and beyond, Fawcett Gold Medal produced some of the most tightly-wound 180-page crime novels by authors including Harry Whittington, Gil Brewer, Dan Marlowe, and Day Keene. The books often starred ambitious criminals, sexy femme fatales, double-crosses, and twist endings.

In 2011, James Reasoner published his own homage to the Gold Medal crime novels of the 1950s, “Tractor Girl”.

A small-time hood is left for dead by the local gangsters on the side of a Texas road. He is rescued and brought home by a sexy farmer's daughter who begins nursing him back to health. As we learn more about the girl and her family's secrets, the tension mounts. Criminal opportunities arise, double-crosses happen, and 1950s-style eroticism abounds. The first-person narrative is hard-boiled. The characters are vivid, and the plot is tightly-wound.

This is a terrific short novel that would have been a natural fit in the Gold Medal collection. The upside is that we can enjoy it today for a couple bucks on Kindle or ordering a hard-copy online. Strongest recommendation, here. I can't get enough of this crime sub-genre, and I'm glad guys like Reasoner are keeping it alive.