Richard Deming (1915-1983) was a crime fiction author born in Iowa who, as an adult in upstate New York, was one of the core contributors to “Manhunt” magazine and the early years of “Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.” In addition to over 300 published short stories and novelettes, he also wrote several full-length novels. His work is largely kept alive today through digital reprints of his short stories by Wildside Press and his novels by Prologue Books. “She’ll Hate Me Tomorrow” was a mid-career crime novel for Deming published by Monarch Books in 1963 that remains available today as an eBook.
Stella Parsons is a 23 year-old looker fresh out of secretarial school who lands a job with an attorney representing a Chicago crime boss. One day the mobster decides that the attorney, among others, knows too much about a recent murder and has the lawyer killed. It quickly becomes clear that Stella is also in danger for the unpardonable sin of having taken dictation from her boss detailing the client’s misdeeds.
With mob assassins on her tail, Stella takes off to the fictional Midwest city of St. Stephen where she lands a job as a coat check girl at an after-hours gambling joint. The proprietor is a gambler named Clancy Ross who’s been able to operate his joint free of influence from the local syndicate - thanks to an uneasy peace treaty with the local boss. When the Chicago mob sends a hit man to St. Stephen in search of Stella, Clancy needs to decide whether to protect his coat check girl or to serve her up.
Clancy the gambler is a fantastic, white knight hero for both Stella and the reader. He’s funny, self-deprecating, competent, and capable of extreme violence. I wanted to spend more time with him than the 143-page paperback allowed. Watching him solve problems with a direct and confrontational approach was a real pleasure, and I wish Deming could have figured out a way to bring him back for more adventures.
By the time the 1960s rolled around, Deming’s writing had improved markedly. He also seemed to have more latitude to be graphic in his sex scenes, which I appreciated. “She’ll Hate Me Tomorrow” is a lousy title, and I’m not really sure what it means in the context of the story. Regardless, this is a top-tier crime fiction paperback that’s absolutely worth reading. It’s also among Deming’s finest work. Highly recommended.
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