Following a prosperous writing career in the pulp magazines, Bruno Fischer became a crime-fiction success story. His novel House of Flesh sold 1.8 million copies, leading to a successful run of 10 books authored by the German-American throughout the 1950s. His 1954 novel, So Wicked My Love, was published by Fawcett Gold Medal. It originally appeared in a condensed form in the November, 1953 issue of Manhunt magazine. Crime-fiction scholars will often point to the novel as one of Fischer's best. Opening the book, I was hoping to agree.
When readers first meet Ray, he's a dejected, emotional wreck laying on Coney Island's sandy beach. His girlfriend Florence rejected his marriage proposal and ring the night before, explaining to Ray that she may still be in love with another man. As Ray ponders his life post-Florence, he spots a woman he once knew walking along the shore. Ray re-introduces himself to a beautiful vixen named Cherry and almost immediately becomes an accomplice in armed robbery and murder. Wicked love indeed.
After reading a brief newspaper headline about an armed car robbery, a mysterious woman and a band of criminals, Ray's one night out with Cherry proves to be a cornucopia of dark discoveries. He learns that Cherry has a car trunk filled with stolen cash and three violent men on her trail. Ray gives Cherry the engagement ring he bought Florence and the two decide to flee with the money together. But after a deadly, violent encounter with two of the three men, Ray drops the money at an abandoned farm house and anonymously calls the police to pick it up. Ray then reconvenes with Florence and the two become married and live happily ever after. Considering all of these riveting events happen in the book's opening pages, readers quickly sense that Bruno Fischer has an abundance of intrigue, suspense and violence left to explore.
Ray's lusty encounters with Cherry aren't explicit, but they're an enticing invitation for readers to take the journey with these ill-fated lovers. As Ray's average life becomes more complicated, readers can foresee the impending doom in Fisher's narrative. By its very definition, the idea of this average blue-collar man being trapped in a web of murder, robbery and blinding lust is crime-noir in its most rudimentary form. It's also the same ritualistic formula utilized by a mastermind crime-fiction veteran like Fischer to mesmerize readers, fans and literature scholars. From a reader's stance, it makes for an fantastic reading experience. So Wicked My Love is so wickedly good.
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