We read so many vintage paperbacks by authors with dozens - or even hundreds - of titles that it’s easy to forget that some guys only had one or two books in them. I’ve had a helluva time learning anything about author Lawrence Fisher. I know he wrote two crime novels: a 1961 paperback called Death by the Day (reviewed below) and a 1963 book club hardcover called Die a Little Every Day. Based on copyright data, his real name appears to be Lawrence V. Fisher. I don’t know where he was from, his birth year, his death year, his turn-ons, or any particulars. I did read his paperback, though, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
One month ago, our narrator Nick Paulson and his 15 year-old brother traveled to the mountain resort town of Park Village with 75 cents in their pockets to begin a lucrative summer as bellhops during the busy season at a Colorado resort. The monotony of elderly guests and bad tippers is broken one day with the arrival of a rich man named Mr. Rinehart, his driver and his young, sexy arm-candy, Margo. By page seven of the paperback, you know that this dame has femme fatale written all over her.
As the plot thickens, Nick becomes enmeshed in the real agenda behind Rinehart and Margo’s visit to the mountains - Rinehart and his “driver” are planning a heist. Meanwhile, it takes no time at all for the sexual tension between Nick and Margo to reach a boiling point. Can Nick get the girl and the money without being filled with bullet holes?
It’s a shame that Fisher didn’t produce more fiction because he was an excellent writer with a real knack for exciting plotting. His style reminds me of early Lawrence Block, top-shelf Harry Whittington or the best of Gil Brewer. He doesn’t reinvent the genre in Death by the Day, but he executes the crime noir formula with great skill. Some publisher should resurrect this paperback for modern audiences. It hasn’t seen the light of day in 60 years and deserves to be remembered. This one’s an easy, full-throated recommendation.
Neither the cover art nor the back cover’s plot description bear any resemblance to actual events in the novel. Both were certainly created by people who never read the book and were probably recycled from elsewhere.
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