Thursday, June 25, 2020

Killer in White

After serving as a U.S. Marine in the Pacific during World War 2 and storming Iwo Jima, Harold John “Tedd” Thomey (1920-2008) returned to the states to pursue a career as a journalist with the San Francisco Chronicle and the Long Beach Independent with a specialty in restaurant reviews. He also wrote 20 books, including a 1956 Fawcett Gold Medal original titled Killer in White.

Dr. Douglas Webb is a fraud. He pretends to be a chiropractor healing female patients with dubious therapy such as his fancy magno-therapy machine, but it’s all a scam. He doesn’t have a degree in medicine - not even one in chiropractic nonsense. He just makes it up as he goes along. Why bother? Two reasons: 1. For the money, and 2. To have unlimited sex with his unlimited cadre of adoring female patients.

So, our protagonist is a bit of a heel. His fun is interrupted by an investigator from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Federal Security Agency who figures out Dr. Webb is a non-credentialed con-man. The investigator also has reason to believe that the magno-therapy machine forming the centerpiece of Dr. Webb’s practice is also a bunch of hokum. The only way for our fake doctor to get rid of this pesky investigator is to bribe him $15,000.

The bulk of the 144-page paperback is Dr. Webb trying to raise the cash to bribe the federal agent. He does this mostly by bedding down rich ladies and then shaking them down for money while they’re still in an orgasmic haze. There are lots of subplots that the author juggles - some more interesting than others. As Dr. Webb is forced to put out fire after fire to keep his scam afloat, the novel becomes an frantic read with some great moments sprinkled throughout. The final act’s “getting away with murder” story-line was excellent and worth the wait - as was the resolution to a romance that develops throughout the novel.

Despite some minor reservations, I genuinely enjoyed Killer in White. There’s are some pretty nifty plot twists towards the end and some genuinely tense moments involving medical stuff. Thomey’s writing is serviceable and all the plot threads are neatly resolved by the end. I wouldn’t move heaven and earth to acquire a copy, but if you can snag one on the cheap, it’s definitely worth your time.

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