Friday, July 5, 2024

The Other Woman

The Other Woman by Charles Burgess was a Beacon Books title from 1960 that has found new life as a reprint from Black Gat Books. It’s a femme fatale crime novel masquerading as a sleazy sex book. The identity and bio of the author remains a vexing mystery with no help from the internet.

The novel itself is pretty solid. Our narrator is Florida real estate agent Neil Cowan who has a buyer for 40 acres on the lake that would be perfect for a new housing development. The buyer is John Royal, a wealthy town patriarch married to Emmaline, his voluptuous and much-younger bride.

Of course, Neil is completely taken by Emmaline. Who wouldn’t be? She’s elegant, smart and sexy. She’s also got the vibe of a woman looking for trouble. Neil is happily married himself, but this is a 1960 sleaze-crime novel, so the rules are different.

It takes no time at all before Neil and Emmaline commence a hot and heavy affair and even less time before she’s suggesting to Neil that murdering her husband will allow them to be together with all his money.

A sizable percentage of books from this era all have the same setup, but The Other Woman takes an abrupt left turn and becomes an honest-to-goodness murder mystery with Neil at the helm of the whodunnit. There are twists and turns and frame-ups and red-herrings and everything you like from a vintage crime thriller.

Burgess was a solid writer and he ties up the plot with a logical and compelling solution. There are hundreds of books from this era about a wrongfully-accused man solving a crime to clear his own name, yet The Other Woman is as good as they come. It’s literary comfort food and an easy recommendation.

About the Author:

The identity of the author Charles Burgess remains a mystery. Here’s what we know:


Backfire (Australia, Phantom, 1959)

The Other Woman (Beacon, 1960)

Short Fiction:

“I’d Die for You” (Manhunt, Oct 1958) 

True Crime: as by Charles L. Burgess:

"Never Kill a Cop!" (Complete Detective Cases, Jan 1947)

"Case of the Buck-Happy Brunette" (Revealing Detective Cases, Aug 1949)

"A Killer with Women" (Underworld Detective, Dec 1951)

"Laughing Stranger from Dalton, Georgia" (Official Detective Stories, Feb 1956)

"Fat Man Blues" (True Crime, May 1956)

Paperback Warrior engaged Florida’s most prestigious private investigative firm to locate the author and his heirs. While there were many solid leads, our gumshoe was unable to definitively solve the case. More on this story as it develops. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE

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