Tuesday, September 22, 2020

In a Small Motel

Even after he became a a marquee writer of paperback original novels, John D. MacDonald continued to write and sell short stories - his chosen profession during the 1940s. The July 1955 issue of Justice magazine featured a JDM novella called “In a Small Motel” that clocks in at about 39 modern pages. The story has been compiled in various anthologies through the years and is currently available as a 99 cent ebook.

It’s a busy evening for proprietor Ginny Mallory at Southern Georgia’s Belle View Courts motel with needy customers checking in while others are demanding ice and roll-away beds. Ginny is a hard-working widow from Jacksonville, Florida whose husband bought the motel and then died in a car accident seven months ago. She’s been trying to keep the business afloat all alone ever since.

A mystery man arrives wanting a single room and insisting that he hide his car behind the building where it can’t be seen from the highway. Rather suspicious, no? A romantic suitor from Jacksonville swings by the motel to visit Ginny, and the mystery man gets the mistaken impression that the visitor is following him and then...

Stop, stop, stop!

I shouldn’t say any more or else I’m liable to ruin this excellent story for you. “In a Small Motel” is really something twisty and cool. The novella will make you want to dive deeper into MacDonald’s vast short fiction library. Read this one. It’ll be the best 99 cents you spend this year.

Buy a copy of this book HERE


  1. The whole running around randomly stabbing suspects and reluctant witnesses with hypodermics filled with sodium pentothal as an interrogation technique was my favorite part of another great episode. You learn something new every day. I can't wait to teach it at my next seminar. What a time saver.

  2. Thank you for recommending this great novella. I loved the setting of a small motel and Ginny is such a great character. I loved the small little details about Ginny’s daily life working at a roadside motel. All of the characters were interesting though, even the sleazy one. Macdonald created such rich characters with just enough background about them I became totally invested in the story. You were right. The best 99 cents I ever spent. Just discovered this great podcast! Trying to catch up with episodes. Thank you.

  3. I bought the anthology American Pulp in order to read this story and it was more than worth it. A perfect little gem. MacDonald's story in The Best of Manhunt is also worth seeking out.