RARA-AVIS: Gold Medal: Lament for a Virgin

From: James Reasoner ( james53@flash.net)
Date: 06 Aug 2002

LAMENT FOR A VIRGIN, Lionel White GM s949, 1960

This book begins with a classic Gold Medal premise similar to the one Bill Crider. described earlier: a likable but not overly bright hero checks into a motel in a small town, intending to stay just one night because he's only passing through on his way to somewhere else, and by morning he's on the run from the cops, framed for a murder he didn't commit. The only way to clear his name is to find the real killer, so he spends the rest of the book doing that and uncovering all of the town's dirty little secrets in the process. (Is there a small town anywhere in GoldMedalLand that isn't full of drug dealers, perverts, rapists, and murderers? Of course not -- thank goodness!)

I remember reading a comment by someone (Ed Gorman, maybe) about how Lionel White wasn't much of a prose stylist but was a heck of a plotter and storyteller. That's a pretty good description of this book. The writing is about as plain and straight-ahead as it can get, but it moves very fast. The plot has a few twists and turns, none of them completely unexpected but still satisfying, and the narrator-hero is smart enough and tough enough to survive when he has to be. This is a minor Gold Medal but still solidly entertaining and worth reading.

Best, James

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