RARA-AVIS: Macdonald: One Monday They Killed Them All

From: K Montin ( kmontin@total.net)
Date: 01 Sep 2002

I borrowed this Gold Medal (1961), my first non-McGee Macdonald, from a tiny library with an eclectic collection heavy on old books. A few people have mentioned this title but no one's really gone into detail, so here goes.

The central character is a police officer in a midsized town. (Sorry I can't remember anyone's name now, having been through three more books since.) He's honest, yet used to law enforcement compromises. The police and politicians have an unwritten agreement with the chief crook in town, who controls things from his end, and keeps out the gangsters. In return, the police turn a blind eye to certain goings on. The good thing is the police don't accept bribes.

Unfortunately for our hero, his beloved wife has a psychopath for a half-brother, and she dotes on him. He's just done five years for beating a woman to death. She thinks he got a raw deal, though, and wants to help him get on with his life. He's going to live with her and her husband and two kids while he sorts himself out. He also thinks he got a raw deal, and is plotting revenge on everyone who put him in prison.

The suspense is built very well--you can practically hear the time bomb ticking as the days wear on. The climax is bloody, but everything ends about as well as it could.

There is quite a bit of psychology, superficial, perhaps, but not too facile. Why does the sister refuse to see her brother for what he is? Why is the brother a psycho? Why is the hero such a cold fish?

Unlike McGee, in the end the police officer learns to open up and not just feel, but share his emotions. Hope no one considers that a spoiler.

In short, it was a good read. As an aside, this one is set in someplace that isn't Florida, someplace with "hills" and "hill people" who are contrasted with the flat landers. Kentucky, maybe?


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