From: K Montin ( kmontin@total.net)
Date: 05 Dec 2002

Geoffrey Homes: Dead as a Dummy (Hill of the Terrified Monk) (1943)

After reading this on vacation, I checked the archives, and it turns out this was mentioned just before I left. I wasn't really paying attention at the time, but I picked this up in the give-away pile in the little library I frequent while at my summer house. Was my subconscious working, or was it just fate?

Anyway, the title and garish cover caught my eye. A man in a white suit, clutching a female dummy (blonde, armless, with her strapless gown just about falling off) is about to be shot by a gun in a hand coming out from behind a deluxe coffin.

Back cover blurb:


Ben Logan found he had his hands full--full of murder--when he tried to open the Empire Theater in Tucson with a thriller gruesomely titled The Invisible Zombie. And when he took a night off to get an eyeful of Tucson's other attractions--a ravishing redhead and a bombshell brunette--he found himself stuck with . . . A COFFIN FULL OF CORPSE!"

Ben Logan is an "exploitation man" (PR man) for a chain of movie theatres. He's in Tucson for the reopening of a theatre--when the manager is killed. So is another guy. And eventually another. There are three beautiful, intelligent women in the story as well. Unluckily for Logan, two of them are interested in other men. But there's always the third one.

I never figure out plots so I was just reading along enjoying the way the story was being told, when suddenly it turned into an international political intrigue, not exactly a spy story, but almost. It sort of threw me. The usual motives are love, lust or lucre. Come to think of it, I guess they still were, but in a different way.

The movie being used to launch the newly reopened theatre, The Invisible Zombie, comes in for a lot of sarcastic criticism (remember the author wrote Night of the Living Dead). I found the narrator's voice very funny, very sardonic. There are lots of good lines, though I don't like giving examples, as so much depends on your mood when you're reading.

Spelling note for those that like them: In general, the word theatre is spelled with an ER, usual U.S. style., but in the name of a movie theatre, it is spelled with an RE (Empire Theatre, Grand Theatre). Exceptions: the back cover and inside blurbs, where it's ER all the way. I remember in a Westlake book that takes place near Nashville (Baby, Would I Lie?, I think it was), the narrator remarks how some of the theatres spell their names with an RE. Do you think this depends on the age of the theatre or some sort of snob appeal?

Another spelling note: As in Chandler, "okeh" is the informal affirmative.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 05 Dec 2002 EST