RARA-AVIS: MacDonald's "Betrayed"

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 18 Jun 2003

I hope to read a John D. MacDonald novel and comment before the month is out, a heavy work schedule permitting, but meanwhile here is a review of MacDonald's novelette "Betrayed." It was reprinted by Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine in the July 1964 issue with a copywrite notice from 1952 by Crowell-Collier Publishing Company. I assume this was from a 1952 issue of Colliers as Leo Margulies commonly reprinted stories from Colliers and Weird Tales in the 1960s. In this same issue there is a pretty good short-short by Will F. Jenkins "The Man With the Floppy Ears" copywrited 1936 from the same source.

I do not have handy a JDM bibliography or the two collections of the "Good Old Stuff" to know if this story was reprinted beyond this Mike Shayne. Any of you that has that information, please inform me.

The story is very much from the early days of the Cold War. Yet it is more than a period piece. I was caught up in the action and felt some suspense as the plot unfolded. No matter how dated some of the material, JDM's gift for storytelling cannot be denied.

The plot follows the fortune of a young woman who is widowed when her new husband is killed in action during the Korean War. In order to escape to a new life she leaves Washington and becomes a secretary for an ultra secret scientific lab in a remote location. She moves into a lakeside cabin during the Fall in what is something of a resort location during warm weather months. She is fitting in well at work when she meets a couple who leaves in a nearby cabin.
 Soon they confront her with a letter from her apparently not so dead husband who is being held prisoner by the communists. The letter says he is wounded and if she cooperates he will be given medical treatment and eventually sent home to join her.

I did not give a spoiler disclaimer as anyone who did not see this development coming would not be paying close enough attention for this review to spoil anything.

This is rather a neat novelette. The period piece aspects added to the charm for me. The characters are completely believable. There are no false steps by them as they make their way through the plot.\

If it hasn't been reprinted in book form, that's a shame. Just another confimation for me of the greatness of his story telling ability.

Richard A. Moore

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