Re: Review: Quentin, Patrick -- My Son, the Murderer (1954) aka the Wife of Ronald Sheldon
- Thanks Jon!
I reviewed this book some time ago for Amazon dot com, and wrote,
This is the follow-up to BLACK WIDOW and almost as involving, though it's disappointingly lacking in true Peter and Iris Duluth brilliance. Though it's fun to get a glimpse of TOWN MEETING, Peter's current Broadway success, for it seems like the very play that Peter was trying to put on in PUZZLE FOR PLAYERS way back then.
This book might have been called PUZZLE FOR PUBLISHERS, or perhaps PUZZLE FOR PAPA. Our narrator is a sort of sad sack called Jonathan "Jake" Duluth, Peter's brother--a fellow Peter has never mentioned before in any of his adventures--don't you hate that? Anyhow Jake just gets by from day to day living on his last nerve, for his home life has been exploded by the suicide, three years ago, of his lovely wife Felicia, and the subsequent alienation from his teenage son Bill (19 and full of adolescent angst). Jake is a partner in the firm of Shelton and Duluth, publishers.
When Ronald Sheldon returns from a scouting trip to England, he brings back a genius novelist, Basil Leighton, and a new wife, Basil's lovely young daughter Jean. (In England this novel is known as "The Wife of Ronald Shelton." Perhaps the shocking American title was too much for them back in the day?) Bill and Jean soon fall in love--Romeo and Juliet style--and disaster results. Jake finds himself defending his son on a murder charge. Some frank dialogue I never expected to read in a Quentin novel--Bill storms out of a room screaming, "F-- you, Dad!"--and some genuinely amusing publishing banter concerning the two eccentric novelists on the S and D list--lift this one out of the run of the mill 50's Quentins, but by the time Jake accuses one by one, his top seven suspects, only to be proved sadly wrong in each case, the story gets a little deflated. And it depends on the late Ronald Shelton treating his star author in a truly oddball way and one that I did not believe.
However if you enjoyed Paul Bowles' "Pages from Cold Point" and are hungering for another such father-son love story, this might be just your meat.
-- Kevin Killian 2008
On Mar 9, 2010, at 7:16 PM, jon wrote:
> Quentin, Patrick <http://gadetection.pbworks.com/Quentin%2C-Patrick>
> -- My Son, the Murderer (1954) aka the Wife of Ronald Sheldon
> Another episode in the murderous chronicles of the Duluth family, this
> time by Hugh Wheeler alone. The narrator this time is publisher Jake
> Duluth, Peter's elder brother, whose partner Ronnie Sheldon is bumped
> off under circumstances that make Jake's son Bill the main suspect.
> Happy-go-lucky playboys never get a good press in detective fiction, and
> Ronnie Sheldon is no exception: once his peccadilloes are brought to
> light the question is no longer "Why did someone kill him?" but rather
> "Why did anyone wait so long?" Other suspects include Ronnie's sister,
> his new young bride, her parents, their hangers-on, and Bill's
> girlfriend, the lumpish Sylvia Rymer. Peter and Iris hover on the
> outskirts, aided by Lieutenant Barnes, while Jake blunders through the
> case obscuring clues and alienating suspects. The book is thoroughly
> melodramatic -- hard to believe that a bit of extramarital nooky could
> cause such a fuss even in the 1950s -- but fairly, if obscurely, clued.
> Moderately readable, especially if angsty mental self-flagellation is
> your cup of tea.
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