DAY KEENE Wake Up to Murder

DAY KEENE – Wake Up to Murder. Avon 660, reprint paperback, 1955. First publication: Phantom Book #513, digest paperback, 1952. Later printing: Berkley G258, paperback, 1959; cover art: Robert Maguire.

   Keene continues to impress me as a writer. Don’t be thrown off by the sleazy cover of an overripe playgirl about to fall out of her snuggies. It isn’t (and yet is) that kind of story.

   Mostly it’s he story of an everyday joe, earning a crummy $62.50 a week doing legwork for a criminal attorney, trying to make ends meet on a GI mortgage. He’s fired on his birthday, which his wife doesn’t remember, and he goes out on a drunk, waking up with $10,000 is a hotel room with a girl not his wife.

DAY KEENE Wake Up to Murder

   The nightmare continues. Murder, kidnapping, the mob, the cops — he’s caught in between, given just enough rope. There is not the overbuilding sense of catastrophe of Woolrich, but the quieter despair of failure, the misery of loneliness and rejection. One must plod on. Keene gives a nudge to the little guy. And comes up with an ending that might catch you with your pants down.

— From Mystery*File #9, Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring 1976 (very slightly revised).

[UPDATE] 02-15-11.   The only editing I did was to replace a badly situated comma by a dash, and a change of one preposition to another. Do I remember this book? No, not at all, more’s the pity.

   If it wasn’t obvious from the description, it was the Avon paperback that I read, but I’ve supplied you with images of all three covers. For whatever reason, I kind of like the Avon one.

DAY KEENE Wake Up to Murder