W. R. BURNETT Romelle

W. R. BURNETT – Romelle. Alfred A. Knopf, US, hardcover, 1946. Wm. Heinemann, UK, hc, 1947. Reprint paperback: Bantam #942, US, 1951. French reprint: Rivages Noir n 36, 1987.

   In a surprising turn from a hard-boiled writer, W. R. Burnett’s Romelle sits firmly in that sub-genre of Romantic Suspense about a pretty young thing swept into marriage by some guy with a dark secret: there’s the requisite mansion, the obligatory hints of some sinister past, the mandatory mid-night rambles in her nightie and all the other standard features of the Gothic.

   Of course, since this is a book by the author of Little Caesar, the heroine is a nightclub chantoosie on the skids and the Byronic hero hides a dark past that includes robbery, blackmail, and a neat bit of kinkiness you don’t often see in gothics or hard-boiled, all served up very ably, thank you, by a writer who knew how to get it down on paper.

   Romelle will never be anyone’s idea of a classic, but it’s a fun read, and if you’re in the mood for off-beat Had-I-but-known’s, this will do nicely.

W. R. BURNETT Romelle