Judging by the cover of this edition, it retailed for 25 cents in 1955 when it was published That would have been a quarter well spent because this little pulp noir was quite entertaining Well written, good characters, good plot everything fit together perfectly. Love loved this One off non series crime pulp from 1955 Tight, suspenseful, with a terrific plot. I was leaning to 4 stars, but the suspenseful ending was just the type I m a sucker for, so I gave A BULLET FOR CINDERELLA 5 stars I ve read perhaps a dozen of the early John D MacDonald novels, and for my money, they represent his top form writing The Travis McGee titles are very fine, but I remain a bigger fan of JDM s pre Travis fiction JDM does a nifty job of setting up the romance triangle, including the dark haired femme fatale A BULLET FOR CINDERELLA was published in 1955, so the level of violence and sex isn t raw or visceral like today s noir can be There are grisly murders, and plenty of other hardboiled scenes, nonetheless I see other the readers and critics including the reviews when BULLET was published have given it lower marks But I got into the story and character enough to be entertained and diverted That was all I ever wanted from BULLET. I had never read any John D.Macdonald books before seeing this 1955 one available at Gutenberg The title and cover caught my eye I was prepared for a pulp adventure, something easy to read with lots of tense situations, but before I got started on the book I thought it would be nothing really out of the ordinary.Apologies to Mr MacDonald for my early judging, because I ended up being surprised at the depth in this story Our hero Tal Howard is trying to adjust to life after being held prisoner by the Chinese in the Korean War From the git go I was prepared to not like Tal, simply for what he was planning to do another soldier in the camp had told him about his secret stash of hidden money, embezzled from his own brother and buried in a safe place The soldier, Timmy, tells our hero about this when he is close to death, but all he says before he actually dies is that Cindy would know where the money is buried.So Tal arrives in Timmy s hometown with an agenda, and at this point I was thinking what a creep But events and other people affect the plan in various ways, and I can t say much than that without ruining any enjoyment future readers would have with the book I will say this I was impressed with the way Tal grew up during the story I enjoyed the heck out of the first conversation between Tal and Cindy when he found her, and the ending was hold your breath, stay up late to finish the book perfection I am definitely going to look for of this author s work Hadn t read this one in a long, long time but quickly realized this had been one of my favorites growing up Started reading this one about 9pm and didn t put it down until I finished it More of a mystery in it s structure but completely drenched in 1950s noir themes You have a burnt out Korean war vet who nearly died in a North Korean prison camp and who s lost all meaning in his life Except to head back to the home town of a friend who died in the prison camp and try to find the 60,000 the guy had stolen and hid Only to find that another ex POW, sub species psychopath, has the same idea and a head start So they play cat and mouse with each trying to find the money first The way the investigating progresses reminds me a bit of Block s Scudder novels or I guess it s the other way around because this novel came first but if you ve read the Scudders and not read much of MacDonald it gives you an idea what this one is like narratively. Final review soon.4.5 StarsThe first and last quarters of the book are far better than the middle And What an extraordinary surprise at 80% through This is a book that was owned by my Dad long ago, that I borrowed and read as a teen in the early 1960s I ve looked for it off and on for decades but could not remember the title, and I only suspected it was by MacDonald In particular, the extraordinary scene in the cave has stayed with me for over 50 years I do not try to excuse it I can try to explain it It is an urgency that comes at times of danger It is something deep in the blood, that urgency It is a message from the blood You may die Live this once , this last time Or it may be complicated There may be defiance in it Your answer to the blackness that wants to swallow you To leave this one thing behind you To perform this act which may leave a life behind you, the only possible guarantee of immortality in any form. Overall, I very much enjoyed the story It did not feel dated, but of a time machine back to the 1950s I was born in 1952, and remember much of this era clearly Our hero, Tal, is quite likeable and initially driven by the lure of treasure The villain is powerful and scary, but not overdrawn or silly.The female characters are mostly strong almost a trademark of John D MacDonald which I celebrate.As noted, the first quarter of the book is a great setup, nicely paced and characterised Parts of the middle of the book are a bit confused I didn t read this in one sitting, but over several days with Bosch as well , and from about halfway through I had to refer back to remember some of the minor characters there are plenty.As you enter the final quarter of the book, the various threads and characters come together to produce a stupendous ending very, very exciting and believable.This is a terrific early work by John D MacDonald The plotting and characterisations foreshadow the upcoming Travis McGee series, which I ve just finished reading.Full size image here Notes and quotes Tal considers Ruth her dark red hair against the damp ground in the coolness of the night What shocked me was the stunning sense of loss It taught me that I had underestimated what she meant to me I could not understand how she had come to mean so much, in so short a time More than Charlotte had ever meant.Tal encounters Fitzmartin I hoped his greed would be stronger than his wish to kill I hoped his greed would last through the night But there was something erratic about his thought patterns There was an incoherency about the way he had talked, jumping from one subject to the next He had a vast confidence in his own powers I wondered where he had Ruth A half mile away Across country Maybe she was in his car, and it was parked well off a secondary road Maybe he had found a deserted shed As I lay awake, trying to find some position in which I could be comfortable, I heard it begin to rain The rain was light at first, a mere whisper of rain And then it began to come down It thundered on the roof It made a drench of the world, bouncing off the painted metal of the cars, coming down as though all the gates of the skies had been opened.Antoinette considers the rat race of 1956, much like complaints todaySometimes I think I d run off with anybody asked me just to get out of this rat race That s on my bad days Isn t this day a stinker, though Full size image here. Tal Howard knows too well you can t go home again After his release from a North Korean POW camp, Howard finds it impossible to take up again the life he left before going to war.Jobless, Howard drives cross country to a small town in upper New York State to find a small fortune in cash buried before the war by a fellow POW who died in the camp When he arrives, Howard discovers he s not alone in seeking the treasure Another former war prisoner, a man known in the camp for his cruelty and physical strength, is also looking for the money And he doesn t plan to share it.A Bullet for Cinderella is one of John D MacDonald s earlier novels, written before he hit the mother lode with his popular Travis McGee series The novel marked MacDonald s return to pulp, or noir, mysteries after a not too successful venture into mainstream literature, and it is a welcomed addition to the author s oeuvre Interestingly, the premise for Cinderella is the same as that for the first Travis McGee novel, The Deep Blue Good by Both involve a small fortune buried by a soldier before heading off to the Korean War and a POW camp where he dies Both involve a former POW who comes looking for the treasure.The plots, however, diverge at that point In Cinderella, the former POW narrator is the hero In The Deep Blue Good by, the fortune hunter is most definitely the bad guy A Bullet for Cinderella is an excellent example of MacDonald s earlier work, and a must read for fans of Travis McGee Her Veneer Was Big CityBut One Look And You Knew That Toni Raselle S Instincts Were Straight Out Of The River Shack She Came FromI Watched Her As She Toyed With The Man, Laughing, Her Tumbled Hair Like Raw Blue Black Silk, Her Brown Shoulders Bare Eyes Deep Set, A Girl With A Gypsy LookSo This Was The Girl I Had Risked My Life To Find This Was The Girl Who Was Going To Lead Me To A Buried Fortune In Stolen Loot Fantastic early crime pulp from John D MacDonald, perhaps best known for his Travis McGee series and Cape Fear This is his only work freely available, on both Project Gutenberg and Librivox with outstanding audio narration by Winston Tharp , so I had to give it a try, and I m happy I did The story is well crafted, with a conflicted former POW as protagonist on a quest to find himself as much as a stolen cache of cash see what I did there hidden before the war by a fellow POW comrade and hinted at as he lay dying in a prison camp As he searches his friend s hometown for clues, a very shady Max Cady Cape Fear type antagonist surfaces and the body count starts to climb.Overall, the plot is well constructed, and the writing tight, with flashes of the masterful prose MacDonald would later develop into an art form. This is some of the greatest 50 s pulp noir ever written Don t miss it.All the things MacDonald is known for are here a fast moving and skillfully executed plot, memorable characters, a detailed sense of place, and as always, a dose of acute social commentary about the ills of society If you ve only the read Travis McGee novels, you re missing a big part of MacDonald s legacy His earlier work is every bit as good maybe even better, because he wasn t constrained by the reader expectations of a series.Looking at the original cover of the paperback pictured above , I m amused The tawdry cover and the price 25 cents imply that this is not going to be great literature The reader will be pleasantly surprised.
John D MacDonald was born in Sharon, Pa, and educated at the Universities of Pennsylvania, Syracuse and Harvard, where he took an MBA in 1939 During WW2, he rose to the rank of Colonel , and while serving in the Army and in the Far East, sent a short story to his wife for sale, successfully He served in the Office of Strategic Services O.S.S in the China Burma India Theater of Operations A
- 160 pages
- A Bullet for Cinderella
- John D. MacDonald
- 11 October 2017 John D. MacDonald