This novel was originally published as Immoral Wife (Midwood 11) and then Henry’s Wife reprinted — keeping the same Paul Rader Cover.
Robert Silverberg only used the Gordon Mitchell pen name once, for this one, and it’s unknown why. Perhaps because he had not yet established the Loren Beauchamp pen name there, with Love Nest, which was an unnumbered early Midwood. At the time, Midwood was getting its books from the Scott Meredith Agency and had no idea that Loren Beauchamp and Gordon Mitchell were the same person, or that the same person was also Don Elliott at Nightsand and David Challon/Mark Ryan at Bedstand/Bedtime.
This is more a crime noir/suspense yarn than a sex book — there’s sex, but less so than other Midwoods or Beauchamps/Elliotts; there is more sexual tension, calling to mind a good James M. Cain novel, like Postman Always Rings Twice or Sinful Woman.
The setting is a small New Engalnd town, so small everyone knows everyone’s busienss and phone oprators listen to calls for giossip — any gossipy news is spread fast. Hollister has returned to the small town after inheriting his parents’ home; he has been living in New York with his wife, Katherine, and their two children. He met Katherine the day he came back from Korea, while in New York.
All the married women in town are ex-girlfriends of his, or he dated them…except for Jean, who is ten years younger (27) and lives nextdoor, married to Henry, a man twice her age.
Jean has been teasing and flaunting Hollister with her body, un til he can take it no more and cheats on his wife. They have an affair all summer. Katherine finds out. He tries to call it off with Jean but Jean does not want to it to end — in fact, she wants him to leave his wife, she’ll leave Henry, and they can move to Los Angeles and have babies. She wants children — he older husband is shooting blanks, and Hollister is obviously virile since he has sired two kids.
Hollister realizes that Jean is a nut-case and wants nothing of her. To get back at him, she claims he raped her, and Hollister becomes persona non grata in the small town community.
Henry finds out the truth: that his wife in an unfaithful floozy. In front iof Hollister’s eyes, he shoots her with a .22 several times, then kills himself.
This was a good page turner, another worthy of reprinting, and I could see it as a good movie (maybe I will adapt some day). It is far better than some of the disappointing Beauchamps.