The Many Faces of John Dexter #7: The Sin Fishers by Harry Whittington (Sundown Reader #542, 1965)
This Whittington has a structure slightly influenced by Block and Hitchcock’s Psycho: you think it’s one story type but goes another way, there’s a woman on the run, and there’s a small motel with a crazy woman in it.
It opens with 26-year-old Rafe and his mother-in-law, 32-year-old Charlotte, mourning the death of Angie: his 16-year-old child bride who died pregnant. Cahrlottle had Angie when she was 14 so she was a child-bride herself. She’s always had her desires set on yung virile Rafe and was deeply hurt he took her dautghter instead. Now that Angie is gone, perhaps she can have him? They run a small lodgings in a fishing village in Florida; he also takes care of charter boat rides.
Rafe is not interested in loving up Charlotte — she’s an alcoholic, clingy, manic, and delusional.
In chapter three, we meet Maggie, on the run from her mobster boyfriend Harry Gildhurst, for having turned states evidence on him. Harry and two of hi goons are hot on her trailer — he’s promised to let one goon, named Monk, rape and defile her to death.
Maggie gets a room at the lodgings. Rafe is taken a back by how much she resembles his dead wife, Angie. Maggie is drawn to Rafe too. He insists Charlotte hire her as a waitress. When Cahrlotte walks in on them making whoopee one day, Charlotte plots to murder Maggie.
And one wonders if she killed her daughter too?
But when Harry and goons show up to kill Maggie, things go awary, and Charlotte gets herself killed…
A good, fast-paced little crime novel, the sex isn’t heavy but there’s enough for a Cornith.
Whittington, needing that extra $1,200 a month in the mid-60s, wrote under three pen names for Hamling/Kemp & Co: the prolific John Dexter, the ambidexterous J.X. Williams, and the exclusive Curt Coleman.