It’s John D. MacDonald week on Friday’s Forgotten Books and for my selection I chose SLAM THE BIG DOOR, MacDonald’s 1960 novel, though my copy is a 1987 hardcover by The Mysterious Press. In his introduction, MacDonald details how the book never got hardcover publication back then, a dispute with his hardcover publisher over paperback rights, they insisting on fifty percent of those rights. He had his agent offer it to Fawcett instead, a publisher he liked.
Mike Rodenska met Troy Jamison during the war, seventeen years before. Mike was a war correspondent and continued in journalism afterward. Troy had married, started a career in advertising, drank himself and both into oblivion, had a nervous breakdown, then moved to Florida.
The two kept in touch for a while, then went to letters, the occasional card, then almost nothing. Mike knew Troy had remarried and started a new career as a builder.
Now Mike was headed down for a visit. Recently widowed, Troy had invited him down to get away. He’d left his two boys with family and took off. He’d also come into a bit of money from an uncle who’d died and left him stocks he’d accumulated over the years.
Mike arrives to learn Troy is in trouble again. He was using his knowledge of building and his wife’s money to try to develop an exclusive residential property on Riley Key. Now, after accidents and delays, he was about out of money. The vultures, some of the good old rich boys, were waiting on the sidelines to pick up the pieces, not just waiting, but willing to nudge those pieces around a bit themselves.
It doesn’t take Mike long to realize Troy has problems, mental problems. This is the second marriage and career, headed toward success, that he seems determined to run into the ground.
All the old patterns are repeating. Even the old girl friend from back in New York was in the area.
Can he help Troy straighten things out? Is it even possible? He doesn’t seem to realize the path he’s headed down is the same as before.
His wife’s sex-pot daughter, newly divorced, isn’t helping matters either. She even makes a play for Mike, forty, balding, and with a bit of a gut.
As usual with MacDonald, he has sharply drawn characters and a well told tale.
Liked this one.
Finally, I’m offering links to my earlier posts on MacDonald’s three science fiction novels.
For more John D. MacDonald books, look to Patti Abbott over at Pattinase.