Monday, March 3, 2014

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? (Sam McCain, #3)Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? by Ed Gorman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It is September 1959. The First Secretary of Soviet Communist Party, Nikita Khrushchev, is visiting a corn farm in Black River Falls, a small town in Iowa. Unfortunately, after this intriguing beginning of Ed Gorman's mystery "Will You Still Love me Tomorrow?" Mr. Khrushchev immediately disappears from the plot, and what is left is a sort of "cozy mystery". A renowned writer, suspected of having strong Communist leanings, is murdered. It would be nice to pin the murder on two prominent Communist hunters who reside in town, but soon they are killed as well. Sam McCain, a lawyer and a P.I., is working on solving the murders, when he is not busy sleeping with or trying to sleep with various women.

This is a few years after the peak of McCarthyism, the prestige of HUAC is quickly declining, and the Red Scare is fading, particularly in big cities. It is still alive in small towns, though, such as the one portrayed in the novel. Mr. Gorman manages to convey some of the hysteria of the times when he describes an open meeting of the school board. He tries hard to convey the Fifties feel in his novel. The clothing of the era is carefully described, the characters make out in a drive-in theater, and Spam tastes better with baked beans. However, although the language and behaviors shown in the novel are indeed those of the Fifties, the author's sensibilities - ethnic, sexual, and otherwise - clearly belong to the early 2000's, and the book does not really feel that authentic.

This is not a bad book. The plot is relatively interesting, and the writing is pretty funny at various places. Two of my favorites: "herculean bowel movement", and keeping the emergency "thing" in the billfold, right next to the photo of John Foster Dulles. Also, the novel is very short, which is commendable. On the other hand, I do not care too much for the "cozy" style, as exemplified, for instance, by Sam's checking what the "word on the street" is with elderly residents of a nursing home.

By the way, Mr. Khrushchev indeed visited Roswell Garst's corn farm in the town of Coon Rapids, Iowa, in September 1959. I wish the book featured more of the good old Nikita.

Two and almost a half stars.

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