Monday, December 5, 2016

Finished: "The Name of the Game is Death" by Dan J. Marlowe

Finished: The Name of the Game is Death by Dan J Marlowe, 1962 but a 2013 reprint from Stark House, 9781933586441.

This is one of Stark House's reprints with two novels together. I'm going to list the book by itself. The Marlowe biography in here is a neat read. This novel was Marlowe's big hit.

Career criminal Chet Arnold (he has many aliases but uses this one through the book) robs a Phoenix bank but gets shot. A couple people are killed in the robbery so Chet and his partner Bunny separate. Chet hangs around to recuperate - and kill the doctor who treats him - and Bunny goes to Florida with most of the cash. Bunny sends money to General Delivery and the money stops coming. Chet knows something is wrong and drives to Florida.

Chet stops off for fake ID in Alabama and gets to Hudson, FL and looks for Bunny. Bunny must be dead and Chet wants the money and some revenge.  Chet does itinerant work as a tree doctor and uses that as a cover. (Years ago he learned "no known means of support" worked against you in court.) He starts asking around town and searching the abandoned rural roads around Hudson. He takes in a stray dog. He sexes up the local bar owner. He makes pals with a young earl estate agent.

The novel is Chet's search for Bunny and the money. He meets people, he makes friends, he asks questions, he uses several flashbacks to fill us in on his life. Chet has always been a bit of a sociopath. As a boy he had a favorite kitten that a neighborhood boy's dog kills. Chet beats the other boy with every chance he gets.

No matter that Chet's sisters, his mother and his father tell him to let the dead cat go. Chet endures the beatings of his father, pleadings of his sister, and threats of the police. The situation does not resolve until the other boy's family leaves town. Later on as a 18-year-old Chet gets in an argument with a bully cop and ends up in jail and with a beating. Chet's response is to bide his time and catch all three of the offending Officers off-duty and pounds on them. Chet eaves town, ends up in Northern Ohio where the cops, again, prove lousy. Chet murders one of the Officers and decides on a life of crime. He rejects society and starts as an armed robber.

Anyway. Chet is a killer. He's Robert DeNiro's character in Heat. Chet doesn't care who you are, if you're in the way you're going down. At one point during Chet's getaway he is resolved to killing his real estate agent pal because the pal is out in front of a roadblock. Chet only turns away when Chet's dog appears next to the fella.

No comments: