Kill Story

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Tom Bethany has a number of friends and customarily rubs elbows with the underside of society. It is appropriate, however, that he should know and befriend Felicia Lamport, the wife of an Episcopal bishop, who travels in the very best of society.

Bethany is informed that another of Felicia Lamport’s friends is widowed and faced with the daunting task of owning a suburban newspaper. Since widow Linda Cushing knew little of journalism and less about business, she sold the paper to a chain specializing in such operation. Before she sold the paper, however, Cushing sought to ensure that her husband’s employees would retain their jobs. Unfortunately, the new owner, called “THE COBRA” by those he has previously destroyed in the course of his various endeavors, immediately reneged on these agreements. Moreover, unable or unwilling to force owner Thurman Boucher to live up to his promises, Cushing commits suicide.

Bethany soon learns that this is not a surprising development. Thurman Boucher has a colorful, blood-splattered past. Aided and abetted by his lubricous wife Alison, Thurman controls a small but highly profitable publishing empire. Bethany is impressed, but he is also certain that Thurman provoked Linda Cushing’s suicide, in some as yet undetermined manner, and behaved badly toward employees past and present. That is enough to convince Bethany that Thurman must be brought low by any means available, fair or foul.

Jerome Doolittle seeks to combine in Bethany, and in the novel’s plot, the best features of Robert Parker and John D. MacDonald with a pinch of Carl Hiassen. Such imitation, on occasion, represents an improvement over the original. This novel may be one of those cases, but the prudent reader will consult the template before proceeding further.