The Name of the Game Is Death by Dan J. Marlowe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I first started reading Gold Medal and other crime-noir paperbacks in junior high and back then this novel was one of my favorites. Marlowe pulls off the rare feat of creating a sociopath that you want to root for. The book begins in the middle of a bank heist in Arizona and our first person narrator is wounded and goes to ground. His robbery partner heads to Florida with the money. They have a plan to meet up. After a few weeks a telegram from his partner arrives and after reading it our protagonist realizes that his partner didn't send it and that someone else must have the loot. He begins driving cross country and in the course of this five-day journey from Arizona to Florida we see him not only in lethal action, but he also conveys incidents from his past that show how he became the criminal he is. Strangely enough, it humanizes the sociopath. In Florida he establishes himself as a tree surgeon in a small town, which is his cover story while he tries to find out what happened to his partner and the money. So we see him in normal human activity, but we also see the calculated way that he operates and know him for what he is: a cold blooded killer. Just a fascinating narrative perspective. As the novel progresses there are twists and turns, with an especially neat side-plot that has other criminals following our guy while he tracks down the ones who took out his partner. Marlowe delivers some neat cat and mouse scenes before the final explosive ending. One of the best in the genre and a must-read for fans of these Gold Medal paperbacks.
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