Two novellas in this book. The first is “Border Town Girl” which first appeared in 1950 in “Dime Detective Magazine” as “Five Star Fugitive.” The second is “Linda.” The first is hard boiled while the second is about a scheming woman and murder. More good stuff from MacDonald.
“Border Town Girl” centers on Lane Sanson. He was a reporter who had a best selling war novel. In five years he went through all his money and his marriage ended. Now he’s a drunk in Mexico. He gets mixed up with a B girl and ends up getting rolled in an alley. That’s just the beginning of his troubles as he is forced to smuggle some heroin across the border into a small Texas town. He has to deliver a coded message to a girl in a hotel room. They both encounter a crazed killer named Christy who used to be a strong man in a circus. This is a good mixture of an innocent man caught up in mayhem and murder.
“Linda” is the wife of Paul Cowley. He remembered her from high school when he was too shy to approach her. He’s still a bit dazed that a quiet, unassuming guy like himself is now married to her. He’s persuaded to go on vacation with their neighbors Jeff and Stella Jeffries to a small town in Florida. Jeff and Linda have always been flirtatious with each other but Paul never gave it much thought. Things explode on the beach and Paul ends up in jail for murder.