Sam McCain - 05 - Everybody's Somebody's Fool

BOOK: Sam McCain - 05 - Everybody's Somebody's Fool
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Everybody's Somebody's Fool
Sam McCain [5]
Ed Gorman
(1956)
Rating:
***

### From Publishers Weekly

Shamus-winner Gorman's niftily titled new novel opens on a warm summer night in 1961 in Black River Falls, Iowa. Soon after a girl turns up dead at a class reunion party, her drag-racing boyfriend slams into a clay wall at 90 miles an hour. An obvious accident-but then the police find his brake line had been cut. Reluctantly, McCain enters the investigation, which involves jilted girlfriends, unfaithful spouses and a clever, resourceful killer. Besides being a competent, suspenseful mystery with more than a few surprises, this fifth in the series (Save the Last Dance for Me, etc.) is a fascinating time machine, recalling the arcana of a more innocent time (sick jokes, the Maverick TV series, teenagers using the phrase "Daddy-O").
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

### From Booklist

Every burg, large or small, is driven by the same human emotions of passion, jealousy, greed, and ambition. These are the hard lessons young lawyer Sam McCain has absorbed since he returned to his hometown, Black River Falls, Iowa, in 1961 to eke out a meager living as a lawyer and part-time investigator. When young Sara Griffin, troubled daughter of a prominent family, is murdered at a party, Sam is hired to defend the primary suspect, local bad boy David Egan. Corrupt Sheriff Cliffie Sykes pins the Griffin murder on Egan; then Egan dies under mysterious circumstances while drag racing. McCain feels obligated to clear Egan's name. It's apparent he's unearthed a link to the real killer when a third victim is discovered. The fifth McCain mystery builds on its predecessors as Sam's optimistic naivete is ceaselessly challenged by brutal acts perpetrated in the name of love. But love isn't the real motive; it's trumped by ego and self-preservation. Another fine entry in a wonderful series that deserves a much wider audience. *Wes Lukowsky*
*Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved*

Everybody’s Somebody’s

Fool

 

by Ed Gorman

 

Book Jacket Information iii

 

Death revs up on the drag strip in a new mystery featuring Sam McCain

 

Things go as wrong as love in a

rock-‘n’-roll song for dangerous, young David Egan when he finds himself charged with the murder of the pampered but seriously disturbed daughter in the wealthy Griffin family of Black River Falls. They go fatally wrong the night that Egan crashes his black Mercury into a bridge at ninety miles an hour in a drag race outside of town—”no accident, it would appear, as the Merc’s brake line had been cut.

Struggling lawyer and sometime private eye Sam McCain finds himself, not unusually, hauled into the investigation by the incorrigible Judge Esme Ann Whitney, who continues to make no attempt to conceal her disdain for the local police and their khaki-clad chief Cliffie Sykes, Jr. While Sam manages to establish a critical connection between the two victims easily enough, the solution to the case more than eludes him the mellow autumnal afternoon that he stumbles on a third: Brenda Carlyle, wife of a former all-American, her once robust body lying lifeless in the last suds of her bath.

Jealous husbands, philandering spouses, jilted girlfriends, outraged parents, a long-suffering wife—Sam does not want for suspects. Or for clues. It’s the conclusive evidence that surprises him and that frostily ends the Indian summer in Iowa 1961.

 

Ed Gorman, winner of the Shamus, the Spur, and the International Fiction Writer’s Award among others, is the author of many novels, including Cold Blue Midnight and Senatorial Privilege. He has

written four other mysteries in the Sam McCain series—..The Day the Music

Died, Wake Up Little Susie, Will

You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, and Save the Last Dance for Me—and founded Mystery Scene magazine. He lives in Cedar

Rapids, Iowa.

 

All of the characters in this book are Very fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely

coincidental.

 

Praise For Ed Gorman’s

Sam McCain Mystery Series:

 

“Sweetly nostalgic mystery. …

[McCain’s] zeal to cleanse Black River Falls of evil makes him the kind of hero any small town could take to its heart.”

—Marilyn Stasio, The New York

Times Book Review

 

“Gorman’s delightful series …

provoke[s] a bracing nostalgia for a time that was neither as innocent nor as dull as is sometimes said.”

—.Wall Street Journal

 

“Gorman’s successful capturing of time and place … sharply evokes the twilight of the ‘ej’s.”

—.Los Angeles Times

 

“No writer captures the mood of 1950’s middle America … better than Gorman.”

—..Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

 

“Gorman seems to have hit a mother Vii lode with this series.”

—.Publishers Weekly

 

“In Black River Falls … good and

evil clash with the same heartbreaking results as they have in the more urban crime drama of Block or Leonard.”

—.Booklist

 

Also by Ed Gorman

 

The Sam McCain Series

 

The Day the Music Died

Wake Up Little Susie

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

Save the Last Dance for Me

 

The Jack Dwyer Series

 

New, Improved Murder

Murder Straight Up

Murder in the Wings

The Autumn Dead

A Cry of Shadows

 

The Tobin Series

 

Murder on the Aisle

Several Deaths Later

 

The Robert Payne Series

 

Blood Moon

Hawk Moon ix

Harlot’s Moon

 

Suspense Novels

 

The Night Remembers

The First Lady

Runner in the Dark

Senatorial Privilege

 

Short Story Collections

 

Prisoners

Dark Whispers

Moonchasers

 

For the good doctors Tammy O’Brien, M.D.; Dean H. Gesme Jr., M.D.,

F.A.C.P.; Kevin Carpenter, M.D.,

F.A.C.S.; Leann Schneider, Lpn;

that very special oncology nurse Amy Hass; and the lovely ladies of the lab—Carolyn, Denise, Marcia, Sherry, and Wendy.

 

Xi

 

And hearts that we broke long ago

Have long been breaking others.

—W. H. Auden

 

Everybody’s Somebody’s

Fool

 

Part

 

One

 

Around eleven that night, the hostess broke out the Johnny Mathis and the Frank Sinatra, and everybody quit talking about their kids and their jobs and their mortgages and their politics, and got down to some serious slow dancing out on the darkened patio in the warm prairie night of summer 1961.

It was like all those groping, grasping ninth-grade parties we’d always had in some kid’s basement, where the mom was gracious and the old man cast an evil eye on anybody who danced too close with his sweet blooming daughter.

The difference now was that we were adults, or rumored to be, or hoped devoutly to be. Andre Malraux once asked an old priest if he’d learned anything from sixty years of hearing confessions and the padre said, “Yes, there’s no such thing as an adult.” He was probably on to something there.

There were only three single women there that night, and only one single guy. Me.

I took turns dancing with all three of them and all three of them said pretty much the same thing when I slid into their embrace, “Gosh, McCain, you always make me feel so tall.”

And then a giggle.

There’s nothing worse than being insulted by people who don’t mean to insult you. At five-five a guy can be awfully sensitive about short jokes.

We danced.

Back in high school the only girl I wanted to dance with was the beautiful Pamela Forrest, the girl I’d loved since grade school. But since she went out with older boys, I didn’t get to dance with her very often.

As I saw it, my prospective dancing partners were divided into three groups. Girls who were shorter than I was and therefore good for my public image; girls who were fun to dance with no matter how short or tall they were; and girls who didn’t mind a little dry-humping in the darkness.

There weren’t many in the last category, at least not many available to me, anyway, but when you came upon one you immediately fell to your knees sobbing

in gratitude.

Tonight, I was hoping I’d find a girl who, at twenty-five, had moved beyond the dry-humping stage. The best bet was Linda Dennehy, who was divorced and worked as a nurse in Iowa City, well known to be the capital of all great-looking girls in our state. I mean, you had girls there who’d been to Paris and London walking around in heartbreaking Levi cut-offs openly reading Kerouac and Ginsberg. I spent as much time there as I could.

Linda was a little bit drunk and a little bit sentimental. She smelled good, too. Very good.

“You ever wish you could go back, Sam, you know, to when we were in high school?”

“All the time.”

“I thought it was going to be so neat. You know, growing up and going out on my own.”

I paid all the attention I could. The feel of her flesh beneath her silk blouse and silk slip made certain parts of my body more alert than others. There was a bonus to her slender but very female form. I liked her. Always had. She was one of those quiet, decent girls who, oddly enough, looked better with eyeglasses than without them. Nobody paid a lot of attention to her back then is what I’m trying to say. But on hayrack rides and at skating parties and on Fourth of July starburst keggers, we’d drifted together sometimes, friends and maybe a little more, but never enough little more that it ever went anywhere.

“You still have your ragtop?”

“I sure do.”

“I don’t suppose you’d feel like going for a ride?”

“I sure would.”

“I have to tell you something, though.”

She didn’t finish the sentence, leaving me to wonder what she wanted to say but didn’t quite have the courage to. (a) I have to tell you, though, that I’m three months preggers. (but) I have to tell you, though, that I somehow picked up a venereal disease. (can) I have to tell you, though, that if I meet somebody who’s taller than you, I’m going to dump you in a minute.

“Tell me what?”

She put her arm around my neck and kissed me. She had a very soft mouth and a very deft tongue and I have to say that I went a wee bit cuckoo standing there on that patio. Not only hadn’t

I had sex in some time, I hadn’t had any companionship. And right now in that shadowy darkness, I felt as if Linda was the best friend I’d ever had.

“God, I can’t believe I did that,

Sam.”

“You don’t hear me complaining, do you?”

“It’s—embarrassing.” She glanced about. A few of the other couples had taken note of our kiss.

The song ended.

“I need to go to the bathroom first,” she said.

“Will you wait here?”

“I’m nailed to the floor.”

I watched her walk away, a pleasing sight indeed. Slender but not without some elemental curves. We’d grown up in the Knolls together.

That’s the section that the proper citizens of Black River Falls try to forget about. A lot of tiny, rusty shacks and hundreds of scrubby little kids doomed to live out the same kind of grim, gray lives of their parents and enough violence to inspire the daydreams of a dozen generals.

Even by Knolls standards, Linda’s father was a bastard. My dad and a lot of other dads took turns hauling his drunken ass off his fragile little wife, whom he seemed to enjoy beating up on the front lawn of their shacklike house. When he was very drunk, it’d take a couple of dads —maybe even three of them—ffput the monster down because he was not only big, he’d once been a good amateur fighter.

Linda would hurl herself upon him, screaming, literally tearing hair out of his head, scratching his eyes, biting his shoulder—anything to stop him from smashing punches again and again into her tiny mother. On summer nights, long after her old man had been laid low by one of the dads and lay passed out on the front stoop, I could hear Linda crying into the night. She couldn’t seem to stop herself. If she had friends, I never saw them or heard about them.

She liked to fish, God did she like to fish, and growing up, before my dad started making enough money to move us into town proper, I always saw her down on that old deserted railroad bridge, so solitary in her T-shirt and jeans it’d break your heart that way your little sister could break your heart. And if you approached her, she’d jump up and run away.

Her father was dead now and her two younger brothers were driving for a trucking company. She’d gotten a scholarship to nursing school and had done well for herself. Her drinking tonight surprised me. The few times I’d seen her at social affairs she’d always made a point of drinking nonalcoholic things.

BOOK: Sam McCain - 05 - Everybody's Somebody's Fool
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