Three Novels by Jean Potts

American author, Jean Potts (1910-1999), won an Edgar award for her first novel, Go, Lovely Rose (1954), but still fell into obscurity. Then sometime in 2018, John F. Norris reviewed a few of her books at his blog, Pretty Sinister Books. John’s admiration for the books so impressed a publishing house that they brought back some of her novels into print and asked John to write the introductions.  John, definitely deserves a big round of applause for this. His posts on the author can be read over here.

Last year, I started reading Potts when I picked up her first novel, Go, Lovely Rose. Rachel Buckmaster travels back to her native town from Chicago after she receives the news that their house-keeper and bane of her childhood, Rose Henshaw, has slipped down the stairs and broken her neck. It would be cause for celebration for everybody in the town of Coreyville for Rose was one vile woman but for the fact that Rachel’s teenage brother, Hartley, is suspected of murdering Rose. Rachel investigates and old secrets come tumbling out.

I enjoyed the novel though at one point I did feel that it’d have been better had Rachel had not meddled so much.

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First Line: “Dead as they come,” said the old doctor zestfully.

Publication Details: NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1954

First Published: 1954

Pages: 213

Source: Open Library

Other Opinions: Crossexamining Crime, Dead Yesterday, Do You write Under Your Own Name?, GeorgeKelley, Pretty Sinister Books.

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 Keen to read more of Potts, this year, I started another novel, The Little Lie and finished it in a few hours. Unfortunately, the copy I borrowed was not the latest edition so I missed out on reading John’s introduction.


Dee, runs an antique store and lives with her brother and sister-in-law and a couple of lodgers. Engaged to one of the lodgers, Chad, Dee is enraged when he tells her some home-truths and breaks off with her. Unable to face this humiliation, Dee concocts a lie that he has merely shifted to New York… but soon this little lie assumes gigantic proportions.

This is a hell of a novel because even though Dee’s secret is not something that one can’t guess, the entire thing hinges on its climax and when I finished the book, I felt deeply sad because it could have ended in a completely opposite way too.

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First Line: Mr. Fly stood in the downstairs hall, listening to them quarrel.

Publication Details: NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1968

First Published: 1968

Pages: 159

Source: Open Library

Other Opinions: Crossexamining Crime; Dead Yesterday; Pretty Sinister Books

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“He had more than that to hate me for.”

My Brother’s Killer is yet another gripping read from Potts. Garth Sullivan hates his younger brother with a passion. Always the favourite of their widowed mother, Howdy (Howard), has led a charmed life while all of Garth’s dreams have been taken away from him. His passion to become a wood-sculptor, his dream of settling in Mexico, the girl whom he loved…and unknowingly (?) it is Howdy who has been responsible for the stripping of all Garth’s dreams. Can you blame Garth for having murderous thoughts or later for cold-bloodily hatching the plot to kill his brother? This is a suspense-filled novel and through out the book, I kept on wondering whether Howdy was really that naïve and nice or whether it was just a facade? And it is his words in the end that have really remained with me.

First Line: Garth Sullivan decided to kill his brother on an evening that started out like dozens of other evenings.

Publication Details: NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1975

First Published: 1975

Pages: 176

Source: Open Library

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I intend to read more of Potts in the days to come. Have you read her? How do you find her?

4 thoughts on “Three Novels by Jean Potts

  1. Neeru, I have several of Jean Potts’ novels but have not read any of them yet. I have The Little Lie in a recent reprint with John’s Introduction. And Go, Lovely Rose also, in an old paperback (and in a reprint edition I think). And at least one more but it hasn’t been cataloged yet so don’t remember the title. I do hope to read them soon.

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    1. Oh you must read her Laurie. She is really good. And this is not merely my opinion. Read any of the other posts I have linked and you’ll find that everybody rates her very highly:)

      Like

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