Friday’s Forgotten Book: Eighty Dollars to Stamford by Lucille Fletcher (1975)

“Now, will you please take me. Please, David.” Her voice broke. “I can’t delay a moment longer….it’s a matter of life and death.”

David Marks is a haunted man. Six months ago, while walking home, his wife died in front of him: victim of a hit-and-run accident. Now Marks lives to take his revenge against the man driving the car whose face he glimpsed when the latter glanced back before fleeing away. A school teacher and father to two sons who are being brought up by his wife’s mother, Marks has also taken up taxi driving in the night to take his mind off all the brooding that he does.

His adventures begin on the night when a woman hires him for a two-way trip to Stamford and back. She gives him eighty dollars for the trip:

The moon was full. The sky was cloudless. Fate, he thought, was being kind to him. Eighty dollars…

When they reach the destination, he finds that it is all in the dark. The woman won’t allow him to take her up the driveway but rather asks him to wait outside the chained gate and not tell anybody about her visit. An hour later, she returns and he drives her back. End of story. Not quite because a few days later, she again hires him to take her to the place. Intrigued by these trips and her frantic wish to keep it all a secret and half in love with her, Marks decides to investigate on his own after another trip. He shouldn’t have because he finds himself neck-deep in trouble. Soon he is on the run but the woman still bewitches him. Can he arrive at the truth of the matter?

Like the other novels read of Fletcher, this too has a play between the real thing and make-belief. Marks is a likeable hero and after reading many jokes centering around the mother-in-law/ son-in-law relationship, it was refreshing to see his caring relationship with his m-i-l. I am not too convinced by his batting for the woman passenger but perhaps the emotional low-point he was at made him behave in that manner. Overall, this was a good page-turner but lacked the depth of ….And Presumed Dead.

Have you read this book or any other book by Fletcher? Which is your favourite?

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First Line: It seemed a lucky break, a bonanza, the first good thing that had happened to him in three months of part-time cab-driving.

Publication Details: NY: Random House, 1975

First Published: 1975

Pages: 151

Source: Open Library

Other Opinions: Crossexamining Crime; Do You Write Under Your Own Name?

Other books read of the same author: (Among others) Night Watch

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Submitted for Friday’s Forgotten Books @ Todd Mason’s excellent blog: Sweet Freedom.

7 thoughts on “Friday’s Forgotten Book: Eighty Dollars to Stamford by Lucille Fletcher (1975)

  1. This does sound like an enjoyable read, Neeru. I agree with you 100% that it’s nice when characters don’t fall into stereotypes (like the typical mother-in-law thing). I’m glad this book presents more balanced characters.

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  2. As you may recall, I liked this book quite a bit as well. I agree there is more emotion in … And Presumed Dead, but I think some the scenes of Marks at home with his kids and the character of the old detective do add some welcome emotional depth to this book as well.

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    1. I agree Christophe, Marks interaction with his kids is pretty well-done but over all (perhaps because of the woman) I couldn’t quite connect with either the story or the characters, the way I did with …And Presumed Dead.

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