“You’ve had your cake and et it too, all these years.”
Lew Morgan is the undisputed king of Turk Ridge. Once a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, Lew has made it to the top, by his enterprise and industriousness, as well as by marrying Olive Whitt, whose father had owned everything in the town. When the novel opens, Olive is dead and though her husband was hardly faithful to her, she leaves him her fortune. Lew can now marry Celia Colby, the school teacher, who has been his mistress for many years. Everything, it seems, has worked out well for Lew Morgan.
Or has it? His aunt Chat is fearful because his photo has fallen twice from the wall, and the old lady sees it as a bad omen. When she conveys her fears to Morgan, he laughs them away. Unknown to him, however, there are many who would like him dead. His daughter-in-law, Dort, a gold-digger, unable to see her hopes being frustrated repeatedly, is plotting something devious with her lover, Johny. His friend, Grover, who has seen his fortunes go down while Morgan’s have risen and who has to take loans from the bank that Morgan controls can no longer bear it when Morgan refuses to grant him another loan. It replaces his friendship with something twisted. There is an old lover Sophie Barton in town whose daughter might very well be Morgan’s illegitimate child. Full of resentment, she openly threatens Morgan. Even Morgan’s daughter, Victoria, the apple of his eyes, is now simmering at the hold her father has over her. A clear case of Electra complex, Victoria both loves her father and yet hates him because of how she seeks his approval for everything, even for the man she has fallen in love with. And then there is Whitt, Morgan’s son. Always ridiculed by his father, Whitt can hardly stand up for himself and in a moment of desperation while being flayed by his father, declares openly that he wants him dead:
“I wish I’ve had the guts to do it myself! That’s the kind of son you’ve made out of me…”
So there is Lew Moragn, surrounded by people who hate his guts, and whose simmering resentment is now about to burst open. A push, sleeping pills, a gun….which one would finally kill Morgan? Or would The Diehard still be lucky?
Once again, Potts excels in giving us memorable characters and a taut story line. This summary might make it seem that Lew Morgan is nothing but a failure as a human being, but Potts makes us feel for him. The story moves at a fast pace with the tension mounting as Lew Morgan realises the kind of hatred that is brewing against him in the others.
A good start for the #1956 Club.
First Line: All through his wife’s funeral, Lew Morgan wrestled with a nervous, unseemly urge to yawn.
NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1956
First Published: 1956
Sources: Open Library
Other Opinions: Mystery File
Other books read of the same author: (Among Others) My Brother’s Killer