The #1956 Club: The Diehard by Jean Potts

“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

Pages: 214

Sources: Open Library

Other Opinions: Mystery File

Other books read of the same author: (Among Others) My Brother’s Killer

12 thoughts on “The #1956 Club: The Diehard by Jean Potts

  1. I do like novels that have some complexity of characters, Neeru. And it sounds as though there are plenty of interesting suspects here. The family dynamics also sound interesting. Glad you enjoyed this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margot, you are spot on. The characters are very interesting and Potts makes you understand their point-of-view very well. Pleasant and unpleasant at the same time. It makes for some fascinating reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I do need to read a book by Jean Potts. This one seems to be full of unappealing characters, but that can make a good story. And I do like stories about families.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry Tracy, if the review gave the idea that the characters are unappealing, they are very interesting. Potts presents them in such a way that you can’t help but sympathise with (almost) all of them, warts and all.

      Like

  3. Hi Neeru! Your new blog looks great. I tried WordPress for another blog I’d in mind but never got the hang of it. People tell me WordPress is more user-friendly than Blogger. I probably need outside help.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome to the new blog, Prashant and thank you so much for your kind words. Blogger was giving me a lot of trouble so I decided to make a switch at the time of reviving the blog. WP hasn’t been too difficult but then I don’t know many of its features. I find it more interactive than blogger and am really glad to have made the switch.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.