Saturday, June 01, 2013
Bad Ronald; Shield For Murder
Ed here: Two excellent posts I'd like to recommend--Jerry House on Jack Vance's brooding Bad Ronald (people forget--Vance won a novel Edgar in the early Sixties and Todd Mason on the undeservedly forgotten William P. McGivern.
Jerry House (scroll down): http://jerryshouseofeverything.blogspot.com/
:For my part, I'd like to recommend his 1973 suspense novel Bad Ronald, published under his full name, John Holbrook Vance. I read this book when it first came out and have never forgotten it. I don't think you will either. In my mind, the novel channels Vance's inner Robert Bloch. The story concentrates on a chilling and unbelievable premise that Vance turns into completely believable novel. Ronald, you see, lives his secret life in a secret room under the stairs in a house where the family that lives there has no idea they have him as a tenant. And Ronald, being Ronald, is not like the other children. In fact, Ronald can be very dangerous.
"Donald Kennicott's blurb about how the corrupt cop at the heart of this story was the exception who proves the rule...whether that was a figleaf to deflect criticism or genuine concern...but it's a point McGivern himself makes from time to time in the story itself, though McGivern, already a veteran crime beat reporter on the Philadelphia Bulletin when he published this, also notes at least as fervently that police insularity...blind loyalty to each other in the face of perceived public disdain or hostility, is even more the engine of police corruption and abuse (that and the temptations driven by their license for violence, potentially dangerous work, and low pay). The novel version, published later in 1951, is not one of McGivern's most popular (I hadn't heard of it till just before receiving the Blue Book issue as a contest prize), and perhaps was puffed up from the novella, rather than the novel cut down to fit the magazine...there were two adaptations for a/v media, a 1951 Studio One adaptation on CBS-TV, and a 1954 film starring and co-directed by Edmond O'Brien (with Howard Koch); McGivern would use the title again for a Kojakscript in the 1970s."