Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Forgotten Books: SATURDAY GAMES by Brown Meggs*

SATURDAY GAMES by Brown Meggs*

Here's a golden oldie for you: SATURDAY GAMES by Brown Meggs. If I'm not mistaken (and I often am) I believe this was the novel that was first submitted to acclaimed mystery editor Babara Norville when she was editing the fine line of Bobbs-Merrill mysteries back in the early Seventies. She gave Meggs advice on how to make his manuscript marketable and he did just that. And then (or so the story goes) he promptly sold it for a better deal to Random House.

The novel was good enough to be nominated for a first novel Edgar and to go through a number of printings here and abroad. It's a dazzler. Three upper middle-class Southern California types have a little too much grass and booze fun with a gorgeous wild woman named Emjay (this was the early Seventies remember). A private pool, a lot of sex and...Emjay somehow gets herself murdered. Which of the three men is guilty? Or are all of them guilty? Or none of them guilty?

This is a real puzzler populated by real people. The hip cop Anson Freres spends the book getting to know a number of people he'd rather not brush up against but must in the line of duty. The SoCal background is wittily sketched. And the sex scenes are truly torrid. They're also proof that less is more. The novel is saturated with sexuality but there's not a hard core moment to be found.

Meggs went on to write several other novels. I've read Saturday three or four times since its original publication. It's the reading equivalent of watching a really good athlete on a really good day. The craft here is dazzling.

And Meggs' life was nearly as interesting as his books.

Brown Meggs

mystery writer
Born: 10/20/1930
Birthplace: Los Angeles
A successful executive for Capitol Records, Meggs was also a talented mystery writer. He was nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for his first novel, Saturday Games (1974). His other books include The Matter of Paradise (1975), Aria (1978), and The War Train (1981). Though he specialized in classical music and opera, Meggs made his greatest coup for Capitol Records when he secured the rights to distribute Beatles albums in the United States.

Died: 10/8/1997

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