The Long Ride by James McKimmey

McKimmey’s “the Long Ride” is a 1961 crime novel with a little something for everyone and quite humorous to boot. It’s sort of the pulp version of Gilligan’s Island with seven people who barely know each other trapped in a station wagon traveling cross-country together.

In the old days when the world was young, it seems traveling from fictional Loma City to San Francisco was something you didn’t do alone. Instead, like Mrs. Landry, what you would do was place an ad in the paper and lo and behold people needing transport would call up, chip in for gas, and provide companionship and adventure. Here, they probably in the end provided far more blood and adventure than dear sweet Mrs.Landry ever bargained for.

Mrs. Landry, who was probably not all that old, was the proud owner of the station wagon with three rows of seats. A proper lady who likely never uttered a dirty word in her life, when put behind the wheel of a large automobile, would drive like the devil was on her heels. She passed big rigs with seconds to spare. She goosed that mighty beast to ninety or more on the straightaways.

Miss Kennicot was another seemingly proper and prim older lady. She would lead the crew in endless song sessions and games of twenty questions. But, let no romance bloom near her for her eyes were a mite green with jealousy. In short, Miss Kennicot never shut up and was always in the way.

Margaret Moore was the next passenger, a ripe sensual divorcee who the men in the group couldn’t keep their eyes or hands off, not even the married ones.

Speaking of married couples, next we get Allan and Cicely Garwith, a young couple seeking a new life on the West Coast. Allan has but one arm which he lost in a perilous adventure in New Orleans urged on by a lady he just met and only to end up beaten and wounded by the side of the road. Allan appears to, on the surface, be a decent young fellow, but he’s a no-good creep who spends the entire trip thinking about how he’ll dump plain-faced boring Cicely when he gets his hands on the sack of money, you know the sack of money that’s always the subject of pulp paperbacks. Thing is, Allan, as you’ll find out is a bumbling loser and Cicely deserves far better.

Next, our passenger list rounds out with Harry Wells, a wanted man, though he doesn’t know it, and vicious bank robber. Cool, calm, collected, are words that describes this man as well as determined and ruthless.

Finally, our vaunted passenger list rounds out with FBI Special Agent John Benson, who is hot on the trail of a suspected robber and thinks he will surreptitiously gather evidence if he travels along with his suspect.

The setup is in some ways a bit goofy, but only insofar as it leads to humorous adventures. No one knows who the other really is and this mismatched group of seven is quite hilarious at times.

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