1956 _ Dell First Edition 85 | 1956; PBO April Evil by ...
April Evil, by John D. MacDonald (Dell, 1960 ...

Best known for his Travis McGee series, MacDonald spent the Fifties putting out crime novel after crime novel, all of which are well worth reading. April Evil, set in a small Florida coastal town, back when Florida still had small towns, is about greed and larceny and lustfulness. An old doctor is set in his ways and keeps millions in cash in a safe in his closet and the whole town suspects it, including a gang of hoodlums come in from Chicago, all set to take it the hard way, his distant relatives who are sponging it off him one dollar at a time, and his nearby relatives who can’t wait for him to die and wanted him declared cuckoo and locked away. Of course, typical of these novels, all their paths cross in the end and that end ain’t all that pretty.

The beauty and wonder in this early MacDonald novel is not so much in the plot, but in the bevy of characters he carefully creates and launches out upon an unsuspecting world. The hard-case hoodlum and the dumb blonde he drags along for kicks, the one who went to Hollywood to become a star, but never had the gift for acting so hooked up with a bunch of hoodlums in Chicago. He’s determined never to go back to the prison he broke out of. The safecracker who joins them. And the psychopath who just loves killing though he is warned not to leave a trail of too many bodies this time.

But that’s just the hoodlums. The folks in this town are quite a bunch. There’s the used car dealer and his trampy wife who sunbathes au natural while her car is delivered by the dealership salesman. The rich dealer who then loses his shirt in a poker game while the wife is out cavorting and stirring up trouble. The kid next door to the hoodlums wants to play private eye. The lawyer who writes up the rich doctor’s will used to be going with the auto dealer’s wife. And so on and so on. They are all interconnected. The story is just rich in characters, each of whom seem so unique and so desperate in their own slightly offbeat ways.

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 )

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