Monday, December 21, 2009

Book Review: Charles Williams, Go Home, Stranger (1954)

In one type of Gold Medal PBO, the protagonist finds himself plunged into a crime-driven crisis: Perhaps he is accused of a crime that he did not commit, or perhaps he chooses to participate in a seemingly harmless crime that goes horribly wrong, or perhaps there is some other scenario involving crime and the protagonist's life spiraling out of control. In any case, such plots can make for compelling reading, as Charles Williams and his Gold Medal stablemates showed over and over again (for Williams, see A Touch of Death and Hell Hath No Fury). But Go Home, Stranger deviates from this general formula in a crucial way: It is not the protagonist, Pete Reno, who is caught up in a crime; rather, it is his sister, and she stays off stage for virtually the entire book while Pete runs around playing amateur detective and trying to prove her innocence. The result is remarkably bland; instead of a character desperately trying to extricate himself from a nightmare, we have a character trying to solve a puzzle that does not involve him, which is not nearly as interesting, even if someone is trying to kill him to prevent him from discovering the truth. Grade: C

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