Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Book Review: Don Tracy, Round Trip [a.k.a. Too Many Girls] (1934)

If you want a shining example of a noir novel (re-)marketed in a misleading way, look no further. Published in hardback as Round Trip (a much more appropriate title than Too Many Girls), Don Tracy's 1934 novel tells the up-and-down life story of Eddie Magruder, a newspaper photographer in Baltimore. The book's mode is episodic realism; its highest drama comes when Eddie stands trial for manslaughter. In a novel with a more conventional plot structure, Eddie's trial might have provided narrative arc for the whole affair. As presented, however, the trial is merely one in a string of events that define Eddie's life. The nature of the book's overall drama is indicated by this passing comment from Edith, Eddie's wife: "It would be nice if we could always be happy like this, wouldn't it, Eddie?" This line comes a bit more than one-quarter of the way through the book, and it leads readers to suspect (if they did not already) that Eddie and Edith will not always be so happy. As a whole, then, Round Trip's drama comes in waiting to see what will be their ultimate (and inevitable?) undoing. (And good luck finding all those pin-up models the paperback reprints promise you!) Grade: B


  1. I've been a fan of the prolific Don Tracy for a long time. The guy could write crime novels and historical novels with the best of them. I'll have to find a copy of TOO MANY GIRLS/ROUND TRIP. Nice review!

  2. You have a favorite Tracy novel? As far as crime novels go, he was right there at the beginning with Cain, and he deserves to be much, much better known.