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Be My Victim

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Ace, London, 1957
(price: 2/-; 160 pages)

The blurb on the back:

Carol City, Slade County, Florida. By day the tourist robbery was genteel ... practised by scrubbed and bowing clerks who booked a room with a view at prices out of sight, and by merchants who waited all year for the season of the sucker.
But it was at night that the real money changed hands ... at tourist cabins, at plush clubs where the only winner was the house and nobody seemed to care.
Nobody except a man named Pop Seegar, who owned everything that made money and ruined lives in Slade County. Now somebody named Kendall was making things unpleasant for Pop , and Pop hated unpleasantness.

opening lines:
When I opened the office door I heard a sound like a land-crab scuttling.

If you were going to draw up a chart of the greatest ever American sitcoms, there wouldn't be much argument that Cheers would come out on top. But after that, what would be in there fighting for the next few spots? Well Bilko, of course, and Seinfeld and Larry Sanders and Soap. And maybe Barney Miller? Not obvious from a British perspective, I guess, 'cos Barney Miller was never given a fair showing, but, boy was it good! Set in a police station, it had as one of its central characters a certain Detective Sergeant Arthur Dietrich, the intellectual of the force, and he was my favourite.

None of which has any relevance to this book, and I mention it only because the nom-de-plume of the author, Robert Dietrich, has a surname in common with a fictional character that I kinda liked a couple of decades back. Oh, and the other reason I mention it, is that I have nothing whatsoever to say about this book. I tried to read it, but I really couldn't be bothered - the chances of it living up to the beauty of the cover are non-existent, and I figured it was better to let the thing drift off in peace.

At least, that was my intention, until I discovered that Robert Dietrich was actually a pseudonym of E. Howard Hunt, the CIA agent who was responsible for the 1972 Watergate break-in, a crime for which he was sentenced to seven years in gaol. So I had another go at reading it, in the hope that I might at least turn up some serendipitous phrase that had gained an additional layer of ironic meaning. But I still couldn't read it. Sorry.

Oh yeah, the other thing I wanted to mention was that in the back of this book it advertises various other works, including Eighteen Months by Anthony Heckstall-Smith, Unusual name, Heckstall-Smith. I only know of two: Dick Heckstall-Smith, the great jazz-blues-rock saxophonist, and Nick Heckstall-Smith, his nephew, who I went to school with and who went to work in the film business. My theory is that Anthony was Dick's father, and that he's the same man who wrote a couple of volumes of military history about Tobruk and Greece. But I could be well wide of the mark. Let me know.

I really don't have anything to say, do I? Did I mention what a nice cover it was?