Sunday 22 April 2012

Frank Kane - Syndicate Girl (1958)

"The syndicate runs this town. If they say go, you go. If they say jump, you damn well better jump. If they say you die, don't start reading any continued stories."

In a previous post I observed the disparity between the plot summary and cover artwork of a Rae Foley Mr. Potter novel, seemingly to make the book more palatable to a romantic suspense fan. Like that book, Syndicate Girl has a presentation at odds with its actual content. The cover blurb (She was as tough as the hoods she worked with--until she met a man who made her feel like a woman) along with the accompanying illustration of a long-legged blonde seductively posed on an armchair with a cigarette dangling from her fingers, would suggest that the novel is a crime melodrama involving the redemption of the syndicate girl (with perhaps a hint of risque action.) The trouble is threefold; the syndicate girl doesn't reform, doesn't meet a man who makes her feel like a woman, and since she isn't discovering her latent womanhood, there's no risque lovemaking either. Actually, the problem might be fourfold as the syndicate girl, Mary Lister, isn't even the main character in the book. That honour belongs to Mal Waters, a young and naive district attorney (and the future son-in-law of the mayor) who becomes involved in the battle against organized crime in a small city and the fight to prove that the suicide of a policeman was actually a mob hit tied to a corruption probe.

One's enjoyment of SG will depend on how much one can make allowances for the actions of Mal Waters. While he is supposed to be naive, a puppet placed in office by the crime-ridden administration, most of the story depends on the character doing foolish things such allowing himself to be set-up or revealing his plans to those he shouldn't trust (even though he learns early on about the duplicity of those close to him). Mal's development as a character is in contrast to what the blurb promises about Mary Lister: a "nice: guy who has to become as tough as the hoods whose downfall he wants to bring about, although the Mickey Spillanesque ending can be predicted early on.

No comments:

Post a Comment