Monday, August 29, 2011

Backstory: A Run For The Money

Let us once again, without benefit of actually reading the book, look at the backstory of an American Literary Masterpiece.  Today's honoree is A Run For The Money, by Dale Clark.  Published in 1956, this jewel was part of the Ace Double Mystery series. 

Although not apparent by the cover, a second novel was included:  The Thin Edge of Mania by Mack Macklin.  "Mack Macklin" Is that a pen name or what?

But wait!  Mack isn't the only one with a shady name.  Some google-sleuthing reveals that "Dale Clark" is not the real name of the author of our book today!  Oh no.  "Dale Clark's" real name is Ronald Kayser. 

Well, if my name was Ronald Kayser I'd probably go by Dale Clark, too.  I assume he didn't go with "Dick Clark" because that moniker was already taken by a fresh-faced young lad in Philadelphia whose real name was actually Marion Dubois.  

But I digress. 

The cover of A Run For The Money gives us a little information about three characters in the book.  We are told there is a dead woman in a freezer.  We also see a sultry Arlene Dahl look-alike in the foreground.  In the doorway, a somewhat harried man is also pictured.  An endowed man who, if my eyes do not deceive me, appears to "dress slightly to the right."

What we are not told is that Arlene was the Dairy Princess of Johnson county in 1954.  She spent that glorious year promoting dairy products to the population at large.  Not bad work if you can get it.

The Johnson County Pork Queen was her arch-rival.  The two women were frequently scheduled to appear at the same non-kosher events.  The rivalry was intense.  Claws were extended.  Salaries were disclosed.  Greed was their constant companion. Not even the intervention of Miss Cornfield and the Maid of Millet could keep those two away from each other's throats. 

Enter one Mr. "Dress Slightly," whose real name is Carol Reed.  He is the dedicated and hard-working meteorologist at the local television station.  When storms arise, he stays at his post dutifully tracking storms and dispensing pieces of advice.  Advice like:  Carry an umbrella, wear your overcoat, or, haul your ass to the basement, there's a twister comin'. 

He is a pillar of the community.  He is smart and handsome.  He dresses to the right.  He has a steady job.  And he is the only man in the county that is both single and not related to either Arlene or the Pork Queen. 

I think you've seen enough Lifetime Movies to know where this is headed.  The question is, just who is the dead woman in the freezer?

The former Johnson County Pork Queen?

Miss Cornfield?

The Maid of Millet?

The Avon Lady?

Carol's Mom?

Arlene Dahl?

You've got the backstory, now go read the book and tell me what it's really about, k?

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