Forgotten Books: Never Say No to a Killer - Clifton Adams
read quite a few Western novels by Clifton Adams and enjoyed them all. NEVER
SAY NO TO A KILLER is the first of his handful of crime novels that I’ve read,
and it’s no surprise that I think it’s very good, too. Originally published
under the pseudonym Jonathan Gant as half of an Ace Double, it’s being
reprinted by Stark House Press as part of the excellent Black Gat Books line.
I’m getting lazy (and short on time), so here’s the publisher’s description:
When Roy Surratt busts out of jail, he only has two things going for him: faith that his former cellmate, John Venci, will keep his promise to help him stay clear of the cops, and the supreme confidence in his own intelligence. After all, Roy knows he's got what it takes to succeed. And no one had better get in his way. So it comes as some surprise that the person who meets him after his breakout isn't Venci, but Venci's wife, Dorris. He didn't figure on having to deal with a woman. But he soon finds out that Venci is dead, that Dorris is sitting on a sweet blackmail scheme, and that he can have this town in his back pocket if he can just stay cool enough to take Venci's place. But Roy doesn't figure on Pat Kelso, girlfriend of his first mark. He has no idea how quickly the best laid plans can unravel.
What really made this book work for me is the pace. Adams was a real master at
plotting his books so that one event flows naturally into another, and even
though NEVER SAY NO TO A KILLER isn’t non-stop action, there’s always something
happening to drive the narrative forward. Even when the protagonist stops now
and then to ponder about philosophy, there’s always the sense that more trouble
is lurking. This is a skillfully written book with a very effective air of
impending doom. The narrator may be fooling himself, but he’s not fooling us.
It’s hard to go wrong with a Western by Clifton Adams, and clearly that extends
to his crime novels as well. I think I have all of them, and I need to read
another one soon. I give this one a high recommendation.