The Prettiest Girl I Ever Killed by Charles Runyon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The sleepy town of Sherman seemed normal until Curt Friedland returned to clear his brother's name and get him out of jail. Now, a lot of accidental deaths are starting to seem like murder and housewife Velda Bayrd seems to be caught in the middle of things...
First off, The Prettiest Girl I Ever Killed is among the earliest serial killer novels. It stands up fairly well and has a nice "Who is the wolf in sheep's clothing" feel at times.
Velda Bayrd is unusual in that she's the heroine of a noir novel and isn't a femme fatale or a doormat. She's pretty interesting character, drawn to Curt Friendland despite being in a comfortable, albeit boring, marriage.
The writing is very workmanlike but it serves the purpose well enough. I like that Curt Friendland's almost a sociopath himself, driven to clear his brother's name at almost any cost.
The reveal of the killer was a bit of a letdown. There weren't enough likely suspects introduced to make my sleuthing efforts worthwhile. Still, the killer was pretty chilling once he was revealed and his background was explored a bit.
The Prettiest Girl I Ever Killed is an easy 3 and I'll be keeping an eye out for more paperback originals by Charles Runyon.
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