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Originally published 1958
Hard Case Crime 2008
Recently reissued by Hard Case Crime, Baby Moll by John Farris is an uneven crime novel. The main character is interesting but the premise gets lost for a long while in a series of seemingly unconnected events. After a while and with no dot to connect, Baby Moll becomes a little more taxing on the reader than this kind of hard-boiled mystery should be.
Former Mob enforcer Peter Mallory is living a good, retired life and is soon to be married to a charming woman from the upper class. Macy, his former boss, blackmails him into returning to the fold. Someone from Macy’s past is taking revenge one by one on the people who killed his or her family and Macy is next on the list.
Baby Moll is not an easy read. Peter Mallory is an interesting character but the environment and characters John Farris created for him and either bland or confusing. The two women living at Macy’s compound are as interchangeable as the muscle protecting the crime boss.
There is also the fact I am not the most patient reader when it comes to a mystery novel. Consequently, I get a little annoyed when the main character takes seven or so chapters to follow through on a 20 dollar bribe he gave someone for a tip.
That, and the fact the whodunit part of this mystery gets lost in some rather repetitive scenes, for example Mallory often ends up at the beach in the middle of the night and there is a dame more or less involved, makes Baby Moll a rather unexciting novel.
I am a fan of the Hard Case Crime books but this one does not live up to the imprimatur.