|Vintage Pulp||Aug 22 2023|
Does Hell Is a Woman look like a crime novel to you? Us either, but it is. Beacon Books decided to market this effort from Garrett W. Deas as sleaze, and used cover art from Jack Thurston to implant the idea into book rack browsers' heads. Beacon also wrote cover text in that vein, though it's wildly inaccurate.
Protagonist Sheriff Ben Randall's wife Helen loved other men behind his back? Not true. She has an affair with one man. Mary Ann, according to the cover, loved other men in front of Ben? Not true. She starts the novel as a corpse. Lorna loved in very special ways? Maybe. She pines for the sheriff and ignores other men. Also, Helen's cheating is meant by Deas to be a suspicion followed by a revelation. Beacon spoiled that. You take your chances with cover blurbs.
But all that aside, as a crime novel Hell Is a Woman is pretty good, with a rural setting that works, and Sheriff Ben as a likeable sort who doggedly tries to solve three murders while the county bigwigs want everything swept under the rug. The main flaw of the book is that the identity of the killer becomes obvious well before we think Deas means it to, but overall he did decent work. It seems to have been his only novel, though, which is too bad.