Bold Affair (Kozy #151, 1961)

Hitt  Bold Affair

I’ve been reading a lot of Hitt books with similar themes — the James M. Cain-like set-ups of the woman who schemes a murder plot with her lover; the young woman who married an older man for money; the insurance agency scams; the young woman trying to make a better life for herself but getting caught in the sex biz…

Themes I have not read yet:
1. Resort hotel/private club;
2. Carny girl;
3. Suburban infidelity

Bold Affair is a suburban tale, with some other theme cross-over. The narrator, Roger Barnes, is a small business man, operating a mail order catalogue business with a few employees; each morning he wakes up in his suburban home with his suburban wife, Linda, “getting my six feet three inches and one hundred and ninety pounds [obviously Hitt’s fantasy alter ego size and weight by now] ready to go to the office” (p. 5).

He’s not as successful as he might seem — the business is just barely breaking even after paying for products and employee salaries. Roger’s father-in-law, Linda’s dad, paid for their suburban digs and loaned Roger the money to start his own business; before, he was good at door-to-door sales and subcontracting catalogue orders. Hitt offers interesting insight and detail on how a middle-man business works, a biz now almost extinct with the internet and direct brand-to-consumer sales.

Roger covets his neighbors status and wife — his neighbor,Ben, with the same tract house, is forty, a well-to-do stock broker, and has married blonde bombshell Sharon, age 22, that Roger often watches from his bedroom window, craving her.

There are four women Roger jumbles instead of Hitt’s usual three…

His wife, for one, but there is no sex, nor any love. Linda has become a bitter drunk but he can’t divorce her because her father will call in the loan note, and he doesn’t have the revenue to cover it. The father is expecting grandchildren, and Roger would like a kid, but Linda has no desire to get pregnant.

Jean is his office manager and has been with his business from the start, four years ago, and they have had a four-year casual affair, but Jean doesn’t want it to be casual — she wants Roger to leave his wife and marry her.

Sharon, the blonde next door, who he starts an affair with because it seems their spouses are having their own affair.

Cindy, a 17-year-old office hussy who gets fired, but then seduces Roger one night at a bar, and blackmails him: her job back with a raise or she’ll go to the cops for statutory rape,

Poor Roger is up against the wall with problems and one expects he might suddenly sap, but he seems to keep his cool even as his life falls apart, with money problems and women troubles.

Jean is pushing him too much so he calls it off, he has Sharon now anyway. Jean commits suicide and Cndy goes over the books and finds that over the years, Jean has been embezzling thousands of dollars, which counts for the lack of profit. It comes to light that Jean was also pregnant, but from another man, a man who comes forward.

Linda thinks Roger knocked Jean up and tells her father, and her father calls in the loan note.

Sharon tells him that her husband beats her and she talks Roger into a murder plot similar to the one in THE WIDOW, the wire at the top of the cellar stairs. But he backs out, and learns that her husband hired some detectives to find out she has a lover in New York and had worked as a stripper and prostitute since she was 15. She’d been setting Roger up as a patsy.

There’s a happy ending, though — Roger gets the money together, Jean had willed all the money she stole back to him, and he and his wife vow to make a new go at it…

A good novel or suburban noir, I say, and on the Hitt Scale, an 8.Hitt offers some psychology for why Roger jumbles women: his uncle, whom he lived with as a kid, married a younger woman, and that younger woman would have sex with young Roger, tainting his view of women. I once knew a theater director who had the same issues — out in the sticks, his father married a younger lady who engaged the son in sex and the son’s view of women was not positive…the things in Hitt’s world do happen in the real world…

One Response to “Bold Affair (Kozy #151, 1961)”

  1. […] Bold Affair by Orrie Hitt Reviewed here. […]

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