Two of a Kind (Midwood #40, 1960)

Hitt - two of a kind

Hitt’s Midwoods are always a hit — I believe that his editor at the time, Elaine Williams, tightened his manuscripts up and removed the repetition he sometimes has in his books with Kozy and Chariot. His Beacons are edited well, too, but with THE CHEATERS and HIRED LOVER, and now this one, the dialogue ix extra clipped and hardboiled.

On the Hitt scale, this one is a 9. I strike a point because it opens exactly the same as The Cheaters — the protagonist, Frank Kane (an obvious nod to James) and his girlfriend, Sally, have left the gossipy judgmental eyes of their family from the farm area on New York to seek a new life. He’s 30 and she’s 24. They are living in a cheap hotel room and are running out of money; they both need jobs fast. She gets one as a waitress and discovers she’s pregnant — this exact same set-up as The Cheaters is a little annoying.

The writing and the rest of the story, while familiar, is top-notch. Familiar: Frank gets a job on a game farm, run by the farmer’s younger, hot wife and her sister. Their main income is raising minks, but they deal with a lot of other animals, which Frank tends to and cleans, etc.

It doesn’t take long before he starts a thing with the farner’s wife, Lana, and her sister, Gloria. In true heel fashion, he dumps his pregnant girlfriend, Sally, in favor of the forbidden fruit of the blonde wife and the possibility of money.

Both the farmer, Al, and his wife come to him with murder plot details: the wife, of course, tells him that they will have the farm, the money, and a life insurance policy if the farmer is knocked off. The farm has a pit of dangerous snakes, and if Al were to “accidentally” fall into it…

Al comes to him with two propositions: take Lana to a hotel where a detective can take photos, this way Al can divorce her and not have to give her half his wealth; for this, Al will give Frank $5000. Or Frank can push Lana into the snake pit, and Al will give Frank $25,000 for this.

Gloria proposes that she and Frank run away somewhere, Canada or west, and forget the farm and the money, they can live on love…she seems sincere…

When Al slips into the snake pit and dies, the cops start digging around, and Frank discovers, listening one night, that and Gloria are not sisters but lesbian lovers, and they had set up Al all along: marry a rich farmer and eventually take over or bump him. All they needed was a patsy like Frank.

The problem: Gloria has truly fallen for Frank, he has made her a whole woman, and she wants to repent from Lesbianism and be with Frank…

The two girls get into a bad fight and the truth comes out…

But there’s a happy ending, as we expect — Frank can let Sally have the baby alone, and after being double-crossed by the “two of a kind” gals, he knows the error of his ways…

Really, even with some of the same plots and themes, this is a damn fine and fine-tuned novel, sporting another fine Paul Rader cover…

Recommended.

One Response to “Two of a Kind (Midwood #40, 1960)”

  1. […] (#23) – all published in 1959.  1960 would see A Doctor and His Mistress and The Cheaters and Two of a […]

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