Torrid Cheat (Chariot Books #212, 1962)

 

This a fairly rare, hard-to-locate Hitt. Like Panda Bear Passion and Cabin Fever, we have looked high and low for this title; the unstoppable kind Lynn Munroe found one for us, and we were delighted with the tawdry cover.

Torrid Cheat is a curiously uneven novel from Hitt, and obviously there were deep editorial cuts: the book is a slender 128 pages, maybe 40,000 words.  It has 11 chapters, unlike Hitt’s usual 13-14 chapters and 50-60,000 words. About 3/4th into the story, we can tell there was a 10-15K word chunk sliced out by the red pen, making the jump uneven.

Rare, but alas not a remarkable story from Hitt, with a lot of his usual tropes: the younger woman marrying an older man with some money and property, and her scheme to kill him and get her hands on it. Usually, these Hitt femme fatales find a guy to be the patsy; in this case, she’s the killer and the guy figures out her murder plot.

The protagonist is Frenchie, a 19-year-old regular guy who works in a bottle factory during the work week and on the weekends, a p/t job at a gas station owned by a 50-year-old ,man, Pops.  He dates Pop’s 18-year-old daughter, Betty. Betty gets pregnant and they marry.

Pop’s recently re-married to a sultry redhead who is 28 named Bertha. On his wedding day, Frenchie gets seduced by Bertha and they carry on the affair for months.

One day Bertha and Pops go to the lake for a swim and he drowns. The whole thing seems suspicious. Yeah, his wife killed him, that much is obvious.

An okay read.

A good book for any collection as a rare item and a cool GGA cover.

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