No Way to Treat a Lady by William Goldman

Noted novelist and screenwriter, William Goldman, died today at the age of 87. Goldman’s first original screenplay was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1967) which he followed with some of his best known scripts including The Princess Bride (1973) and Marathon Man (1974), which were novels first. One of my favorite Goldman novels is No Way to Treat a Lady (1964) so I’ve chosen that work to share with you. If this novel doesn’t appeal to you, look into this very diverse author’s body of work. There is something out there perfectly suited for your tastes.

 

Publication Date: 1964

Originally published under the name Harry Longbaugh and written over a two week period, No Way to Treat a Lady imagines that there were two Boston Stranglers who were aware and deeply jealous of each other and follows the investigation to track them down.

 

 

 

From the title you’d think that the story is a snappy tale whose movie version would feature a wise cracking Katherine Hepburn or Rosalind Russell who are helpless without their brusque and often self-serving male counterparts but what No Way to Treat a Lady gives the reader is actually a hard boiled and violent mystery that is surprisingly funny.

While I grew up in quite a restrictive religious home, the one thing my mother never (for me – rarely for my brother) censored was literature. We would walk the four or five miles to the local branch of the library and I would immerse myself in the shelves often choosing a stack of biographies. It was on one of these trips I found the literature of William Goldman. Pulp fiction at its finest. While likely 13 or 14 at the time of the reading, I remember picking up No Way to Treat a Lady.

There are authors who very clearly write for the screen which can hinder translation to an effective novel. Lee Goldberg (known for a host of 80’s and 90’s television staples and for the Tony Shaloub vehicle, Monk) is one of those authors who writes for the screen brilliantly but leaves character development, story and motivations thin on the page. Better on the screen than on the page. In some respects, Goldman’s dialogue can be a bit poncy but never does his storytelling take a backseat on the page. In fact Goldman was very unhappy with No Way to Treat a Lady‘s translation to the screen as it removed the subplot of the second strangler and focused solely on the main character with mommy issues. The mystery shifts perspectives from the stranger, to the cop to the written word and more in laying out a background for a character who was violence with one aim. While some of the characters run quite thin, Goldman’s portrait of his main characters is faultless in its intricacy. By the end of the piece we know who did what and why they did it and, as with the best baddies, can feel for the character if not understand why he killed so many women.

Now, as with male authors who write male driven fiction of the 60’s, the female characters are written quite thinly and, mostly, fit into a stereotype box. There’s the virgin and the whore. The woman who knew her risks and those who are so cruel that you wonder if perhaps they didn’t quite invite their fate. One must remember when reading No Way to Treat a Lady that this author also wrote The Princess Bride ( as a sidenote; I’m not really a fan of most of the story but a lot of folks seem to like it. One of my 50-year-old husband’s high school bros is so into the movie he always watches when its on and tries to get me to give it another shot. Not going to happen. Just not my thing).

While No Way to Treat a Lady may not be empowering, it is simply good fiction. Currently out of print, there are used copies to be found but also give your local library a shot. If you all you know of William Goldman is The Princess Bride and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (which I love. Fun fact: Goldman’s pseudonym for No Way to Treat a Lady is the real name of the Sundance Kid), give No Way to Treat a Lady a shot and be sure to let me know what you thought.

Read an excerpt and buy No Way to Treat a Lady by William Goldman on

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About William Goldman
For more information about William Goldman, you can connect with his profile on Goodreads .

 

 

The Monitor by Cathy Vasas-Brown

Publication Date: March 17, 2014

 

The Monitor by Cathy Vasas-Brown

In The Monitor by Cathy Vasas-Brown, Lt. Carolyn Latham investigates the suicide of four teens that came from varied parts of the country to Cypress Village, Oregon in order to die together. Following their trail, Carolyn discovers a world she’d never imagined. An organized support group for those waiting to “take the bus” orchestrated by a mysterious Monitor. When a Japanese teen that has withdrawn from the world and is living with his uncle in the United States disappears, Carolyn knows that she doesn’t have much time to save this teenager’s life. The Monitor is the second book to feature Lt. Carolyn Latham by Cathy Vasas-Brown.

 

Continue reading The Monitor by Cathy Vasas-Brown

The Drive-By Wife by Mike Wells

Publication Date: September 6, 2013

 

MW_The_Drive_By_WifeAllen and Cynthia Hunt were growing distant when Allan started having doubts about his wife’s fidelity. He follows her one night in order to confirm his suspicions and is there in time to save her from a potential rape. In the melee he accidentally kills Cynthia’s attacker. Thinking that he got away with murder, they go back to their now increasingly troubled marriage until one day the brother of Cynthia’s attacker shows up knowing what they’ve done as though he was there. What will Cynthia and Allen do when he reveals that he will keep his silence in exchange for a Drive-by Wife?

 

 

Continue reading The Drive-By Wife by Mike Wells

The Mortal Religion by Marc Horn

Publication Date: October 20, 2012

 

MH_The_Mortal_ReligionIn [easyazon-link asin=”1480179582″ locale=”us”]The Mortal Religion[/easyazon-link] Chalk Cutter was cruelly nicknamed “Moonface” as a child for his unusual appearance. His parents rejected him; his schoolmates rejected him. People he thought of as friends used him to further their own sadistic fun by playing tricks and mentally torturing him. When young Elizabeth, delivers an insult in a bar by cruelly introducing Chalk to her friend as her boyfriend, “Gavin” and then laughs in front of him at her friend’s expression, Chalk has had enough. He enacts and elaborate plot to kidnap Elizabeth and show her the folly of judging people based on appearance by shining a light on the imperfections of society and their backward way of thinking. When his plan starts to work, Chalk makes contact with a former schoolyard bully whose life Chalk has ruined and boasts to him about his actions thinking the man has already fallen too far. Has he or will pride be Chalk’s ultimate mistake?

Continue reading The Mortal Religion by Marc Horn