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The House on Lily Street

Author: John Holbrook Vance
Year written: 1958(?)
Author’s age at the time: 42
Year published: 1979
Publisher: Underwood-Miller
Genre: novel, mystery

Summary from jackvance.com:

Welfare worker Paul Gunther is killed when he looks into the blackmailing of some of his cases. Lieutenant George Shaw leads the murder investigation, which touches on the jazz community and beatnik culture of Oakland in the early 1960’s.

Quote:

“I see.” She straightened the pleats in her skirt. “I was telling you about the party where I met Paul. It wasn’t a very hip party although certain people there probably qualified. I guess you’d call it a middle-class Bohemian group: Graduate students, artists, writers, people connected with the University. I don’t go with that crowd very much, mainly because of Father. He thinks they’re all Communists and homosexuals. Anyway Jeff knew the fellows who gave the party. I forget their names, but they seemed nice enough.” Barbara snorted with sour laughter. “Jeff is something of a stuffed shirt, and he thought this party was a lark, a slumming expedition. Of course it wasn’t. The people there just had more brains than Jeff. Jeff went out into the kitchen to get us a drink; when he came back I was talking to Paul.” Barbara smiled sadly. “I noticed Paul when I came in. He stared at me as if he knew me. I was puzzled, because I didn’t know him. I thought he looked interesting dark-haired, pale, just a bit dissipated, if you know what I mean...Well, it developed that Paul had fallen in love with me at first sight.” Barbara laughed. “Naturally I don’t believe in that not too much anyway. But I couldn’t help but be interested. He’s a very interesting person he was, I should say.” Barbara frowned, and Shaw saw that her eyes were wet and luminous. She shook her head angrily. “If I wanted I could feel very badly about Paul’s death...But I’m not going to.”

Republished by Spatterlight, 2012: The House on Lily Street.