Tuesday, May 3, 2011

One Monday We Killed Them All (1961)

This book is narrated by a police detective who is forced to house his clearly evil brother-in-law after that brother-in-law is released from prison for manslaughter. Fenn, the detective, knows the man is no good, but his wife refuses to see her brother for who he is and insists that he have a place to stay. This is a decent premise for a good thriller but somehow it just sits there flat for most of the book. Maybe because the villain, McAran, is just too obviously villainous. The first time he arrives at the house he kicks the family dog so hard that the dog hides from him the rest of the novel. I think right there the book should have ended with Fenn booting McAran out of his house. You shouldn't allow someone to kick your dog.

Once McAran does leave, however, there is a pretty good manhunt, and a great stand-off at the very end of the book. This last quarter of the book really cooks although I kept waiting to find out how the title fit into the story, and it never really did. I guess it was a title that the publishers liked.


  1. Obviously, I haven't read it, but I am glad it sounds like it picked up at the end. At first, I was going to say, it's too bad Mr. MacDonald wasted such a great title on a mediocre book. I can see why someone wanted to use it.

  2. My guess is that MacDonald didn't come up with the title, that his publishers did. I think this was often the case back in the pulp fiction days. Having read lots of these books there is very often a huge disconnect between the cover and the back copy as well. Publishers are always trying to sell the book that they wish the author had written.