Set in Paris and Kansas City (the "Paris of the Plains") in the 1930s, The Accomplice reminds me a great deal of one of those between-the-wars American expatriate novels, like F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night (1934) and Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises (1926), although the subject matter in Head's tale is a great deal more lurid. From more recent times I was rather reminded of Ruth Rendell's The Bridesmaid, 1989.
The novel starts with a love triangle of sorts, which we eventually find is actually a rectangle, and a very strange one at that. Hank Bewley, studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, becomes enamored with pretty Corrie Walters of Kansas City, but Corrie is besotted with Lex Abbott, also of Kansas City and a quite rich and quite visually arresting young man. Here's a descriptive passage to give you some idea of the striking writing in the novel, which is told in Hank's voice:
|a beautiful design|
Initially Hank reminded me of a Nick Carraway outside observer type (see Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby,1925), but he becomes very personally involved indeed in an emotional imbroglio that grows increasingly bizarre when Mimi de Couer, a sort of female roue, appears on the scene. She is quite an old friend of Lex's, it seems.
|a not entirely accurate|
but remarkably arresting
and sexually suggestive cover
This is a first class crime novel, notably sexually suggestive for its period, that unaccountably has been out-of-print for nearly fifty years, a situation that I hope can be rectified.*
*(Be warned the Dell paperback editions from the 1940s have poor, brittle paper. Also watch out for a blog review of this novel that reveals too much, imo).