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A Bullet for Cinderella (LibriVox Audiobook)

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HER VENEER WAS BIG CITY ... But one look and you knew that Toni Raselle's instincts were straight out of the river shack she came from. I watched her as she toyed with the man, laughing, her tumbled hair like raw blue-black silk, her brown shoulders bare. Eyes deep-set, a girl with a gypsy look. So this was the girl I had risked my life to find. This was the girl who was goin HER VENEER WAS BIG CITY ... But one look and you knew that Toni Raselle's instincts were straight out of the river shack she came from. I watched her as she toyed with the man, laughing, her tumbled hair like raw blue-black silk, her brown shoulders bare. Eyes deep-set, a girl with a gypsy look. So this was the girl I had risked my life to find. This was the girl who was going to lead me to a buried fortune in stolen loot. - Summary by Back cover blurb from first edition


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HER VENEER WAS BIG CITY ... But one look and you knew that Toni Raselle's instincts were straight out of the river shack she came from. I watched her as she toyed with the man, laughing, her tumbled hair like raw blue-black silk, her brown shoulders bare. Eyes deep-set, a girl with a gypsy look. So this was the girl I had risked my life to find. This was the girl who was goin HER VENEER WAS BIG CITY ... But one look and you knew that Toni Raselle's instincts were straight out of the river shack she came from. I watched her as she toyed with the man, laughing, her tumbled hair like raw blue-black silk, her brown shoulders bare. Eyes deep-set, a girl with a gypsy look. So this was the girl I had risked my life to find. This was the girl who was going to lead me to a buried fortune in stolen loot. - Summary by Back cover blurb from first edition

30 review for A Bullet for Cinderella (LibriVox Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    James Thane

    This is a stand-alone novel, first published in 1955, and written by John D. MacDonald, who is best known for his Travis McGee series. It's a classic Fawcett/Gold Medal novel in which the protagonist starts out with an apparently reasonable objective but soon finds himself in over his head and in danger of losing his life in some very unpleasant way. In this case, the protagonist is a man named Tal Howard, who had the misfortune first of going off to war and then of being captured and sent to a p This is a stand-alone novel, first published in 1955, and written by John D. MacDonald, who is best known for his Travis McGee series. It's a classic Fawcett/Gold Medal novel in which the protagonist starts out with an apparently reasonable objective but soon finds himself in over his head and in danger of losing his life in some very unpleasant way. In this case, the protagonist is a man named Tal Howard, who had the misfortune first of going off to war and then of being captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp. The camp, of course, was a horrible experience and while there, Tal became friends with another prisoner named Timmy Warden who came from a small town named Hillston. Sadly, Timmy died in the camp, but before he did, he confessed to Tal that he had stolen $60,000 (at a time when that was still a lot of money). He had embezzled the money from his brother, George. To add insult to injury, Timmy had also been sleeping with George's trampy wife, Eloise. Timmy tells Howard that he buried the money and that only a woman named Cindy would know where to find it. Timmy regrets all of this now, and hopes only to survive long enough to return to Hillston and make things right with his brother. Timmy dies before he get a chance to make amends. Tal Howard is eventually rescued from the camp and after he recovers is at loose ends. After his experience in the war, he has no interest in resuming his old life and so decides to go to Hillston, find the mysterious Cindy, dig up the money and live happily ever after. Naturally, this won't be easy. And once Howard reaches Hillston, he realizes just how complicated a task he has set himself. To make matters worse, there's already another ex-POW from the camp named Fitzmartin, who apparently heard part of Timmy's story and who's arrived in town ahead of Howard, also determined to find the money. Fitzmartin is a psycho S.O.B., typical of the villains that MacDonald tended to create, and obviously he's going to pose a formidable obstacle in the way of Howard's objective. If all that weren't bad enough, little Hillston proves to be a town with a lot of dark secrets and mysteries, and the deeper Howard digs, both literally and figuratively, the more trouble he's going to be in. Along the way, naturally, he'll also encounter any number of interesting females, and the end result is an engaging tale that should appeal to any fan of classic hard-boiled crime fiction. (Thanks to my friend, Tony, for discovering this book and drawing it to my attention.)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joe Valdez

    As research for a novel I'm writing, I'm reading detective fiction and ripping off everything of value. In the home stretch of my research, I'm returning to my favorite author in this form to steal everything I can. Like Elmore Leonard, John D. MacDonald shows nearly no effort tearing through one terrific book after another. His technical research is sound and his plots exciting, but it's his compelling characters and dialogue that impact me most. He also knows how to slip in a point of view wit As research for a novel I'm writing, I'm reading detective fiction and ripping off everything of value. In the home stretch of my research, I'm returning to my favorite author in this form to steal everything I can. Like Elmore Leonard, John D. MacDonald shows nearly no effort tearing through one terrific book after another. His technical research is sound and his plots exciting, but it's his compelling characters and dialogue that impact me most. He also knows how to slip in a point of view without interrupting his story with a rant. Published in 1955, A Bullet for Cinderella is as perfect as a novel can get. Narrating his own tale, Talbert "Tal" Howard arrives in the town of Hillston. His car bearing California plates, he checks into a motel he deems suitable for what he came here to do. A Korean War veteran, Tal survived a Chinese labor camp to return to a loyal girlfriend who grew distant and a job that became monotonous. With no permanent address or employment, Tal has come to Hillston in search of buried treasure. A fellow prisoner named Timmy Warden told Tal of $60,000 he embezzled from his brother George's businesses. Hoping he could return home to make things right, Timmy would only reveal before his death that "Cindy" would know where the money is buried. Tal learns another survivor of the POW camp has installed himself in Hillston. Earl Fitzmartin was and is a despised loner, psychotically individualistic but intelligent and superhumanly strong. Fitz reveals that he overheard Timmy talk of the money and has spent months digging for it, questioning those who knew their comrade. He keeps ahead of Tal at every step, with one disadvantage: he gives people the creeps. Claiming he's in town to write a book about Timmy, Tal visits George, whose businesses are dying and who Fitz seems to hold power over. Next is Timmy's former sweetheart Ruth Stamm, whose photo Timmy had with him in the camp and which Tal inherited. She accepted the offer of a drink before lunch, and said she'd like an old-fashioned, so I ordered two of them. There was an exceptionally fresh clean look about her. She handled herself casually and well. "How well did you know Timmy?" she asked me. "Pretty well. In a deal like that you get to know people well. Whatever they are, it shows. You knew him well, too, I guess." "We went steady. It started seven years ago. Somehow it seems longer than seven years. We were seniors in high school when it started. He'd been going with a friend of mine. Judy Currier. They had a sort of spat and they were mad at each other. I was mad at the boy I'd been going with. When he wanted to take me out I went. And we went together from then on. When we graduated we both went up to state college at Redding. He only went two years and then came back to help George. When he quit, I quit, too. We came back here and everybody thought we were going to get married." She smiled a small wry smile. "I guess I did, too. But then things changed. I guess he lost interest. He worked very hard. We drifted apart." "Were you in love with him?" She gave me a slightly startled glance. "I thought I was, of course. Otherwise we wouldn't have been as close. But--I don't know as I can explain it. You see, Timmy was very popular in high school. He was a good athlete, and everybody liked him. He was president of the senior class. I was popular, too. I was queen of the senior pageant and all of that sort of thing. We both liked to dance and we were good at it. It was as if people expected us to go together. It seemed right to other people. And that sort of infected us, I guess. Maybe we fell in love with the way we looked together, and felt the responsibility of what other people wanted us to e. Do you understand that?" Neither George or Ruth know of anyone named "Cindy." With Fitz following Tal at every turn, he soon discovers that a "Cindy" is the key to the buried treasure. Tal takes Ruth's advice to speak to their high school math teacher. He gives Tal a yearbook which produces two possible Cindys, neither of which impress Tal as the woman who Timmy would've spoken dying words of. One of these Cindys remembers an 8th grade production of Cinderella in which Tal played Prince Charming and a girl whose family lived in a shack near the river played the lead role. Tal took to calling the girl with gypsy flair "Cindy." Her real name is Antoinette Rasi. Tal tracks the mystery woman to the nearby town of Redding, where she's going by the name Toni Rasselle and makes a living as a sporting lady in the casinos and nightclubs, helping the local racket beguile and rip off the visiting rubes. She reveals Timmy was a friend who became a lover before they went their separate ways in high school. Tal takes a chance trusting her and tells her about the money. Cindy has a good idea where it's buried and agrees to a split if Tal helps her evade the gangsters keeping a close eye on her. Timmy had revealed to Tal that he had an affair with his brother's wife, a redhead who ultimately disappeared with a traveling salesman. Tal theorizes that George caught his wife in bed with the salesman, shot them and buried them at a lake cabin. When Fitz rented the place, his treasure hunt uncovered the bodies, which he used to blackmail George. The police believe Tal may be a private detective snooping around for the missing salesman and attempt to run him out of town. With Fitz able to outsmart and out muscle Tal, his life expectancy the longer he sticks around is not good. I looked down into my drink and saw myself lying dead, sprawled, cold. It was a fantasy that had been with me in the prison camp and later. You think of your own death. You try to imagine how it will be--to just cease, abruptly, eternally. It is a chilling thought, and once you have started it, it is difficult to shake off. The depression stayed with me the rest of the evening. Thoughts of Ruth, of the new emphasis she had brought into my life, did little to relieve the blackness and the hint of fear. My mission in Hillston seemed pointless. It was part of running away from myself. There was no chance of finding the money and even if there there was and I did find it, I couldn't imagine it changing anything. Somehow I had become a misfit in my world, in my time. I had been jolted out of one comfortable rut, and there seemed to be no other place where I could fit. Other than Charlotte--and, too optimistically, Ruth--I could think of no one who gave a special damn whether I lived or died. After the light was out I lay in the darkness and surrendered myself to the great waves of bathos and self-pity. I wondered what would become of me. I wondered how soon I would be dead. I wondered how many other lonely beds there would be, and where they would be. Finally I fell asleep. Let's start with where John D. MacDonald excels. His titles. A Bullet For Cinderella is a great one. It makes me wonder who Cinderella is, whether the bullet is being fired at her or on behalf of her. Right from "go," MacDonald dangles lures in front of the reader. Where is the treasure buried? Who is the mysterious Cindy? I kept turning pages to find out. He introduces an abominable bad guy, a near cyborg who can't be reasoned with or scared off and even worse, enjoys violence. Pain courses through MacDonald's characters, which raised the stakes made them feel real to me. I do not like to think about the next half hour. He put the gag back in my mouth. He had his strong hands and he had the small sharp knife and he had a sadistic knowledge of the nerve ends. From time to time he would stop and wait until I quieted down, then loosen the gag and question me. The pain and humiliation made me weep like a child. Once I fainted. Finally he was satisfied. He had learned how much I thought of Ruth. He had learned that I knew he that we had to go where the money was hidden by boat. He knew that I had guessed we would start from the Rasi house north of town. And he knew that I knew no more than that. After that he cut my hands loose. He was perfectly safe in so doing. I was too enfeebled by pain to be any threat to him. The aspect of A Bullet for Cinderella I most want to steal is that the protagonist is actively trying to find out who he wants to be and what he wants to do. The buried treasure is just a prize, but it's how Tal acquits himself on the path to the treasure that will determine what the rest of his life is like. He can become mean, selfish or misanthropic. He can nurse a grudge. He can give up. There are choices for him to make, which is the code of an active character. He's survived a traumatic experience and doesn't know where he fits in or what he wants to do. That is instantly compelling to me. MacDonald, as he often does, is exploring the right questions in his fiction.

  3. 5 out of 5

    William

    4.5 Stars Very, very good. Classic 1950s gumshoe, with a complex and satisfying plot. However, the first and last quarters of the book are far better than the middle. And ... What an extraordinary surprise at 80% through! This is a book that I now remember was owned by my Dad long ago, that I "borrowed" and read as a teen in the early 1960s. I've looked for it off and on for decades but could not remember the title, and I only suspected it was by MacDonald. In particular, the extraordinary scene 4.5 Stars Very, very good. Classic 1950s gumshoe, with a complex and satisfying plot. However, the first and last quarters of the book are far better than the middle. And ... What an extraordinary surprise at 80% through! This is a book that I now remember was owned by my Dad long ago, that I "borrowed" and read as a teen in the early 1960s. I've looked for it off and on for decades but could not remember the title, and I only suspected it was by MacDonald. In particular, the extraordinary scene in the cave has stayed with me for over 50 years: I do not try to excuse it.... I can try to explain it. It is an urgency that comes at times of danger. It is something deep in the blood, that urgency. It is a message from the blood. You may die. Live this once more, this last time. Or it may be more complicated. There may be defiance in it. Your answer to the blackness that wants to swallow you. To leave this one thing behind you. To perform this act which may leave a life behind you, the only possible guarantee of immortality in any form. Overall, I very much enjoyed the story. It did not feel dated, but more of a time machine back to the 1950s. I was born in 1952, and remember much of this era clearly. Our hero, Tal, is quite likeable and initially driven by the lure of treasure. The villain is powerful and scary, but not overdrawn or silly. The female characters are mostly strong - almost a trademark of John D. MacDonald - which I celebrate. As noted, the first quarter of the book is a great setup, nicely paced and characterised. Parts of the middle of the book are a bit confused. I didn’t read this in one sitting, but over several days (with Amazon Bosch as well), and from about halfway through I had to refer back to remember some of the minor characters - there are plenty. As you enter the final quarter of the book, the various threads and characters come together to produce a stupendous ending - very, very exciting and believable. This is a terrific early work by John D. MacDonald. The plotting and characterisations foreshadow the upcoming Travis McGee series, which I've just finished reading. Full size image here Notes and quotes: Tal considers Ruth - ...her dark red hair against the damp ground in the coolness of the night. What shocked me was the stunning sense of loss. It taught me that I had underestimated what she meant to me. I could not understand how she had come to mean so much, in so short a time. More than Charlotte had ever meant. Tal encounters Fitzmartin - I hoped his greed would be stronger than his wish to kill. I hoped his greed would last through the night. But there was something erratic about his thought patterns. There was an incoherency about the way he had talked, jumping from one subject to the next. He had a vast confidence in his own powers. I wondered where he had Ruth. A half mile away. Across country. Maybe she was in his car, and it was parked well off a secondary road. Maybe he had found a deserted shed. As I lay awake, trying to find some position in which I could be comfortable, I heard it begin to rain. The rain was light at first, a mere whisper of rain. And then it began to come down. It thundered on the roof. It made a drench of the world, bouncing off the painted metal of the cars, coming down as though all the gates of the skies had been opened. Antoinette considers the "rat race" of 1956, much like complaints today - "Sometimes I think I’d run off with anybody asked me just to get out of this rat race. That’s on my bad days. Isn’t this day a stinker, though?" I envision the island at the end of the book like this: Full size image here .

  4. 4 out of 5

    Duane

    Judging by the cover of this edition, it retailed for 25 cents in 1955 when it was published. That would have been a quarter well spent because this little pulp noir was quite entertaining. Well written, good characters, good plot; everything fit together perfectly.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Before MacDonald embarked on the Busted Flush with his Travis McGee, he published nearly forty standalone novels, among them really top-notch crime fiction. Originally published as "A Bullet for Cinderella," "On the Make" has all the elements of a classic Fifties pulp including a buried treasure, a bevy of treasure hunters, a femme fatale or two, and a handful of corpses. A decade before the rest of America discovered the phrase "tune in, drop out" and a decade before Travis McGee dropped out of Before MacDonald embarked on the Busted Flush with his Travis McGee, he published nearly forty standalone novels, among them really top-notch crime fiction. Originally published as "A Bullet for Cinderella," "On the Make" has all the elements of a classic Fifties pulp including a buried treasure, a bevy of treasure hunters, a femme fatale or two, and a handful of corpses. A decade before the rest of America discovered the phrase "tune in, drop out" and a decade before Travis McGee dropped out of the rat race and made his life on a houseboat, occasionally taking on a "salvage job," McDonald made his main character Tal, a rootless, drifting no-good guy who has his eyes on digging up the Mason jars full of stolen money. Tal was a Korean War veteran, who should have come home to his loyal fiancée, his job, his family, gotten a VA loan, and climbed the corporate ladder. But, after months in a prisoner of war camp and months recovering in a stateside hospital, Tal feels empty, restless, and nothing has much substance for him. So, he decides to chuck it all, including dear sweet Charlotte, and follows up on his dying fellow POW's deathbed confession. Timmy had fallen for his brother's hot-to-trot wife and spent years cooking the books at his brother's business, burying the proceeds in Mason jars in a secret location. Tal rolls into town, pretending to be looking up Timmy's best bud, all the while looking for clues as to where the treasure is based on bare, sparse clues. But, someone else has got there first and already dug up the town and no one really believes Tal's BS story. What's more the foxy wife of the brother has left town with the first salesman she set eyes on. She's gone. The money's missing. And the brother, George, is all hollowed out. He's taken his losses hard. MacDonald does a great job with this pulp classic, slowly ratcheting up the tension till it explodes in the end. Even with an anti-hero principal character who is up to no good, MacDonald has us all rooting for Tal, hoping that deep down, he is more than just the jaded, rootless, amoral fortune hunter he believes himself to be.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    I was leaning to 4 stars, but the suspenseful ending was just the type I'm a sucker for, so I gave A BULLET FOR CINDERELLA 5 stars. I've read perhaps a dozen of the early John D. MacDonald novels, and for my money, they represent his top form writing. The Travis McGee titles are very fine, but I remain a bigger fan of JDM's pre-Travis fiction. JDM does a nifty job of setting up the romance triangle, including the dark-haired femme fatale. A BULLET FOR CINDERELLA was published in 1955, so the lev I was leaning to 4 stars, but the suspenseful ending was just the type I'm a sucker for, so I gave A BULLET FOR CINDERELLA 5 stars. I've read perhaps a dozen of the early John D. MacDonald novels, and for my money, they represent his top form writing. The Travis McGee titles are very fine, but I remain a bigger fan of JDM's pre-Travis fiction. JDM does a nifty job of setting up the romance triangle, including the dark-haired femme fatale. A BULLET FOR CINDERELLA was published in 1955, so the level of violence and sex isn't raw or visceral like today's noir can be. There are grisly murders, and plenty of other hardboiled scenes, nonetheless. I see other the readers and critics (including the reviews when BULLET was published) have given it lower marks. But I got into the story and character enough to be entertained and diverted. That was all I ever wanted from BULLET.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    I had never read any John D.Macdonald books before seeing this 1955 one available at Gutenberg. The title and cover caught my eye. I was prepared for a pulp adventure, something easy to read with lots of tense situations, but before I got started on the book I thought it would be nothing really out of the ordinary. Apologies to Mr. MacDonald for my early judging, because I ended up being surprised at the depth in this story. Our hero Tal Howard is trying to adjust to life after being held prisone I had never read any John D.Macdonald books before seeing this 1955 one available at Gutenberg. The title and cover caught my eye. I was prepared for a pulp adventure, something easy to read with lots of tense situations, but before I got started on the book I thought it would be nothing really out of the ordinary. Apologies to Mr. MacDonald for my early judging, because I ended up being surprised at the depth in this story. Our hero Tal Howard is trying to adjust to life after being held prisoner by the Chinese in the Korean War. From the git go I was prepared to not like Tal, simply for what he was planning to do: another soldier in the camp had told him about his secret stash of hidden money, embezzled from his own brother and buried in a safe place. The soldier, Timmy, tells our hero about this when he is close to death, but all he says before he actually dies is that Cindy would know where the money is buried. So Tal arrives in Timmy's hometown with an agenda, and at this point I was thinking 'what a creep.' But events and other people affect the plan in various ways, and I can't say much more than that without ruining any enjoyment future readers would have with the book. I will say this: I was impressed with the way Tal grew up during the story; I enjoyed the heck out of the first conversation between Tal and Cindy when he found her, and the ending was hold-your-breath, stay-up-late-to-finish-the-book perfection. I am definitely going to look for more of this author's work!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carla Remy

    Love loved this. One off (non series) crime pulp from 1955. Tight, suspenseful, with a terrific plot.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    Hadn't read this one in a long, long time but quickly realized this had been one of my favorites growing up. Started reading this one about 9pm and didn't put it down until I finished it. More of a mystery in it's structure but completely drenched in 1950s noir themes. You have a burnt-out Korean war vet who nearly died in a North Korean prison camp and who's lost all meaning in his life. Except to head back to the home town of a friend who died in the prison camp and try to find the $60,000 the Hadn't read this one in a long, long time but quickly realized this had been one of my favorites growing up. Started reading this one about 9pm and didn't put it down until I finished it. More of a mystery in it's structure but completely drenched in 1950s noir themes. You have a burnt-out Korean war vet who nearly died in a North Korean prison camp and who's lost all meaning in his life. Except to head back to the home town of a friend who died in the prison camp and try to find the $60,000 the guy had stolen and hid. Only to find that another ex-POW, sub-species psychopath, has the same idea and a head start. So they play cat and mouse with each trying to find the money first. The way the investigating progresses reminds me a bit of Block's Scudder novels - or I guess it's the other way around because this novel came first - but if you've read the Scudders and not read much of MacDonald it gives you an idea what this one is like narratively.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    Fantastic early crime pulp from John D. MacDonald, perhaps best known for his Travis McGee series and Cape Fear. This is his only work freely available, on both Project Gutenberg and Librivox (with outstanding audio narration by Winston Tharp), so I had to give it a try, and I'm happy I did! The story is well crafted, with a conflicted former POW as protagonist on a quest to find himself as much as a stolen cache of cash (see what I did there?) hidden before the war by a fellow POW comrade and hi Fantastic early crime pulp from John D. MacDonald, perhaps best known for his Travis McGee series and Cape Fear. This is his only work freely available, on both Project Gutenberg and Librivox (with outstanding audio narration by Winston Tharp), so I had to give it a try, and I'm happy I did! The story is well crafted, with a conflicted former POW as protagonist on a quest to find himself as much as a stolen cache of cash (see what I did there?) hidden before the war by a fellow POW comrade and hinted at as he lay dying in a prison camp. As he searches his friend's hometown for clues, a very shady Max Cady (Cape Fear) type antagonist surfaces and the body count starts to climb. Overall, the plot is well constructed, and the writing tight, with flashes of the masterful prose MacDonald would later develop into an art form.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Read my Dad's 5 star review. It is a strong, noir novel full of dolls and dames and hidden treasure. Not my favorite noir read, that must go to Laura, but entertaining for the genre. Read my Dad's 5 star review. It is a strong, noir novel full of dolls and dames and hidden treasure. Not my favorite noir read, that must go to Laura, but entertaining for the genre.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Martin Hill

    Tal Howard knows too well you can't go home again. After his release from a North Korean POW camp, Howard finds it impossible to take up again the life he left before going to war. Jobless, Howard drives cross-country to a small town in upper New York State to find a small fortune in cash buried before the war by a fellow POW who died in the camp. When he arrives, Howard discovers he's not alone in seeking the treasure. Another former war prisoner, a man known in the camp for his cruelty and phys Tal Howard knows too well you can't go home again. After his release from a North Korean POW camp, Howard finds it impossible to take up again the life he left before going to war. Jobless, Howard drives cross-country to a small town in upper New York State to find a small fortune in cash buried before the war by a fellow POW who died in the camp. When he arrives, Howard discovers he's not alone in seeking the treasure. Another former war prisoner, a man known in the camp for his cruelty and physical strength, is also looking for the money. And he doesn't plan to share it. A Bullet for Cinderella is one of John D. MacDonald's earlier novels, written before he hit the mother lode with his popular Travis McGee series. The novel marked MacDonald's return to pulp, or noir, mysteries after a not-too-successful venture into mainstream literature, and it is a welcomed addition to the author’s oeuvre. Interestingly, the premise for Cinderella is the same as that for the first Travis McGee novel, The Deep Blue Good-by. Both involve a small fortune buried by a soldier before heading off to the Korean War and a POW camp where he dies. Both involve a former POW who comes looking for the treasure. The plots, however, diverge at that point. In Cinderella, the former-POW/narrator is the hero. In The Deep Blue Good-by, the fortune hunter is most definitely the bad guy. A Bullet for Cinderella is an excellent example of MacDonald's earlier work, and a must read for fans of Travis McGee

  13. 5 out of 5

    Malum

    A serviceable but predictable little noir mystery. It drags a bit in the middle but the ending is worth the journey.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ron Hefner

    This is some of the greatest 50's pulp noir ever written. Don't miss it. All the things MacDonald is known for are here: a fast-moving and skillfully executed plot, memorable characters, a detailed sense of place, and as always, a dose of acute social commentary about the ills of society. If you've only the read Travis McGee novels, you're missing a big part of MacDonald's legacy. His earlier work is every bit as good--maybe even better, because he wasn't constrained by the reader expectations of This is some of the greatest 50's pulp noir ever written. Don't miss it. All the things MacDonald is known for are here: a fast-moving and skillfully executed plot, memorable characters, a detailed sense of place, and as always, a dose of acute social commentary about the ills of society. If you've only the read Travis McGee novels, you're missing a big part of MacDonald's legacy. His earlier work is every bit as good--maybe even better, because he wasn't constrained by the reader expectations of a series. Looking at the original cover of the paperback (pictured above), I'm amused. The tawdry cover and the price--25 cents!--imply that this is not going to be great literature. The reader will be pleasantly surprised.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Wiseask

    The prolific John D. MacDonald was a master of crime fiction (many might call him *the* master) and the author of more than 65 novels between 1950 and 1986. A Bullet for Cinderella is a relatively early example of his work from 1955. It was reprinted as On the Make, and as its superior original title suggests, it's a classic of noir writing. Tal Howard was a POW in the Korean War. While in prison camp, he learns from a dying friend about embezzled money his friend had buried back home. After the The prolific John D. MacDonald was a master of crime fiction (many might call him *the* master) and the author of more than 65 novels between 1950 and 1986. A Bullet for Cinderella is a relatively early example of his work from 1955. It was reprinted as On the Make, and as its superior original title suggests, it's a classic of noir writing. Tal Howard was a POW in the Korean War. While in prison camp, he learns from a dying friend about embezzled money his friend had buried back home. After the war, Tal sets out to find that money, though he does not know where it was buried. His only clue was that "Cindy would know," but he does not know who Cindy is or where she is. Telling you anything more would ruin the pleasure of seeing if Tal succeeds. Though this book is not considered among MacDonald's best, I thought it was a minor masterpiece. His writing is spare and simple and he wastes no words. Despite creating a scary villain among a cast of hard-boiled characters, the only obscenity he uses is an occasional "damn" without sacrificing any atmosphere or realism. It is a testament to MacDonald's consummate skill as an artist. To the hundreds of aspiring writers whose books litter Goodreads and other websites, reading John D. MacDonald will show them what their works ought to look like, but don't. At least it should teach them humility as they shake their heads in wonder.

  16. 5 out of 5

    WJEP

    Buried loot, snappy writing, and a killer title. But when you know, from the beginning, what the main character is going to do, it takes some of the thrill out of the thriller. In this case, you know that Tal (a proto-hippie) is going to do the right thing, whatever that happens to be.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Temple

    A Bullet for Cinderella This was my first John D Macdonald and I must say I'm impressed. It won't be my last. I gave it 5 stars. A Bullet for Cinderella This was my first John D Macdonald and I must say I'm impressed. It won't be my last. I gave it 5 stars.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    First John D. I listened to - now I know I prefer his books in print form, however this was still spectacular. John D. MacDonald is like no other!

  19. 5 out of 5

    The Professor

    “What fouled you up, Tal? What broke your wagon?” Needing to decompress after my extended stay on the planet of the super-intelligent giant spiders I of course turned to a short 1955 American crime novel for a bit of peace and quiet and was not disappointed. Lost soul Tal Howard gets wind of some stashed loot from a dying army chum, goes looking for it, immediately finds it and retires to Florida a rich man. The end. Only joking. This brisk tale has scads of recognisable man-stuff in it – booze “What fouled you up, Tal? What broke your wagon?” Needing to decompress after my extended stay on the planet of the super-intelligent giant spiders I of course turned to a short 1955 American crime novel for a bit of peace and quiet and was not disappointed. Lost soul Tal Howard gets wind of some stashed loot from a dying army chum, goes looking for it, immediately finds it and retires to Florida a rich man. The end. Only joking. This brisk tale has scads of recognisable man-stuff in it – booze, money, women, corpses everywhere – but it being from the pen of John D. MacDonald it is also significantly more wistful (“When the day comes, how do we bargain for life?”), romantic (“This was the woman I wanted. I could never be driven away…”) and carefully plotted than you might imagine. Tal Howard learns the hard way what life’s real treasure is and it isn’t buried in the sand in a cave on an island with a dead good-time girl and a homicidal maniac on the prowl. He is looking for himself (“You're hunting for what you should be, or for what you really are…”), walks out of what frankly looked like a perfectly good relationship with the unfortunate Charlotte and is ambivalent about his treasure hunt (“I had tried to play the role of thief. But it didn't fit…”) but doesn’t let that stop him being enjoyably tenacious in his tracking down of leads. MacDonald plots a perilous course between us thinking Tal is a straight fool for ditching Charlotte, unsympathetic for going after the loot, a cad for doing the deed with Antoinette and obviously chancing his arm when it comes to good-hearted kitten-rescuer Ruth Stamm. He pulls this balancing act off by his usual quality writing and the novel definitely ramps up a gear in the last third when MacDonald really starts moving his tanks. He also serves up a decent bad guy Earl Fitzmartin (“He likes the night”) who is basically Bear Grylls gone rogue with a Luger and the title is nicely rationalised and grows slowly more ominous as the finale approaches. But at heart “A Bullet For Cinderella” is a rites of passage story, MacDonald is in lock step with the inner lives of his protagonists, and the ending – while not exactly delivering a radical lesson – elicits a warm glow. What distinguishes this and certainly MacDonald’s “Travis McGee” novels is MacDonald’s rather sweet (or soporific, depending on your point of view) tendency of having his leads suddenly offer up whole paragraphs of philosophisin’ on Life’s Big Questions, particularly with regard to the lot of young women in the mid-twentieth century. There’s a doozy of a moment in “Cinderella” where MacDonald tries to excuse and/or apologise for Tal (supposedly in love with Ruth) getting it on with Antoinette (a moment which almost feels publisher mandated) by panning his camera away and coming out with two prime paragraphs of self-aggrandising piffle about such things being in the blood and people in cities during wartime would understand. “Be sure to run that by Ruth, Goat-boy” was my shout from 2021 while recalling Travis McGee also had a tendency to drone on and on about what modernity did to young, bikini-clad, lovelies just before he soothed their woes with his hot tub and bronzed torso. I like MacDonald’s idealism and his romanticism, his retro White Knight complex, his desire for the world to be better than it is and for women in particular to get a better deal. It’s certainly a million miles away from the toxic men of Dan J Marlowe or Jim Thompson novels. But is it politically dated? Inarguably, so few things from 1955 aren’t, but in MacDonald’s male fantasy world love and treating people right nevertheless remain the real treasure and that goes a long way to offset any moments which today have long since been spoofed by Austin Powers. This was a well-plotted, propulsive, simultaneously action-packed and reflective little novel and MacDonald remains on the side of – and, no doubt, amid – the angels. “Man, that's a crazy mixed-up deal they've got down there in Hillston.”

  20. 5 out of 5

    AndrewP

    This book is only 160 pages long, but the author manages to cram so much in. There's no fluff or filler here. A stand alone book with great characters, good story and a couple of twists made this a quick but enjoyable read. This book is only 160 pages long, but the author manages to cram so much in. There's no fluff or filler here. A stand alone book with great characters, good story and a couple of twists made this a quick but enjoyable read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Steve Buchmeyer

    While I could understand why some people would miss it I think this story is a gem and MacDonald successfully created characters who have their own individuality and yet fall into a familiar role so I found it easy to allow the history to color in the background without several extra chapters to paint it. Usually you can get an idea how something is going to end but there are truly many possible directions that the story could go going into the final final chapters. Definitely one I will revisit While I could understand why some people would miss it I think this story is a gem and MacDonald successfully created characters who have their own individuality and yet fall into a familiar role so I found it easy to allow the history to color in the background without several extra chapters to paint it. Usually you can get an idea how something is going to end but there are truly many possible directions that the story could go going into the final final chapters. Definitely one I will revisit in the future.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Glen

    I've never been as big a fan of John D. MacDonald as the rest of the world seems to be. This one is really a pretty simple noir type story about a former POW in Korea, who comes to the town of his friend to find $60,000. A fellow former inmate is there, too looking for the money. It's not bad, but really nothing special. That might make me a heretic, but I've been one before. I've never been as big a fan of John D. MacDonald as the rest of the world seems to be. This one is really a pretty simple noir type story about a former POW in Korea, who comes to the town of his friend to find $60,000. A fellow former inmate is there, too looking for the money. It's not bad, but really nothing special. That might make me a heretic, but I've been one before.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fred Forbes

    Prompted by an interesting Goodreads review, I decided to give this a try. I had always been a MacDonald fan as a result of the color titled "Travis McGee" series. This one is a stand alone whose protagonist, upon being released from a Korean POW camp returns to a small town to find $60,000 a fellow prisoner had embezzled from his brother. That prisoner wanted to set things right but died before making it home, but not after telling Hal, our hero, that a woman named Cindy would know where to fin Prompted by an interesting Goodreads review, I decided to give this a try. I had always been a MacDonald fan as a result of the color titled "Travis McGee" series. This one is a stand alone whose protagonist, upon being released from a Korean POW camp returns to a small town to find $60,000 a fellow prisoner had embezzled from his brother. That prisoner wanted to set things right but died before making it home, but not after telling Hal, our hero, that a woman named Cindy would know where to find it. Upon his arrival in town to search for her, he discovers that another POW who had heard of the money being hidden somewhere had arrived earlier. Naturally, in the mold of many of MacDonald's villains, this is an evil psychopath who won't mind taking out a few folks, including Hal, in his search for the money. As is typical, MacDonald keeps the plot twisty and moving and hard to put down. It has been a few years since I have read his work so it was a pleasure to remake his acquaintance.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jan Strnad

    Tal Howard is back from Korea where he was held in a POW camp. While there he met two men, one who had embezzled and hidden a small fortune, and another who is in on the secret and is, unfortunately, a sociopath. Tal returns to the States to a society that he barely recognizes, not because it has changed but because he has. He thinks the money will change his life for the better and sets out to track it down, only to find that his true quest is for something deeper and more substantial than cash Tal Howard is back from Korea where he was held in a POW camp. While there he met two men, one who had embezzled and hidden a small fortune, and another who is in on the secret and is, unfortunately, a sociopath. Tal returns to the States to a society that he barely recognizes, not because it has changed but because he has. He thinks the money will change his life for the better and sets out to track it down, only to find that his true quest is for something deeper and more substantial than cash. MacDonald's tale transcends the genre, as usual. It's a tightly plotted thriller, but the real payoff comes from the complex, keenly delineated characters.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    Classic JDM. A veteran of the Korean War (the book was published in 1955) is a bit shell shocked and at a lot for what to do in his post-war life, and decides to head off to a dead Army buddy's town to follow a random-sounding lead on some hidden money. Mayhem ensues, and romance, and more mayhem (a lot of it). Deliciously pulpy, and not a bit sweet. I love the tagline on my Fawcett paperback reprint: "People who live in glass slippers shouldn't kick stones..." – I don't know what it means but it Classic JDM. A veteran of the Korean War (the book was published in 1955) is a bit shell shocked and at a lot for what to do in his post-war life, and decides to head off to a dead Army buddy's town to follow a random-sounding lead on some hidden money. Mayhem ensues, and romance, and more mayhem (a lot of it). Deliciously pulpy, and not a bit sweet. I love the tagline on my Fawcett paperback reprint: "People who live in glass slippers shouldn't kick stones..." – I don't know what it means but it's great regardless.

  26. 4 out of 5

    John

    This is an earlier novel for MacDonald, written almost 10 years before he began the Travis McGee series of novels. It is a well written, if not quite stand out, noir novel. MacDonald's prose is artlessly taut and draped with menace. However, the plot holds no surprises for the modern reader. MacDonald fans and completists will want to catch this one, but casual fans should select another Travis McGee novel instead. This is an earlier novel for MacDonald, written almost 10 years before he began the Travis McGee series of novels. It is a well written, if not quite stand out, noir novel. MacDonald's prose is artlessly taut and draped with menace. However, the plot holds no surprises for the modern reader. MacDonald fans and completists will want to catch this one, but casual fans should select another Travis McGee novel instead.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Izzy Corbo

    Very good crime noir of the 50's with a search for a hidden treasure in a small town by two very different men. Reminded me a bit of Treasures of the Sierra Madre, but with a few female characters thrown in for good measure. Great set up, tons of intrigue and tension, terrific climax and satisfying ending--what more can you ask for? Very good crime noir of the 50's with a search for a hidden treasure in a small town by two very different men. Reminded me a bit of Treasures of the Sierra Madre, but with a few female characters thrown in for good measure. Great set up, tons of intrigue and tension, terrific climax and satisfying ending--what more can you ask for?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Classic Macdonald pulp noir - totally enjoyable as was the audio version.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I listened to the audiobook only because I'm a fan of that particular Librivox reader (somehow this text is in the Public Domain). In the company of a Korean vet whose soul had been deadened by time as a POW, I was transported to a provincial city in (I imagined) New York State ca 1954. The hero's object was to follow a flimsy clue given to him by a dying POW so as to retrieve an ill-gotten fortune in hidden bank notes. But another inmate of the same prison camp is on the trail... The pace is fas I listened to the audiobook only because I'm a fan of that particular Librivox reader (somehow this text is in the Public Domain). In the company of a Korean vet whose soul had been deadened by time as a POW, I was transported to a provincial city in (I imagined) New York State ca 1954. The hero's object was to follow a flimsy clue given to him by a dying POW so as to retrieve an ill-gotten fortune in hidden bank notes. But another inmate of the same prison camp is on the trail... The pace is fast, the complications satisfying and the plot dark and violent. I particularly enjoyed the economy and elegance of the writing and the underlying humanity. I love mysteries and I'm thrilled to discover that John D. MacDonald loved writing them.

  30. 4 out of 5

    P.M. Bradshaw

    If you're in the mood for a noir-ish thriller, John D. MacDonald is the man to go to! This is not part of his Travis McGee series, but is a stand-alone little gem. Semi-shady guys, girls from the wrong side of the tracks, and a small fortune buried somewhere is all the set-up you need for a fun read. Highly enjoyable. MacDonald wrote an enormous number of books like this, but his style and use of description set him apart from his peers. He is a master in the dirty little world of pulp fiction. If you're in the mood for a noir-ish thriller, John D. MacDonald is the man to go to! This is not part of his Travis McGee series, but is a stand-alone little gem. Semi-shady guys, girls from the wrong side of the tracks, and a small fortune buried somewhere is all the set-up you need for a fun read. Highly enjoyable. MacDonald wrote an enormous number of books like this, but his style and use of description set him apart from his peers. He is a master in the dirty little world of pulp fiction. And we are all better for him being there. I plan on reading many more novels by John D. MacDonald! Four and a half stars.

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