CriminOlly thinks: Swinging 60s noir that contains David Lynch worthy levels of weirdness. 4/5
Title: Another Time, Another Woman | Author: Walter Kaylin | Publisher: Fawcett Gold Medal | Pages: 142 | Publication date: 1963 | Source: Self-purchased | Content warnings: Yes | Tolerance warning: Yes
I came to this book through the Men’s Adventure Library, a wonderful series of books that reprints pulpy stories from the men’s adventure magazines of the 50s, 60s and 70s. I was particularly impressed by a Walter Kaylin story and a bit of searching revealed that he’d published a a couple of novels. A bit more searching located a copy of one for a not too horrific sum of money.
Another Time, Another Woman is a hip 60s noir about a musician whose ex wife blackmails him into helping her dispose of a body. It has all the elements you’d expect from that description, smoky jazz bars, a duplicitous femme fatale and an enjoyably twisting plot. If that was all it had, it would be the kind of forgettable boilerplate pulp crime novel that were a dime a dozen back in the 50s and 60s. But it has so much more.
For reasons I can’t begin to imagine, Walter Kaylin weaves a number of other bizarre threads into the book. There’s a subplot about a religious cult that includes an actual crucifixion. There are also two complete short stories included in the text for no obvious reason. One is read by the protagonist, the other told to him by another character. They don’t really add anything to the story, but the first one in particular is really good.
And then there’s the main cop in the story. A man with a small pet monkey called Baked Beans that he takes everywhere with him under his hat. If you need a moment to go away and unpack that I’ll wait. There is no reason for this surreal detail, but it is one that crops up multiple times in the story. In fact the cop and the protagonist have a number of conversations about the health of Baked Beans, his owner being worried that he has a cold.
I still don’t know what to make of any of that, but if you told me that David Lynch read the book as a teenager and it inspired his whole career then I would believe you.
In summary then, Another Time, Another Woman, combines the fairly mundane and the utterly weird into something that’s kind of magical. It’s certainly a unique book and it’s one that’s worth searching for if you have a taste for such things.
It was an accident, what happened to Mildred three years ago, an accident that wrecked our marriage and turned her into a slut.
But I had been to blame, and now she was going to make me pay. After all, I had covered up manslaughter then. Now I had to cover up a murder.
A sharp, swinging, blockbuster of a novel-by Walter Kaylin
Content Warning: Racism, sexual violence, torture
Tolerance Warning: Misognyny