The Fraudulent Broad by James L. Rubel. Newsstand Library (1958), 192 pp.
An ambitious door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, Danny Slick, finds a customer in a posh Los Angeles neighborhood. She’s gorgeous sexpot Cleo McGowan, who’s not quite content with her marriage to her much older husband, Clifton, the head of Danny’s company. Clifton’s not only decrepit, he’s rich and nasty as well -- which makes him just the sort of guy who needs to be murdered. Readers may find something familiar in this setup. What Rubel is trying to do is enhance Double Indemnity by adding characters and subplots. Danny’s co-workers, devious and corrupt, receive much attention at the beginning of the story. Two more hot babes show up, each trying to use Danny in a scheme of her own. And Clifton is plotting against his wife. Perhaps in other hands all the complications would have made things more interesting. As it is, however, the story just seems muddled. What’s worse, the climactic scenes go beyond the implausible to the ridiculous. And still worse, the author needs to bring in a police officer to explain the ending. The book isn’t actually painful to get through, of course, so some readers might enjoy keeping track of everything that’s going wrong.