Ed Gorman is a marvel in the mystery field. A master at keeping several balls in the air at once, he is a master novelist, prized editor, and a man, by all accounts, of strong, steady and quiet integrity, whose sense of ethics does not vanish if adherence to it adversely affects his wallet. It is accordingly a pleasure on many levels to read his latest work --- and his "latest" work comes with regular and wonderful rapidity.
Gorman has focused much energy lately on a series of novels featuring a lawyer cum private investigator named Sam McCain who manages to eke out a somewhat harried existence in Black River Falls, Iowa, in the late 1950s. WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW? is the third in the series of McCain novels. It, like its predecessors THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED and WAKE UP LITTLE SUSIE, uses historical events and mores as a backdrop against which Gorman narrates a plausible mystery.
WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW? takes place during the days in which Nikita Khrushchev, one-time Premier of the Soviet Union, visited the United States. The country was just emerging from the McCarthy hearings, and while McCarthy had succeeded to a great extent in fouling his own nest, there were many, then as now, who felt that he had in fact highlighted a significant problem --- even if his methods were at times extreme. On balance, Gorman presents a fairly objective account of the era, using it as a method of setting up another tale of murder in the heartland.
Black River Falls, like the rest of the United States, has strong divisions of opinion over whether Khrushchev should be permitted to visit the country or not. Richard Connor, a left-wing political writer and professor at the local University is found murdered --- on Sam McCain's doorstep. Two of the main suspects are Karl Rivers and Jeff Cronin, members of the America First organization, which is opposed to Connor and his causes. They, however, are removed from the suspect list when they, too, turn up dead. It seems apparent that all of the men were murdered for their politics; McCain, however, is hardly certain of this. And, as readers of this series know by now, McCain usually turns out to be right.
The supporting cast of this series --- imperious Judge Whitney, hapless Chief Cliffie Sykes, forlorn but hoping Mary Travers, and McCain's erstwhile love Pamela Forrest --- are back again and continue to be well-drawn without threatening to overwhelm McCain. McCain's love life, meanwhile, takes an interesting turn. Or two. Or three. Gorman --- ever the master --- is capable of writing sensuously without writing crudely, of titillating just enough to keep things interesting. He additionally is careful to keep the story background from overwhelming the mystery --- the reason that the reader climbed aboard to begin with. Gorman, at the close of WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW?, leaves just enough subplots open to guarantee that the reader will be wanting more and waiting for the same. Hopefully there will be many, many more Sam McCain mysteries.