ODDJOB by Pat Flower


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Wife-killing is Flower's apparent obsession (Cobweb, p. 204), and this thin but feverish tale provides a grand guignol mini-orgy of it. Violent but smarmy Ned Paine, a junk-and-antique dealer in Sydney, despises everybody--even his withering assistant-crony Harry; especially his bulky and acerbic wife Norah, who wants Ned to sell the business. Ned and Harry fantasize boozily about killing the wives (Harry's Daisy is a loser too), and one night Ned does it: smothers Norah and cuts her into pieces so she can be upholstered into a sofa. But next morning it seems that Ned imagined it all--Norah's alive, but the priceless sofa is smashed (displaced violence, no doubt). Later, however, Ned really does the bloody job on Harry's Daisy and wonders why Harry's not grateful but meekly furious. Then: blackmail, guilt, more murder, cops. There's vigor here--in Ned's smug psychosis and the sharp supporting cast--but Flower has definite problems with stretching her ugly little short-story-sized ideas into full-length yarns.

Pub Date: May 21st, 1978
Publisher: Stein & Day