About The Book
Paul Theroux, one of the world’s most popular authors, both for his travel books and his fiction, has produced an off-beat story of 1960s weirdos unlike anything he has ever written. During the time of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, Herbie Gneiss is forced to leave college and get a job, and he lands one at the Kant-Brake toy factory, which manufactures military toys for children. His income keeps his chocolate-loving mother, who tips the scales a smidgeon over two hundred pounds, from starvation. Mr. Gibbon, a patriotic veteran of three wars, also works at Kant-Brake. When Herbie is drafted, Mr. Gibbon falls in love with Herbie’s mother and they move in together at Miss Ball’s rooming house. Since Herbie is fighting for America, Mr. Gibbon feels that he, too, should do something for his country and convinces Miss Ball and Mrs. Gneiss to join him in the venture. They decide to rob the Mount Holly Trust Company because it is managed by a small dark man who is probably a communist. There are some complications, including Herbie’s death in action, Miss Ball’s jealous Puerto Rican lover, and a few unavoidable murders—not to mention three people over sixty pulling off a bank robbery in broad daylight.
Combine Donald E. Westlake with Abbie Hoffman, add a bit of Gore Vidal at his most vitriolic, and you get Murder in Mount Holly.
Her face chalky with make-up, her cheeks rouged with circles, her lips gleaming with the scarlet goo of nearly one whole tube of lipstick, her hair a stiff mass of tight curls, her round body solid with corsets and fixtures, Miss Ball waddled to the back door of the Mount Holly Trust Company and looked for a bank guard to lure.
It was the middle of the afternoon and the sun was very hot. This caused the make-up to run a bit and get very sticky. Beads of perspiration appeared at Miss Ball’s hairline, behind her ears, and on her neck.
There seemed to be no one to lure. She could see people walking back and forth inside the bank, accountants and tellers. They had little or nothing to do with the storing of money. They just collected it.
Miss Ball rather enjoyed standing there. Like a siren, she could lure anyone. It gave her a feeling of power. She knew the attraction that a woman’s flesh had for men. They couldn’t resist it.
How many times had Juan, on the pretext of checking the cans of floor wax, covered her with rancid kisses in the broom closet? He couldn’t stand it any longer. She understood the urge and let him paw her and grunt. Duty meant nothing. History was full of the stories of men who had given in to the low murmur of beckoning flesh. Fortunes, whole countries had been lost, careers ruined for a few minutes of pleasure in the bed of a beautiful woman.