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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Miss Finney Kills Now and Then by Al Dempsey

I picked up a copy of Paperbacks from Hell and have been reading it. Great source for recommendations if you are into the exploitive books of the seventies and eighties. I recognized this one from the cover of that book and just had to pick it up. I had never heard of Dempsey but figured what the hell.

Miss Finney is an elderly woman being taken care of by her two nieces, Brook and Willa. They wait on her hand and foot keeping the matriarch as comfortable as possible. But then they find out that neither of them is in her will, she is leaving them out in the cold! Willa hatches a plan where they work with a fake psychic named Ives to trick Miss Finney into giving them money. How does the plan work? Well they need to convince her that if she kills that she will be given the life that those people had left in them, making her younger in the process. Because she is too frail to do the deed herself she can be tricked into paying her nieces to do the killing. But of course, the deaths will all be faked.

That would make for a boring book so yes, the bodies do start to pile up as Brook keeps trying to convince herself that it is an elaborate plan that is fooling even her. The odd thing is that it does seem that Miss Finney is getting younger each time they kill. But this was all supposed to be a scam. Though it quickly becomes clear that Brook might be the one being scammed. But will anyone believe her when she tries to tell them what is going on? Of course not!

I enjoyed this book. It is a quick read that gets right to the good stuff and doesn’t let up until the last couple pages. For much of the story things make sense in their own odd sort of way. There is a logic to the events and the scheming between Willa and Brook. It is also clear that Willa and Ives have something going on that Brook isn’t privy to. There is some mystery to it all. But towards the end things do get a bit muddied. Miss Finney starts acting like she was in on the thing the whole time, but as a reader we know that she wasn’t. The point where it all changes for her isn’t even included in the book, which makes her attitude at the end strange. There is a huge shift in her personality that we never get to see until it is over. I found that a bit annoying.

But then there are other parts of the story that I enjoyed. It becomes Brook versus everyone else as she is the only one not corrupted by the killings and stealing of life. She tries to get help but is stopped by those that don’t believe her. But then it goes much further than that because the machinations of those around her runs much deeper and involves a lot more people than she realizes. There is a full-blown conspiracy and they want Brook to become part of their little Satanic club. This brings us to a twist ending that has that uniquely “holy crap” moment that a lot of seventies horror liked to spring on the reader and audience. It is a cool twist and an excellent way to end the book.

I’d recommend Miss Finney Kills Now and Then. While I found some issues with the narrative overall this is a solid book and a quick read coming in at only two hundred and fifty-six pages. If you do let me know what you think. Now I need to get onto the next book.

© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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