Goldilocks is vintage Coburn, the Coburn of Sweetheart, The Babysitter, and Love Nest. This is a story of a New England town where all the deals have been quietly cut, the cops have traded their souls to crime bosses, and the crime boss of crime bosses—a beautiful woman from the wrong side of the tracks—has married up, into the WASPs, and her name decorates ever corner and library in town. And into this quiet swamp with its smooth surface drops Goldilocks—tall and blond, with exquisite blue eyes, the new boy in town, and so vicious he makes the rest of them know that life before Goldilocks was like a fairy tale.
Small wonder The New York Times crime book critic Newgate Callendar writes, “Natural storytellers are not too common but Mr. Coburn is one.” An angry yet still sexy widow becomes the prey of Vietnam vet Goldilocks, but he, too, gets caught in the web of evildoing and gets his just deserts, though not till the town is turned end to end. No question—Coburn can write up a storm.
Corruption, betrayal, the Mafia and ties that go back to childhood provide the underpinnings of this gloomy but well-written entry from veteran Coburn ( Off Duty ; The Babysitter ). Louise Baker, child of the slums, has worked her way to the top of a Mafia loan operation, meanwhile having married the mentally unstable scion of an old New England family and established herself in a small, affluent town near her birthplace, Lawrence, Mass. She still keeps in touch with, and helps, friends from her youth, and she calls on one of them, lawyer Barney Cole, to find employment for a young man whom she had briefly taken as a lover but now wants to get rid of. He is Henry Witlo (the Goldilocks of the title), a psychotic Vietnam War veteran who now proceeds to terrorize a recently widowed client of Cole's. This subplot moves in tandem with the main plot, chronicling the downfall of Louise and the network of people who owe her favors. The feds are after her, and when they start putting pressure on her associatesCole, his lawyer mistress, the police captain who kills for herit all ends in death and betrayal, with only Cole standing firm to his principles. ( Jan. )