The Good and the Dead by Seymour Shubin

Reviewed by Allen Hott

The Good and the DeadSomewhat similar and yet different. Ben Newman, who is a writer of true-detective stories, has “seen” a lot of different murder scenes and written about the culprits and victims. However as strange as it seems all of this kind of comes home to haunt him as he begins noticing some unusual happenings around his small world.

Starting out with the unusual death of his brother’s wife, Pat, who is found dead floating fully clothed on top of the water in their backyard pool. There doesn’t seem to be any motive nor does there seem to be any real evidence as to who did this. Naturally his brother is suspect but Ben doesn’t believe it to be the case.

Shortly thereafter there are several more deaths of people that Ben has known since grade school. One is a pharmacist, George Havern, who supposedly committed suicide although again the evidence doesn’t seem to really prove that either. Then Ellen Packler-Woods, who had just met and talked with Ben about the deaths of George and Pat, is found dead in her basement from possibly a fall but again nothing is proven.

All of these deaths of folks not only from Ben’s hometown of Barwyn but actually who (except for Pat) had gone to school with Ben set Ben’s criminal type mind to thinking. What is going on? Why so many people that he is familiar with dying of strange circumstances within a period of several weeks?

Ben begins investigating and one of his first people to talk with is Nancy Dean, who also was from his school, and now works in the area. Together they begin going through old classmates and even begin discussing a very strict teacher, Miss Cassaway, that they all had and how she treated them.

Shubin then continues building by having them even meet up with old classmates that they can find and even with Miss Cassaway. But no one seems as wound up about the possibility that these deaths could in fact have something to do with someone from their old schooldays. They do however think of one boy who was somewhat strange but had only been there for a bit over a year. He had been reprimanded quite often by Miss Cassaway though she generally wasn’t overly harsh.

The book does become a bit confusing when along the way another person begins doing things like driving around the neighborhood and eventually following Ben and even Nancy. However Shubin doesn’t go into detail about this individual but brings it all to a close with a very violent ending that is not especially shocking but it does detail things that Ben had seemed to be sensing. Good read.

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