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Goldilocks  - Ed McBain General Petraeus should have read this in 1976 when it was originally published and then have a re-read two years ago. Had he read between the lines (or not), he probably would still have his unblemished name, record and high-falutin' Washington job.

And those of us who read mystery fiction know that good mysteries are more than reading entertainment; there are lessons to be learned from most every book which makes them a valuable read.

Goldilocks is a great sociological study within a mystery about, you guessed it, marital infidelity; Goldilocks being the 'other woman' who tests the chairs, porridge and the beds (from dust cover.)

The book was written in 1976 before AIDS was a household acronym, most every young women married or not took the pill, and wife swapping was a regular occurrence at some parties. Marital infidelity by both men and women alike was rampant since so many married couples, unfortunately, were 'doing it', oops, I meant being unfaithful.

Goldilocks was written by Ed McBain, aka Evan Hunter which he legally changed to in 1952. The name on his birth certificate was Salvatore Albert Lombino. Only guessing he wanted and/or needed to have an Americanized name and Ed McBain or Evan Hunter, he wrote under both, were as good as any. His McBain name is noted for his 89th Precinct series which I'll begin soon.

A few years ago I was on a Florida jag reading anything, everything Florida especially loving mysteries with Florida settings. Imagine my surprise and delight after reading the first few pages that the book was set on the west coast of Florida, around Doc Ford’s (Randy Wayne White) Sanibel Marine Supply Company.

McBain's Goldilocks is a clear indictment of affairs, its many pitfalls and its consequences including the dissolution of families. Since emotions are at a high during affairs, sometimes murder results as in this case.

Attorney Matthew Hope is not a criminal lawyer but when called by a client at 1 a.m., he responds. The client has returned home after a night of a friendly game of poker to find his wife and two daughters murdered in their home.

Hummm. The logical assumption is, of course, he did it but he claims he didn’t.

When questioned by police, his time frame for leaving the poker game doesn’t really jive with the known facts; so what was he doing in the missing hours? Well, you guessed it from the opening paragraph, he was with his lover. He was cheating on wife number two, his slain wife. To add insult to injury, he was seeing wife number two, when he divorced wife number one. They had two children when they divorced. Get the picture? He’s a serial philanderer.

Matthew Hope is simply a nice fellow. He's successful and a good friend but has a difficult time reining in his own libido. A friend of mine recently said she enjoyed reading a “character who I really love, admire and root for; or on the other hand, one I really, totally dislike.” I agreed with her and I really, really like Matthew. And I felt a certain sympathy for him. He’s trying to learn from life’s lessons but sometimes, damn it, it’s hard especially when you’re good looking and successful. Sorry, Matthew, you’ll just have to try harder…and as a student of Will Byrneskeep your fly zipped or dress buttoned.

But this was in the ‘70’s, we’ve learned our lessons, right? Guess not according to today’s headlines. Too bad for that. Cheating spouses cause havoc in making happy families.

I’ve enjoyed McBain’s writing style. It’s not complicated with long, overwrought sentences and his description of the scenery is spot on. It’s Florida, tropical jacarandas and all.

This is a quick read and a unique, very interesting mystery. It’s an insightful look at the wandering eye of both men and women. It’s a minefield out there, keep those emotions in check should be the lesson learned here.

OK, I'll stop my preachin'. (This is the slang edition review.)

Just came across this Dear Prudence letter in my mailbox with the writer having a 25 year old half-sister, the result of an illicit affair by her dad. She wants to know if she should be invited to Thanksgiving dinner. Hummm. A big consequence which is hard to hide.