Jean Catherine Potts (1910-1999) started out writing mystery short stories, many of which appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Woman's Day. In 1954 she had her first novel published, Go, Lovely Rose, which won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. That was followed by 14 additional novels published in over seven foreign languages. One of those later novels,The Evil Wish, was an Edgar finalist in 1963 and optioned to be made into a movie starring Barbara Stanwyck and Sir Ralph Richardson, although that project apparently fell through.
Most of Potts' books are out of print now. Home is the Prisoner was released as part of the Black Dagger Crime Series by the Crime Writers' Association and their attempt to make hard-to-find exemplary works in various crime fiction subgenres available. It tells the story of Jim Singley, who spent six years in jail for manslaughter, as he returns to the small town and scene of the crime where almost no one—including his son, ex-wife, and former mistress—are glad to see him. Potts uses shifting third-person POVs, including Singley's friend Judge Mack McVey and thirteen-year-old Cleo, the daughter of the man Singley is supposed to have killed and whose testimony kept him from the death penalty.
The late Edward D. Hoch, a prolific short-story writer himself, once said that Potts' ''characterization was perhaps her strongest suit, and she was especially good with her small-town, middle-American settings.'' This is certainly the case with Home is the Prisoner, where the shifting POV's allow the reader to see inside the minds and secrets of the various characters, allowing the story to slowly unfold as a rather poetic multi-layered psychological study. As one example, these thoughts from Cleo:
"Because Mother, for all her dependence, was not communicative. Or maybe just not articulate. Anyway, there was a lot of uncharted territory in her geography, great areas that Cleo knew absolutely nothing about. Had not wanted to know about. Jim Singley, for instance. They had both steered clear of him — Cleo out of a rich hash of emotions that included adolescent squeamishness, wrenched loyalties, shame and shock, not to mention her own privately owned nightmare. And Mother out of — what? Cleo discovered in herself a sudden, engulfing curiosity. It broke over her like a wave, carrying, as a wave carries shell fragments, seaweed and sand, its load of remembered gossip and prying, lip-licking questions."
In Potts' fictional world there are no true good or bad characters, just many shades of gray, but she writes them in a way that makes you care about them, warts and all.