Burton "Bud" Corliss is the murderer and main character in the novel. He kills both Dorothy Kingship and her sister Ellen and is going to marry the third sister, Marion, when Gordon C. Grant - a disc jockey who helped Ellen to investigate the murder on her sister- finally exposes him. .
Bud was born on the outskirts of Fall River, Menasset, Massachusetts without any brothers or sisters. His father, Joseph Corliss, was an oiler in a textile mill and his mother, whose name you never get to know, was probably a housewife who sometimes had to take in sewing to manage the family's financial situation. The family was of English extraction with some French intermixed along the way. They lived in a neighbourhood which housed many Portuguese, a fact that bothered his bitter and unhappy mother. She had married young and was now disappointed by her husband's lack of ambitions.
Bud was conscious of his good looks already when he was very young. The family's Sunday guests always praised his blond hair and blue eyes, something his father never did. His mother, on the contrary, devoted quite a lot of time and money to dress him properly. This difference in the parents" relation to their son caused many arguments between them.
The book never mentions anything about friends of Bud's childhood, but it do mentions the fact that his mother never encouraged him to play with the children of the neighbourhood (remember her antipathy towards Portuguese!). This made Bud feel very insecure during his first days at school. Suddenly he was not noticed to the same great extent, as he was at home - a new experience for him. Some boys made fun of him: the perfection of his clothes and his, according to them, girlish will to keep clean, was enough. But one day he could not bear it anymore. He challenged the pests" leader and won the fight. After that, no one ever troubled Bud Corliss anymore; at least not deliberately .
His continuous school days were "the happiest of his life".