Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Good Reads :: Gil Brewer Punches Out a One Way Ticket to Hell with The Vengeful Virgin (1958)

"Doom. You recognize doom easily. It's a feeling and a taste, and it's black, and it's heavy. It comes down over your head, and wraps tentacles around you, and sinks long dirty fingernails into your heart. It has a stink like burning garbage. Doom."

-- Gil Brewer
The Vengeful Virgin

Most protagonists -- check that, let's call 'em anti-protagonists (same genus and species as the anti-hero) in these old hard-boilers aren't necessarily bad guys but due to the machinations of their circumstances usually wind up doing bad deeds, doomed, or dead, or some combination thereof. With author Brewer, however, his characters, from what I've read so far, seem to start out doomed to begin with, are well aware of it, but doggedly blunder along toward their own self-fulfilling destiny, a personal armageddon, dragging the entranced reader right along with them with prose that is gorged with heat, lust and fever.

Here, a nefarious TV repairman hooks up with a fellow traveler, an 18-year old red-head, who takes care of her sick step-father. The elder in question is loaded but he isn't dying quick enough to suit his heir. And while our two schemers conspire and concoct, they soon find out that no matter how perfect the plan, and it was a pretty damned good one, all it takes is one unforeseen circumstance to monkey-wrench the whole shittery. And no matter how fast you are on your feet to counter and cover up these contingencies, each move creates more loose ends, which continue to multiply, exponentially, leaving it no wonder why these things always end in blood and fire.

With Brewer, however, even though we know how this will
probably end from page one, every page between that and the last is worth the time and effort.

Also check out Wild to Possess, And the Girl Screamed, and A Taste for Sin.

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