With over 30 novels in a career that spanned 1951-1970, WW2 veteran Gil Brewer is considered a cornerstone of crime-fiction. His mid-era novel, “The Vengeful Virgin”, was originally published by Fawcett’s Crest imprint in 1958. Cited as one of Brewer's strongest works, Hard Case Crime reprinted the novel in 2006 with new cover art.
Jack Ruxton is a young owner/operator of a floundering television retail and repair shop. His life drastically changes the day he meets Shirley Angela, a primary caregiver for an elderly invalid named Victor. In a combination of desperation and hot-blooded lust, Shirley asks Jack to assist her in killing Victor. The payoff? About $300,000 that's been promised to Shirley in the event of Victor's passing. With a tumultuous tuition, Jack's life becomes an education on sex, greed, jealousy and murder. Does he make the grade?
With “The Vengeful Virgin”, Gil Brewer may have hit his high-water mark. The story's placement on Florida’s Gulf Coast parallels the author's own residence in sunny St. Petersburg. Like his contemporaries in Dan Marlowe, Day Keene and John D. MacDonald, Brewer makes use of a crime-fiction staple: the Florida waterfront cabin. It's here where the book reaches its violent crescendo, the crossroads of regret and guilt through the murky haze of hard liquor. Brewer's tale incorporates all of the genre tropes but still remains remarkably engaging and timeless. The paperback showcases the downward spiral of a man's ruin, lovers on the run and the inescapable, ever-consuming law enforcement dragnet.
In its utter simplicity, “The Vengeful Virgin” is a riveting masterpiece and should not be missed. It’s absolutely essential reading for fans of the genre.
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