The first Gil Brewer book I read was WILD, and I didn’t much care for it. But since then I’ve tried his work again, most recently THE VENGEFUL VIRGIN (the Hard Case Crime reprint with the great cover) and LOVE ME AND DIE, published under Day Keene’s name but actually a ghosted expansion by Brewer of a Keene pulp novelette. I’ve become a confirmed Gil Brewer fan, like a lot of you are, I’m sure. One of his rarer novels, FLIGHT TO DARKNESS, is about to be reprinted by New Pulp Press, and it’s a very good one verging on greatness.
FLIGHT TO DARKNESS is the story of Eric Garth, a sculptor from an old, fairly well-to-do Florida family who is wounded in the Korean War. The book opens with him about to be released from the psychiatric ward of a VA hospital in California. His physical wounds have healed, but he’s been troubled by a recurring dream in which he murders his brother. Eric has fallen in love with one of his nurses at the hospital and plans to marry her, but first they’re going to drive cross-country to return to his family home in Florida.
I’ll bet you can guess that doesn’t turn out to be a good idea.
Actually, they make it all the way to Alabama before trouble crops up, but when it does, it lands Eric in a sanitarium, and then his girlfriend disappears, and then he escapes, and when he does finally make it to Florida . . . well, you guessed it.
Things get worse.
And looming over the whole thing are Eric’s doubts about his own sanity, so always in the back of his mind (and the reader’s mind) is the possibility that he really is crazy, and when he’s framed for murder, well, maybe he wasn’t framed after all. Before the book is over, Eric can’t fully trust anything or anybody, including himself.
Murder, madness, swamps, gators, a savagely beautiful woman . . . it doesn’t get much better than this for noir fans, and the last fifty pages or so are about as crazed and breakneck as anything you’ll find in the genre. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Throw in the fact that New Pulp Press has produced a top-notch trade paperback reprint with a very evocative cover, and you’ve got a book that I don’t hesitate to recommend very highly. I think the official publication date is tomorrow, but I’ll bet you can go to Amazon or NPP’s website and order a copy right now.
Vehicle of Spirit
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