THE EROTICS is another previously unpublished Gil Brewer novel that Stark House will be bringing out later this month in a triple volume with GUN THE DAME DOWN, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, and ANGRY ARNOLD, which I haven't gotten to yet. This one was written in the mid-Seventies, but the plot is vintage Fifties Gold Medal Gil Brewer: a bitter, disillusioned young man falls in lust with a beautiful young woman married to a rich older man she despises. For a change the femme fatale doesn't try to manipulate the protagonist into killing her husband. She just wants him to steal a couple of hundred grand from the guy so the two of them can run away together.
The protagonist in this case is once-promising artist Chris Pope, who's been reduced by a scandal in the art world to making knick-knacks out of driftwood for a living. The femme fatale is Bernice Monahan, whose husband is involved in something shady that results in large amounts of cash being stashed in their house. The plot they hatch is pretty haphazard, but it works well enough for Pope to find himself in the Monahan house. Unfortunately, Bernice's husband is there, too, and after a fight that leaves the older man unconscious, Pope can't bring himself to become a thief and take the money. So he leaves...
Yeah, you know how that's going to play out. Monahan winds up dead, the loot disappears, along with a valuable painting, and the cops figure Pope for both crimes. So the only way to save himself is to go on the run and find the real killer.
The plot of THE EROTICS strikes me as a little too predictable, but man, Brewer's writing is a sheer joy to read. Even at this stage of his career, he did the "desperate loser on the run" story as well or better than just about anybody. This novel races by as Pope digs himself into a deeper and deeper hole. The action scenes are great, and the Florida setting is rendered vividly. I'm not sure why it didn't sell, unless it was just too much of a throwback to those Gold Medal classics. But that gives us a new Gil Brewer novel to read now, so I'm not going to complain about that. Great stuff, and if you're a Brewer fan you can't afford to miss it.