Sunday, December 13, 2009

Flight to Darkness - Gil Brewer

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.


Anonymous said...

Thanks. I had no idea this was getting reprinted. I have the old GM original issue and haven't read it in years. I'll dig it out now. "Flight to Darkness" is one of the author's best work, but my favorite will always be Brewer's "The Three-Way Split."

Bill Khemski

Randy Johnson said...

I'll have to be on the lookout for this. My first exposure to Brewer were his three It Takes A Thief novels. The only other one I've read was The Vengeful Virgin.

James Reasoner said...

Dang, I forgot all about those IT TAKES A THIEF books. I read at least one of those, so I guess they were my first Brewers, too. As I recall, they don't bear much resemblance to the sort of books he wrote earlier in his career, though. I used to have one of his Gothics as Elaine Evans but never read it.

James Reasoner said...

I have THE THREE-WAY SPLIT in the Stark House edition and need to get to it soon.

Daniel said...

If you can find the old Blue Murder twofer reprint of "The Red Scarf" and "13 French Street," it's a killer. Each book was written in a couple days so the action and paranoia are relentless.

Frank Loose said...

I've ordered the new Darkness release and eagerly await its arrival. Since we're in the mode of recommending top notch Brewer's, don't forget A Taste for Sin.