RARA-AVIS: Gil Brewer

From: Jeff Vorzimmer ( jvorzimmer@austin.rr.com)
Date: 29 Apr 2007

I've been on a bit of Gil Brewer tear as of late thanks to Stark House and Hard Case. As a result I have a renewed appreciation for him. I think that, at his best, his books are the equal of Harry Whittington's and Charles Williams', although not as consistent as either of those writers.

The two books in the Stark House reprint, Wild to Posses and A Taste for Sin are non-stop action. They move at Whittington pace with Williams-style plot twists. They grab you by the throat from the opening pages and don't let up til the end. I couldn't put them down, especially since Brewer ends the chapters at dramatic moments. He creates a rhythm through out both books with sentences of varying length, especially at the end of each chapter leading up to the dramatic moments. He'll end a paragraph with shorter and shorter sentences--in some cases one-word sentences.

In A Taste for Sin, he creates the most wicked femme fatale I've yet come across in all my years of reading. More evil than even the best--or I should say--the worst of Williams, i.e, Madelon Butler (A Touch of Death), Cathy Dunbar (Nothing in Her Way), Julia Cannon (The Big Bite) and Dolly Harshaw
(Hell Hath No Fury). Someone had already mentioned the ballpeen hammer scene. I won't repeat it. The best femme fatales would be an interesting thread in itself.

The HCC reprint, The Vengeful Virgin reminded me of some of the Brewer I had read such as 13 French Street and The Red Scarf and is every bit as good as the latter, which is one of his best books. It moves at a much slower pace, but a good read nonetheless. If you haven't read Brewer or at least these particular novels I really recommend them. If you like Williams and Whittington I would suggest grabbing copies of these as quickly as you can get your hands on them.


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