Nude on Thin Ice by Gil Brewer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This might just be my favorite Gil Brewer noir thriller because he holds nothing back. The protagonist is about as unsympathetic as you can imagine, and yet all the other characters are just as sleazy so maybe, just a little bit, you root for Ken McCall to get his root of all evil: a big pile of money. The novel kicks off with McCall skipping out on his girlfriend and sticking her with the unpaid motel bill. He's received a letter from a rich dying friend who asks McCall to go console his wife and McCall fantasizes about turning it into a stupid rich score. Only when he gets to her house a menagerie of whack-jobs is already on the scene hoping to make a similiar score. The femme fatale - Justine - is sixteen and Brewer's description of how she teases McCall for the first 60 pages is pure art. She works him to a fever pitch and then the killing begins. And then that girlfriend McCall ditched shows up looking to cut herself in, too. What's a noir protagonist to do? The action gets steamy and it gets bloody and it all rips along with Brewer's typical frenetic pacing. A Nasty, brutish, and short page turner. Set aside a couple of hours when you won't get interrupted because this is one you'll want to race on through to the end.
Available from Stark House along with the excellent MEMORY OF PASSION.