Sunday, November 8, 2020

Review: Satan Is a Woman

Satan Is a Woman Satan Is a Woman by Gil Brewer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brewer's first novel starts with immediacy as Larry Cole is being questioned by two cops about his brother Tad who is wanted for murder and is hiding in Larry’s house while the police are questioning him. Enter the femme-fatale, Joan Turner, and poor Larry begins his roller coaster ride through various levels of hell. He falls for her quick: "If you’ve never felt the way I felt, O.K. It’s like standing on dynamite, with the fuse sputtering." One thing Brewer was a master of is depicting how thoroughly and obsessively these guys fall under the spell of a woman. Larry is hanging on every look, every touch, every word. He can’t keep his eyes off her and yet he knows he’s doomed, too, even as he resists her pressures to rob a nightclub. Brewer conjures one of his classic twists as Joan stabs an intruder and they have to dispose of the body. It is one of those fantastic and frenetic extended scenes (with an outboard motor tied to the body they row out into the bay in a storm), where Brewer just amps the tension and milks the suspense with great pacing, description, and psychological torment. This one has all the noir elements and the extended character development certainly makes it a more rounded read. But that well-roundedness also detracts a bit from the propulsive pacing at times and that keeps this from a five-star rating.

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