Narcotics, gambling, prostitution, lesbianism, incest, serial-killing. Here’s a book working hard to scandalise all kinds of 1950’s mores, to such an extent that it really does become exhausting. Various characters interact in a Mexican town: a jaded gambler, a divorcee looking for thrills, a lost teenager and a serial killer. They see and do depraved things and its all going to come to a bad end.
The whole feels like some kind of fever dream. I’d guess it was written quick for a pay-cheque and Block was frequently wiping sweat from his brow, not because his temperature was raised by his own lurid imagination, but probably because he was trying to get out ten thousand words a day. All the time, Block thinking that if he had to shock, he might as well give it everything he had.
It’s not a bad book, but it’s also a long way from being a good book. Best to read it as a period piece, a book who’s views on same-gender relations are aroused, puritanical and a long way from where we are now. ‘Quaint’ wouldn’t be the right word, as it isn’t pretty enough for that, but it is definitely dated.
My debut novel, THE WANNABES – which has been out of print for a little while – is now available for free. A supernatural thriller of beautiful actresses and deadly ambition in London town, it’s well worth your time. You can get your copy here!