BLOCH, ROBERT – THE MAN WHO KNEW WOMEN in THE SKULL OF THE MARQUIS DE SADE collection. 1965 Pyramid Books.
An amusing Chandleresque crime story secreted in a collection of horror stories, but no worse for that. It is the story of a murderous bigamist getting his just deserts and then some. Luis Manuel has a thing about wealthy old women, who he marries for their insurance and their wills, before killing them and making off with their money. He gets a lead on the women through adverts in lonely hearts magazines. The story starts as he claims his latest mark in Miami. Things go wrong on the brink of the wedding however when the naïve lady’s brother turns up on the scene. The brother is a struggling out of work actor, who Luis writes off as a ham. He rushes through with the wedding, spreads rumours that his wife has a heart condition, and then poisons her with Digitalis to make it look like she had a heart attack. He seems to get away with the crime, and he gets $8,000. Luis is not good with money. He soon spends and gambles it all away. He now finds his next target girl who also lives in Miami. When he arranges to meet her, he instead bangs into the brother of his last victim. The man admits that he believes Luis was a murderer but that he had been unable to prove it. Luis denies everything and goes on to meet his new victim. She is beautiful. He falls in love with her and decides to go honest with her rather than killing her. However, she has poisoned his drink. As he collapses in agony, she tells him that he must confess to the police, who have now arrived, murdering his wife or she won’t give him an antidote. He confesses to the murder, and then the girl tells him that the poison is harmless and its effects are due to wear off. As the police lead Luis away, the girl reveals that she is in fact the brother of his last victim – a good actor, not a ham at all but a first rate drag artiste. Sharp, funny and exciting stuff. That it isn’t frightening despite being in a horror book is quite forgivable under the circumstances. Who cares as long as it’s still such a good read? http://mgpfeff.home.sprynet.com/bloch.html
© Copyright. Arthur
FACEBOOK - http://profile.to/arthurchappell/