Sunday, February 28, 2010

Deadly Honeymoon by Lawrence Block

Deadly Honeymoon by Lawrence Block
Macmillian hardcover
Copyright 1967


It's amazing what you can find browsing through a Public Library book sale. Early novels of Lawrence Block are always on my radar and when I saw this one, I grabbed it for a buck.

On the day of their wedding, right after they arrive at their Pennsylvania honeymoon cabin, Dave and Jill Wade meet a friendly man from NYC who occupies the unit next to them. That very same night they witness the man being dragged out onto his porch and executed by two hitmen. Now the problem. The two bastards see Dave and Jill watching in the next cabin, so they hightail over there and grab them. They badly beat up Dave and do worse things to Jill. Both killers have turns with her and leave believing nothing about this night will get back to them. Dave and Jill clam up when the police arrive, telling nothing about the murder and the assault on them. Their reasoning is that since it looks like a gangland hit, why should the cops spend a lot of time on it. So now Dave and Jill have only one thing they want to do on their honeymoon vacation, and that is getting revenge.

"We'll find out who they are and then we'll find them and we'll kill them, both of them. We have three weeks. I think we can find them and kill them in three weeks."
"Three weeks is plenty of time," she said.

Their only lead is that the murdered man was from NYC, so they assume the two bastards work for someone there. Dave and Jill drive to the Big City and start their investigation. They get lucky and careless, but progress is made when Jill goes "undercover" and locates a medium-size crime boss. Dave gets brave and smacks around the guy, busting his teeth and all. Information is obtained, which includes the names of the two killers. Our two newlyweds are getting close. And now armed with a revolver, they make their final plans to settle the score -because this one is personal.

For being written in 1967, "Deadly Honeymoon" certainly has an edge to it. It's damn quick. I read it in one night, which is rare for me. Sexual tension hangs in the air throughout the novel. Lawrence Block has both Dave and Jill mentally fighting their own honeymoon night failure. (Jill was saving herself for her new husband and the rapists also took that away from them) With that, and the anxiety caused by them struggling to find the assailants, it builds even more compulsion for them to drive on. Block has Dave and Jill working separately at times, where one has no clue what the other is up to. And it's during those times that he fiddles with the reader's emotions. From the first page to the last, it's done right. Murder, hate, vengeance, and violence-"Deadly Honeymoon" is an excellent example of the author's great early work.

4 comments:

Bill Crider said...

I bought this one in a Dell paperback all those years ago. I remember liking it a lot.

pattinase (abbott) said...

August-I would love to include a review each week-in case people missed it. Let me know.

WalkerP said...

Great premise! I need to read this. I swear, I sometimes seriously consider avoiding your blog because practically every new post is a book I need to hunt down and my on-deck shelf is still way too full!

BobT said...

I remember reading this a long time ago and thinking it had a Richard Stark feel to it, very tight and clean and objective.