Corgi edition from 1963 (first published in the UK 1961, but copyrighted 1959, 1960)
BLURBS (inside and outside):
Anyone might have done what Walter and Elinor Harris did. They found an unconscious, good-looking young man in the back of their car with blood on his face. They put him to bed in their guest room and invited him to stay until he was better.
Larry had had a lot of practice fooling people. he had been doing it as long as he could remember. LaVerne, the night club singer, could have told the Harrises plenty - but Larry knew too much about her that she didn't want found out.
It was Jim Whittaker who first suspected him, perhaps because Jim's teenage daughter liked Larry too much. But if any of them could have had even a glimpse into Larry's character, they would have been as scared as the reader, who can't do a thing to prevent the violence he sees coming.
If PSYCHO chilled your blood, this one will freeze it solid! __________
ROBERT BLOCH has a wife named Marion, a daughter named Sally Ann, a dog named Tiny and a typrwriter named Royal. Since the age of 17 he has collaborated with the latter to produce several hundred stories and seven novels, the best known of which is PSYCHO - "Quite incontrovertibly the nastiest, the tensest and the grippingest. One of the shockingest, most tersely expressed and horrifying chapter endings I have ever read... mind you, this is only page 39, and there are about 150 more pages to be bravely faced before the twisted end arrives." - Books and Bookmen.
THE DEAD BEAT is Robert Bloch's latest blood-run-cold thriller. Don't read it last thing at night...
PS: Robert Bloch, asked about himself, says "I have the heart of a small boy. I keep it on my desk in a bottle."
Royal the typewriter ended up with Harlan Ellison, if I recall rightly. Seriously.
This is such a good little thriller. Plenty of 'beat' dialogue, jazz music and 'reefers', as well as a pretty convincing bad guy. I'll refresh my memory of this one and get back to it in a couple of days.
"It was easy to grin now, because he'd remembered the big thing, the most important thing. He still had the gun." -R.B
After an attempt at blackmailing LaVerne, a nightclub singer and former partner in crime, ends in a beating, Larry Fox is left unconscious in a car belonging to nice middle-aged couple Walter and Elinor. Rather stupidly, they take him into their home to recover. Fox tells them he had been given a funny cigarette and bumped his head as he passed out. They believe him.
And its all downhill from there. Larry charms the couple (especially Elinor), and they invite him to stay. Walter goes off on a business trip and, when searching through the house, Larry finds his gun in a drawer in the study. Thus armed, he begins new attempts at blackmailing LaVerne, bringing in the bell-hop from their old stomping ground (an old junkie) in - only for him to be killed, rat poison in his heroin as it turns out.
Larry and Elinor attend a party at the Whittacker's place. Jill, their teenage daughter is quite taken with Larry, much to Elinor's disgust - she is becoming interested in him herself. Larry manages to get into a fight there, and they leave. Jim Whittacker, the girl's father, knows from the start that there is something wrong about Larry, but can't really put his finger on exactly what it is...
Back from the party, Larry drugs Elinor's drink, thus knocking her out at the point where she was about to try and get Larry into her bed. Instead, he pays another visit to LaVerne, and the following day, events start to move fast, what with Jill and Larry vanishing and the body count increasing...
A short novel, only about 120 pages, it fairly races along. As well as a cracking good story, Bloch has chucked in a load of generation gap stuff, some of it quite interesting, most of it from Jim (an anthropologist). He doesn't seem to like beatniks much...
If you see this one, snap it up if you like Bloch. Definitely a product of its times, and all the better for it.