"His head snapped back and he made a gurgling sound. The flashlight fell to the floor, the light went out, and we were both in darkness. But he did not need the light for his business, which was dying. And I did not need the light for my business, which was killing.
"His feet left the floor for a moment, then came down again. He was like a marionette now, a puppet on a, string, doing a jig. The short, merry jig of one who shuffles off this mortal coil. The dance of death.
"Then he was limp in my arms, limp in the darkness. I let him slump to the floor, at Kali's feet. A poor sacrifice, but fittingly offered. No blood had been spilled. And I was worthy. I knew that now.
"I took my own flashlight and set it on the cabinet so that the beam bathed the black brow of the goddess. Then I smashed the glass of the case with the other flashlight, taking care to hold it with a handkerchief wrapped around my hand.
"After that there was nothing left to do but pick up Kali and go away from there, taking the same route by which I came. Together we went out into the night. Kali and I - myself and the Mother of Murder ..."
So begins the gripping new novel by the author of PSYCHO. First publication anywhere in the world.
Pointville, Chicago. Jay Thomas, twenty, is working as an assistant to his interior decorator aunt Tracy who adopted him after the death of his parents. Jay fantasises a lot, mostly about big money, big house, big cars and a knockout gal with big boobs, etc. It looks like he's in for a taste of all four/ five when Tracy gives him an order to deliver over Lake Pino way where all the "rich bitches" live, "crows" mostly, with their blue rinses and superiority complexes (Jay always feels stupid in the presence of wealthy people). But Ann Colton isn't like that. She may be fabulously wealthy (courtesy of her recent divorce) but she's also young, blonde and gorgeous - and bored to death. Sensing no threat from this awkward young man in thick glasses, very soon she's pouring drinks for them both and spilling her guts about how frustrated she is with her excuse for an existence, etc. Jay blows his big moment by falling off his stool just when it seems he's in for a snog, but, when she laughs, his anger causes his tongue to spontaneously untie and before he knows it, he's invited her along to the dance at Ace Connors' place tonight where a 'name band' are playing a set. Amazingly, she agrees! He hurries home to find Tracy in an equally jubilant mood. She's just got hold of a statue of Kali, recently stolen from a private museum, and she knows there's a $1000 reward for its return. Thinking that he's attending the dance with his regular date, boring Imogene Stern, she gives him $20 to blow and he has a wonderful time of it, basking in the covetous looks of his friends as he swans around with the most attractive girl in the universe. She even invites him in afterward for a talk. Even if, disappointingly, 'talk' means just that, it's still the greatest night ever .... until he arrives home to a reception of Sergeant Kroke and his assistant Summers. Tracy has been throttled and he, the nephew who stands to gain her fortune, is the number one suspect on a list of - one.
Jay - concerned he'll spoil his chances with Ann if he involves her in a scandal - refuses to name the mystery woman who can vouch for his alibi, but he does bring up the statuette which has been stolen. As we know from the prologue, there has already been one murder connected to this image - a nightwatchman, garroted thuggee-style during the original burglary ...
Fifty pages (of 152) down so far and Bloch is clearly doing his best to provide his publisher with a new Psycho, but what Terror is putting me in mind of is a Richard Laymon novel (minus the trademark lewd and lascivious behavior, of course - Bloch rarely went in for that in his writing, though Psycho 2 has it's moments).
To be continued .....
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.