WITHOUT MERCY: Obsession and Murder Under the Influence by Gary Provost

WITHOUT MERCY: Obsession and Murder Under the Influence

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Riveting melodrama by crime-writer Provost (Across the Border--not reviewed), wherein an alcoholic waitress and her employer pull off a double murder. What grips here, as Provost is quick to point out, is the ordinariness of the killers: Dee Casteel, a waitress at a Miami-area International House of Pancakes, described by one friend as ""the nicest person you could want to meet""; Allen Bryant, gay lover of Art Venecia, the first victim (the second victim was Venecia's mother); Mike lrvine, gas-station attendant. The only wild card here is Bill ""Joker"" Rhodes, a tough guy who did the actual throat-slitting and strangling--although many will find the entire scenario odd to the point of terror, as these more-or-less nice, more-or-less normal folk, driven by jealousy, addiction, and greed, commit heinous acts that land them in Death Row, where they now await execution (Casteel is the first woman slated for the electric chair in Dado County history). Provost does a bang-up job of reconstructing the crime in novelistic fashion, including dialogue based as closely as possible on actual subject interviews. If he fails to answer some of his initial weighty questions (e.g., ""Where do we draw the lines of responsibility for alcoholics?""), and sags now and then into pop psychologizing (""many of us, if handed the right script and pointed in the right direction, are capable of participating in bloody murder just for the thrill of it""), he succeeds in spinning a tale at once depressing and thrilling--no mean feat. Good reading--unless you've been wondering why your nice neighbor keeps digging holes in his garage floor.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster