MADMAN AT MY DOOR by Hillary Waugh


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A dismaying drop in quality from this veteran, who here switches from gritty police-detection to a crudely belabored terror tale that's all message and no shading. Orville Elliott, psychotic killer-mutilator-rapist of three women (including the wife of high-school teacher Herb Murdock) has been in an asylum for eight years, and now he's about to be released, supposedly cured. (Waugh gives us the sanity hearing's courtroom speeches and questionings, as it were, verbatim.) Orville is, of course, not cured at all but more psycho than ever and bent on revenge against Murdock, who castrated Orville in a gun scuffle at the time of Mrs. M.'s murder. Murdock, who has a new family as well as lots of Blackboard Jungle-type problems with his job, is understandably afraid, but the cops refuse to give him protection. Then a reporter who has been following Orville, trying to write a story on him, disappears. So it's just a matter of time, countdown-style, before Orville kidnaps Murdock's daughters (with ridiculously implausible ease) and the SWAT team arrives to witness the showdown between madman and schoolteacher. Waugh's theme is a hot and timely one, but, considering the off-putting sledgehammer-and-sentiment treatment here, he might just as well have written ""Don't Let Killers Out of Asylums"" a hundred times--and let it go at that.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1978
Publisher: Doubleday