THE LIBERTINES by Howard Clewes


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In this tight, fast reworking of Hemingway's Francis MacComber theme, the worm turns and proves himself superior to his witchy wife (who is, of course, having an affair with the big, manly white-hunter type) and dies during his moment of triumph in a burst of physical action and revenge. Cassell, a super-conformist Englishman, comes to Brazil's Mato Grosso to inspect his company's huge cattle herds and brings with him his beautiful, fork-tongued wife, Fabia. While recuperating in bed from a snakebite, he is attacked by a homosexual native cowboy and shoots him dead. The rugged overseer Hallam, with whom Fabia is now bedding, tells Cassell to hide out on a trail drive until the police lose interest in him. Cassell cuts loose from the trail drive and sets up house with a native woman who rehabilitates his manhood. Self-released from wife and the cattle company, he becomes a freed slave, or libertine, in the primary sense, as his wife is a libertine in the secondary sense of profligacy. But his native wife is raped and suffocated by henchmen of a land agent. When Cassell dies avenging her, he welcomes death as a breathless scapade. And, in a way, as with MacComber, perhaps his wife killed him. She loses the rugged overseer. Well done with may forthright confrontations between the characters.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1964
Publisher: Doubleday