NERO'S VICE by James Kisner


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Neo-Nazis, grisly murders, classical pornography, and interplanetary visitors-in a breezy thriller/sci-fi parody that remains agreeably low-key until its egregiously silly final chapters. The carnage begins when Francis Woodhall, chief editor of Sleaze (the poor man's Hustler) sets out to publish a Roman porno-classic called Nero's Vice (""it makes The Satyricon look like Heidi"") in a new English translation: the project's editor and translator are both found maniacally butchered; the book disappears; and Woodhall receives death threats signed ""S."" Could this S. be the bald man who leers at Woodhall when he tries to research Nero's Vice (all traces of which have vanished) at the library? Or could this S. be connected to one Robert Sumach, who--as Woodhall learns on a trip to Hollywood--wrote the screenplay for a 1931 musical version of Nero's Vice called Vicey-Versie And why do the neo-Nazis think that Woodhall has evil designs on their late Fuehrer's dead body? The answers seem to be in Italy--where Woodhall spars with a loony old professor (translator of a 1928 version of Nero's Vice) and then, in the catacombs outside Rome, comes faces to faces with his nemesis: Sumax, a.k.a. Robert Sumach, a mind-reading, time-traveling alien who was the original author of Nero's Vice; who keeps a collection of the mortal remains of people like Nero and Hitler; and who will do anything to prevent the publication of Nero's Vice. . . because it reveals (in its non-sexual chapters) that the human race is ""merely one in a series of experiments"" started eons ago by Sumax's interplanetary master. Weird, dippy, occasionally vulgar and juvenile--but most of the time Kisner plays out his nonsense with an unforced, wryly deadpan tone that may raise a few smiles from easygoing suspense readers.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1981
Publisher: Beaufort--dist. by Scribners