HEADHUNTER by Michael Slade


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The three Vancouver lawyers who have authored this book under one pseudonym have had decades of experience in dealing with criminally insane clients, but their first novel shows them to be amateur writers. The book is confusing, contrived, and, worst of all, an obvious attempt to pull out all the stops with lurid descriptions of ""palpitating entrails"" and ""scattered chunks of flesh,"" graphically described sado-sexual episodes, incest, lesbianism, cannibalism, and voodoo rituals. The Vancouver police are on the trail of a killer known as the Headhunter, who specializes in raping and beheading women and then taunting police with photos of their missing heads. There's a confusing web of disconnected bits of narrative in the first 80 pages (we hear of Wilfred Blake, a famous Mounty, and his nightmares of beheading in 1897; then of one Suzannah, who is setting up a sado-sexual psychodrama, including a child participant, in New Orleans in 1957); but finally straight narrative takes over with the frustrating search for the Head-hunter. As more murders are committed, Superintendant De Clercq feels increasingly like a failure. But Rick Scarlett and Katherine Spann, his police team, are undaunted in their search, which takes them to girly shows and a vile voodoo ceremony. In the midst of the story, we are again treated to disconnected episodes. We read a sex-laden horror tale about a character named Sparky, who in 1969 beheaded a female Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador, and we get a continuation of Suzannah's New Orleans drama. The point of these incidents becomes clear only at the end of the novel when we know what the police don't. . . All in all, a cheap and far-fetched vehicle for some offensive sexual violence.

Pub Date: June 18th, 1985
Publisher: Morrow