THE EXECUTION by Oliver Crawford


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Remember that terrific scene in Goldman's Marathon Man when the old Nazi concentration camp doctor is recognized--in N.Y,'s diamond district--by one of his victims? Well, first-novelist Crawford has hot-aired such a moment into a tasteless revenge novel: when Elsa Spahn recognizes Malibu restaurateur ""Papa Grossman"" as Dr. Wilhelm Gebhert, the ""Butcher of Birkenau,"" she shares her discovery with her four mah jongg buddies; all five now-middle-aged hausfraus (three ""Jewesses,"" one half-Jew, and a ""token goy"") were raped over 30 years ago by that ""diabolical sadist."" Since Gebhert has already served a short warcrimes term, he's beyond standard justice, so the mah jongg quintet (whose histories are offered in pallid flashbacks) must take the law into their own the-laden hands. After some cheerleader-type warming up (""Again. Bounce it off the wails! Gebhert dies!""), they draw lots to see who does the deed: it's snazzy widow Frieda Friedkin, who polishes Gebhert off with chloral hydrate (or so she thinks), but only after he gives her her ""first orgasm in thirty years."" And when an innocent bystander (or so they think) is arrested for the murder, they draw lots to see which of them should confess. But then they all confess, one by one--enraging their husbands, the DA, and any reader who's unsanitary enough to still be hanging around this sewer-y, exploitative stew.

Pub Date: May 24th, 1978
Publisher: St. Martin's