Review Index

By PAUL MAYERSBERG (Arrow; 1992)

This unpublished-in-the-US potboiler may be obscure, but it’s virtually unmatched for erotic verve and sheer perversity. It’s the second of two novels penned by the veteran British screenwriter Paul Mayersberg (whose film credits include THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, MARRY CHRISTMAS MR. LAWRENCE and CROUPIER), the first being the previous year’s better known but far less potent HOMME FATALE. Both books are X-rated neo noirs packed with sex, betrayal and murder, but it’s VIOLENT SILENCE that really takes these elements and runs with ‘em.

     Pandora Hammond is a seemingly contented housefrow seduced by a dashing stranger in a posh hotel. Her husband Alec, a movie production designer, is working on a film shoot in Arizona, where he’s schtupping a stuntwoman. Also working on the film is Charles Wildman, a stuntman who lives up to his last name in every respect. Wildman is himself carrying on an affair with the stuntwoman, who is killed in a stunt, thus hopelessly entangling everyone’s destinies.

     As you might have guessed, Pandora’s illicit lover is Wildman, who Alec becomes determined to do in. The insanity begins with a car duel in the desert and continues with an errant model airplane, a disarmingly prophetic Wildman-penned screenplay, confinement in a sensory deprivation tank, identity theft, gunplay and LOTS of fucking!

     The stakes are heightened by two peripheral characters: Pandora’s precocious twelve-year-old daughter Paulette and Wildman’s randy girlfriend Laura, who tolerates his affairs but doesn’t think much of Pandora. I’ll refrain from revealing any more of this book’s insanely twisted (in more ways than one) narrative, but suffice it to say you won’t be able to predict its ultimate course--and nor will you want to put it down once you’ve started reading.

     In interviews Mr. Mayersberg has made some pretty highfalutin’ comments regarding his fiction (“It’s about resistance to change, essentially…desire for it but resistance too”), which explains pretentious touches like the first person chapters that occasionally interrupt the third person narrative and the “descriptive” names (the heroine’s mythology tinged moniker is NOT accidental), but take my word for it: this is unadulterated sleaze from start to finish…albeit sleaze of an extremely high order.

     The characterizations won’t win the author any awards, but are colored in as much as they need to advance the story, which as in most pulp fiction is paramount. Best of all is Mayersberg’s perverse imagination, exhibited here to full effect. The result is a jaw-dropping tour de force tailor-made for the sick bastard in all of us!