Sunday, November 26, 2006

Deathday by Angus Hall

First published 1968; paperback shown is the 1969 Sphere Books (UK) edition.

"Monday - and he awoke with the happy knowledge that before the end of the day was out he would have murdered his wife, Lydia, lying next to him now, snoring wantonly and evenly as though she had a busy engine lodged in her throat."

On the outside, Adam Crosse is a respectable, middle-aged journalist. On the inside, he hates much of society and detests his wife, a frigid woman who he is finding increasingly less physically attractive as the years go by. His solution is to kill her, and he has set up the perfect alibi in order to get away with it. He writes a letter to himself at the newspaper where he works, signed by an imaginary man called Qualtrough. On the night his wife is brutally murdered, Crosse ensures that as many people as possible see him as he searches the suburbs for Qualtrough's (fictional) street address.

Thanks to a cynical detective, Crosse doesn't get away with murder - at least not right away. He is arrested and put on trial, but the fact that the police never located the shady Qualtrough character ensures that he is acquitted. Crosse then begins his new life, quickly finding the woman he's always dreamed of: Eva Bishop, a large breasted nymphomaniac who allows Crosse all the liberties his wife would never even have dreamed of.

Crosse is enjoying his newfound freedom, when a stranger knocks on his door and introduces himself: his name is Qualtrough.

Described as "a spine chilling glimpse into the mind of a psychopathic killer", this is quite a good novel, even taking the ridiculous front cover into account. It was slightly spoiled for me because I realised what was actually happening halfway through (as will anyone who has seen Fight Club before). But it is definitely worth reading regardless, as Crosse's descent into misogynistic madness is very well written.

Deathday was adapted for television in 1971, for an episode of the "Out of the Darkness" BBC series.

1 comment:

antihuman said...

Good review of a very good thriller