Friday, May 15, 2009

Forgotten Books: THE CHILD KILLER -- Edson T. Hamill

It's probably best that some books remain forgotten.  The Child Killer is a case in point.  It's about exactly what the cover says it's about, and it's as ugly and brutal and graphic as you can imagine. When a child is found murdered, Ryker, the enlightened cop protagonist, draws this conclusion about the killer: "It had to be a man who lives alone or with another man.  Our killer is a homosexual with a fixation on small boys.  Not only does he like them, he kills them . . . ."  Since the body is found in a  secton of an apartment house that's being remodeled, Ryker says, "I want a list of all males living here alone or with other males. That doesn't mean they're all queer.  But some must be."  

There's not much of a plot.  Ryker catches his man early on but then beats him to a pulp in front of a crowd.   He neglects to read his Miranda rights, too, so the killer is released on "a technicality," which infuriates Ryker.  The killer eventually gets it, though, because Ryker makes sure of it.  And it's very lovingly described.

So why did I even mention this one?  Well, because it's the 5th book in a series, and the first ones were published under the name of Nelson DeMille.  Before he became the mega-seller that he is today, DeMille wrote a lot of tough-cop paperbacks for the low-end paperback houses (this one's from Leisure Books), including the Keller series for Manor Books.  DeMille revised the first two Ryker books and the Keller books and reprinted them with Pocket Books in 1989 under the name Jack Cannon, but with Keller's name changed to Ryker.  So most likely he didn't write The Child Killer.  I don't know who did.  Maybe someone named Edson T. Hamill, or maybe that's a pseudonym.  One thing's for sure: DeMille's bibliography is still a little cloudy.

The Child Killer is the kind of book that seems unlikely ever to find a publisher today.  Not just because of the crude writing and the political incorrectness and the heavy-handed violence but because there's just no audience for it.  There were dozens of these series in the '70s.  Now they're all gone.

I wouldn't recommend reading The Child Killer, but it's an interesting curiosity.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Yeah, I just couldn't do it. Hey, even in Banff you're keeping up the pace for us.

Todd Mason said...

Sadly, it still sounds too much like the lesser Vachss works. But at least Vachss doesn't mistake all of any group, other than child molestors, for child molestors...a confusion that certainly lingers.

highfence said...

True that Vachss *never* drew any connection between gay people and predatory pedophiles. Twenty years ago, Vachss wrote in an Parade article:

"Pedophiles are not 'homosexuals'. We would not call a man who molested a five-year-old girl a "heterosexual." Whatever the sex of the adult and the child, the proper description is simple: the adult is the perpetrator, the child is the victim."

Too bad no one in today's GOP leadership is as perceptive!