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A Killer is Loose

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  43 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
He shot Jake Halloran in the head, then turned to me, smiling, the Luger held loosely in his right hand.

"Hello, pal," he said. "My name’s Ralph Angers. What’s yours?"

That’s how I met him, this grave-looking, clean-cut, totally mad young man, who walked through my town with a gun, leaving a wake of tears and agony and murder behind him.
ebook, 100 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Prologue Books (first published 1954)
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Comment on first reading: In Gil Brewer's fifth novel, he moves beyond the dated titillation that dominates much of his earlier work. A noir Everyman, his pregnant wife on the verge of labor, finds his fate accidentally entangled with that of a psychopath. Enough said about the plot--this is a creepy classic. Read it, and the word "pal" will never sound the same to you again.

Comment on second reading: Awesome the first time, awesome the second time.

First reading: 22 February 2008
Second reading:
Starts a bit slow as Brewer sets things up with down on his luck Steve Logan and his pregnant wife needing money. So Logan heads out with his Luger to get some money he is owed, but he loses his nerve and just busts the guy's nose instead and leaves without the money. Walking down the street despondent he sees a guy step off the curb in front of an oncoming bus and rushes out and pushes the guy out of the way. Before much longer Logan is wishing he'd let the bus run the guy over because Ralph An ...more
Kurt Reichenbaugh
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir
Twenty four hours with your pal, the psycho with a luger. Stay on his good side and he might fix that wonky eye that's been troubling you. Fast and nasty read from one of my favorite noir writers.
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-crime
Ex-cop Steve Logan is in economic free-fall; he can’t find work due to damage done to his eyes, and he's broke again, a dangerous situation to be in with a baby on the way and expectations for high hospital bills. When he can’t think of any other option, Steve heads off to pawn his last pistol, a fine Luger, to a bartender friend. On the way, he narrowly saves the life of stranger Ralph Angers from an oncoming bus. Soon, he wishes he hadn’t: Ralph somehow gets a hold of the Luger, drills the bar ...more
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not exactly an in-depth study of mental illness but it's not just another serial killer story either. I think it tries to say that we sometimes need a bit of a shock therapy in order to appreciate the things we have. Steve is an invalid, he's jobless with his house under two mortgages but once he gets on this insane journey into darkness with Angers, all he can think of is his wife delivering their baby. Nice.

More here (review includes spoilers!):
Gil Brewer should be better known than he is. This book is a masterpiece
from cover to cover. It is up there with the best of Jim Thompson's
work. The descriptions of the people, the places, and the moods are
crazy good. This is noir as it was meant to be. A man is down on his
luck, way down. His wife, Ruby, is at least nine months ready and he
hasn't found a lick of work in six months or more. Selling the last of
his gun collection ought to pay a few bills. So he goes to his favorite
Charles  van Buren
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book noir, January 4, 2016

This review is from: A Killer is Loose (Prologue Crime) (Kindle Edition)

Well written in a terse direct style with a suspenseful plot about a man caught up in a madman's nightmare. I found the ending a little weak with the victim seemingly afflicted with a touch of what we now know as Stockholm Syndrome.
Jul 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Killer Is Loose (1954)

Some book dealer with a vested interest in selling the book (Yes, it worked) said that if you read one Gil Brewer novel, this is the one to read. Steve, a broke guy whose wife Ruby is about to give birth, takes his Luger to collect $270 from a guy who owes him for working on his boat. He chickens out on shooting the guy, though he does break his nose, and then goes to a bar where a guy named Ralph, who is a homicidal maniac who wants to build a hospital, takes possessio
Aug 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a rampaging psychopath is saved by the novel's main character and is subsequently led through a rampaging murder spree in the city (along with the doctor's other forced companion, a former strip-dancer), while his wife is rushed to the hospital to give birth to their first child. A good friend swears by this, and I have to say it is quite good, but as the middle of the novel came about the characters' wandering and repetition of basic premises stalled the "thrill" side of the psychopath's rampag ...more
Karin Montin
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No date. Bootleg? First pub. by Fawcett mentioned). I loved this one. My first Brewer. Now I know what the fuss is all about. Narrator Steve Logan leaves his very pregnant wife at home and goes off to sell a revolver to a bartender of his aquaintance. A guy in the bar, Ralph Angers (great name), grabs the gun and abducts Steve, taking him on a psychotic quest. All Steve wants is to get to his wife and baby in the hospital, but the killer has other plans, involving another hospital. A very grippi ...more
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great Gil Brewer novel all the way through. The twist in this story comes right at the beginning, as when lead character Steve Logan, desperate and broke and with his wife expecting a child at any time, storms out seeking to reclaim money he feels owed to him - right away you know that there is going to be trouble. But the trouble Steve finds himself in nothing near what you expect. The novel takes this twist of a beginning and carries it through to it's ultimate conclusion; a classic Brewer tal ...more
Like other Brewer novels, the timeline of this one is less than 24 hours. But unlike other, better novels of his, there is no femme fatale, which is kind of a Brewer hallmark.

I think it's good Brewer, but not great Brewer.
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Florida writer Gil Brewer (1922-1983) was the author of dozens of wonderfully sleazy sex/crime adventure novels of the 1950's and 60's, including Backwoods Teaser and Nude on Thin Ice; some of them starring private eye Lee Baron (Wild) or the brothers Sam and Tate Morgan (The Bitch) . Gil Brewer, who had not previously published any novels, began to write for Gold Medal Paperbacks in 1950-51. Brew ...more
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“His voice went flat. “They criticized me,” he said. “The criticized me for the way I went about things, my dreams.” His voice became like still water, like a nest of sleeping snakes, and you could feel the mad wrath contained within that voice. “They always criticized me, even when I did big things. I’m doing a big thing now. They won’t criticize me. If they do, I’ll kill them. Ignorance. There’s no room for it in my plans. No room.” 2 likes
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