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The Vengeful Virgin

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  646 ratings  ·  86 reviews

What beautiful 18-year-old would want to spend her life taking care of an invalid? Not Shirley Angela. But that's the life she was trapped in - until she met Jack.

Now Shirley and Jack have a plan to put the old man out of his misery and walk away with a suitcase full of cash. But there's nothing like money to come be
Mass Market Paperback, Hard Case Crime #30, 220 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Hard Case Crime (first published 1958)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  646 ratings  ·  86 reviews

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Dan Schwent
Apr 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Well, she was a virgin at some point...

The story is straight out of the James M. Cain playbook. Jack Ruxton, a broke TV repairman, hooks up with a teenage temptress, Shirley Angela. Shirley and Jack plot to rid Shirley of her invalid stepfather and get her vast inheritance. Almost immediately, things get shot to hell...

The Vengeful Virgin is a thrill ride of conspiracy, murder, sex, and insanity. Gil Brewer's prose is similar to Lawrence Block's and the suspense and desperation is very well done
Feb 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
I knew I'd never get enough of her. She was straight out of hell.

A TV repairman knocks at the door of the house, only to have it answered by a hot, sexy young woman.

Cue the 70's porno music!

This one ran hot and cold for me. One minute I'm impressed by Brewer's spicy, suggestive dialogue - though the talk is about installing some new TVs it seems like they might have something else on their minds . . .

"I'll bring some stuff along. You can decide what you want."

"If we started anything tonight
She looked hot enough to catch fire, but too lazy to do anything but just lie there and smoke.
Whoa! Talk about having serious girl problems!!

A month ago I read another tight Gil Brewer pulp called The Red Scarf and got a kick out of it. But this awesomely-titled little gem rocked! Brewer takes a cue from the James M. Cain Holy Book of Noir, and weaves a tale of a TV sales-and-repairman whose business is less than stellar, and to top it off he has a psycho-stalker ex-girlfriend that w
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Feb 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020

“Him?” they’d say. “Oh, that was Jack Ruxton. Yeah, too bad. Used to run a TV and radio store. Yeah. Flipped his wig over a screwy teenage broad.”

I believe Gil Brewer was born a couple of decades too late. By the time he was ready to make a splash on the literary pulp trail, the territory was well mapped out and the paths well trodden by the likes of Chandler, Hammett, Cain and Woolrich. Brewer writes well, he makes the dialogues and the internal monologues snappy, his women are steamingly hot
Joe Valdez
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-suspense
As research for a novel I'm writing, I'm reading detective fiction and ripping off everything of value. After reading a cozy mystery with a "soft case" crime, I crossed the tracks and headed for the dark side of the town with a Hard Case Crime publication. This was my introduction to the fiction of Gil Brewer. I was lured in by the deadly cover art and had no real expectations. This car ride was about as wild or thrilling as a school zone with Johnny Law monitoring me. It wasn't a wreck and I di ...more
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pulp-fiction
According to Mickey Spillane "The first chapter sells the book; the last chapter sells the next book." The Vengeful Virgin is a pretty good example of this kind of writing. The book begins with Jack Ruxton, a lowlife TV repairman and Shirley Angela, an attractive 18 year old forced to take care of her cantankerous bed ridden stepfather, getting acquainted at a house by the sea. There is an immediate erotic epiphany for Jack and Shirley which leads them into a path of murder, greed, unfulfilled s ...more
Vengeful Virgin might at first glance appear to be just another Postman Rings Twice triangle of lust, passion, greed, and self- destruction. It's got the mean old man who won't die, the young sexy nympho who can't leave the old man, the money she stands to get when he goes six feet under, and the character who is seduced by the young woman and loses his mind over her. But: this is Gil Brewer's take on this seductive tale and it is red hot noir like you've never read before.

How good is Brewer's w
If this novel teaches us anything, it’s this: Virgins are Dangerous. Very Dangerous. Sure, the prospect of bedding a virgin sounds glamorous, but let’s face it: It’s not really the stupendously fantastic experience that it might appear to be on first glance. Unless you’re a suicide bomber with a severe mental illness and the prospect of a twenty year lifespan to be followed by a severe and violent death appeals to you and you’re under the rather misguided notion that the pearly white gates hold ...more
RJ from the LBC
Feb 19, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a very color-by-numbers crime novel from the pulp era by the nearly forgotten Brewer, who met with his own tragic end as a result of alcoholism and mental illness. There are titillating sex scenes, unbalanced immoral characters, and some sordid acts of violence stirred together with the expected racy prose. Other than the salacious cover on the Hard Crime reprint, there's nothing remarkable but just enough to please fans of the genre. ...more
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: God only knows
Recommended to Still by: I collect paperback originals by Gil Brewer

This was another re-read.
I read this for the first time back in 2013 but once again I couldn't remember a thing about it until the last 50 pages and then everything came back to me: how it would end and how the murders Brewer describes seem so ...screwy.

This novel is even tawdrier than one of James M. Cain's lesser sex for murder numbers.
More pages are devoted to describing the lead character screwing the female characters than are devoted to the murders that are eventually committed.

It gets q
Very gritty & well written for this type of novel, but the main characters were a bit too unreal for me, especially the girl. It was a good believable plot & everything got logically & wonderfully out of hand. Kind of depressing & I don't understand why it is titled the way it is. There wasn't a virgin to be found. ...more
Wow, reading the last two-thirds of this book is like being zapped with a cattle prod every twenty seconds! Brewer just piles on the complications and then completely inhabits his going-out-of-his-mind narrator. The whole sequence with the murders and the disposing of the body is just a frenzy; crocodiles snapping at bait. Postman seems tame compared to this intense Brewer classic of self-destructive greed and lust.
Sep 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: orgasmic
I'm tired of hearing how the likes of Gil Brewer, Day Keene, Harry Whittington etc are second-raters. So they lack the psychological depth of Ross Macdonald, or the sophisticated wit of Chandler, what the great pulp authors delivered, at their best, (and Vengeful Virgin is one of the best) is a mad unrelenting intensity, a jambalaya of sex, greed, guilt, and deeply flawed human beings who risk everythng for some wild fantasy. When it works, it's insanely entertaining.

The Vengeful Virgin starts
Jay Gertzman
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of noir
The way The Vengeful Virgin makes use of Double Indemnity and esp The Postman Always Rings Twice is obvious. But Brewer’s novel is still an original. Nothing could be more hair-raising that the growing entrapment in events. Jack’s laughter when he realizes there is no way out, despite all his and Shirley’s plans, is just like soldiers’ when they are racing toward a beachhead with bombs bursting over their heads. No choice, fate racing in.

It’s the laughter of hell. Jack’s recognition that he has
Feb 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
The tension in the second half of this book was superb and the feeling of doom was written so well.

A tight story with approx only 5 characters total but it worked a charm and was a short and sharp read.

Would serve as a perfect " in-between" read, if you are reading longer books, having said that I dont mean that in a negative way for this book.
Dec 16, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: guilty-pleasures
One of the hot'n'sweaty reprinted pulps in the Hard Case Crime series. You may wonder why the virgin of the title is called a virgin when she's doing it with a vengeance on the kitchen floor by about page 15---however, wait til the SHOCKING end and you'll see. I liked the hardboiled protagonist's voice. The book owes an obvious debt to THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE in its premise of a sex-susceptible dude helping a fatale whack her sugar daddy---BUT the pace clips along, and it's rather humorou ...more
Dec 30, 2013 added it
A perfect one-sitting read from the corner drugstore paperback spinner, THE VENGEFUL VIRGIN reads like James M. Cain injected with nicotine and sleaze. Boy meets Girl; Boy becomes infatuated with Girl; Girl convinces Boy to do some dirty work; and it all goes south from there. You can almost smell the sweat and gin on the pages. Brewer does a great job keeping the pages turning. I'll definitely be reading more Brewer--THE VENGEFUL VIRGIN is like the platonic ideal of post-war Noir. ...more
Oct 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This reprint from Hard Case Crime was first published in 1958. Gil Brewer captures the indvidual angst of a small time TV repairman in cahoots with an 18-year-old girl trying to fleece her step-father. You sweat blood with Jack Ruxton, and you have to keep an eye on Shirley Angela, the noir's one-of-a-kind femme fatale. Mr. Brewer at the top of his game. ...more
Kurt Reichenbaugh
May 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: noir
This is a terrific introduction to the works of one of the more "fevered" writers of Gold Medal originals. Next to John D. MacDonald, Gil Brewer is one of my favorites of that era. Brewer's books are singular in their pacing and suspense and Vengeful Virgin is a classic example. Hard Case Crime has chosen a good one here. Hopefully more of his work will find an audience. ...more
Kevin Jones
With a storyline as overheated as the condenser on which the entire plot rests, this was a solid, sordid pulp tale. Let it burn!
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
now and then I enjoy a good old hard-boiled, book or movie may it be. this is a classic straight from the 60s I reckon
Sep 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery
Gil Brewer’s The Vengeful Virgin was published in 1958 and, like so many of the titles from Hard Case Crime, has been out of print for years. It’s a reasonably entertaining if hardly startling piece of noir fiction.

Jack Ruxton is in his 40s and he’s always wanted to be a success. He’s tried various methods of achieving this goal, and now as a last resort he’s decided to try earning an honest living, as a TV repairman. He hasn’t entirely given up on the idea of easy money though.

He has built up
Rene Bard
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
For me, this 1958 crime novel is to the anfractuous-girl-with-money-wants-affair-with-me fantasy what PKD's A Scanner Darkly is to recreational drug use. The ending will scare the bejeebers out of you—in an intellectual don’t-challenge-the-gods kind of way—but you can't stop turning the pages. I haven’t read many books in this genre so I can’t tell you if it is superior in that way, but an underlying subtext of sincere regret and spurned grace enables us to sympathize with the protagonist and sa ...more
Mark Birchall
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books in the noir genre that I have read. Published in 1958 it is hellishly violent even by today's standards and it has really stood the test of time . The tale is all raw emotion which never dates. A simple story told with an effortless grace that reinforces the fact , and it is a fact , that some of these pulp writers were true wordsmiths who very rarely gain the fame and fortune their art deserves. You hear about Hammett and chandler all the time but this guy is every ...more
Daniel McTaggart
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you like stories of tough guys with tender souls, and tender dames with tough attitude, then Gil Brewer is the writer for you. He's one of my favorite hard boiled writers, living in that gutter space between Hammett and Chandler. He never fails to entertain. ...more
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Doom. You recognize Doom easily. It's a feeling and a taste, and it's black, and its very heavy. It comes down over your head, and wraps tentacles around you, and sinks long dirty fingernails into your heart. It has a stink like burning garbage. Doom."

This could be the thoughts of many protagonists in the noir-pulp fiction genre. The lead character in The Vengeful Virgin is one of those. Jack falls in lust with Shirley Angela. He falls in love with the prospect of getting his hands on her infir
Aug 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Personally I had never heard of Gil Brewer before I picked up 'The Vengeful Virgin'. To me, it was really just the next novel (#30) on my list of Hard Case Crime novels to read and therefore part of my quest to get through the complete collection of HCC's from start to finish.

Can I say that Charles Ardai has done it again? He (almost) flawlessly picks great pulp novels and (re)releases them again with a brilliant front cover that makes any vintage pulp lover drool.

The story is simple. TV repairm
Jan 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: noirboiled
The Vengeful Virgin is a good example of a type of artistically flawed noir that exists somewhere between Everyman noir and psycho noir. At the outset, such novels seem to be about ordinary folks--in this case, Shirley Angela, an eighteen-year-old giving twenty-four-hour hospice care to her rich stepfather, and Jack Ruxton, a TV and intercom salesman and installation man. But Shirley and Jack seem like Everyman and Everywoman for only a few pages until amour fou erupts and a murder plot is born, ...more
Nick Smith
Jan 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
This is part of my research, believe it or not, for my poetry thesis. Not that I wouldn't have read it anyway. I mean, come on. Look at that title.

So I've finished now, and while there are a few, er, gender complications due to the very nature of how pulps were written--let's face it, women never come off particularly well--it's still quite a ride. The way in which the rather idiotic plan starts to fall apart all around this dastardly duo manages to convey a good deal of suspense even though you
Adam Carter
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was the first Hard Case Crime book I read, and I have since read dozens more purely because this one was so good. Initially published in the 50s, it's a delightful read without trying to bog the reader down in too much psychology. It's sexy without being smutty and Brewer is certainly an author who knows that titillation is always more productive than stepping over the line into soft porn.

A wonderful title, a beautiful cover, and a good read. If only there were more Brewer books still in p
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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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“She looked hot enough to catch fire, but too lazy to do anything but just lie there and smoke.” 21 likes
“Doom. You recognize Doom easily. It's a feeling and a taste, and it's black, and it's very heavy. It comes down over your head, and wraps tentacles around you, and sinks long dirty fingernails into your heart. It has a stink of burning garbage.” 6 likes
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