Lust Demon by Don Elliott aka Robert Silverberg (Sundown Reader #376, 1966)

This s a novelized version of a short story in Illicit Affair by Mark Ryan. Common practice of the prolific writer: if you have no new ideas, expand an old short story.  So the story is basically Chapter One of Lust Demon.

Opens with a man named Carter driving from San Francisco to L.A. on the coast.  Half-way, he spots a naked woman sunning on the beach. He stops to talk to her.  Her name is Judy.  She’s gorgeous, built, athletic, blonde, tanned. She seems to be a free love type of the era and soon he has his clothes off and they’re fucking on the deserted beach…she suggests a swim. They go out, and she clamps her muscular legs around him and pulls him under the water, drowns him, and leaves his body to sink.

In the story, that’s all we get, a sorta cautionary tale about you never know what strangers will do, hinting at maybe the girl is some sort of demon siren out to get passing men. In the novel, we learn of her motivations: Judy simply hates all men, and she uses their own desires for her against them, and kills them.

She was raped at sixteen by her own brother, a haunting memory of incest.  She was raped two years later when she got drunk in a bar, still in despair about the disgust of the first rape, and a kindly middle aged man who helps her then rapes her, too.

In college, she decides to get revenge by making men fall in love with her and then breaking their hearts; making them grovel at her feet and crawl on their knees. Then she meets a man she actually falls in love with, thinks she will marry, and then he does the same to her: after three months, he kicks her out. He has his own revenge issues with women.

Several years later, she crosses paths with this man and invites him to her secluded cottage in the hills near the beach.  It’s a romantic night but she has revenge in her heart and kills him, and drags his body to the ocean.  The next two men she kills in the ocean. Carter was her fourth.

Thus far, the men have been reported missing or deemed suicides, but she wonders if the cops will ever get wise to what she is doing…

Everyone sees her as a quiet if kooky blonde hermit who makes pottery to sell to tourists.  Nearby in a cottage are two lesbians she sometimes has a threesome with.

One day a man is waiting at her door. She fears he might be a cop. He says his car broke down and needs to use a phone. This and that, he spends the night. The sex between them is rough and violent — he can match her moves, smacks her around, draws blood, and they both like it.  Without being too graphic, Silverberg deft handles the scene where Judy muses about biting his willywhacker off as she fellates him:

Abruptly, she brought her teeth into play. She kept her lips over them while she was caressing him, but now she pulled her lips back and let her sharp, white little teeth close in on him. Slowly, she brought her jaws together, a fraction of an inch at at a time. She knew that it must be painful for him. But he didn’t say a word, not even a murmur.

Judy took her mouth away from him. She looked up and saw him studying her with interest.

She said, “I’ve hot very strong jaws.  One good snap — whose the boss then?” (p. 150)

She hears a news item on the radio about a man on the run who murdered his wife and another man, and the description of the man fits her new lover, as well as the make of his car.  He admits he’s on the run. She tells him about her murders. She thinks she has found a kindred soul because she is not the lust demon — he is, the violent sex they had is nothing like she’s ever had, and everything she always secretly wanted.

This is the sort of psychological sexual horror that became popular in the 1980s. Silverberg, like Lawrence Block with his Shaw title, The Sadist, was ahead of the trend curve here.

It’s a good, swift read. Recommended, as most Silverberg Elliotts, Eliots, Beauchamps and Challons are.

Many of the latter books Silverberg wrote for Cornith in 1965-67 tend to be on the kinky, S/M and violent side, perhaps a foreshadow of the type of dark, sexual SF he produced a few years later.

A 1966 book — we are amazed whenever we read a book the same year we were born, thinking this little paperback was out there on the stands when we were just an infant sucking on our  mother’s teat.

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