The Many Faces of John Dexter #6: Passion Bride (Midnight Reader #415, 1961)

Not sure who wrote this Dexter, but I suspect that Lawrence Block penned part of it — the first few chapters seem to be his style; perhaps toss in some Westlake or Hal Dresner with other chapters.

It would be fitting if Block penned part of this book because Passion Bride, along with Crossroads to Lust to Lust Campus were deemed obscene in the court case People v. Sikora, 32 Ill. 2d 260, 267-268, 204 N. E. 2d 768, 772-773 (1965), and later footnoted in a 1977 Supreme Court Case, Ward v. Illinois, appealing a conviction for selling obscene materials.  Justice Brennan noted in footnote 3 of his dissent:

`Passion Bride’ by John Dexter described curricular and extracurricular sexual episodes that take place during a honeymoon on the French Riviera. The book describes masturbation; intercourse; a party between an old man and three prostitutes; attempted intercourse in a bath; lesbian foreplay; flagellation; rape ending in the death of the female from a broken back and intercourse ending in the broken back of the male participant. “`

Passion Bride tells a strange and surreal story that borders on early horror with a sense of the supernatural.  It opens with Mike and Tammy Hale, a young couple on their honeymoon on the French Riviera. Tammy is an innocent virgin, but once Mike shows her the ways of marital coitus, she becomes an insatiable hellcat; spent, Mike can give her no more and she screams at him to finish what he started. Mike gets freaked out and runs out of the room, the hotel, and into the French night of sin and shame.

First he has a sexual encounter with a beautiful “negress” who works for The Woman — an exotic wealthy and gorgeous lady by the name of Lorelei, who entrances men and women all around her, and does as she pleases, including murder.

Never in his most exotic dreams had he imagined a creature like this. Although Mike himself was tall, she towered over him,her gold hair cloujd-like on her nude shoulders.  He was driven wild as his eyes crept down the pristine ivory of her neck to those fantastic, gigantic firm breasts thrusting at him unsupported for all their hugeness… (pp. 106-7)

“Her name is Lorelei. No one knows where she comes from, who she really is. She’s rich, but not so rich that she doesn’t crave more […] It may sound unbelievable to you…that’s because the Riveria is a different world […] This is another universe. Ruled by the money of the few people who really run the world.” (pp. 143)

She is vampire-like, sucking the life and sex out of people, driving men mad and women to serve her.  Mike is of interest because he is an engineer on a secret U.S. governemnt project, and his knowledge can be sold. So there is some political intrigue here.  Yet the narrative tends to all apart with too many characters, maybe too many writers working on this book.

As Justice Brennan noted, there is plenty of kinky stuff going on — I pictured Brennan’s law clerks combing through this little Cornith and reporting back the offensive passages.

Not to fear — it does have a happy ending.

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