Haven for the Damned – Ennis Willie (Merit Books, 1963)
Okay, back to the books…
Haven for the Damned starts off really good but slips into a common and cliched set-up about 1/3 of the way through.
Our hero, ex-hitman for the Syndicate Sand, is recovering from the latest attempt by the mob to ice him; he has been shot four times in the torso and somehow managed to survive. To gain time to recuperate, he heads to unknown lands, probably Europe, to a castle/hotel run by The Count: a place off-limits to the law and the Syndicate, where criminals and those on the run, or wanting to hide, can find refuge, as long as they can afford the high price for protection…it is indeed a haven for the damned…there Sand meets with Lena, who is hiding from her estranged husband who wants to have her committed to the loony bin and have control over her family wealth. She is also a highly sexually charged nympho…
…as are all the women Sand crosses paths with at the castle. This is a Merit adult novel, after all, a universe where all women are beautiful, sexy, horny and kinky.
There is a village outside the Count’s lair, where the Count finds young women to become part of his concubine: they are paid well, live in luxury, and are required to spend quality time in the Count’s bed…but the Count is an ugly little hunchback with curious sexual desires.
Sand notes one new girl, Gretchen, 18, gorgeous and not looking like she is pleased to have to please the Count…and then she winds up murdered with two swords poked into the her eyes and coming out of the back of her head.
Lena thinks she did it, as she has blackouts and does violent things when she blacks out…she does have some psychiatric and mental issues, which is how her husband can institutionalize her.
Then more young women are found murdered over the days and nights…Lena still thinks she is the killer but Sand has his doubts, he believes she is being set up; he sets out to solve this case. The real killer is too obvious in the end, making this “Sand shocker” not so shocking and entertaining as previous books.