David Wilson told me that when he and Lynne Munroe were seeking out Harry Whittington’s “Missing 38,” that Sin Hellion by Dan Eliot was on the list of contenders.
Robert Silverberg has stated on his Yahoo Fan Group that, aside from one book he had ghosted because he couldn’t meet a deadline, that no one else but himself ever wrote under the Don Elliott/Dan Eliot byline.
Dan Eliot was a slight change that William Hamling employed for a period in 1963, probably for reasons over a legal case of censorship and obscenity (Andrew Shaw was Andrew Shole, John Dexter John Baxter, Alan Marshall was Alan Marsh, etc).
It’s easy to see why one might believe Sin Hellion is a Lost Whittington — it’s about a half-crazed woman seeking revenge, and her name is Lora (Whittington’s heroines are often Nora, Cora, Dora, etc.) The “hero” is a bartender named Harry, and Whittington often used “Harry” in pen-named books., as a pointer to himself. The tone is gritty helplessness and loneliness a la Whittington noir.
Harry Donalds is a loner, a lowly bartender, closing in on middle age, getting by on $79.50 a week in New York. Opening chapter, a gorgeous young woman wanders into the bar, named Lora, with the intent of drinking herself into oblivion with her last $5.
Both concerned and on the prowl for pussy, Harry talks her into going out for a bite to eat so she can tell him her woes and cry on his shoulder. She’s grateful for the kindness. She tells him that she was the mistress of a rich stockbroker, Roy Brochard, who had promised her he’d divorce his plump wife ad marry her. But she gets dumped, with $5 left to her name…
She’s been walking all day in the Manhattan heat (shades of Thirst for Love come to play) and needs a shower. Can she use his? Sure. Ca she live with him until she gets back on her feet? Sure. Can she make love to him for this? Absolutely.
For the next week, Harry lives in bliss, as Lora stays home, cleans up the place, has dinner waiting after work, and keeps him company under the sheets. He can’t believe his good luck. All is well except for the lesbian, Carlotta, who lives a foor below and who has designs of the third way on Lora…
And he doesn’t like how Lora constantly talks about Roy and his money and their trips on his yacht and impromptu jaunts to Europe. How can he compete with such a man? What does she see in him and his $79.50 a week?
And then one day Harry comes home and sees a big hunting knife on the table. What the hell? Lora tells him she bought it to kill Roy, for what she did to him, and to stop him from ever hurting another girl — she spotted him coming out of his office and meeting a fresh blonde 2-year-old, and now she knows he goes from one girl to the other, romancing them, promising them the world, and dumping them when he gets bored.
She wants Harry to alibi her — she was at his bar the time of the murder, and she came home with him. But Harry refuses. He won;t get fried for accessory to homicide. He tells her to either forget her murder plot or leave.
But she comes back a few days later. She says she will not kill Roy, but she does. He hears about it on the news. So now he has to alibi her, and he comes up with a good one that gets the suspicion off her.
Their next sex session gets violent. She says she’s been bad and needs to be punished. Angry with her, Harry goes overboard, slapping and punching and basically raping her, way beyond the spanking sessions they’ve engaged in. It’s quite the sado-masochistic scene; Harry worries he hurt her too much but she says she liked it…
She was begging for it. He could see the craving in her face […] He slapped her breasts until they were red all over. He slapped her in the face. He punched her in the stomach, hard, half burying his fist. She doubled up, gagging and retching, and he spun her around while she huddled, bringing his knees up for a swift kick at the base of he spine.
Donalds leaped at her.
“Yes lover!” she moaned, half in ecstasy and half in agony. “Yes! Yes!”
He hurt her.
He mauled her. (p. 149-50)
Not your feminist sex scene here…but the scene is vital to the changes in the characters, and explains Lora’s state of mind better. The rest of the sex scenes, however, all feel like padding, the required scene for the genre.
She wants to marry him as a reward. But…if she killed a man once, will she do it again? There’s a “shocker” surprise ending but I won’t spoil it…an ending that is Whittington-esque.
A fine little novel in the Trapped and Manhunt style.