Pity Him Afterwards-Donald E.Westlake (1964)

donald e westlake-pity him afterwards

A murderous madman escapes from an asylum and goes undercover in a little theater group. It’s not long before he’s back to his old ways.

Robert Ellington kills a nurse while escaping from a maximum security asylum. He’s picked up while walking down the road by an actor. He has his portfolio complete with pictures and resume and shows them to Robert. Robert notices a slight resemblance.

The man is on his way to a small mountain town to appear at their little theater company. It’s the summer season  and they’ve been presenting plays for eleven years. The man is new to the troupe. Robert kills him and takes his pictures etc. He goes to a photographer and says he wants a similar picture of himself with the resume attached. The photographer does a rush drop for the promise of extra money. Robert kills him.

He kills two more people before getting to the small town and joining the group. Also arriving a day late is actor Mel Daniels. He’s only had a line here and a line there so this is an opportunity to get his Equity card. He gets there a day late and the director is his usual insulting self but the theater owner tries to keep things smooth.

Back at the asylum a doctor says he feels sorry for Robert but at the same time knows he has to be caught. He says Robert has a knack for imitating other patients and he thinks Robert is highly intelligent and must be studied.

Back at the theater Cissie Walker is a flirt. An innocent one that isn’t taken seriously….until Robert approaches her. Under his new identity he’s back to his old ways. After killing her he wrote “I’m Sorry” in soap on the bathroom mirror. Eric Sondgard, the local police chief, works there part time during the summer while on a break from his job as a college professor. The town usually only has one officer but during the summer they have four because it’s tourist season.

Eric tapes everyone of the troupe to try and get to the bottom of the crime. He’s reluctant to call in the nearby CID Captain. Maybe he should because things are really getting out of hand.

This is a good, suspenseful novel that doesn’t telegraph the ID of the madman among the troupe. This is obviously not the comedic Westlake. Like most of his work this is definitely worth picking up.

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About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
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