Thursday, December 3, 2015

Lupe by Gene Thompson

by Gene Thompson
1977 Ballantine Books

Emily's husband David is cheating on her.  An eleven-year-old Mexican boy follows her around and keeps offering to have sex with her and get rid of the mistress.  They bang in a cemetery in a scene to dull to be creepy, the mistress dies from spontaneous combustion, and Emily is put on trial.

Yep, didn't see that coming.  This is a legal drama.  An overzealous prosecutor files murder charges "by supernatural means" and the judge, with all the dignity of a referee in a Francis the Talking Mule movie, allows it.

Lupe died before the cemetery shenanigans and only shows up just kind of standing around from afar.  The rest of the book is Emily being languid and neurotic, being framed for satanic evilness, being harassed by crowds, and the dumbest courtroom scenes since Drop Dead Diva.

The courtroom stuff has enough legalese to show that Thompson took it seriously enough to know better than to try to get away with it.  All of his evidence is kept secret (can't do that) and the prosecutor acts as his own expert witness throughout the trial, The only suspense in the whole book is waiting for the reveal of how the prosecutor knew how the mistress died and how he intended to prove it in court...

...which gets resolved by having the prosecutor and all of his evidence go up in flames.  Almost as if the author didn't know himself and had to write himself out of a corner.

So, it's 1977.  Can't decide if you want to rip off Rosemary's Baby or rip off the Exorcist?  How about a little of both?

Emily is a spastic, neurotic mix of Linda Blair and Mia Farrow, and the prosecutor (and author) can't decide if she's possessed or a witch herself.  There's a bunch of random fortean factoids from the three occult books Thompson checked out of the library that lead nowhere, but he opted to knock off the endings of both stories.

Emily gets an exorcism by her lawyer and is placed in Witness Protection by the FBI, as does every murder suspect that has their case dismissed.  She then gives birth to Lupe, which is not a spoiler because, c'mon.

Turns out the whole thing was a plot for her to be protected while giving birth to Lupe the demon.  Because the best way to protect a pregnant woman is to frame her for murder and have her attacked by angry mobs.

I kept expecting Thompson to nudge things just a little further and make this a satire on the legal system and mass hysteria - not that it would have helped, but at least it would have a reason for existing.

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