Thursday, May 24, 2018

Eat Them Alive by Pierce Nace

Eat Them Alive
by Pierce Nace
1977 Manor Books

I can stop reading now.  We can all stop.  This is the book I didn't know I was looking for all this time, and now I never have to read again.

As a youngster in Brownsville, Texas, Dyke Mellis and his friends tortured, killed, and robbed a recluse of millions of dollars.  Dyke get caught trying to run off with all the loot and is tortured, castrated, and left for dead.

Eleven years later, living with natives in the jungles of Columbia, Mellis experiences an enormous earthquake which opens a crack under an island, releasing a horde of man-eating killer mantises.  He captures one, discovers a scent to make him unpalatable, and trains the insect to follow his commands.  He uses this mantis, called Slayer, to corral other mantises from the island for his plan of revenge.

After feeding a couple of entire tribes to the them, Mellis goes on the hunt for his four betrayers, who luckily have been living within a couple miles of him all this time.  He holds them at gunpoint while the mantises eat their families in front of them before turning Slayer on them.  Four times, each scene almost exactly the same.

In fact, almost every paragraph of this book is exactly the same.  The mantises rip off their victims clothes, tear into their torsos, scoop out the ropy guts, bash the skulls against rocks, eat the brains, and lick up the blood.  This happens easily a hundred times.  For variation, Slayer discovers he likes breast meat, so he slices off women's boobs, dangling them in his claws, before wolfing them down.

This book is a puzzler, and almost stands alone in the era.  There were some Paperback Nasties in England around that time, but nothing in America that I've seen even from the time that approaches this level of gore, sleaze, and sadism.  This may be the first book I've read where I was convinced the author was a serial killer.  Which makes the fact that it was written by an elderly woman from the panhandle that much more disturbing.

Possibly written by Evelyn Pierce Nace, possibly with the assist of Vance Holloway.  Evelyn was in her 60s at the time of writing and had a background in romance and true crime pulps.  I've seen references to her having written more than 50 novels, but have found none under that name.  More information on Trash City and Vault of Evil.

Paperback from AbeBooks, currently at house payment prices.

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