Monday, April 17, 2017

Book Review: Progeny of the Adder

Book Review: 'Progeny of the Adder' by Leslie H. Whitten

4 / 5 Stars

'Progeny of the Adder' first was published in 1965. In a calculated effort to cash in on the interest in All Things Occult occasioned by the popularity of The Exorcist, Avon Books repackaged the novel for paperback release in February, 1975. The cover artist is uncredited. 

The novel is is set in Washington DC, in the early 1960s. As 'Adder' opens, it's a chilly night in March, and world-weary homicide detective Harry Picard has been called to Fletcher's Cove on the banks of the Potomac River. The corpse of a young woman has been pulled from the river, and her throat has been slashed. When the autopsy reveals that the victim was exsanguinated prior to her death, Picard suspects that a sex killer is on the loose in DC. 

Within a few weeks, the corpses of an additional two women who expired the same way are discovered, and the resultant publicity complicates the lives of Picard and the DC police force. 

When some witnesses describe a 'tall man clad in black', who may have abducted at least one of the victims, Picard's investigation leads him to the DC demimonde and its ecology of call girls and out-of-town businessmen looking for late-night, illicit thrills.

But as Harry Picard is about to discover, the tall man clad in black is not a businessman with a lust for sadism and murder........but someone much more dangerous........

'Progeny of the Adder' is an effective novel. While the first half of the book reads like a police procedural, with the reader left guessing as to whether the murders are the work of natural, or supernatural, actors, at its midpoint the novel suddenly shifts into a higher gear and becomes an unabashed horror novel, one with a memorable lead villain and scenes of violent action and mayhem that do not spare the 'good guys'.

While 'Progeny of the Adder' apparently was not the inspiration for the January, 1972 TV movie The Night Stalker, it shares with that movie the theme of the supernatural let loose in modern-day civilization. 

In some regards, 'Adder' is more likely the unacknowledged inspiration for the Count Yorga movies of the early 70s.

Copies of 'Progeny of the Adder' in good condition are expensive, but if you can find one for an affordable price, this novel is well worth picking up. 

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