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University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

The Vengeful Virgin

cover image By: Brewer, Gil (male)
Publisher: Fawcett Publications, Inc. (Crest Books 238)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 204: PS3503 .R44984 V45 1958
Contributor: K. Quinlivan


Era: 1950s Author as on Cover: Gil Brewer Geographic Locale: Florida's Gulf Coast (unspecified town) Date of Publication: 1958  |  Original Date: 1958 Setting: small town; middle-class neighborhood, modest apartment and a rural cabin in central Florida Motives: greed, money ("that much money was worth being scared about, and it was worth taking chances for")

Plot Summary

"She was young and lovely and evil as hell -- and I knew from the moment we met I would never get enough of her." That statement, found on the cover of the paperback original, captures the intensity of the relationship that exists from the very first page between Jack Ruxton, erstwhile television repairman and his beautiful but deranged customer, Miss Shirley Angela. Caring for her elderly stepfather, Victor Spondell, has severely curtailed Shirley's social life, and she is eager to bump off her stepfather in order to collect his sizeable fortune. Jack is quickly captivated by the ravishing Shirley, and together the two hatch a plot that involves doing away with the frail Victor once and for all, and splitting the proceeds of Shirley's inheritance. What they don't plan on is the nosy next-door neighbor who throws a wrench into their careful plans, and the sharp-eyed curiosity of Victor's doctor. Greed does battle with guilt and fear as Jack and Shirley attempt to pull off the perfect crime and try to make their escape, only to face off against each other and watch their dreams go up in smoke.

Major Characters

Jack Ruxton adult male, owner of a TV repair shop who dreams of one day striking it rich

Shirley Angela adolescent female, "she wasn't what you would call beautiful...just a red-haired girl with a lot of sock," 18 years old, cares for her stepfather

Victor Spondell elderly male, gray hair, long nose, heavy brows; an invalid who hasn't been "quite right mentally" for some time

Mayda Lamphier adult female, nosy neighbor whose husband is out of town

Grace adult female, "tall, blonde dish"; overly possessive divorce who has her sights set on Jack and won't take "no" for an answer

Doctor Miraglia adult male, early 40s, round face, black hair, eyeglasses, seemingly mild-mannered appearance, physician


knife, gun

Level of Violence

Mayda is stabbed to death; Victor is killed when his oxygen-supply tank is cut off, and one character is shot to death during a murder-suicide atempt.


plenty of graphic sex as Jack and Shirley engage in a physical relationship that is hot and heavy from the start. Jack openly admires Shirley's physical attributes and she is equally direct in her reaction: "I like to lie on my back with a man on top of me." The intensity of their sexual desire is described graphically throughout the novel.

Gender Roles

traditional; none of the major female characters has a job outside the home. Women rely for financial support on wage-earning males.


not a factor; all characters seem to be white and presumably of European-American descent

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

occasional drinking, sometimes as a means of relaxation, but primarily as a way to deal with the intense psychological pressure faced by the murderers. Shirley admits that she goes crazy if she drinks too much alcohol, and this proves true in the final climactic scene.

Law Enforcement

the police play a minor background role; no police officer or detective appears. Once on the trail of Jack and Shirley, the police broadcast a message that they are searching for "sex-crazed thieves and lustful murderers."

Added Features

Shirley to Jack: "I don't believe either of us have any illusions concerning morality." In Jack's store, he characterizes TV sets as "the one-eyed monster"; he also mentions hi-fi systems, short-wave receivers and phonographs, reflective of 1950s home entertainment technology.

Subject Headings

Florida/ Murder/ Crime and Criminals/ Elderly

Psychological Elements

Jack is depicted as someone who has had a tough childhood and has managed to overcome a great deal of adversity throughout his life. He is continually plagued by doubt and overwhelming feelings of guilt. He also suffers occasional bouts of paranoia, wondering whether or not he can really trust anyone other than himself. He admits: "So I was screwy, too. But Shirley Angela was the works."