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University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

Wild to Possess

cover image By: Brewer, Gil (male)
Publisher: Monarch Books, Inc. (107)
Place of Publication: Derby, Connecticut
Catalog #: Kelley Box 204: PS3503 .R44984 W555 1959
Contributor: D. DiLandro


Era: 1950s Author as on Cover: Gil Brewer Geographic Locale: Gulfville, Florida (fictional location) Date of Publication: 1959  |  Original Date: 1959 Setting: small town; a shabby, Southern town with a population of "thirty or forty thousand." Action centers at the protagonist's shop/home (a renovated gas station) and a more upscale but not elegant beachfront bungalow; some forays into a rather upscale neighborhood as well as the town proper, but most of the action occurs outside of mainstream city life. Motives: greed, kidnapping, blackmail, murder

Plot Summary

Lew Brookbank is on the lam, knowing he'll be suspected for the murder of his wife and her lover. Although he found them already dead aboard Deke Clarkson's boat, it was Lew who, drunk, started the boat toward the open sea, attempting to hide the circumstantial evidence that pointed to him. Employed as a sign painter in Gulfville, Florida, a drunken Lew overhears a murder plot. He tracks down the would-be killers, who are involved in a ransom plot with one of the players' wives. Lew re-kidnaps the wife just as Herbert Clarkson appears to threaten Lew with his brother's disappearance. Florence, the kidnapee, is murdered at Lew's by her husband, who has tracked them down; Herbert is killed by Lew's girlfriend, and Lew is forced to attempt to flee the country by the original kidnappers, whose escape by boat is ruined by the boys' fighting and the rather unfortunate fact that they are trying to sail, unnoticed, through a scheduled regatta. Lew prevails and after considering the really, really great sex he's had with his girlfriend, Rita, Lew ostensibly decides to settle down -- knowing that there would be a penalty for his involvement, but satisfied that it would all "equalize."

Major Characters

Lewis Brookbank "Lew" adult male, 40s, "tall, rangy, heavy-shouldered,"sign painter

Isobel Delarno adult female, mid-20s, large, brown eyes, dark blonde curls, very good looking, owner/employee of an antique store

Ralph Hagan adult male, mid-30s, wears glasses, hen-pecked, owner/employee at a shoe store

Florence Hagan adult female, 20s, ink-black hair, cream-colored skin, housewife

Rita (no surname) adult female, 20s, slim, tall, tan, brown hair, receptionist/secretary

Ida DeCroix adult middle-aged female, Florende Hagan's mother, very wealthy, mark for the Delarno/Hagan blackmail scheme

Janice Brookbank adult female, late 20s, Lew's dead wife, found by him in her lover's arms, shot through the head

Deke Clarkson adult male, 30s, wealthy, Janice Brookbank's lover, owned The Bayou Belle, on which his and Janice's bodies were discovered by Lew


guns, fists

Level of Violence

not a lot of violence is actually "seen" by the protagonist, but its after-effects are investigated at some length; fight scenes are described in regular narrativistic terms, i.e. the action of who does what is evenly described


the author doesn't hesitate to describe sex scenes, focusing primarily on the intensity of sexual acts rather than the machinations of the sex itself. Interestingly, Lew gains respect for Rita only after she is intensely sexual to him. The characters recognize the power of sex to form the strongest bonds, and women use sex as a weapon or as a means to something else.

Gender Roles

both men and women need to work to support themselves; most characters run and work in their own businesses (though none is really successful). The one thing that differentiates the sexes is the female's willingness to "use" sex and sexuality to get what they want. In a sense, women hold much of the power through the use of sex and Lew makes it clear that in some ways, men are always at the mercy of women's sexuality. Men here crave sex; women provide it, though generally for a price.


racial themes do not play a role; characters are all ostensibly of the same ethnic type.

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

only one reference to hard drugs: "Even heroin could be a real blast the first few times, until that strange, darkly bloody moment when all hell broke loose....," but alcohol plays a more important role. While the other characters will indulge in a drink occasionally, Lew is very often drunk. When alone in his home, he is almost always slugging it back. Descriptions of Lew's physical sickness due to alcohol are rather common, but although there is evidence of the damage alcoholism does, drinking (even to excess) is presented as a sort of comfort-of-the-damned in a rather what-the-hell type of way.

Law Enforcement

does not play a significant role in the plot. The police are assumed to be pursuing Lew and apprehend him at the novel's close, leading him away to face his inevitable "penalty" but are otherwise absent.

Subject Headings

Florida/ Kidnapping/ Murder/ Alcoholism

Psychological Elements

there is a great deal of underlying psychological pressure on the protagonist. Lew's actions are predicated in part by the guilt (or perhaps confusion or despair) that he feels over the degeneration of his relationship with Janice and his growing sense that he deserves something. There is a sense that we inevitably create our own prisons, entrapping ourselves through whatever actions we choose.