Ira Levin wrote what I would describe as quality schlock (Deathtrap, Rosemary’s Baby) Thrillers with an intriguing concept that didn’t outstay their welcome. His first novel, “A Kiss before Dying” (check!?) about a returned GI who is very very determined to marry one of the daughters of a very rich industrialist, is great fun and deeply creepy.
“The Boys from Brazil,” published in the mid 70s and instantly turned into a film, probably made him a packet too. From its bravura opening (aging men meet in Sao Paolo and are given instructions to kill 94 civil servants over the coming two years in the US, Canada, and various European countries through to the showdown in Pennsylvania between… well, it would be telling… the pace doesn’t let up, and Levin’s taut style and showy flashes are never less than fun.
Who’s he like? Well, Ed McBain, Ross Thomas and Donald Westlake all come to mind – people who never to my knowledge indulged in the bloated 400 to 600 page doorsteps that pass for thrillers nowadays. Get in, get the story told, get out. No bloatware. Something admirable in that…
Stephen King, according to the wikipedia article linked to above, said “”the Swiss watchmaker of suspense novels, he makes what the rest of us do look like cheap watchmakers in drugstores.”
I have inadvertantly deleted a paragraph I typed up from about page 70 (guess) of the book – The Nazi hunter Lieberman is meeting with a journalist from Reuters, and there’s a description of him representing all the guilt with him, being the poster child for making folks uncomfortable
If you like “your Nazis on the loose” stories, then you’ll also like
Marathon Man by William Goldman (also turned into a very effective movie)