The title character of this crime novel is a sociopathic femme fatale named Emmeline Corlson, whose sole mission in life is to take revenge on her tormentors—real and imagined.
Orphaned at age five, Emmeline is raised by a kindly aunt but grows into “a fat malicious monster” who never forgives adolescent insults by her ex-classmates and wallows in paranoid self-pity. After falling into alcoholism, glue-sniffing and violent homelessness, Emma is brutally raped. Then she’s magically (and incredibly) refashioned by a saintly doctor into a shapely, self-assured beauty.
Redemption? No. Not for a young woman who, according to author George Clarke, “has an evil worm in her mind.” Using her new sexual wiles, Emmeline blackmails a rich, married store manager, cruelly exposes the homosexuality of one childhood enemy’s husband and seduces a second one in a greasy repair garage. Our protagonist even lures her driving instructor into the back seat.
No surprise that the book ends with violence: a vicious knife fight and a double-drowning.
Writer Clarke has a taste for pulp fiction and the dim view of humanity that goes with it. His protagonist is a “slag” and a “slut,” his men a sorry collection of weaklings, lechers and peeping toms. But his work is only sometimes entertaining. Content with crude but not particularly graphic sex (“there was not one boy in their class who had not warmed his hands on her globes of ecstasy”), Clarke indulges the old-fashioned male fantasy of a conniving seductress in a tight red skirt twitching her butt at any man who will look. His writing is equally cliched (“She had bigger fish to fry and had no intentions of leaving any skeletons in the cupboard”). This often makes for dull reading, and the text is speckled with poor grammar, misspellings and lapses of continuity.
On the other hand, Emmeline‘s lurid basics have some mass appeal. With tweaking, they might make a good film noir.
Also available as an ebook.