Drums of the Dark Gods
W. A. Ballinger | Paperback Library | 1967 | 159 pages
Following the gruesome murder of undercover agent Marie Sainte in Haiti, Scotland Yard detective James Dobbs calls in the services of private investigator Richard Quintain. Posing as a nightclub singer in Port-au-Prince, Marie was investigating the source of a powerful new hallucinogenic drug that instantly addicts users before she fell victim to a ritualistic killing. Inspector Dobbs suspects that Quintain’s deep knowledge of voodoo will be of vital importance in unraveling the case.
Quintain also has a secret weapon at his disposal, in the form of his young secretary Julie Wellsley. Beyond the superficial—and potentially sexually-harassing—pleasantries of their office banter (“Secretarial young ladies who cheek their bosses are liable to get themselves put across their bosses’ knees and have their bottoms spanked.”), Julie possesses latent psycho-kinetic powers. Unaware of her own abilities, her powers are only unlocked when Quintain places her under a hypnotic trance, and are enhanced by the psychic-amplifying nature of her virginity.
Shortly after their arrival in Haiti, an attempt is made on Julie’s life, confirming Quintain’s fears of a dark power behind Marie’s murder. A controlling telepathic force impels her to walk out of her hotel room shower, and almost off the balcony. After questioning Pierre Labouche, owner of the nightclub where Marie Sainte was working, Quintain and Julie are confronted by an even greater display of diabolical power. In the adjacent cemetery, they witness a ravaged figure rising from the grave, a zombie summoned by the call of voodoo.
The zombie passes them by in the cemetery, shuffling off to some other mysterious purpose. The zombies that rise in Drums of the Dark Gods play a mostly supporting role, cogs in the greater scheme of a villainous plan. Further investigation leads Quintain to the Reverend Julies Etienne, pastor of the Left Hand Path, who makes little attempt to disguise his role as an Adept of the voodoo gods of Haiti. Only Julie’s inherent power blocks Reverend Etienne’s direct attempt on their lives. Between the voodoo cult and a later encounter with the Haitian secret police, Quintain and Julie are immersed in an ever-deepening atmosphere of peril.
The ultimate villain alone possesses the ability to casually destroy Quintain, except for the surprise of Julie’s psychic powers. Quintain’s relationship with her could be argued as exploitative, since he directs her while she unknowingly slumbers in a trance-like state. An alternate story could hypothetically cast Quintain as a manipulative villain, with a different protagonist working to free Julie from his controlling influence; [Insert Protagonist Name Here] battles evil hypnotist Richard Quintain in a desperate struggle to liberate his childhood sweetheart Julie Wellsley from the Svengali-like hold that threatens her freedom, and ultimately her life.