cover image Without Mercy: Obsession and Murder Under the Influence

Without Mercy: Obsession and Murder Under the Influence

Gary Provost. Pocket Books, $17.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-671-66996-6

An account of two murders, this is also a penetrating look into the mind and heart of an alcoholic. According to Provost ( Across the Border ), Dee Casteel, a waitress at the International House of Pancakes in the Florida Redlands, drank as many as three bottles of Scotch a day. She fell in love with Allen Bryant, live-in lover of the restaurant's owner, Art Venecia, and Bryant used her to help arrange Venecia's murder. After it was carried out, Bryant became concerned that Venecia's 84-year-old mother would ``smell a rat''; the two hit men who had murdered the son were hired to eliminate her as well. Afraid that Bryant would kill her, Casteel dictated a confession to her daughter in the presence of a witness; soon afterward the case was cracked. The four collaborators are now awaiting execution. Provost has done a fine job of depicting an unlikely group of killers. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.)