Tech Forms Backdrop for Comic Thriller
by Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief
Twisty, riveting, page-turning murder mystery
by Patrick Keeffe, Wordsmith Communications
In Madison author’s novel, high-tech turns sexy — and deadly
Author pokes murderous fun at Las Vegas high-tech show
David Benjamin novel, Three’s a Crowd, features sexpots, murder plots… and an insider’s guide to Paris
The Weekly Screed, 25 September 2013
My paparazzo moment
by David Benjamin
Comments from Readers & Reviewers
(CHAPTER 3: Two of our protagonists, Rudy Garretson and Bud Hochuli have just spent an evening, and a lot of money, being entertained a a “gentlemen’s club and lounge” in North Las Vegas called the Tough Titty.)
… An hour or so later, having both visited the Tough Titty’s extensive men’s room to freshen up and unrumple their suits, Garretson and Hochuli staggered into the parking lot, each roughly five hundred dollars poorer. They were smoking $75 cigars.
“I had no idea,” said Hochuli.
“Whooee,” replied Garretson.
“Jeez, I was just thinkin’. That set me back a few bucks. You think that was worth it?”
“Fuckin’ A, it was.”
“Yeah, I guess so. Yeah. Boy, when both girls came over to me and each one put their tongue in my ears, boy…”
As they found their way back to their hotels, they continued, ineptly but happily, to try to express the ineffable.
Neither of the two Las Vegas excursionists would ever again see Krystal or Shalimar. But more than most of the women they had known in their lives, with the possible exception of their mothers, the two lapdancers altered for Garretson and Hochuli their perspective on life itself. Simply by doing their job without a hint of imagination or a flicker of enthusiasm, without even feigning orgasm, Krystal and Shalimar transformed the idea of sex — in the minds of Garretson and Hochuli — into a spiritual ceremony performed in slow-motion, requiring sacred music, murmured incantations, ritual gyrations beneath devotional lights, a whiff of incense and the mysterious transubstantiation of flesh and hocus-pocus into gibbering ecstasy.
Nothing like this had ever happened within their marriages. Neither Whitney Garretson nor Donna Hochuli had ever thought of dressing in a see-through pink negligee and crotchless panties, rouging her breasts, depilating her pubis, dabbing her pussy with Chanel No. 5, dancing and twirling, bending and spreading and displaying herself, talking filthy, licking and slurping, moaning and murmuring, and laboring like a sideshow bellydancer to please, tease, lubricate and titillate her same-old everyday husband. Neither husband, of course, had ever considered proposing such theatrics. Both wives had been normal — willing and loving — sex partners, at least for a few years. But Whitney Garretson was not the sort of woman who, even for fifty bucks and a pat on the ass, could feign passion so voracious and stupefying that she would surrender her dignity, dress up like a porn star and do the hoochy-koochy in a chilly bedroom before slipping between the covers and making love.
The same went for Donna Hochuli.
However, from this night forward, the wives of Rudy Garretson and Bud Hochuli were set against a new standard. Unknowingly, Whitney and Donna faced the remainder of their marriages compared not to Krystal and Shalimar — not exactly — but to a gauzy ideal of Krystal and Shalimar that existed only in the minds of their husbands…
Three’s A Crowd, a darkly comic thriller by David Benjamin, traces the murder of three wives by their spouses — who meet at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The three homicidal husbands, Rudy, Bud and Chip, hatch their plot in one of Sin City’s erotic fleshpots, the Tough Titty Lounge and carry them out, gruesomely, in the heart of Paris, Europe’s most exotic and beautiful city.
The story begins moments after each of these conventional, middle-class American men has murdered his wife in a different part of Paris. Rudy, Bud and Chip, rendezvous at the legendary café, La Coupole, to celebrate their liberation and re-live the thrill of homicide.
Rudy and Bud are first to arrive. While they await Chip’s return from the scene of his wife’s death, the narrative scrolls back in time, to unravel the history of this team killing.
When Rudy and Bud first talked drunkenly about murdering Whitney and Donna, they were just kidding around. But every January, when they reunited at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, their marriages seemed more all the more sterile and thought of murder seemed all the more appealing. Even before the arrival to their threesome of Chip, Rudy and Bud were getting deadly serious. The catalyst who turns impulse into action is Chip, the “eager beaver” who supplies the energy and practical wherewithal to turn the violent death of three unsuspecting wives from a pipe dream into a real-life capital crime.
But why do the three innocent wives, Whitney, Donna and Judy have to die? The killers’ motives unreel in flashbacks to several Las Vegas locales, including the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Tough Titty Lounge, a North Vegas “gentlemen’s club.” In annual pilgrimages to the Tough Titty, Rudy, Bud and Chip experience an almost religious epiphany. The ministrations of young ladies named Shalimar, Simba and Monique — among others — convince the three unfulfilled husbands that their marriages are loveless and sexually barren, and their wives… expendable. They come to understand, logically, that their only way out is murder.
Back in Paris in the present, Chip arrives at La Coupole hours late, frazzled and disheveled. He assures his co-conspirators that, yes, he has killed Judy. But there’s a complication that will require all three to return to the spot where he gunned her down. Before that, though, he devours a meal and coaxes his friends into recounting the lurid and grisly details of their crimes — each committed in one of Paris’ most historic and evocative locales.
Bud describes Donna’s death beneath the faux Greek temple atop the promontory in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Rudy spins a lurid depiction of Whitney’s gory murder among the gravestones and mausoleums in the Cemetery of Montparnasse.
As the story unfolds, the three murderers reveal that, the previous night, as a sort of sendoff for their doomed spouses, they had thrown a party. All three couples gathered for the first time — at a renowned Paris brasserie, Le Grand Colbert. As the festivities progress, the wives bond more closely than their husbands realize — and the plot thickens.
It thickens further the next night in a surprising climax when Rudy and Bud follow Chip to the banks of the Seine to help him dispose, once and for all, of Judy’s body.
In Three’s a Crowd, author David Benjamin reveals the murderers and their victims on page one. But suspense, in the form of Chip’s prolonged absence from the post-murder celebration, mounts. Shifting between past and present, the plot races along, driven by lively dialog among the three protagonists and by vivid glimpses of its two exotic locales, Paris and Las Vegas. As more and more details emerge about these three apparently perfect crimes, the astute reader senses that some revelation is still missing. Until the very end, the reader clings to that lingering suspicion and keeps peering between the lines for the answer to one nagging question.
Something must have gone wrong. But what?
Three’s a Crowd is currently available at
And Also CreateSpace. It‘s on sale at Mystery To Me and the University Book Store in Madison, Boswell Books and Mystery One in Milwaukee, Books & Company in Oconomowoc, and other quality booksellers.
Three’s a Crowd is the first release in a collaboration between Event Horizon Press and David Benjamin.
For more information on, or for contact with the author, please call or write: