punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

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Sci-fi: Looking for an old book...

I am trying this one more time, in hopes that some new blood can help me out. I am looking for a book, but I don't remember the exact title, the author, or the publishing date. This makes it kind of hard! :) But every few years, I post this, in hopes someone on some mailing list knows the book title and author. Sorry for duplicates...

I read this book a lot as a kid, but lost my copy before I became a teen. It was a science fiction book, and I thought the name was "Deathworld," but that's apparently another series of titles by Harry Harrison. The hardback book cover was very dark, with abstract symbolic pictures on it, which suggests a printing date of around the mid-60s to mid-70s (when I started reading it), but who knows, could be as far back as the mid-50s.

The plot is this: some guy is on a planet, and gets accused of a murder. All he knows was that he was walking down the street, went unconscious, and when he woke up, he was on the site of a crime scene where someone was murdered. He was obviously framed. Because they can't quite exactly prove his guilt, he is sentenced to leave the planet within 24 hours, or risk life imprisonment. The only ship leaving the planet in 24 hours is a scientific vessel.

He manages to get on that vessel, and I don't recall if he got assigned, or stowed away. They go to a planet where everything is carnivorous: the animals, plants, and even the ground tries to eat you with sticky yellow sap traps which dissolves you like some flat hellish sundew. I recall one grisly line about how some creature got its head ripped off by a carnivorous tree, and still runs around headless, "too stupid to know it had died." Everything is eating everything else on this planet, it seems.

Not surprisingly, one by one, the scientific staff gets killed off by the flora or fauna. Something suspicious is going on. Much plot intrigue ensues. Then, it turns out that the real killer of that guy back on the planet is actually on this ship as one of the scientists. He gets killed in the end, as such stories usually go, in a grisly way.

I loved this book as a kid. It sounds gory, and some of it was, but it was more a murder mystery kind of a book, and one of the first books that got me to enjoy sci-fi. As I recall, it was in the adult fiction section (before our library had a sci-fi section), so it wasn't some "adventure junior novel" kind of thing. It had an "older sci-fi" flavor to the writing, circa 1950s-1960s.

Any good guesses?
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