Blood on the Mink by Ray McKensie aka Robert Silverberg — Trapped Magazine (1962) and Hard Case Crime (2012)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on July 29, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

One of Hard Case Crime’s latest, post-Dorchester, is an old Silverberg crime short novel Blood on the Mink, originally published in 1962, in the last days of Trapped,  as Too Much Blood on the Mink by Ray McKensie.

Silverberg provides an afterword and notes that he had forgotten about this one until publisher Charles Ardai found it and wanted to reprint it. Silverberg had written the 45,000-word tale in 1959 originally for a crime pulp companion of Fantastic Universe, around a series character other writers would write about (but only RD did) a federal agent named Nick and his many undercover jobs. The magazine folded before publishing it and Silverberg dug it up when Trapped changed format in 1962 to feature a novel each issue and market it in paperback format. He was paid twice for the work — paid three times now with this reprint.

One must keep in mind that this is from a very young Silverberg so has a lot of flaws. It certainly is not the best of his earlier pulps, but not the worst either. Nick is undercover here for the Reasury Department, taking on the personality of a known Los Angeles-based counterfeiter to catch some funny money thugs in Philadelphia. Things get tricky when a thug who knows the real guy sees him and knows something is funny. Double-crosses, backstabbing, shootings and gangster dames wanting out mix into the story, sometimes to confusion and you are not sure what is going on,and what Nick’s real agenda is.

To round out the book, included are two short stories: “Dangerous Doll” and “One Night of Violence” both from Guilty.

I am wondering why the first Nick Undercover agent story, “Bridegrooms Scare Easy,” was not included.

The two tales are fun: “Dangerous Doll” is about a Syndicate delivery guy who transports plates for counterfeit money and how he is set-up;  and “One Night of Violence” is about an everyman traveling salesman who finds himself caught in the middle of a gang battle. They are in the vein of the Mark Ryan Illicit Affair and David Challon Campus Hellcat books from Bedstand.

A collection of Silverberg’s old crime tales, or the best of, seems to be in order next.

The Pain Lusters by Don Elliott aka Robert Silverberg (Idle Hour Books #492, 1966)

Posted in Loren Beauchamp, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags on July 14, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Well, I know, I have been away from updating this blog for quite a while; I will try to get back into the game. And getting back into it, let’s start with a nifty later Don Elliott/Silverberg, The Pain Lusters.

The set-up is similar to the Loren Beauchamp Another Night, Another Love (which I discussed almost three years ago here): an out-of-work actor in his late 20s, Nick, his TV and stage days slowing fading, needs money, and is approached by an old acting pal who recruits him for male prostitution: in Another, it is loving up rich older women at a resort; in The Pain Lusters, it is beating up rich older women with a taste for pain in an outskirts NYC mansion that caters to the wealthy and sexually weird.

Nick slowly gets into the job — he has to audition for the madame, of course (the girlfriend of his pal), and learn the finer points of BDSM (L.T. Woodward, Silverberg’s doctorly pen name, provides a sort of preface, taken from Sex Fiend)…the men and women of the pain mansion, we find, are not mere mindless, soulless whores, but people with lost dreams and future hopes, each in need of finding love as any human.

All seems to go well until one wealthy woman, Carolyn, comes to the mansion seeking to re-experience a rape she endured three years ago, when a burglar broke in while her husband was away and ravished her by force; she claims it is the only time in her life that she had multiple orgasms and felt alive (and as any real psychosexual researcher will tell you, there are these instances, fueled by the forced ravishings of romance novels). When Carolyn’s husband gets wind of his wife’s secret desires, he stakes out the mansion, gains entry, and causes all hell to break loose…

I was possibly looking for a connection to this book with Silverberg’s 1963 story, “The Pain Peddlers,” but there was none…in that SF story, people tune into pain TV with neuro-headsets to experience operations without anesthetic vicariously — the virtually feel the pain the patient goes through when opened up or having a limb cut off; this need for true pain revealing the numbness of existence that a future society (and perhaps now) falls into it.

Then again, maybe there is a connection here: the characters in this softcore title do indeed seek out pain to remind themselves they are real and alive; or in the case of the burglar-rapist re-enactment, to return to a memory of sexual heights that normal society would find deviant.

Silverber’s post-1964 Don Elliotts seem to lean toward S/M and the desire of pain, to give and receive (Black Market Shame, Sin Kill, Sin Warped) , something also noticed in his later 60s-early 70s SF: Thorns, for instance, about two people in great pain, which is pretty much a novelization of “Flies,” The Man in the Maze and The Second Trip

Kicks Books Brings Back Paul Merchant!

Posted in crime noir, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on June 10, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Been waiting for this one. Kicks Books reissues the 1959 book that Ellison used to deny, would never reprint, but now in his 11th hour on earth, he allows “a very young” collection of his then-racy stories published in men’s magazines like Knave, Rogue and Caper, and pulp crime rags like Manhunt and Guilty…the original Nightstand Books title was, of course, Sex Gang by Paul Merchant (he originally wanted to use D.S. Merchant, as in Dirty Sex), the third title from the series after Robert Silverberg’s Love Addict.

Pulling a Train is the new title (from a novella in the book), with an ironic twist on the cover: a woman with a blade hovering over a man.

I have not gotten a copy yet, but when I do, I will talk about it more. What is nifty is that Kicks will come out with a companion volume, Getting in the Wind, that will contain previously uncollected softcore sex and crime stories from the same era, written under a variety of pen names.

What is nifty is that Kicks also offers a limited box set and a perfume called Sex Gang. Great creative marketing there indeed…

Haven for the Damned – Ennis Willie (Merit Books, 1963)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on April 10, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Okay, back to the books…

Haven for the Damned starts off really good but slips into a common and cliched set-up about 1/3 of the way through.

Our hero, ex-hitman for the Syndicate Sand, is recovering from the latest attempt by the mob to ice him; he has been shot four times in the torso and somehow managed to survive. To gain time to recuperate, he heads to unknown lands, probably Europe, to a castle/hotel run by The Count: a place off-limits to the law and the Syndicate, where criminals and those on the run, or wanting to hide, can find refuge, as long as they can afford the high price for protection…it is indeed a haven for the damned…there Sand meets with Lena, who is hiding from her estranged husband who wants to have her committed to the loony bin and have control over her family wealth. She is also a highly sexually charged nympho…

…as are all the women Sand crosses paths with at the castle. This is a Merit adult novel, after all, a universe where all women are beautiful, sexy, horny and kinky.

There is a village outside the Count’s lair, where the Count finds young women to become part of his concubine: they are paid well, live in luxury, and are required to spend quality time in the Count’s bed…but the Count is an ugly little hunchback with curious sexual desires.

Sand notes one new girl, Gretchen, 18, gorgeous and not looking like she is pleased to have to please the Count…and then she winds up murdered with two swords poked into the her eyes and coming out of the back of her head.

Lena thinks she did it, as she has blackouts and does violent things when she blacks out…she does have some psychiatric and mental issues, which is how her husband can institutionalize her.

Then more young women are found murdered over the days and nights…Lena still thinks she is the killer but Sand has his doubts, he believes she is being set up; he sets out to solve this case. The real killer is too obvious in the end, making this “Sand shocker” not so shocking and entertaining as previous books.

Bad Boy – Jim Thompson (Lion Books, 1955)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on February 27, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Here is a case of the pulp writer slipping “something else” onto the book racks simply on name value. Bad Boy isn’t a novel but a series of interlinked autobiographical vignettes…today we would call it a collection of creative non-fiction or flash memoir. Thompson offers anecdotes about his childhood, his restless father who could never decide on what to be (lawyer, oil man, insurance agent, realtor, lender), his three-year stint as a bellboy, which led to looks like Now and on Earth and A Swell-Looking Babe; a stay in a sanitorium to dry out, leading to The Alcoholics; a bizarre encounter with a smiling but psychotic sheriff who told a young Thompson he could kill Thompson and no one would ever know or care, leading to The Killer Inside Me and Pop. 1240…tales of odd jobs and odd men in the Depression era; working as a junior and senior reporter; writing stetckes and stories and then novels; hunger, desperation, and so on.

According to the Thompson bio, Savage Art, he would later mine the chapters in this book and re-write them as stories and articles for magazines when he needed a few bucks.

A must-read for Thompson fans…if you are not into is work, you might not appreciate the memoir of it all.

Sweet Smell of Lust – Arnold Marmor (Intimate Books/Art Enterprises, 1962)

Posted in pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on February 4, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This one is from Art Enterprises, a shady Hollywood outfit that published some cheap little books under a variety of imprints, later investigated by the feds for money laundering and mob connections with a corpoate board made up of people who were dead or retirement homes and had no idea they were officers of some questionable southern California sleaze publisher.  (Apparently, Art Enterprises took over Midwood in the late 60s/70s in leiu of the debt Harry Shorten had incurred with mob types.)

Fittingly, this Marmor is set in Hollywood and has a similar feel to McCoy’s I Should Have Stayed Home: the petty rich and poor players of the movie industry, women using sex to get ahead, jealousies, games, strategies, art as commercial commodity.

This is a multi-character story and the problem, with Marmor’s short, snappy chapters, is you got lost in who is who, who is doing who, and what is going on.  But the basic story is: Nancy Pulver, a one-time famous 38 year old actress, is vying for the lead role in a ne film based on a bestseller, only the lead calls for a woman in her early 20s…Kitty is the young starlet up for the part, and she has been sleeping her way up the ladder…Gertie is the screenwriter and a die hard lesbian after any girl flesh in Hollywood…but before Kitty can get the part, she has to do a strip show at the director’s wild Hollywood party, plus sleep with Gertie…Kitty feels like a whore but she will do what it takes to get what she wants, but not if Nancy does something to destroy her.

There are other characters and other games, like taking down the studio head by framing his wife in a sex scandal, but the other storyline is the main meat.

Not bad, nothing great…another fun read…three of the chapters include sexy illustrations, something a little different.

Boudoir Treachery – Arnold Marmor (Merit Books, 1960)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on January 30, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

I sat down to enjoy another Marmor crime novel and from the first page, I thought, Why does this sound so familiar? Well, because Boudoir Treachery is the same novel as Torrid Wenches…or, it seems, Torrid Wenches is a re-titled reprint of Boudoir Treachery.  Although both books have 1960 copyright dates, Boudoir has a cover price of 35 cents and Torrid is 60 cents…so Torrid probably came out in 1963-4.

Camerarts was notorious for doing this with their Novel and Merit lines, re-issuing books 2, 3, sometimes 4 times with new titles, often only a year apart. Orrie Hitt hated this, because he knew his fans were buying what they thought was a new book from him, only to get a book published a year or two beforehand.

I think I only paid $7 for this one, so no big deal. The cover fits the storyline better than Torrid, although the latter is more enticing.

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