Archive for the crime noir Category

The Genuine Wanton by Jerry M. Goff, Jr. (Merit Books, 1963)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on January 6, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This is strange…apparently I read and wrote about this one almost two years ago in February, 2010. I do not recall either reading or blogging about it…and what I sid in that post I was going to say here. Is my memory going? Have I slipped into an alternate universe?

Very strange…I still like this Goff, though, plagazrized from Prather or not.

I Take What I Want by Hal Ellson (Midwood, 1958)

Posted in crime noir, Midwood Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on January 1, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

What Hal Ellson did best: juvenile criminal tales with a snappy style. Like many of his novels, this one is in first person and present tense, told by teenage Al, a hood, a punk, a crook, a gang member. Real life knocks on his door when he knocks up his girl and he needs to find the money to get it fixed. His girl wants him to go out and get a real job and stop being a gang bum.

There is plenty of violence and sex, murder and rape, bad cops and good girls gone bad in this one but it is not one of Ellson’s best, like Duke or Tomboy, probably why he sold it to new company, Midwood Books — the real early Midwoods of 1958 and 1959 were noy numbered and published in small digest size.

Why did every juvie gang book always have the same cover? — a frightened woman on the group looking up at some hood in leather jacket and holding a switch blade?

Carnal Rage by Jerry M. Goff, Jr. (Merit Books, 1962)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , on December 26, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

I have curiously intrigued by the books from Jerry M. Goff, Jr., since reading Thrill Crazy, Wanton Wench!, and others, and the scandal of the plagarism from Prather books. Carnal Rage has to be the best of them so far.

This short 30,000 word novel is narrated by an auto mechanic named Roscoe, a quite and quietly insane person who now and then gets an uncontrolable urge to rape and murder women.  His boss throws an engagement party for a fellow mechanic who is getting married to gorgeus Marcie who Roscoe thinks is too uppity with her good looks and strong perfume. After the party, he slips out of the apartment and spies on her, then follows her and rapes her in a park. It is a brutal and violent rape. Marcie is a virgin but she seems to turn passionate; she urges Roscoe to rape her hard and good, her face bloody…this is most likely Roscoe’s delusion. He leaves her near dead. Later, she is in the hosptal with broken bones and comatose.

He lives with Ann, a homely girl who is afraid she may lose him — she has followed him on three moves t different cites. In Cleveland and Pittsburgh, he raped and murdered, and afraid te cops might track him, he always moves and Ann follows. A mechanic can get work anywhere.

The cops question everyone who was at the party. Roscoe learns a stripper in a near by club has briefly seen him. Worried she might identify him, Roscoe tracks her down and rapes and kills her too.

His rambings are Thompson-esque, like The Killer Inside Me. Or maybe Gordon Lish’s Dear Mr. Capote. Roscoe does not believe there is anything wrong with him, and has no moral issues with his capitol crimes: he sees himself as a regular guy who has these crazy urges and needs now and then and he has to act on them as if it were natural.

Ann finds out the truth, but she stands by him. She offers herself::”If you need t rape someone, raoe me.” But he cannot. He loves her in his own weird way.

The wrap-up is hokey and illogical but this was still a guilty pleasure of a manic read.

Savage Night – Jim Thompson (Lion Books, 1954)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , on December 25, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

The narrator of this fine noir novel is Carl Bigelow, once known as Little Bigger, a notorious hit man for the mob who is five feet tall and perpetually looks like a kid. He has been hiding out in Arizona, running a gas station, having got a new set of teeth, contact lenses, and a new life…but he is suffering from a lung ailment that has him coughting up blood from time to time.

“The Man” has found him…The Man is a mysterious syndicate guy who one day is in the papers for indictments, beats them, and a month later he is seen in society pages yukking it up with the judges and politicians who were trying to convict him of this or that. We realize it is all for show, and it is all about money.

There is a fellow who is abut to tur state’s evidence because he cannot deal with jail, and Carl Littke Bigger has been found and hired t take the guy out. Carl cannot say no to the job, or The Man will just have him killed, just as The Man orders Carl to kill a mutual acquanitance to prove he still has a killer inside him.

The plot for murder is an intricate one: Carl moves to the snall town where the target lives, enrolls in the local teacher’s college as a cover, and rents a room in the house of te very target…there he seduces and plays emotional games with the target’s lonely ex-singer/stripper wife, and the crippled maid, Ruthie, who also goes to the college.

Ruthie needs crutches because ne of her legs, at the knee, did not fully form, and there at the knee isna tiny foot wth tiny toes. Carl witnesses this tiny foot when he ravishes Ruthie in his bedroom in one of the most perverse sex scenes to come out of noir fiction yet.

I could see Mickey Rooney in this part, c. 1960 or so…a small tough guy. How does this five foot fellow charm the ladies? They crave attention and he gives it to them — he is s charmer, and flatters them, and gets them to love him…the idea, he tells The Man, is to get the wife to actually help him murder the target, and he will patsy her and make it look like she did it alone.

Instead, he frames Ruthie, and then runs away with her…he runs because he knows The Man will take him out after he does the job, to insure no loose ends.

The local good ol’ boy sheriff suspects him, checks him out…and in a bold and swifty move, Carl frames himself by sending an anonymous note stating who he really is, the notorious Little Bigger, but shen it all comes up to look like b.s., it helps him in his plan.

But Carl is insane…he is dying from his ailment, he knows he will never get out of the grip of the mob, and he slowly goes nuts…he may even have fallen for Ruthie, the cripple girl he has knocked up and framed for murder.

The last 10 pages are bizarre…we are not sure what is reality and what are hallucinations…did he kill Ruthie and the baby in her or has she murdered him? Did she ever exist? Has this whole novel been the wild paranoid fantasies of a dying man?

An amazing read…evidence of Thompson’s brilliance as the, yes, Fyodor D. of crime spree. Existential, literate, and American all the way.

A Swell-Looking Babe by Jim Thompson (Lion Books, 1954; Black Lizard Books, 1987)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , on December 17, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

A third-person narrative, where Thompson normally wrote his best in first person, of young Dusty Rhodes, a bellhop in an “upscale” ($15 a night) hotel that never lets a single woman take a roon, because chnaces are she is a working girl, and young couples must show marriage certificates, and more importantly: employees are forbidden to spend some time in any guests rooms, especially the male employees with female guests. Dusty has had some propositions but thus far has ignored temptation, until one swell-looking babe from Dallas comes rolling into town and takes a room…her looks even make the night desk clerk forget that she is a single woman, and she gets the special rate of $10 a night.

His life basically sucks. He was going to college with an intent of becoming a doctor, but then his mom died, and his father lost his teaching job because he had signed a petition associated with an American Communist group. It is the early 1950s, there is the red scare and the black listing. His father’s health is bad and his mind is slipping. Dustyhad to quit college and get a job not take care of his dad, and pay the lawyer handling his dad’s lawsuit to get his job back.  Working the night shift at the Manton Hotel is better for him, the tips are better.

One of the residents is a former botegger and wise guy with underworld crime connections named Tug. He always has wise guys coming to visit him. Tug has taken a liking to the young bellhop Dusty.

One night the swell-looking babe calls up for stationary and Dusty brings itto her…he is met with her half-naked body and a lipstick smeared kiss…then she pushes him away and starts screaming…the furniture in her room is upturned…Tug comes to his rescue, tells him gthe broad is setting hm up and do’t worry, kid, ol’ Tug will take care of it.

Dusty can’t believe she has set him up for a lawsuit at the hotel; she will claim he tried to rape her; the hotel will pay her off to keep quiet. He has heard of such scams. But he has Tug onhis side, Tug and his boys have whisked Marcia away, but Tug wants Dusty to do soemthing for him: help him rob the hotel of the safe desposit boxes where some of the guests, in for the horse races, keep a lot of money, at least $200K all together…

Murders happen, doublecrosses, the babe from Dallas is in on it with Tug, they had set him up all along…and despite Dusty trying to do the right thing, nothing works out for him.

Like many Thompson novels, a noir read with a dark twist ending.

Always fun.

Swell-looking babes:

Las Vegas Lust by Dean Hudson aka Evan Hunter (Nightstand Books #1579, 1961)

Posted in crime noir, Lawrence Block, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Sheldon Lord, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on December 12, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This was the first of the twenty books that Evan Hunter did for William Hamling, and it is a nifty little gambling/crime book; in fact it reads, with it’s lack of the ususal sex scenes, like something Hunter may have written with Gold Medal or Dell or Avon in mind and could not sell, so he tacked on one detaled sex scene as the last chapter to make it fitting for Nightstand. That’s just a guess.

The protagonist is Mike McCloud, freshly sprung from the pen on a five year strecth for armed robbery. He grew up in a family of magicians and knows a lot of tricks. He hitch hikes to Vegas with nothing but the clothes on his back and $20 to his name. He walks into the Sunrise Hotel and heds to the craps table where, within hours, he turns twenty bucks into ten grand…he is using weighted dice palmed in his hand, a magician’s sleight of hand that not en the pit bosses know what he is doing. He then asks to see the owner, Frankie Harvard, and tells Harvard how he did a con to get the money, and asks for a job to catch hustlers. He gets the job.

The intricate details of gambling hustler tricks shows that Hunter knew some things here, reminding me of Lawrence Block’s/Shelon Lord’s The Sex Shuffle aka Lucky at Cards in certain ways that card game hustles were shown.

Lynn Munroe’s take on Las Vegas Lust should be noted:

McCloud is a laconic, flawed, tough gambling antihero, the kind of guy Paul Newman and Steve McQueen were playing in movies like The Hustler and The Cincinnati Kid. McCloud goes to work for the casinos, busting the con artists and grifters who breeze through the story. The sex scenes seem added on (they probably were), and one way you can tell Hudson’s heart isn’t in it is that all the different women are described in exactly the same words (every single one of them, we are told, has “long and dark” nipples). None of the “variety is the spice of life” smorgasbord of feminine types of the Clyde Allison books is at play here. Although the story eventually peters out into a thoroughly unbelievable ending with plot holes you could drive a fleet of trucks through, there is enough going on here to make us want to give Hudson another try. If, that is, you can believe a cutie Vegas lounge singer/gambling addict could be a virgin. Of course, our virile stud Mike McCloud will handle that at the climax.

True, the solution to McCloud’s big problem — the $53,000 gambling debt the virgin singer he is in love with racks up, a debt he takes on so she won’t have to become a hooker and fuck her way out of the jam — is a bit convoluted and strange, when with his skills he could easily do some tricky gambling and come up with the cash. The crazy solution is…well, unqiue.

The book is good enough for a revival, however; would make a fine Hard Case Crime title.

Sinville – Dean Hudson aka Evan Hunter – Nightstand, 1962

Posted in crime noir, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on December 9, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Evan Hunter (The Blackboard Jungle) was a wonderful paperback hack in his career and wrote under many pen names, mostly know  for Ed McBain. Few seem to know he penned 20 books for William Hamling as Dean Hudson. Thse Hudsons published after 1964 are not his.

Sinville is quite the find. I have had this one lying around for two years, not sure where I got it or how much I paid, but it is listing for $90 online.

This has Hunter’s tough, hardboiled style written all over it. The narrator is an interesting character: clean-cut, boyish-looking, wears a suit, carries an umbrella, Harvard educated, and a stone cold ruthless criminal and killer. He breezes into Sinville, part of Centre City, and quickly takes over the territory by shooting the neighborhood boss. Then he kills the area boss. He beds a few women, keeps on killing, keeps on moving up…meanwhile, he has to contend with a millionaire do-gooder out to clean up all the hooking, drug-selling and sundicate influence in Centre City. He is in for quite a surprise when he finds out who exactly runs the crime ring. This is pure Manhunt-style stuff.

The sex scenes are a different fair than the usual Nightstands, where an encounter is tossed in every other chapter. Hunter/Hudson devotes entire chapters to one sex act, going into sensual, almost poeic detail of every movement, kiss, and penetration. Nothing tedious, and gives the story a curious flow as other chapters have the guy shooting, cutting and strangling one person after the other.

This is the first Dean Hudson I have read and I will certainly be reading many more.

Four Women by Orrie Hitt (Beacon Books, 1960)

Posted in Beacon Books, crime noir, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on December 6, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Examined here.

Re-Visiting The Postman Always Rings Twice

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on December 5, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

The first time I read James Cain’s infamous first novel was summer 1988, I believe, and like many since 1934, I was mesmerized by the hard-boiled lean prose, the cold-hearted murderers, the masochistic rough sex, and the existentialism of the series of events.

Re-visiting the terse 28,000 word short novel, reading it in one sitting like I did 23 years ago, I see it in new light, I can see how much influence it had on, say, Harry Whittington and Orrie Hitt, and how Cain was most certainly influenced by Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms, and how most likely Camus was influenced by Cain when writing The Stranger.

Published in hardcover by Knopf in 1934, this classic of crime novels instantly made Cain rich and famous, with a gazillion paperback editions all over the globe and two fine film versions.

Many crime writers in the hardboiled vein can re-read Cain all their lives. I concur,

So, dear reader of this log, go re-read The Postman Always Rings Twice tonight, and tell me what you think and feel.

Gutter Girl by Andrew Shaw aka Lawrence Block (Bedstand Books, 1961)

Posted in Andrew Shaw, crime noir, Lawrence Block, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on December 1, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This one is defintely penned by the young Larry Block, one of the handful of titles from Nightstand’s stable when Hamling bought out Bedstand Books.

The premise of Gutter Girl is the same as many female juvenile delinquent books, such as Silverberg’s Gang Girl (now out in reprint from Stark House, by the way) but takes a few steps ahead with the graohic violence and sex: tough 15-year-old deb has to move to a new neighborhood and join a new gang, beds the President of the gang and becomes his main girl, then has delusions of taking over the gang. Rumbles, murders, cops…there is a gang rape of a 13 year old girl who is the sister of a Puerto Rican gang member where she is dismembered.  Our lustful heroine turns tricks for money, catches the eye of the local syndiacte guy and ex-President of the gang, moves in with him atr his upper East Side digs; and once he is bored with her, has her start doing tricks for fat ugly men connected to the mob, then is turned out as a high priced call girl at age 16.  Byt at least she has money, and she can take care of her nerdy little brother…there’s incest, but I won;t spoul the perverse fun of the gutter themes.

Quite a good one.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 72 other followers