Archive for Idle Hour Books

Baby Face by J.X. Williams aka Harry Whittington (Idle Hour Books, 1965)

Posted in Harry Whittington, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , on December 3, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Another one of “the missing 38,” this is actually one of those “backwoods” tales Whittington liked to write (Cracker Girl, Backwoods Shack, Backwoods Hussy, Backwoods Tramp, Desire in the Dust,  etc).

Well, there are hillbillies and white trash backwoods types in Baby Face…it starts off with college life among the Ivy League upper crust, on a campus of a small elite college like Dartmouth or William and Mary. Lois is a sorority girl on a date with stud Mott and he wants some backseat action. She says she is not that kind of girl, maybe even a virgin, and he laughs and says he knows all about her…one fellow she bedded told Mott where she had a mole in an intimate place…and he knows about a tryst she had with an elderly professor…He blackmails her, says he will tell the school admins about the professor if she does not put out for him. Still she fights but he rapes her, three times he rapes her all night in the car, letting her go at dusk.

Two months later, she gets doctor confirmtion that she’s pregnant. She will be kicked out of the college and the sorority for such an immoral scandal. She tells Mott but he denies the baby could be his. She says she won’t get an abortion; she will simply go home and tell her parents the shame.

Driving home in the dark, it is raining hard. She is taking backroads. She is upset and driving fast.  She loses control of the car and slides off a hill, not caring if she dies.

She wakes up in a strange bed, bandaged up, and a hillbilly type guy staring at her. His name is Dan, an ex-Marine just off a tour in Vietnam. She was found by a family and brought to him because he has experience pathcing up the wounded from Vietnam.

Dan is crass, a hick, eyes her body, but she evntually warms up to him. He knows she is pregnant and he was afraid she would lose the baby.

After expericing backwoods white trash life, she returns home and reveals her shame, since she is showing. Her fokks are nit happily. Surprisingly, there are men who want to marry her: Mott, who changes his mind, and an old boyfriend of hers, who doesn’t seem to care she is carrying another man’s child. She says no to both, says no to her upper middle class life, and runs back to Dan to live a poor hick life and raise her baby in sin.

This was a fun read and seems like ol’ Harry Whittington had fun with it, probably mining material from old books I have not seen yet.  It is a rare find, this one, but  good find if you can find it. This is also a good contender for a reprint.

BAYOU SINNERS by J.X. Williams aka Earl Kemp (Idle Hour Book 401, 1964)

Posted in Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on March 26, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

J.X. Williams was the original pen name for John Jakes, and then later used as a house name by many, from Harry Whittington to George Smith and David Case.

And editor Earl Kemp…Kemp, when not running the Cornith/Greenleaf imprints, wrote a few titles himself, such as this one (with its nifty Robert Bonfils cover)  and Seance Sinners (which we have yet to find).

Editors as writers is always tricky — are they as good behind the typewriter as they are with the red pen?  There are some former editors who have proven themselves good writers: E.L. Doctorow (used to edit Dial Press), Gordon Lish (Knopf). Harlan Ellison (Nightstand/Rogue/Regency) come to mind…

Kemp is cocky about his role in paperback sleaze and First Amendment cases.

So is this just as good as any Silverberg, Block, Westlake, Knoles, James? No, but it is a good read with a swampy, hot atmosphere. The back cover copy:

SWAMP OF SHAME! Harold Weyman, an ambitious young executive, is assigned an almost impossible task . . . he has to locate Reginald Carminada, the fabulously wealthy sugar heir who has been missing for some time. His new assignment tears him from the arms of Margo, his fiery redhead who likes to sunbathe in the nude [obviously the cover's inspiration] . . . and tosses him headlong into a world of wild improbability. First he encounters the sinister Hache, the serpentine wanton who cavorts through degradation with Harold in the seclusion of a motel room. Then the lovely young blonde, Rosiemae . . . whose innocence is rapidly sacrificed before the altar of shame, while her pets, the beasts of the swamp, shout their guttural encouragements. Finally, Harold finds himself caught by the swirl of the most ribald voodoo ritual that ever degraded the bayou as the fires of hell flicker toward the gloating moon and the tortures pierce the night like the cruel snap of a whip or the hiss of a devil snake . . .

Harold’s journey from New Orleans to the swampy southern marshlands, where people have old ‘gators for pets, his search for the missing millionaire, is an obvious nod toward Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, a decade before Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (and Robert Parker did one with his Spencer novels). His journey down the river with Roisemae reflects Marlowe’s journey through the heart of the African Congo, full of strange encounters along the way, like Old Cuddles, a grandpappy of alligators, that Rosiemae has known all her life — she knows Old Cuddles won’t eat her, he only likes to eat dogs.

Kemp, being a southern boy, writes his southern characters with flair and authenticity.

There are the sounds of distant drums (a funny nod to Block/Shaw) that bring him to a voodoo ritual where he finds the man. “Reginald Carminada, I prsume?” says Harold, a nod to Kipling.

Sex? There’s plenty of sex in Harold’s adventure into the Swamp of Shame, the Sin Swamp, among the Swamp Lusters,  with all the cautious language we expect from a Cornith — in fact, there is so much use of “Now! Now” and “faster! faster!” that it gives credence that Kemp added these things into the manuscripts of other writers, because they all seem to cookie-cutter.  Silbverberg has said something about Kemp writing in extra stuff to the books.

A fun read. If you come across a copy, get it.

An autograph from Kemp:


The Many Faces of John Dexter #4: Sharing Sharon by Harry Whittington (Idle Hour Books #402, 1965)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

A great sadistic-in-nature cover for this Harry Whittington-penned John Dexter,  one of the “The Missing 38″ Whittngton penned for Cornith/Greenleaf from 1964-67.

Lynn Munore describes this one as

James M. Cain country: Sharon seduces her young lover Steve into murdering Pete, her older, well-to-do husband. Steve does not need much convincing. Cain told this same story in masterpieces like THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE and DOUBLE INDEMNITY. SHARING SHARON is not a masterpiece. Not knowing just how to classify this genre, bookstores usually group Cain with the murder mysteries. But there is no mystery who killed the husband. We are in on it from the start and ride it out right to the end of the line.

Steve is a punk, arrested for robbing Pete’s grocery store by a tough cop named Frank Lock. Pete is a kind-hearted guy, who arranges a job at his store for Steve on probation. That’s where Steve meets Sharon. Sharon is all screwed up because she was molested as a young girl by kindly old Uncle Wilbur…

Indeed, the incest history Sharon has are pretty explicit for a book of this era;  by 1965 things were less stringent. “Molest” isn’t the correct term — for all the innocence feigned, we gradually learn that Sharon is a calculating, manipulative dame fatale; she makes men feel as if they are controlling her, when in fact she’s the puppet-master, using her sexuality to hoodwink them…

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