The Sex Shuffle by Sheldon Lord (Lawrence Block) Softcover Library, 1964
An early Lawrence Block writing as Shedon Lord, later republished under his name by Hard Case Crime as Lucky at Cards.
Block would work on a novel and depending on where it was going, would determine the market…for instance, he started Mona for Nightstand, but figured it was good enough for Gold Medal…he started $20 Lust for Gold Medal but decided it was for Nightstand as Andrew Shaw. Ditto with books for Beacon/softcover as Sheldon Lord or for Midwood as Lord, Jill Emerson, or even Dr. Benjamin Morse for Monarch.
The Sex Shuffle doesn’t have enough sex for Nightstand, but enough nudity and sex for a Softcover Library sleazenoir. Told in the first person by Bill Maynard, “The Wizard,” a former stage magician turned card shill. He goes to Chicagio to get his teeth fixed after a bad betaing in New York, when some card players realized he was cheating. Playing a friendly game at a lawyer’s house in Chicago, he is entranced by the fat old attorney’s young, busty wife…and she knows what he is, having been a grifter herself.
They have an affair and, like these stories go, she wants him to kill her husband, she’ll get the money, they’ll be rich and together. Sound familar? Robert Carney’s Anything Goes, ames Cain’s The Postman and many other vintage noirs…Maynard has a better idea: to set the guy up for a murder of an imagianry person blackmailing him.
As with these noir tales, things turn against him in odd twists, but it does have a happy ending, oddly.
If you know Block’s work, this is obviously an early work, and has its plotting flaws. As a 1964 Sheldon Lord, it’s a nifty sleaze title.
Block has allowed some of his old pen name books to reprint: $20 Lust as Cinderalla Sims, Pads Are for Passion as Diet of Treacle, and Mona as Gifter’s Game…I will be talking about those later on.