His to Command by Max Collier (Midwood, 1964)
There is often an outer illusion to those who are rich, famous, both, or live in certain areas of cities — Beverly Hills, Upper West and East Side Manhattan, Martha’s Vinyard, a yacht in Ft. Lauderdale and so on.
Those who are poor, lower middle and even upper middle class may look at mansions and $80K cars and think, If only I had that, I’d be happy and all my problems would be gone.
I can attest for myself, having lived in a guest house of a Beverly Hills mansion of a young JAP’s parents, because they wanted me to marry said young JAP and covert to their faith, that the wealthy are not happy, have just as many issues as anyone else, if not more.
Even the movie “stars” I have met and befriended over the years tend to have more personal problems than your average invisible person — perhaps because they are in the public view, and they are expected to live up to the images they portray on the screens. (This is why I was not surprised to hear of Nicky Cage’s IRS troubles and his having to sell off things to pay the gov off — jis recklessness was apparent back when he was my neighbor in Beverly Hills, long long ago, when he was riding high on his notoriety in Valley Girl.)
His to Command tackles this topic — that what someone rich and famous projects to the public is not true in private. t’s a curious little novel from Max Collins, whoever he was/is. I was blown away by Mark of Man, here, and was disappointed with Say When…I’m somewhere in the middle with this one.
Stephen Sanford is a rich and successful lawyer who seems to have it all — except the use of his legs and a male heir to carry on the Sanford name. Kelly Lieder applies for a job as his private secretary at the top, getting it based on her looks and her ability to match wits with the outspoken lawyer.
Sanford mainly reps hoods and the mob, getting them off on technicalities or ensuring good plea bargains. When he goes to trial, he always wins. Kelly’s father was a fan of his, would go see his cases, so Kelly finds it “an honor,” or so she says, to work for the man.
She moves into Sanford’s stately estate, a mansion of many rooms and many dirty secrets. Living there are:
Marty, his legal researcher, once a bright lawyer disbarred for jury tampering, an alcoholic who feels Sanford keeps him around to feel superior because Marty is a failure.
Jan, Sanford’s daughter. She was three when her mother died on V Day, run over by drunken sailors celebrating the end of WW II. sanford diodn’t know for a month as he was on an isolated mop up mission on Okinawa, where he was hit by shrapnel and confined to a wheel chair. (A great aside story, I might add.)
Nancy, a young former stripper now Sanford’s wife. He has cut a deal with her: all she has to do is provide him a son and she will get everything she needs and wants.
Solly, the driver, who is sleeping with Nancy.
Kelly soon learns of all the dirty dealings living there. But she has her own plans: she feels she would make a better wife for the crippled lawyer. Nancy isn;t getting pregnant and Kelly knows the wife is gay, or bi-sexual, from the signals.
During one wild sexual night, Kelly has sex with Marty by the pool, goes to Jany’s room and has lesbian sex, then goes to Sanford’s room and has sex with him, the best way she can with a man without usable legs. It’s about the only graphic sex material in the book, making it a borderline sleaze Midwood.
The problem, for me, is that there is too much switching of points of view, making the story convoluted. It does have a curious ending, somewhat similar to a Joan Ellis book, cutting off in the middle of a conversation…