Mad for Kicks by Jack Lynn (Novel Books Special, 1960)
This is dubbed a “Novel Books Special” and is one of a number of Lynn;s Tokey Wedge private eye books. Not sure which one is the first but doesn’t seem you need to start with the first, although there are references to characters and incidents from other books.
Wedge is not your typical tall, dark and handsome gumshoe. Wedge describes himself as
five-six and one half [tall]. One hundred aned forty-seven pounds. A bundle of nerve and verve. Persuasive. Permissive. When it comes to girls, I love ’em. (p. 19)
The women he connects with often note that he’s “a little guy” or “short man.” On the cover of Tall and Torrid, we get an idea of what he looks like:
Like the typical 1960s shamus, he gets laid often, he’s tough as rawhide, and he kills the bad guys when necessary. Which has given him somewhat a rep — in Mad for Kicks, a man offers Wedge $5,000 to track down the man men who kidnapped nd raped his daughter, and wants Wedge to kill them. He’s heard Wedge kills but Wedge tells him he’s not a hired gun, and has only killed ijn self-defense. Wedge takes the five grand to track the men down, but says he will turn them into the cops. Wedge’s relationship with the local cops is shaky.
Novel Books’ usual hyperbole to make the book seem more than it cam be is employed with this blurb from Men’s Digest (which was owned by Camerarts, that owned Novel):
MAD FOR KICKS outdoes LADY CHATTERLY’S LOVER and any book that you care to name for that strong stuff that you men like. Not recommended for women and children. This NOVEL BOOK powerhouse will make you do a double-take every time you pass a beatnik.
What the book’s connection to Lady Chatterly’s Lover is unclear, as this is a private eye two-fisted tough guy yarn…
It’s not clear where the action is set, but seems to be the Bay Area, a good place for beatniks. Wedge is on the trail of two crazy mad beatniks, Frog and Chips, who seem to be the guys who kidnapped the woman and violently raped her dor days, leaving her to die. She’s married to the man whose responsible for Chips going to prison for five years; out, he wanted some revenge so took it out on the dude’s wife.
Despite his age and height, Tokey manages to wiggle his way into the beatnik community as he tracks down these mad for kicks criminals. The message from Tokey on the bad cover explains it all:
Guys, in all my thirty-three years, I never thought I’d find a caper to top the NYMPHO LODGE assignment or the TORRID TWINS job. But man, this MAD FOR KICKS gang was the most — of the least. I had to play the beatnik to get into the group and find out who was running the show. That was okay. I could even stomach making love to masochistic Janice, who thought sex was sadism. And I didn’t flinch when they told me to knock off a couple of syndicate hoods to prove my loyalty. But when orders came down to rape the Police Commissioner’s daughter — well, what would you do, man?
The Mad for Kicks Gang started in college, within the Phi Beta Kappa frat house, now working in the outside world on their own or with syndiacte types. They have an assortment of mad for kicks girls, women, lesbians and transexuals around them, like pain-lusty Janice. Indeed, Janice likes it rough as Tokey indicates…
She turned then. Violently. And dropped a fist hard against the side of my head. It felt like a peanut bomb but the yelp that came out of me sent her recoiling. I got her by one arm and jerked her across the width of the bed. Then I went to work on her face — slapping her silly, but careful not to draw blood. Her head snapped back and forth three time before she came up after me. And I’d be a liar if I said she didn’t surprise me. Her fingers were surprisingly strong as she pinched my neck cords and the momentum of her body carried me backwards. He sprawled on top of me and dug her teeth deeper into my shoulder. I felt blood spurt.
And then she was hissing, “Pinch me! Goddamn you — you little bastard! Pinch me…”
I did. I twisted her skin cruelly with my my fingertips. And it was a revelation. She shuddered all over, groaned low in her throat like a starved animal… (p.50)
After he does a couple of jobs for the Mad for Kikcks Gang, he is then told that he has to be in on the rape of the Commissioner’s daughter and has to think of a way out…but he also has to get Chips and Frog to the cops and avoid one of the gang who keeps saying, “Who do you remind me of?” before the guy can recall who he really is: Tokey Edge, priavte eye.
A fun read. Some plot and logic issues, but I’d read more Tokey Wedge capers and Jack Lynn novels…