Sin Sultan – Andrew Shole aka Lawrence Block (leisure Book #605, 1963)

For a while in 1963, because of a legal case, William Hamling created a couple new imprints — Pillar and Leisure Books — and made slight alternations to the stable of names — Dan Eliot for Don Elliott, John Baxter for John Dexter, Alan Marsh for Allen Marshall, and Andrew Shole for Andrew Shaw.

A. Shole — funny.

This one is penned by Lawrence Block — his style at the time dominates, and it’s a crime novel about a bad cop and a good hooker.

The novel opens with a raid on a brothel, simply a political move for good press for the new district attorney in New York. For Detective Mannix of the vice squad, it’s a way to pick up bribe cash.  But the new D.A. and others in city hall are onto Mannix, wishing to clean up the police force, for Mannix is given the choice: resign quietly or be publicly humiliated and tossed into prison.

Mannix resigns.  But he has a new career in mind: as a pimp.  It’s all abt money for him, as a cop or not.  He even pimps out his estranged “wife” who is in a big hole with her bookie — she has little choice: she can work off her debt through Mannix as a hooker, or wind up six feet under from the bookie.  There’s one curious scene where she takes on three johns at the same time, and she discovers that she doesn’t mind this work after all.

This is a flawed novel, however; and I think Block didn’t write it alone — I detect some hints of Westlake or maybe Coons in there.  It starts off great, like a classic Block crime novel, then devolves into loosely-held-together scenes of the various women working for Mannix, flashbacks of their sexual history, and how they wound up in New York and eventually working the sex trade under the wingof a disgraced vice cop,.

A C-plus overall. Possibly written too quickly to meet a deadline.

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