The Genuine Wanton – Jerry M. Goff, Jr. (Merit Books, 1964)
Apparently, this Goff book has “lifted” passages and plotlines from four Richard Prather novels: Kill the Clown, Shell Scott’s Seven Slaughters, Three’s a Shroud, and Dagger of Flesh…
Since I have not read them, I can’t pinpoint what Goff used. Seems he used a lot from Seven Slaughters for a number of books, since it’s a collection of stories.
The Genuine Wanton is told by Angus Cordi, a syndicate hitman. It’s pretty short, 128 pages of big type, so a 30,000-worder, episodic. Cordi is hired by gang boss Mancini — he gets $300 a week retainer, always ready for a job, which he will get a $5K bonus, 10K if he’s loaned out to another syndicate family.
His first kill: the ex-mistress of Mancini, whom Cordi has been seeing. Mancini wishes to test Cordi’s loyalty: will he murder th woman he has feelings for? She knew this would happen, and to help Cordi, she commits suicide in front of him.
Cordi develops an MO: get close to the wife or mistress of each target, romance the woman, and make it hurt the target twice, sometimes killing the woman as well.
Cordi is deeply cruel, strangely cold and hardboiled — much like an Ennis Willie killer perhaps…and how much like Shell Scott?
If I didn’t know what Goff was up to with stealing from Prather, I would say “wow!” to this cold, violent short novel; as is, original or whatnot, it’s still a cool book in the ultra-hardboiled fashion.
So who is the “genuine wanton” in the title, or is this another misleading Merit book? It may be either Cathy or Susan, two young ladies he escorts to a reefer madness swinger party that later proves to be his downfall. There’s enough sleaze to make this a sleaze book:
The brunette’s tongue lasted like bourbon and went like a piston in my mouth. I forgot about Cathy and Susan and the marijuana, and concentrated on the naked woman in my arms. (p. 111)
And enough killing to make it crime noir.