Little Tramp by Gil Brewer (Crest Book #173, 1957)
Bought this one at the Mission Hills Paperback event last March for $20 — I couldn’t pass on the great cover art.
Gary Dunn is a simple guy — a not-too-bright lug with some jail time behind him, who can’t hold down jobs for long, and who can have a temper when he gets out of control. He’s working at a lumber yard and things seem to be going okay so far; people like him and he’s planning on getting married to a swell gal named Dolores — “Doll” he calls her.
One day he helps out a damsel in distress — teenage Arlene Harper has a flat tire on the road and he changes it for her. She tries to give him a necklace in payment but he refuses. She suggests sex, he’s not interested. She does some checking on him and finds out he works at the lumber yard that her tycoon father, Mr. Frederick Harper, owns.
She requests his presence at her home and when he finds her there, he wants to leave. He knows she’s a teeny vixen and trouble. She complains that her rich father never gives her any money and proposes a plan where, with his help, they can extort money from daddy.
Daddy shows up and sees the two in what looks like a compromising position. Gary loses his job over it. He goes to a bar to get drunk and Arlene finds him there.
Next thing he knows he’s awake in some cabin, hungover, and Arlene is with him. She forces him to help in her plan — she has been kidnapped, and they will demand ransom money from Daddy Harper. If he doesn’t go along, she will accuse him of kidnapping and raping her and his life will go down the shithole.
It seems like an unlikely scheme to get money, but Arlene is a few fries short of a Happy Meal and doesn’t think straight. Does she really want/need money or does she just want to play games out of boredom, or mess with her father’s mind?
Of course, later we come to find out that her real issue with her father’s “love” for her is an incestuous nature — whether he’s having sex with his daughter or she thinks that is what he wants, by the possessive way he treats her, is in her mind.
Either way, she is sexually reckless, an often tell-tale sign of a teenage girl secretly sleeping with dad — a private eye shows up at the cabin, he’s been on Arlene’s tail for a while, keeping an eye on her shenanigans and cleaning up messes at her her father’s request. For instance, at the private school she attends, she was running an escort service of young female students; one got pregnant and the private eye helped the girl get an abortion and keep quiet about the prostitution on campus. The gumshoe has also “convinced” certain boys and men she beds to keep mum about Arlene’s loose nature.
This shamus is tired of doing this shitwork, and he knows of Arlene’s faux kidnap plan and has his own designs of taking the ransom money himself and retiring.
Fast-paced, absurd, weird, this is a good read, but not Brewer’s best. The cover, however, is worth the price of admission alone.