Archive for October, 2010

Blackmailer by George Axelrod (Gold Medal, 1952)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on October 31, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

George Axelrod wrote The Seven Year Itch and adapted The Manchurian Candidate and Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the screen, and was often on TV talk shows in the 1950s.   Ed Gorman, on his blog, said he was the kind of writer many young writers aspired to be: hip and successful, because Axelrod also wrote a Gold Medal crime thriller, Blackmailer.

This is a nifty bug on the wall view of the publishing industry. The narrator, Dick, operates a mid-level two-man publishing house that mostly issues coffee table books and crossword puzzles, every now and then a novel that never gets noticed by the critics. This is why he is flabbergasted when a sexy dish of a 1950s dame comes to his office saying she has the last written manuscript for a novel by a famous author who committed suicide, and won the Novel Prize. She shows him the first page of the manuscript. Dick knows the author’s style of typing and writing notes, on yellow paper, because he once worked for this writer’s main publisher and had seen the manuscripts. He knows the writer’s handwriting — so this is either the real thing or a very good forgery.

The dame wants $50K for the rights. Why?  The book would go for a million at his regular publisher, and the public would buy hundreds of thousands of copies for this famous author’s unknown work.


The famous writer? Charles A., very Hemingway-esque wirh his five ex-wives, his bouts with alcohol, his love for fishing and big game in Africa, his various homes from key West to Paris, the Novel Prize, and the suicide…but wait!  This book was published in 1951 and it would be a decade before Hemingway would shoot himself — and Charles A. shoots himself “accidentally” while cleaning a rifle, but that’s a nice way to say suicide, and it’s what was said about Hemingway in 1961.  Eerie how Axelrod predicted this a decade early…

Dick says he will have to talk t6his over with his business partner and the dame says she needs an answer before close of business at 5 pm.

Then a letter from some power agent who handles top writers and actors in Nerw York arrives, offering the rights to the same manuscript! What the hell?  The dame shows up at his apartment, and she’s being chased by two thugs iun suits who beat him up and toss his apartment around, make him and the dame get naked and doing the full body cavity search…for wnat?

Then, at a party for this eccentric tycoon, the dame is murdered…and then his ex-girlfriend comes into the picture, a once struggling actress with a similar background as Marilyn Monroe and now a famous star…she and the tycoon and the power agent seem to have their hands in this last novel scheme, which turns out to be a hoax cultivated by a young author who used Charles A’s notes for the book and three unpublished stories, and a good mimicking of a certain style; the tycoon has already sold the film and serial rights and some foreign stuff, and instead of dealing with the usual publisher, he wants to use Dick’s small company as a front, giving them 10 percent, whereas the tycoon will cash in the bigger profit…

But more people want a piece of this action, and more people are killed, and maybe the famous author was also murdered by the people he swindled $150,000 into believing they were investing a novel that did not exist on paper, but as a dream in the old alcoholic writer’s delusional mind.

Like a Raymond Chandler yarn, there’s plenty of snappy dialogue and a series of odd events loosely strung together, leaving you confused at times about what the hell is going on and who is doing what…but it’s a damn fine and funny and fast read.

Hard Case Crime reprinted it in 2006.

Jungle Street by Don Elliott aka Robert Silverberg (Nightstand Books,1960; 1973)

Posted in crime noir, Don Elliott, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on October 22, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This is the third juvenile delinquent softcore Robert Silverberg published; the other two were in 1959, Streets of Sin as Mark Ryan and Gang Girl as Don Elliott. All three have similar plot lines: about teenage hoodlums moving to a new town and having to join a new gang, and then meeting their doom when their ambitions get too…ambitious.  In Streets of Sin, a young Brooklyn thug moves to Ohio and tries to muscle his way into being gang leader; in Gang Girl, a teenage girl moves to a new part of New York City and joins a gang as a deb, with her eye on the Prez and being Top Girl; in Jungle Street, Danny Flahetry has to prove himself in the new gang area to join the Golden Dragons: he headsup the robbery of a store, smashing a bottle on the head of the old store owner, putting him in a coma, later dying. Another initiation is similar to the initiation in Campus Sex Club: Danny has to get it up three times and have sex with three different girls in one hour.

His sister joins the gang too, and he watches, with an arousal that makes him feel odd, “Sis” strip for everyone, and have sex with the guys in the gang as spectator sport.

There’s a snobby 16-year-old girl in his apartment complex that he has a thing for but she won’t give him the time of say, so he rapes her in the basement laundry. she runs away, into the street, and gets hit by a truck and dies. Now Danny has two deaths on his hands…when he tries for a third,  attempting to kill the cop who is investigating him, things go to shit.

Jungle Street is the better of Silverberg’s juvie gang books; it goes beyond the point of genre literature as a page-turning crime novel, better than some of Hal Ellson’s tomes in the genre.  It also has a bit of Camus-esque existential noir to it, the story of a young criminal without a conscience, yet knows when karma comes to get him, he deserves it for his sins.

The 1973 Reed Nightstand reprint has the same cover art that the 1960 small paperback had.

Sexy Sleaze Version of A Farewell to Arms

Posted in pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags on October 11, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Libby Sin by Orrie Hitt (Chariot Books, CB1617, 1962)

Posted in lesbian pulp fiction, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on October 2, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

The titles ol’ Orrie did for Chariot Books (and later New Chariot Library when the outfit moved to Los Angeles) tended to be mediocre, manuscripts he probably was unable to sell to Beacon or Midwood…or they were revised versions of other books about hotel managers, nudie pic models, and tough guys.

Libby Sin is about a 22-year-old voluptuous stripper who acts like she loves men on stage, but loathes them off, preferring the sexual interest of women only.  This mostly has to do with her two bad experiences with men when she was younger: one a rape and one a broken heart.

But that could change with Harry Gordon, the owner of a club that’s hired her traveling act for a longer stay.  He’s a lonely, wealthy man whose wife contracted polio and is bedridden, almost comatose, having had two heart attacks.  He is too noble to have turned his wife away to a home or nothingness.  This touches Libby, and she thinks she could go straight with him, until the night she gives herself to him and he flips out, calling her a whore, a tramp, everything else for “seducing” a married man and being easy…

Now she knows why she prefers women…one is a new girl that Libby is training to be a stripper and sharing Libby’s motel room, then bed…although the girl is confused about the third sex…

Not one of Hitt’s best, but not his worst either. He does spend some quality prose time getting into the head and motivations of Libby.

One cool aspect of the Chariot Books is that they often included interior photos of models…