Archive for December, 2011

Las Vegas Lust by Dean Hudson aka Evan Hunter (Nightstand Books #1579, 1961)

Posted in crime noir, Lawrence Block, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Sheldon Lord, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on December 12, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This was the first of the twenty books that Evan Hunter did for William Hamling, and it is a nifty little gambling/crime book; in fact it reads, with it’s lack of the ususal sex scenes, like something Hunter may have written with Gold Medal or Dell or Avon in mind and could not sell, so he tacked on one detaled sex scene as the last chapter to make it fitting for Nightstand. That’s just a guess.

The protagonist is Mike McCloud, freshly sprung from the pen on a five year strecth for armed robbery. He grew up in a family of magicians and knows a lot of tricks. He hitch hikes to Vegas with nothing but the clothes on his back and $20 to his name. He walks into the Sunrise Hotel and heds to the craps table where, within hours, he turns twenty bucks into ten grand…he is using weighted dice palmed in his hand, a magician’s sleight of hand that not en the pit bosses know what he is doing. He then asks to see the owner, Frankie Harvard, and tells Harvard how he did a con to get the money, and asks for a job to catch hustlers. He gets the job.

The intricate details of gambling hustler tricks shows that Hunter knew some things here, reminding me of Lawrence Block’s/Shelon Lord’s The Sex Shuffle aka Lucky at Cards in certain ways that card game hustles were shown.

Lynn Munroe’s take on Las Vegas Lust should be noted:

McCloud is a laconic, flawed, tough gambling antihero, the kind of guy Paul Newman and Steve McQueen were playing in movies like The Hustler and The Cincinnati Kid. McCloud goes to work for the casinos, busting the con artists and grifters who breeze through the story. The sex scenes seem added on (they probably were), and one way you can tell Hudson’s heart isn’t in it is that all the different women are described in exactly the same words (every single one of them, we are told, has “long and dark” nipples). None of the “variety is the spice of life” smorgasbord of feminine types of the Clyde Allison books is at play here. Although the story eventually peters out into a thoroughly unbelievable ending with plot holes you could drive a fleet of trucks through, there is enough going on here to make us want to give Hudson another try. If, that is, you can believe a cutie Vegas lounge singer/gambling addict could be a virgin. Of course, our virile stud Mike McCloud will handle that at the climax.

True, the solution to McCloud’s big problem — the $53,000 gambling debt the virgin singer he is in love with racks up, a debt he takes on so she won’t have to become a hooker and fuck her way out of the jam — is a bit convoluted and strange, when with his skills he could easily do some tricky gambling and come up with the cash. The crazy solution is…well, unqiue.

The book is good enough for a revival, however; would make a fine Hard Case Crime title.

Pickup – Don Elliott aka Robert Silverberg (Sundown Reader, 1964)

Posted in Don Elliott, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on December 10, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

A nice crime noir from Silverberg toward the end of his stint with Greenleaf Cornith. This one is about a criminal, Jimmy, traveling across the U.S., going from one woman to another, robbng gas stations and stores for money. He is running away from a painful break-up; he was with Maureen, a woman he loved, for years, and one day he catches her in bed with another woman. He is a bit oif an old-fashioned prude, lesbians make him sick. Now he hurts women to get back at Maureen, or all of womankind, “you witches are all the same” — he makes women fall for him, then he leaves them heartbroken the way he was.

Until he meets a hooker in a hotel bar, Helena, and the table gets turned…right off she pegs him as a killer, especially when she finds his gun with the silencer. As the cover blurb states: “Passion threw him into a cesspool of sin!”

Well, a fun read, as always with the Don Elliotts.

 

Sinville – Dean Hudson aka Evan Hunter – Nightstand, 1962

Posted in crime noir, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on December 9, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Evan Hunter (The Blackboard Jungle) was a wonderful paperback hack in his career and wrote under many pen names, mostly know  for Ed McBain. Few seem to know he penned 20 books for William Hamling as Dean Hudson. Thse Hudsons published after 1964 are not his.

Sinville is quite the find. I have had this one lying around for two years, not sure where I got it or how much I paid, but it is listing for $90 online.

This has Hunter’s tough, hardboiled style written all over it. The narrator is an interesting character: clean-cut, boyish-looking, wears a suit, carries an umbrella, Harvard educated, and a stone cold ruthless criminal and killer. He breezes into Sinville, part of Centre City, and quickly takes over the territory by shooting the neighborhood boss. Then he kills the area boss. He beds a few women, keeps on killing, keeps on moving up…meanwhile, he has to contend with a millionaire do-gooder out to clean up all the hooking, drug-selling and sundicate influence in Centre City. He is in for quite a surprise when he finds out who exactly runs the crime ring. This is pure Manhunt-style stuff.

The sex scenes are a different fair than the usual Nightstands, where an encounter is tossed in every other chapter. Hunter/Hudson devotes entire chapters to one sex act, going into sensual, almost poeic detail of every movement, kiss, and penetration. Nothing tedious, and gives the story a curious flow as other chapters have the guy shooting, cutting and strangling one person after the other.

This is the first Dean Hudson I have read and I will certainly be reading many more.

Four Women by Orrie Hitt (Beacon Books, 1960)

Posted in Beacon Books, crime noir, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on December 6, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Examined here.

Re-Visiting The Postman Always Rings Twice

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on December 5, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

The first time I read James Cain’s infamous first novel was summer 1988, I believe, and like many since 1934, I was mesmerized by the hard-boiled lean prose, the cold-hearted murderers, the masochistic rough sex, and the existentialism of the series of events.

Re-visiting the terse 28,000 word short novel, reading it in one sitting like I did 23 years ago, I see it in new light, I can see how much influence it had on, say, Harry Whittington and Orrie Hitt, and how Cain was most certainly influenced by Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms, and how most likely Camus was influenced by Cain when writing The Stranger.

Published in hardcover by Knopf in 1934, this classic of crime novels instantly made Cain rich and famous, with a gazillion paperback editions all over the globe and two fine film versions.

Many crime writers in the hardboiled vein can re-read Cain all their lives. I concur,

So, dear reader of this log, go re-read The Postman Always Rings Twice tonight, and tell me what you think and feel.

Baby Face by J.X. Williams aka Harry Whittington (Idle Hour Books, 1965)

Posted in Harry Whittington, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , on December 3, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Another one of “the missing 38,” this is actually one of those “backwoods” tales Whittington liked to write (Cracker Girl, Backwoods Shack, Backwoods Hussy, Backwoods Tramp, Desire in the Dust,  etc).

Well, there are hillbillies and white trash backwoods types in Baby Face…it starts off with college life among the Ivy League upper crust, on a campus of a small elite college like Dartmouth or William and Mary. Lois is a sorority girl on a date with stud Mott and he wants some backseat action. She says she is not that kind of girl, maybe even a virgin, and he laughs and says he knows all about her…one fellow she bedded told Mott where she had a mole in an intimate place…and he knows about a tryst she had with an elderly professor…He blackmails her, says he will tell the school admins about the professor if she does not put out for him. Still she fights but he rapes her, three times he rapes her all night in the car, letting her go at dusk.

Two months later, she gets doctor confirmtion that she’s pregnant. She will be kicked out of the college and the sorority for such an immoral scandal. She tells Mott but he denies the baby could be his. She says she won’t get an abortion; she will simply go home and tell her parents the shame.

Driving home in the dark, it is raining hard. She is taking backroads. She is upset and driving fast.  She loses control of the car and slides off a hill, not caring if she dies.

She wakes up in a strange bed, bandaged up, and a hillbilly type guy staring at her. His name is Dan, an ex-Marine just off a tour in Vietnam. She was found by a family and brought to him because he has experience pathcing up the wounded from Vietnam.

Dan is crass, a hick, eyes her body, but she evntually warms up to him. He knows she is pregnant and he was afraid she would lose the baby.

After expericing backwoods white trash life, she returns home and reveals her shame, since she is showing. Her fokks are nit happily. Surprisingly, there are men who want to marry her: Mott, who changes his mind, and an old boyfriend of hers, who doesn’t seem to care she is carrying another man’s child. She says no to both, says no to her upper middle class life, and runs back to Dan to live a poor hick life and raise her baby in sin.

This was a fun read and seems like ol’ Harry Whittington had fun with it, probably mining material from old books I have not seen yet.  It is a rare find, this one, but  good find if you can find it. This is also a good contender for a reprint.

Gutter Girl by Andrew Shaw aka Lawrence Block (Bedstand Books, 1961)

Posted in Andrew Shaw, crime noir, Lawrence Block, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on December 1, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This one is defintely penned by the young Larry Block, one of the handful of titles from Nightstand’s stable when Hamling bought out Bedstand Books.

The premise of Gutter Girl is the same as many female juvenile delinquent books, such as Silverberg’s Gang Girl (now out in reprint from Stark House, by the way) but takes a few steps ahead with the graohic violence and sex: tough 15-year-old deb has to move to a new neighborhood and join a new gang, beds the President of the gang and becomes his main girl, then has delusions of taking over the gang. Rumbles, murders, cops…there is a gang rape of a 13 year old girl who is the sister of a Puerto Rican gang member where she is dismembered.  Our lustful heroine turns tricks for money, catches the eye of the local syndiacte guy and ex-President of the gang, moves in with him atr his upper East Side digs; and once he is bored with her, has her start doing tricks for fat ugly men connected to the mob, then is turned out as a high priced call girl at age 16.  Byt at least she has money, and she can take care of her nerdy little brother…there’s incest, but I won;t spoul the perverse fun of the gutter themes.

Quite a good one.

Sin Devil by Andrew Shaw aka Lawrence Block or William Coons (Nightstand, 1961)

Posted in Andrew Shaw, crime noir, Lawrence Block, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags on December 1, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

 A curious one from Block where he experiments with style like he has in a few other of his later books for Hamling. This one begins in the third person with a reporter named Jules covering the death of an old multi-millionaire, Martin Trane, whose life was surrounded by secrets and perversity, such as his paying a sixteen-year-old girl for sex. Jules gets hsi hands on the manuscript of a confession/memoir Trane had written…

Here the book jumps to first person. The memoir takes up 80% of the book. Almost seems like Block wrote that first, realized it was too short word-wise, and added the beginning and end to reach the necessary 50,000 words for a Nightstand. Who knows. The technique is not smooth but the memoir is full of wonderful debauchery, starting from Trane’s early years in boarding school to middle age and to an old lecher who wallowed in what his money could buy.

For Block fans, or Coons, a good little read.