Archive for January, 2012

Husband Chaser by Shelden Lord (Lawrence Block, Hal Dresner?) – Beacon Books, 1962

Posted in Beacon Books, Lawrence Block, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Sheldon Lord, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on January 3, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Fairly certain this one is Lawrence Block. Block did moist if not all Sheldon Lords for Beacon from 1960-63. It reads pretty much like early Block. Someone told me it might be Hal Dresner, and I am thinking maybe they collobarorated, or Block wrote this with someone, because there is a marked tone and style shift mid-way through the novel — and the second half is most defintely Block (aka M.D.B.).

Either way, either how, this is a pretty good one.

Stephanie has learned how to make money by marrying and divorcing men., She married at seveneteen to get away from her abusive moither, divorcing the guy two years later before he heads off to Korea and getting $15,000 as a settlement, one -tird to her shady Las Vegas lawyer.  $10,000 is better money than she has ever had to herself, and she lives high on the hog for a but.  She thinks: if dicorce is profitable, why not find men with money and do the same?

So she does.

The novel opens and she is 25 and on her fourth divorce, going the six -week Las Vegas route. In Vegas, she finds men to spend money on her in the casinos but she doesn’t let them sleep with her. Or some she does, especially when she wants to get rvenge on their fat obnoxious wives.

With twenty grand from her new divorce, she moves back to New York and takes a three room suite in a nice hotel at $425 a month (a fortune in 1962 money).  She starts pondering on a fifth husband. She notices the man living nextdoor to her is quite handsome and possibly well-off, his name is Jim Holloway (Don Holliday, Dresner’s pen name at Nightstand?).  She starts to see him, and surprisingly she falls in love with him and spends her money on him for a change.

Her money low, she knows she needs cash flow for her and Jim so she goes to get a job as a stripper, and then a call girl…Jim seems to know but does not care. This baffles her.

Her recent ex-husband does care. He wants her back. He has had a private detective on her and knows she’s hooking her sweet ass to any man with $100.

Things get violent in classic Block manner…

Everything is fine and noirsih dandy until the hokey happy ending, implausible in all ways. I was hoping for an ending like Sheldon Lord’s Candy…

…but genre needs at Beacon were different than Midwood.

Despite the sappy ending, this is an excellent little blast from the vintage sleaze past.

I Take What I Want by Hal Ellson (Midwood, 1958)

Posted in crime noir, Midwood Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on January 1, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

What Hal Ellson did best: juvenile criminal tales with a snappy style. Like many of his novels, this one is in first person and present tense, told by teenage Al, a hood, a punk, a crook, a gang member. Real life knocks on his door when he knocks up his girl and he needs to find the money to get it fixed. His girl wants him to go out and get a real job and stop being a gang bum.

There is plenty of violence and sex, murder and rape, bad cops and good girls gone bad in this one but it is not one of Ellson’s best, like Duke or Tomboy, probably why he sold it to new company, Midwood Books — the real early Midwoods of 1958 and 1959 were noy numbered and published in small digest size.

Why did every juvie gang book always have the same cover? — a frightened woman on the group looking up at some hood in leather jacket and holding a switch blade?