Archive for the crime noir Category

Blood on the Mink by Ray McKensie aka Robert Silverberg — Trapped Magazine (1962) and Hard Case Crime (2012)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on July 29, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

One of Hard Case Crime’s latest, post-Dorchester, is an old Silverberg crime short novel Blood on the Mink, originally published in 1962, in the last days of Trapped,  as Too Much Blood on the Mink by Ray McKensie.

Silverberg provides an afterword and notes that he had forgotten about this one until publisher Charles Ardai found it and wanted to reprint it. Silverberg had written the 45,000-word tale in 1959 originally for a crime pulp companion of Fantastic Universe, around a series character other writers would write about (but only RD did) a federal agent named Nick and his many undercover jobs. The magazine folded before publishing it and Silverberg dug it up when Trapped changed format in 1962 to feature a novel each issue and market it in paperback format. He was paid twice for the work — paid three times now with this reprint.

One must keep in mind that this is from a very young Silverberg so has a lot of flaws. It certainly is not the best of his earlier pulps, but not the worst either. Nick is undercover here for the Reasury Department, taking on the personality of a known Los Angeles-based counterfeiter to catch some funny money thugs in Philadelphia. Things get tricky when a thug who knows the real guy sees him and knows something is funny. Double-crosses, backstabbing, shootings and gangster dames wanting out mix into the story, sometimes to confusion and you are not sure what is going on,and what Nick’s real agenda is.

To round out the book, included are two short stories: “Dangerous Doll” and “One Night of Violence” both from Guilty.

I am wondering why the first Nick Undercover agent story, “Bridegrooms Scare Easy,” was not included.

The two tales are fun: “Dangerous Doll” is about a Syndicate delivery guy who transports plates for counterfeit money and how he is set-up;  and “One Night of Violence” is about an everyman traveling salesman who finds himself caught in the middle of a gang battle. They are in the vein of the Mark Ryan Illicit Affair and David Challon Campus Hellcat books from Bedstand.

A collection of Silverberg’s old crime tales, or the best of, seems to be in order next.

Kicks Books Brings Back Paul Merchant!

Posted in crime noir, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on June 10, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Been waiting for this one. Kicks Books reissues the 1959 book that Ellison used to deny, would never reprint, but now in his 11th hour on earth, he allows “a very young” collection of his then-racy stories published in men’s magazines like Knave, Rogue and Caper, and pulp crime rags like Manhunt and Guilty…the original Nightstand Books title was, of course, Sex Gang by Paul Merchant (he originally wanted to use D.S. Merchant, as in Dirty Sex), the third title from the series after Robert Silverberg’s Love Addict.

Pulling a Train is the new title (from a novella in the book), with an ironic twist on the cover: a woman with a blade hovering over a man.

I have not gotten a copy yet, but when I do, I will talk about it more. What is nifty is that Kicks will come out with a companion volume, Getting in the Wind, that will contain previously uncollected softcore sex and crime stories from the same era, written under a variety of pen names.

What is nifty is that Kicks also offers a limited box set and a perfume called Sex Gang. Great creative marketing there indeed…

Haven for the Damned – Ennis Willie (Merit Books, 1963)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on April 10, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Okay, back to the books…

Haven for the Damned starts off really good but slips into a common and cliched set-up about 1/3 of the way through.

Our hero, ex-hitman for the Syndicate Sand, is recovering from the latest attempt by the mob to ice him; he has been shot four times in the torso and somehow managed to survive. To gain time to recuperate, he heads to unknown lands, probably Europe, to a castle/hotel run by The Count: a place off-limits to the law and the Syndicate, where criminals and those on the run, or wanting to hide, can find refuge, as long as they can afford the high price for protection…it is indeed a haven for the damned…there Sand meets with Lena, who is hiding from her estranged husband who wants to have her committed to the loony bin and have control over her family wealth. She is also a highly sexually charged nympho…

…as are all the women Sand crosses paths with at the castle. This is a Merit adult novel, after all, a universe where all women are beautiful, sexy, horny and kinky.

There is a village outside the Count’s lair, where the Count finds young women to become part of his concubine: they are paid well, live in luxury, and are required to spend quality time in the Count’s bed…but the Count is an ugly little hunchback with curious sexual desires.

Sand notes one new girl, Gretchen, 18, gorgeous and not looking like she is pleased to have to please the Count…and then she winds up murdered with two swords poked into the her eyes and coming out of the back of her head.

Lena thinks she did it, as she has blackouts and does violent things when she blacks out…she does have some psychiatric and mental issues, which is how her husband can institutionalize her.

Then more young women are found murdered over the days and nights…Lena still thinks she is the killer but Sand has his doubts, he believes she is being set up; he sets out to solve this case. The real killer is too obvious in the end, making this “Sand shocker” not so shocking and entertaining as previous books.

Bad Boy – Jim Thompson (Lion Books, 1955)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on February 27, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Here is a case of the pulp writer slipping “something else” onto the book racks simply on name value. Bad Boy isn’t a novel but a series of interlinked autobiographical vignettes…today we would call it a collection of creative non-fiction or flash memoir. Thompson offers anecdotes about his childhood, his restless father who could never decide on what to be (lawyer, oil man, insurance agent, realtor, lender), his three-year stint as a bellboy, which led to looks like Now and on Earth and A Swell-Looking Babe; a stay in a sanitorium to dry out, leading to The Alcoholics; a bizarre encounter with a smiling but psychotic sheriff who told a young Thompson he could kill Thompson and no one would ever know or care, leading to The Killer Inside Me and Pop. 1240…tales of odd jobs and odd men in the Depression era; working as a junior and senior reporter; writing stetckes and stories and then novels; hunger, desperation, and so on.

According to the Thompson bio, Savage Art, he would later mine the chapters in this book and re-write them as stories and articles for magazines when he needed a few bucks.

A must-read for Thompson fans…if you are not into is work, you might not appreciate the memoir of it all.

Boudoir Treachery – Arnold Marmor (Merit Books, 1960)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on January 30, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

I sat down to enjoy another Marmor crime novel and from the first page, I thought, Why does this sound so familiar? Well, because Boudoir Treachery is the same novel as Torrid Wenches…or, it seems, Torrid Wenches is a re-titled reprint of Boudoir Treachery.  Although both books have 1960 copyright dates, Boudoir has a cover price of 35 cents and Torrid is 60 cents…so Torrid probably came out in 1963-4.

Camerarts was notorious for doing this with their Novel and Merit lines, re-issuing books 2, 3, sometimes 4 times with new titles, often only a year apart. Orrie Hitt hated this, because he knew his fans were buying what they thought was a new book from him, only to get a book published a year or two beforehand.

I think I only paid $7 for this one, so no big deal. The cover fits the storyline better than Torrid, although the latter is more enticing.

Explosive Teaser – Jerry M. Goff, Jr. (Merit Books, 1963)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on January 30, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

A pretty good one here, and again: did Goff lift anything from Prather for this?

This is a Vegas novel, narrated by Barry, a 23-year-old dreamy hunk crooner, grew up in the Virginia coal mines, learned to play guitar and sing, cut a record that went Gold, got a gig in a Vegas room where he packs the women, old ladies and teens and lookers, and has the pick of any each night…but he is secretly married to Adrian, a gorgeous lounge singer in the same room. Their marriage has t be secret so their fans will think they are single and available.

A problem arises when an out of town housing developer gets a lucky streak and wins $150,000 from the hotel. The boss, Boccio, wants to keep the guy, Henderson, there so he will lose the money back the hotel — such a chunk will get the Syndicate boys back in Chicago pissed and Baccio could lose his job, or a hand.  Henderson has fallen for Adrian, so Boccio wants her to “entertain” him, to keep him in Vegas, to encourage him to bet heavy and lose…

Well, neither Barry nor Adrian are keen on this, because she will have to fuck the guy t keep him in Vegas, to promise to. Boccio informs Barry that it would be unwise to say no, and offers a $10K kick back if they get their money back from Henderson.

Barry and Adrian try to take a week-long trip away from Vegas that night, but Boccio and his two henchmen catch them — they beat Barry up pretty bad, and make Adrian keep her date with Henderson.

Barry is certain his wife will notive in, but when he comes to after the beating, he sees her standing naked on a craps table…Henderson is rolling dice  have her…if he wins, he doesn’tet her; if he loses, he gets her…so he loses her…and Barry watches in horror as the man fucks his wife on the crap table, and instead of fighting him off, she is enjoying it, encouraging the man…and then later Boccio shows Barry a hdden-camera 8 mm film of Henderson and Adrian going at it in a room — she does not seem like the Adrian the wife we had seen at the top of the novel: she talks dirty, smokes and drinks, throws herself on Henderson, does “perverse” things with him…and all Barry can do is watch and cringe and wonder if he really knows the woman he married…

Goff writes these scenes in a cold way, but you too cringe as you read what Adrain does, what the mob makes her do, how Boccio and his boys get a nasty thrill out of hurting Barry, physically and mentally.

After Dark, My Sweet – Jim Thompson (Popular Library, 1955)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on January 25, 2012 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Reading the Jim Thompson bio, Savage Art, Lion Books had pruchased too many manuscripts from the writer…not all his books were published in the chronology he wrote them, some were inventoried for a few years, and some were re-sold to other publishers, often new ones that needed quick product, as the case is here with After Dark, My Sweet with Popular Library. (Harlan Ellison has a great personal story of selling his first novel, Web of the City, to Lion for $1,000 in 1958 — in fact he met Thompson at the Lion Books office — and then he was drafted, and while working on the armny base newspaper over a year later where he talked them into a book review section, he opened a box of review copies from Pryamid Books and found one called Rumble with bis name on it…Lion had gone ot of bisiness and had sold its unpublished inventory of manuscripts to Pryamid.)

After Dark is narrated by the typical outsider caught up in crime…Kevin “Kid” Collins is an ex-boxer who has escaped from a mental institute…he has anger management and rage issues and had removed his goves and murdered his oppenent in the ring.  Acting a bit insane and mentally challenged, he got off the murder charge on an insanity plea.

He wanders into a small town and in a bar, he meets Fay, a sexy widow who takes him home and hires him to maintain the house, and later maintain her in bed. He gets pissed off at the bartender and knocks the bartender out with a skillful punch, which impresses Kay, who at first was making fun of him because he seemed slow and dim-witted.  She has a “friend,” an older man and ex-cop known as Uncle Bud, who has been plotting the kidnapping of a rich family’s sickly son.  Uncle Bud recruits Collie — as Fay calls him — into the crime, and seems she has been luring him into the scheme from the start.

Collie almost splits town, but he is in love with Kay and thinks fhey have a future, and the possibility of a three-split ransom entices him, even though he suspects that Uncle Bud will double-cross him, kill him, pin the whole kidnapping on him to make Uncle Bud look like a hero and get back into the good graces of the police department. (Mel Gibson’s movie Ransom had a simnilar plot.)

Of course, things go awry — at first taking the wrong boy from a playground, the boy having diabetes issues and needed medicine, Fay’s ambiguous attitude after she learns Collie is a bughouse escapee…

There is a 1990 movie version, a smooth indie, with Jason Patric playing Collie, Rachel Ward as Fay (with a Brit accent) and Bruce Dern as Uncle Bud.  The movie is fairly faithful to Thomspson’s story, adding in a pretty stemy multi-orgasmoic all-night sex scene (and many shots of Rachel Ward’s behind in veruy tight demin short-shorts). It was filmed in Indo, a place I know, and I was pleased to see familiar territory.

Like a number of Thomspon’s books, the novel is the final thoughts of a man before he dies, but we see it coming…how else could it be for Kid Collins?  It’s almost as if he wants it, knowing he is a loser in life who knew a few moments of happiness.