Archive for the Harry Whittington Category

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.

Prime Sucker – Harry Whittington – (Giant Books, 1954; Beacon Books, 1960)

Posted in Harry Whittington, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks on November 29, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

A subruban wife-swapping novel from Whittington, and a pretty good one at that.  While nothing new is in the story, Whittington does a fine job delving into the psychology of why these bored suburbanites to commit the sin of “coveting thy neighbor’s ass.” The first sentence tells it all:

Hank sat at the table and wanted George’s wife.

Originally published as a Giant Double with Idabel Williams’ The Hussy n 1954, and then as a 1960 Beacon.

Lust for Love by Harry Whittington (Bedside Book 408, 1959)

Posted in crime noir, Harry Whittington, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags on April 4, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Here we have Harry Whittington putting his own name on the cover of a “softcore” novel, one of the early titles from Bedside. Despite its title, this reads less like sleaze and more like a book he targeted for Gold Medal or Dell or Popular Library and was unable to sell it there, so sold it for $500 to the sketchy Bedside, a company that put out sloppily produced paperbacks, albeit some really interesting ones.

The novel opens with 17-year-old Lola and 22-year-old David parked in his car and getting hot and heavy with the kissing and petting; they almost do the deed and decide at the last moment they will be moral and “right” by waiting until they are married.

Then three thugs approach the car and tell David to not be a hero or they will kill him; they tell him they plan to rape Lola and make him watch. David manages to start the car and get the hell out of there, dragging the leader for half a mile at high speed, the leader’s hand stuck in the window as he pointed a gun at David’s head. A great Gold Medal set-up… but it later becomes more soft-corey, often Beaconish/Midwoodish.

The experience, and knowing she could have been sexually violated by three dangerous men, oddly excites Lola. She starts looking at life and herself differently; she realizes she has always ated conforming to what society and people think she should be, how she acts, the way she dresses, the way she talks.

Her rebellion against the norm does not sit well with David. When she tells him she has befriended the “office slut” and the two are enrolling in “charm school” together, he blows his lid and gives her an ultimatium: either she quits this crazy stuff or she loses him.

Lola does not want to lose him; she loves David, but she is determined to explore her new self and not give in to the conservative world. Case in point: she poses nude for a photographer just to see what it would be like (a sort of Betty Paige naiveness to her modus operandi) and winds up having sex with the photographer, losing her virginity and loving in.

David, of course, does not know she gave her maidenhead away to a stranger, but Lola is now ready to get down with him. He is not. He dumps her again.

A shady talent manager, Vixen, sees Lola in a small town beauty contest and recognizes the spark of great possibilites. He takes her under his wing, and in his bed, and promotes the hell out of her to Holywood producers. Hr first film role is a two minute walk-on that gets more praise than the stars and the film as a whole-

And so watch Lola-s rise from poverty to riches and fame…the Marilyn Monroe story refashioned, a common theme in sleaze books, like Loren Beauchamp-Robert Silverberg´s Meg.

In Whittington´s´hands, the story has enough film producing knowledge that it reads authentic.

A horrible title, Lust for Love was one of the first titles to come out from Bedside. It is doubtful he wrote this for that publisher, since Bedside paid $500 a book and Whitgtington was used to Gold Medal at $2500 and Ace at $1000…he may have tried to sell it to Beacon or Midwood first.

He put his name on it, though, not using a pen name, so we will assume he was proud of it. It is a good fun read but not Whittington at his best.

Brute in Brass by Harry Whittington (Gold Medal, 1956) aka Forgive Me, Killer (Black Lizard, 1985)

Posted in crime noir, Harry Whittington, noir fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags on March 17, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Mike Ballard is a bad cop — not as bad as Lou Ford in The Killer Inside Me, but but he’s a bad lieutenant on the take and I.A and the D.A. are investigating him and what he has done while working vice. He basically gets paid to look the other way when it comes to the local mob’s involvement in prostitution and gambling.

Harry Whittington’s gritty Gold Medal, written in the early years of his career, before Hollywood and the changing book market slammed him down, is hardboiled, swift, and 40,000 words — the short novel was the form he worked best in.

The novel opens with Ballard going to see a guy in prison, Earl Walker, doing life for the murder of a hooker, Ruby. But h swears he’s innocent and was framed, and since Ballard was the only cop on the case who didn’t beat him, and treated him like a human, he is asking Ballard to look into the case and clear his name.

Ballard refuses — the hero gets his call of action and turns it down at first, classic structure. But Ballard is no hero. However, when Walker’s wife comes to see him and begs for help, he gives in.  he’s facing going to prison himself, an for all his wrong-doing, he believes there could be redemption if he freed an innocent man.

He starts to wonder about the case when he discovers that a bartender may have lied during testimony. The bartender claims Walker was never in the bar the night of the murder, at the time of the crime, yet Walker says he was.  After the trial, the bartender disappeared. May mean something, may not…but it leads to a dirty road of  petty crime, murder and darkness.

A damn fun rad if you like your mysteries tough and brutal and don’t mind men slapping women around, for Ballard is indeed an abuser: he has one woman kept in an apartment, the ex-wife of a man he put away, whom he treats like shit, and screws around with Walker’s wife, and any other woman, hooker, grifter, or citizen, who crosses his path.

Along the way, Ballard goes from cop to criminal, faced with murder and flight from justice. But he does his good deed for Earl, even though he falls in love with the man’s wife.

Brute in Brass was one of the first Whittingtons Black Lizard reprinted in the mid-80s, re-titled as Forgive Me, Killer.

In fact, these reprints were Whittingtonj’s re-discovery; in the 80s h was out of print and known only to die hard pulp fans.  The introduction Whittington wrote is a great history of the crime pulp era, the paperback industry and its changes, the Hollywood game, and a brief mention of 38 softcore books he wrote in the mid-60s which lead some pulp scholars to search for them, finding out that Whittington wrote under three pen names for Earl Kemp and William Hamling, a few which we have discussed on this blog: Sharon Sharon, Sin Psycho, and The Sin Fishers.

Oh, and the strange southern gothic  nurse romance, The Abortionists.

It’s too bad Black Lizard didn’t do for Whittington what it did for Jim Thompson, with movies being made…and it seems that Random House decided not to keep Whittington in print.

No one said the folk running Vintage Books are all that savvy or bright.

The Many Faces of John Dexter #8: Sin Psycho by Harry Whittington (Sundown Reader #512, 1964)

Posted in crime noir, Harry Whittington, John Dexter, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on July 7, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Of the few “Missing 38” I’ve read so far, Sin Psycho is the best, next to Sharing Sharon. The title is misleading, surprise there — the protagonist isn’t psycho, she’s desperate to save her family from the pit of poverty.

Ginny is a beautiful housewife who lives in the suburbs of Boston. She has two kids and a husband, Bob.  Bob, however, has been laid up sick in bed for months by an unknown illness, keeping him from his manager job at a bank.  They’re running out of money, and the bank that owns their mortgage is close to foreclosing, and the milkman can’t keep extending her credit even though her kids need to eat.  The elctricty will be turned off soon and although Bob is bed-ridden, he’s always horny…she’s cold, but when he touches her, she changes, she turns into a fiery sex-crazed naughty housewife…

But they need money and none of the jobs she’s offered will help pay enough…

Then her friend Aggie, who seems to always do well, lets her in on a secret, to help Ginny: Aggie really works for a beauty salon in Boston, but the salon is a front for a call girl service where a number of desperate housewives work out of…

And Ginny is desperate. And she does like sex. And men do find her attractive…

She’s nervous with her first client, but he’s grateful to have her because she seems to actually like the sex and have real orgasms…

Eventually she gets into the swing of things, and not only does she like the sex, and the adventure of being with strange men once or twice a day in their hotel rooms or homes, she likes the money… because she now can pay the bills, keep the bankers happy, feed and clothe her children, and have some left over to spend on herself.

She tells Bob she works at some office. When Bob gets well and goes back to work, he wants her to quit…stay home again…but she finds it hard to quit. She has become addicted to the life: the sex and money and excitement of strangeness…

One client, a rich old man, likes to pretend she is Martha, his dead wife…

Some like rough sex, and some like torture…when she gets a man who beats the hell out of her, she knows she’s gone too far, with a broken niose and swollen eye and bleeding…

And then she gets arrested by the vice cops (the cop had been one of her customers) and all goes to hell, exposed…

An interesting little story.  Whittington delves into Ginny’s psyche well, and tells of her sexual “affair” with a twenty-five year old Navy guy who rented a room from her parents, and she was ten years old. Whittington handles the pedophilia smoothly, we’re never quite sure if she had sex with the guy but we assume so, and Ginny never feels it was wrong.  All her life she has been trying to find a man just like that first lover…

Highly recommended, if you can find a copy — the Whittington Corniths are rare.

The Many Faces of John Dexter #7: The Sin Fishers by Harry Whittington (Sundown Reader #542, 1965)

Posted in crime noir, Harry Whittington, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , on July 4, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This Whittington has a structure slightly influenced by Block and Hitchcock’s Psycho: you think it’s one story type but goes another way, there’s a woman on the run, and there’s a small motel with a crazy woman in it.

It opens with 26-year-old Rafe and his mother-in-law, 32-year-old Charlotte, mourning the death of Angie: his 16-year-old child bride who died pregnant.  Cahrlottle had Angie when she was 14 so she was a child-bride herself. She’s always had her desires set on yung virile Rafe and was deeply hurt he took her dautghter instead. Now that Angie is gone, perhaps she can have him?  They run a small lodgings in a fishing village in Florida; he also takes care of charter boat rides.

Rafe is not interested in loving up Charlotte — she’s an alcoholic, clingy, manic, and delusional.

In chapter three, we meet Maggie, on the run from her mobster boyfriend Harry Gildhurst, for having turned states evidence on him.  Harry and two of hi goons are hot on her trailer — he’s promised to let one goon, named Monk, rape and defile her to death.

Maggie gets a room at the lodgings.  Rafe is taken a back by how much she resembles his dead wife, Angie.  Maggie is drawn to Rafe too.  He insists Charlotte hire her as a waitress. When Cahrlotte walks in on them making whoopee one day, Charlotte plots to murder Maggie.

And one wonders if she killed her daughter too?

But when Harry and goons show up to kill Maggie, things go awary, and Charlotte gets herself killed…

A good, fast-paced little crime novel, the sex isn’t heavy but there’s enough for a Cornith.

Whittington, needing that extra $1,200 a month in the mid-60s, wrote under three pen names for Hamling/Kemp & Co: the prolific John Dexter, the ambidexterous J.X. Williams, and the exclusive Curt Coleman.

Sin Hellion by Dan Eliot aka Robert Silverberg (Ember Book #913, 1963)

Posted in crime noir, Harry Whittington, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , on July 3, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

David Wilson told me that when he and Lynne Munroe were seeking out Harry Whittington’s “Missing 38,” that Sin Hellion by Dan Eliot was on the list of contenders.

Robert Silverberg has stated on his Yahoo Fan Group that, aside from one book he had ghosted because he couldn’t meet a deadline, that no one else but himself ever wrote under the Don Elliott/Dan Eliot byline.

Dan Eliot was a slight change that William Hamling employed for a period in 1963, probably for reasons over a legal case of censorship and obscenity (Andrew Shaw was Andrew Shole, John Dexter John Baxter, Alan Marshall was Alan Marsh, etc).

It’s easy to see why one might believe Sin Hellion is a Lost Whittington — it’s about a half-crazed woman seeking revenge, and her name is Lora (Whittington’s heroines are often Nora, Cora, Dora, etc.)  The “hero” is a bartender named Harry, and Whittington often used “Harry” in pen-named books., as a pointer to himself.  The tone is gritty helplessness and loneliness a la Whittington noir.

Harry Donalds is a loner, a lowly bartender, closing in on middle age, getting by on $79.50 a week in New York.  Opening chapter, a gorgeous young woman wanders into the bar, named Lora, with the intent of drinking herself into oblivion with her last $5.

Both concerned and on the prowl for pussy, Harry talks her into going out for a bite to eat so she can tell him her woes and cry on his shoulder. She’s grateful for the kindness.  She tells him that she was the mistress of a rich stockbroker, Roy Brochard, who had promised her he’d divorce his plump wife ad marry her.  But she gets dumped, with $5 left to her name…

She’s been walking all day in the Manhattan heat (shades of Thirst for Love come to play) and needs a shower. Can she use his?  Sure.  Ca she live with him until she gets back on her feet?  Sure.  Can she make love to him for this?  Absolutely.

For the next week, Harry lives in bliss, as Lora stays home, cleans up the place, has dinner waiting after work, and keeps him company under the sheets. He can’t believe his good luck.  All is well except for the lesbian, Carlotta, who lives a foor below and who has designs of the third way on Lora…

And he doesn’t like how Lora constantly talks about Roy and his money and their trips on his yacht and impromptu jaunts to Europe.  How can he compete with such a man?  What does she see in him and his $79.50 a week?

And then one day Harry comes home and sees a big hunting knife on the table.  What the hell?  Lora tells him she bought it to kill Roy, for what she did to him, and to stop him from ever hurting another girl — she spotted him coming out of his office and meeting a fresh blonde 2-year-old, and now she knows he goes from one girl to the other, romancing them, promising them the world, and dumping them when he gets bored.

She wants Harry to alibi her — she was at his bar the time of the murder, and she came home with him. But Harry refuses. He won;t get fried for accessory to homicide.  He tells her to either forget her murder plot or leave.

She leaves.

But she comes back a few days later.  She says she will not kill Roy, but she does. He hears about it on the news.  So now he has to alibi her, and he comes up with a good one that gets the suspicion off her.

Their next sex session gets violent.  She says she’s been bad and needs to be punished. Angry with her, Harry goes overboard, slapping and punching and basically raping her, way beyond the spanking sessions they’ve engaged in. It’s quite the sado-masochistic scene; Harry worries he hurt her too much but she says she liked it…

She was begging for it. He could see the craving in her face […] He slapped her breasts until they were red all over. He slapped her in the face. He punched her in the stomach, hard, half burying his fist. She doubled up,  gagging and retching, and he spun her around while she huddled, bringing his knees up for a swift kick at the base of he spine.

Donalds leaped at her.

“Yes lover!” she moaned, half in ecstasy and half in agony. “Yes! Yes!”

He hurt her.

He mauled her. (p. 149-50)

Not your feminist sex scene here…but the scene is vital to the changes in the characters, and explains Lora’s state of mind better.  The rest of the sex scenes, however, all feel like padding, the required scene for the genre.

She wants to marry him as a reward.  But…if she killed a man once, will she do it again?  There’s a “shocker” surprise ending but I won’t spoil it…an ending that is Whittington-esque.

A fine little novel in the Trapped and Manhunt style.