Archive for the Midwood Books Category

Morals Charge by Paul Hunter (Midwood F101, 1961)

Posted in Midwood Books, Paul Rader, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on August 10, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This one sports one of my favorite Paul Rader covers.  It’s unknown who “Paul Hunter” is/was, a one-shot pen name never used again by Midwood.  It’s well-written.

Like Jodie in The Disciplined Daughter below, Nancy in Morals Charge is a constant victim of circumstance and her own sexual appeal.  The 18-year-old girl lives at home, a horrible home where her alcoholic, lazy mother steals the money she makes at a clerk job, even though she gives her mother half her pay; she’s been saving so she can leave home, maybe go to Hollywood or somewhere.  And then there is her equally alcoholic, fat mother’s boyfriend Frank, who is convinced Nancy is a floozy on the side, the way she dreses sometimes.

One day Nancy crosses paths with an old high school friend, Candy, who has nice clothes and seems to be doing well in New York.  Candy invites Nancy to a party her “boss” is throwing, and tells Nancy to dress sexy. Nancy meets the boss, Howie Mann, who runs illegal gambling parlors out of ritzy hotels — he’s a big powerful man connected to the mob and local politicians, and has girls on his crew…not exactly hookers, they are there as “shills” (playing tables with house money to lure men)…a girl in Howie’s crew can leave with a customer and make extra money, and it’s expected, Howie wants them to come back and blow their money.  Sometimes Howie requires his girls to sleep with VIPs…

Howie seduces Nancy that night and takes her virginity. She thinks there could be a romance but  he was testng her out, breaking her in.  He also gives her $50. She gets home late and her mother and Frank yell at her. They find the $50 and figure she’s hooking, and Frank decides he will pimp her out. Frank knocks out the mother and rapes Nancy, just two hours from her having lost her cherry to Howie.

Nancy leaves home and moves in with Candy and works for Howie. At first she doesn’t like having to be nice and fuck ugly old men with money, and Howie lays down the law. He has a sadistic woman who runs the girls, Jane, and an equally sadistic goon named “Fingers” who knows torture techniques by just using his fingers.  Nancy has a choice of the lesser two evils, at home being raped and pimped by Frank who takes her money, or in the city where she’s pimped out but makes money. She soon falls into the groove of being used for her body, but at least she’s making good money.

Frank tracks her down one day and breaks into her apartment and demands $1000, and that he will be her new pimp.  She gets Howie and his goons to work Frank over. Sweet revenge on the drunk fat fuck.

One night she gets arrested in a hotel with one of Howie’s VIPs. Since she’s not being paid, it’s not an actual “morals charge” for hooking, but the cops frame her with a bogus $50 payment.  Three of the four cops want to gang rape her but the third cop, a straight arrow, intervenes.  This cop also tells her she’s just a pawn to get at someone bigger. Here the cops make her a victim by depriving her of her rights for a phone call and lawyer, by physically  beating her up in interrogation.  But Nancy knows they want Howie so she doesn’t talk. Later, a lawyer tells her that the D.A. is after one of Howie’s friends in political office, and if she keeps mum all is well although she will have to take the fall and do some time to appease the D.A. who is pissed her arrest was botched.

An interesting novel that, while trash pulp fiction, does reflect a time in America where the rights of women, even though prostitutes, were trampled on without repercussion, and where physical force was par for the course during third degree questioning (although some will claim that still goes on, just look at Abu Gahrib).  Poor Nancy is just abused everywhere she goes — at home, at work, by the system. In jail and prison, she meets street hookers as young as nine, heroin addicts, thieves and lesbians.

A good read, and good  to own for the cover alone. In the next week or two, we want to to focus on vintage books with Issac Paul Rader covers…

361 by Donald E. Westlake (Random House, 1962)

Posted in crime noir, Midwood Books, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction on July 30, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Westlake published this hardboiled crime noir when he was still doing Alan Marshall duty at Nightstand and Midwood.

A simple set-up: guy gets out of Navy, goes to see his dad, someone takes out a hit on his dad, plus his brother’s wife, and leaves him in the hospital.

Getting out of the hospital, he sets out, with his brother, to find out who killed his dad and why.  Seems his dad had connections with the mob, when he was a lawyer many years back, and was told to stay out of New York or else.

This is not the “funny” Westlake many of his fans know and love.  This is ultra hardboiled, stuff, cold, stoic, noir…more Richard Stark territory.

An interesting read when compared to the stuff he was writing at the same time for the softcores…

Hard Case Crime has a recent mass market edition.

Stag Stripper by Mike Avallone (Midwood #F132, 1961)

Posted in crime noir, Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on July 18, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

A fast-paced Mike Avallone…Ivy Savage is a redheaded bombshell burlesque dancer with her own on the road act, making up to $700 week. Despite her exuded sex, it’s all an act, she sends money back home to help take care of her sister and sister’s kids, and she holds a flame for a young man who died in Korea, the only man she ever loved.

In Kansas City, she’s arrested for lewd public behavior and put on trial.  As the jury debates over it, we learn that the judge in the case is a sadist who beats on his wife; that the prosecutor holds a secret desire for women like Ivy, and has a black book of call girls; and that the jurors are rather biased pro and con about the art of stripping, neglecting legal boundaries.

Meanwhile, Ivy has been rejecting the advances of the local burly producer, who has mob ties. They kidnap Ivy’s young sister and give Ivy a choice: the sister gets raped and it’s filmed, or Ivy stars in the stag film for them to make money on.

Not a bad book.


Let’s Play House – Joan Ellis (Midwood, 1967)

Posted in Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on April 30, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Vicky Taylor has just turned 18, is a senior in high school, and wants the hell out of her impoverished life, living with her “loose” mother and five siblings, another on the way, all fathered by different “uncles” who have come and gone over the years.  One “uncle” threw her on the bed at 13 and took her virginity by force, so now she does not trust men. In fact, she knows she can use her body and allure to get men to do her bidding.

So she has her gunsites aimed at Mr. Woodward, the middle-aged widower lawyer she babysits for.  She has noticed how he looks at her. One night she lets him knows she is available, for a price: for $200 she will sleep with him.  He takes her up on it, and also gives her his dead wife’s mink coat.

She uses the $200 to buy a bus ticket to New York City, to start a new life.  This is where the “let’s play house” Lolita aspect of the short novel ends — Vicky arrives in New York fresh and naive and gets involved with a group of 20-somethings into nude modeling and general hustling to survive.

The book is short — 118 pages, 30,000 words or so.  I have noticed Midwood put out a lot of very short books in 1966-7, manuscripts that were most likely originally purchased for double or triple books.

Let’s Play House is okay, the usual young sexual girl story that Ellis wrote quite a bit of.

Diane – Max Collier (Midwood #F319, 1963)

Posted in Midwood Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on April 28, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

A horrible photo cover from Midwood, but a great gem of a little novel tucked away in the bad packaging, akin to Max Collier’s The Mark of a Man.

The sexuality of young girls with older men is a strong staple in erotic fiction, especially after the court case with Lolita, which was quite tame and more suggestion than actuality.  In the 50s-60s sleaze books, the youngest female characters got were 17, though sometimes — such as Don Elliott’s/Silverberg’s Sexteen — they were 16.  In the 1970s, however, with publishers like London Fog and Surree House got into downright pedophilia.

The young girl in Diane, named Diane, is a precocious fifteen-year-old sex kitten that the protagonist, Adam Behr, meets in a bar while his wife is away on vacation.  Since the girl is in a bar and the bartender knows her, he assumes she’s at least 21, though a but young-looking. After some beers and talk, they leave and have sex twice, and later he goes to see her at her house and her mother catches them, informing him that he’s a dirty old man with jailbait.

Adam is stymied.

Then the mother tries to blackmail him, he says forget it, and she calls the cops.  He’s arrested, arraigned, gets bail, gets a lawyer, and waits for his wife to come home.

Meanwhile, despite the statutory rape charge, Adam’s street cred is boosted. He’s a quiet office manager at a paper distributor (The Office?) in Los Angeles and his make co-workers see him in a new light, as do the women…and women find him more sexually interesting — he winds up getting laid out of it, though he may go to jail for one-to-three years for catching some underage action.

Seems Diane has quite a few former lovers and lover, older men and boys alike.  And her mother was investigated for child abandonment.  Diane’s mother is a drunken floozy who goes from one man to another, and sometimes Diane sleeps with her boyfriends. How long the girl has been doing this is unknown.

But Diane says she is in love with Adam — she says no man has ever “turned her on” the way he does.  He finds her giving and better in bed than his wife — which he tells his wife when she kicks him out.

He gets a new apartment and nextdoor is a sexy school teacher and they get to know each other…

Throughout the ordeal and shake-up of his life, Adam takes a sarcastic attitude, as if he were living in absurdism…and a way he is, and finds he needed this disruption of his life and to get out of a marriage that was dull and a job that was killing his soul.

Diane frees him, and he owes her, and even goes back to her for more sex and innocent comfort.

The writing is excellent and the ending sardonic.  Again, a literary novel packaged as sleaze.

This one gets an A-minus and a high recommendation.

That Other Hunger – Sloane Britain (Midwood F117, 1961)

Posted in lesbian pulp fiction, Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , on April 20, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This is the story of Lisa McBride, a somewhat naive young lady in New York, attending the New School for Art and modeling on the side to make money.  Her mother was once a model, and has sent Lisa to Fran, an agent and PR person.  But Fran is also an aging lesbian with an eye for the young ones, and just when she thinks she has Lisa for her lover, Lisa meets a hunky “he-man” model, Craig Phelps, and instantly falls in love with him.

Fran is annoyed but she doesn’t think the romance will last long.  Craig is a user, moving into her place and getting her to buy loads of marijuana, which starts off slow but becomes a daily, hourly obsession for him.  He sees Lisa as his property, and at a party, he tells his buddies “what’s mine is yours” and they can all have sex with Lisa if they want.

“Craig! Do you really mean that?  You  . . . don’t care if I have sex with other men?”

“Not all the time, baby. Just on certain occasions, when I feel in the mood. And tonight I felt like sharing you and our pad with some old buddies. I still feel like it, as a matter of fact. So let’s get going and get you high.”

Lisa fell bac into his arms, stunned and hurt […] She had no rght keeping him from entertaining his buddies — just because she was so jealous and didn’t want to share him with anyone.  So he wanted to show her off to his buddies. Nothing wrong with that. It was kind of nice, as a matter of fact […] He carried her into the living room.  Pausing on the threshold, he shouted for attention. “Now here this, all you cats. Here’s my chick, Lisa. And for tonight, what’s mine is yours.”

Three husky crew-cut young men, clad only in jockstraps, fell to their knees in front of Craig. They stretched out their brawny arms toward him. Craig spread his arms and let her drop down into their midst.  Her startled shrieks were lost in their roar of laughter and clapping from the others in the room. (pp.94-5)

There’s some lesbian sex too, like when Lisa spends the night in a Park Avenue pad and a maid who resembles her has sex with her, making Lisa like “she’s having sex with herself.”

Fran meanwhile has found a new young female paramour, Sally, to replace Lisa.  She hears of the crazy pot parties and orgies and admonishes Lisa that it’s only a matter of time before Craig starts pimping her out for money.  Lisa guffaws.

But in a matter of days, their money gone, Craig is desperate. He has been opening her mail and cashing checks not his, pawning her jewelry, telling her that what she owns he owns, vice versa — including her body.  He also seems to be hooked on heroin but denies it — similar in fact to The Needle, where the husband pimps his wife for junk and dollars, Craig talks Lisa into attending a “party” for a rich businessman they know, who will pay her $200 to “entertain” some out of town buyers. She thinks she’s just supposed to talk and act nice and then finds out she’s expected to have sex with any man at the party who wants it.  She narrowly escapes gang rape.

Lisa is a lot of Terry Southern’s Candy, so naive and always finding her way into sexual adventures she didn’t ask for; sometimes you can’t feel sorry for her for being so dumb, but she leans the hard way, with the help of Fran, who winds up getting murdered by Craig in a moment of madness.

That Other Hunger also has a lesbian-positive ending, where Lisa and Sally, grieving for Fran, wind up in each others’ arms, in bed, “wide awake and performing the ageless rituals of love” (p. 188).  Does the title refer to the twilight desire, or to heroin over pot?

The novel starts off slow, a tad too New York chic, but we slowly get sucked into Lisa’s sad glamor world of  modeling, drugs, and sex.

Score: B-.

Woman Doctor – Sloane Britain (Midwood, 1962)

Posted in lesbian pulp fiction, Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on April 9, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Another gorgeous Paul Rader cover. Lynn Munroe has this to say in his Rader/Midwood Checklist:

This cover may not actually make sense (how many psychiatric patients remove their dresses for therapy?), but it is an eyeful nonetheless. The poor dear has twisted herself around so much that both her breasts and bottom are heaving out of her slip, and even the good doctor is flashing a bit of stocking top and thigh.

Indeed!

Marion Zimmer Bradley didn’t think highly of this title, feeling BNritain/Williams had succumbed to the demands of commercial lesbian fiction.

And the book does tend to lean toward a commercial, predictable format, not as personal and riveting as other Britain novels like The Needle and These Curious Pleasures.

Dr. Erika Hathaway is a psychiatrist who crosses the ethical boundaries of her profession in many ways, with patients and co-workers.  She has her private practice and she is on staff at a hospital, working with committed patients who are, well, nuts or manic.  One, Arlene, is a nymphomaniac who seduces both men and woman and whom Erika has the hots for.

She also has the hots for a nurse, Mavia, who has latent lesbian feelings as well…and feelings for Arlene. Erika gets jealous.

One man, Tom, a medical writer, is in an influencing position of power with a foundation that is about to give the psychiatric wing a large grant for research.  He lets Erika know that if she sleeps with him, she will be on the team and benefit from the money and status of the research.  He tries to rape her one night but she hits him with a beer bottle.

Erika also sees her own psychiatrist for her own issues, especially those crossing ethical lines.

Throughout the story, we peer into Erika’s head and the past, with her first lesbian love, whom she lived with. It ended with heartbreak and Erika has been seeking out a woman to experience those feelings again.

An okay read.  Now and then, Britain delivers remarkable one-liners, such as: “The world does not die when the heart does” (p.89).

A B-minus all together.

Of Shame and Joy – Shedon Lord aka Lawrence Block (Midwood #29, 1960)

Posted in Lawrence Block, lesbian pulp fiction, Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Sheldon Lord, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on March 29, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Set in Provincetown, Rhode Island, instead of the usual Greenwich Village Block/Lord gay novel, Of Shame and Joy is about three people looking for an answer to their lustful longings and need to for love and connection.

First there is Sheila, a tall blonde nymphomaniac who loves sex but cannot reach orgasm, so has more sex to try to. She is tormented by her own desires.

There is Maddy, a young dark haired lesbian disowned by her family who falls in love with Sheila on first sight, but when she approaches Sheila, Sheila is appalled by the advances of “a dirty queer.”

There is Hank, who rescues Sheila after a crazy drunken night of a gang bang, having sex with over a dozen men. He’s a 21 year old virgin and loses his cherry to Sheila and falls in love with her.

Seems everyone falls in love with Sheila, except Sheila can love no one

It is a little soap opera-esque, the broken hearts of lovelorn men and women in P-town, and while not as good as some of Block’s other Sheldon Lords, a fairly good read.  I’d give it a B-minus.

One ting I did like was it did not have that slease-era patent “lesbians are evil” ending; instead, it has a romantic, happy lesbian ending with plenty of alluded to oral sex.

Vintage Paperback Show Purchases

Posted in Andrew Shaw, Lawrence Block, Midwood Books, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , on March 23, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks


Kept – Sheldon Lord aka Donald E. Westlake (Midwood #35, 1960)

Posted in Lawrence Block, Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags on March 18, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

What a beautiful cover art by Paul Rader!  Worth the price of admission alone…

If this one wasn’t listed at various places as having been penned by Donald Westlake, I would have thought it was one of Block’s Lords.  I believe it is the only Sheldon Lord penned exclusively by Westlake.  The only reason I can think that it wasn’t published as an Alan Marshall is that Midwood #36 is Marshal’s Virgin Summer and either Midwood or the Meredith Agency didn’t want two Marshals out back to back (#34 before it is Orrie Hitt’s excellent The Cheaters, one if his best).

Mark Taggert is 28, a drifter with no roots, hitch-hiking his way back to New York, looking for work and a roof over his head.  He gets a ride from beautiful Elaine, a 25-year-old rich girl looking for something — excitement, love, commitment.

Within hours after taking Mark home and sleeping with him, she feels she has met her soul mate.  She wants Mark to live with her. Only, he is uncomfortable with her money, he doesn’t want to feel like a “kept man.” He wants to make his own way, but what skills does he have to get a good job?  Elaine tells him it’s all about appearance — she will dress him in the right clothes, tell him how to act, fake it that he has a master’s degree from “Clifton College” — a fictional school in Ohio that appears in many Sheldon Lord/Andrew Shaw books and is based on Antioch College.

The guy in the mirror didn’t look much like Mark Taggert at all.  The guy in the mirror was Joe Sophistication, a neat suave son of a bitch dressed like something out of Esquire, a fashion plat with his neck and face fashionably tanned… (p. 59)

(This is similar, too, to Lover, the Andrew Shaw novel where a street savvy kid reinvents himself in order to move about Manhattan’s upper crust society.)

He gets a management job with a textbook publisher where he excels and moves up.  Still, he is only making $150 a week, little compared to Elaine’s $8,000 monthly dividends from her invested money.  He feels he needs to be free from her so gets his own place and starts a romance with a girl at the publisher, Sara, and when he asks her to marry him, he is floored when she says no.

She says she loves him but she is not “in love” with him, and they have a long debate on the various natures of sexual, romantic, and committed love — much like the sections in A Strange Kind of Love.

Kept shares a lot in common with A Strange Kind of Love — both are well-written and deal with emotional vulnerability and the use of sex to mask true emotions.

Another one that should be reprinted.