Archive for blackmail

A Swell-Looking Babe by Jim Thompson (Lion Books, 1954; Black Lizard Books, 1987)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , on December 17, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

A third-person narrative, where Thompson normally wrote his best in first person, of young Dusty Rhodes, a bellhop in an “upscale” ($15 a night) hotel that never lets a single woman take a roon, because chnaces are she is a working girl, and young couples must show marriage certificates, and more importantly: employees are forbidden to spend some time in any guests rooms, especially the male employees with female guests. Dusty has had some propositions but thus far has ignored temptation, until one swell-looking babe from Dallas comes rolling into town and takes a room…her looks even make the night desk clerk forget that she is a single woman, and she gets the special rate of $10 a night.

His life basically sucks. He was going to college with an intent of becoming a doctor, but then his mom died, and his father lost his teaching job because he had signed a petition associated with an American Communist group. It is the early 1950s, there is the red scare and the black listing. His father’s health is bad and his mind is slipping. Dustyhad to quit college and get a job not take care of his dad, and pay the lawyer handling his dad’s lawsuit to get his job back.  Working the night shift at the Manton Hotel is better for him, the tips are better.

One of the residents is a former botegger and wise guy with underworld crime connections named Tug. He always has wise guys coming to visit him. Tug has taken a liking to the young bellhop Dusty.

One night the swell-looking babe calls up for stationary and Dusty brings itto her…he is met with her half-naked body and a lipstick smeared kiss…then she pushes him away and starts screaming…the furniture in her room is upturned…Tug comes to his rescue, tells him gthe broad is setting hm up and do’t worry, kid, ol’ Tug will take care of it.

Dusty can’t believe she has set him up for a lawsuit at the hotel; she will claim he tried to rape her; the hotel will pay her off to keep quiet. He has heard of such scams. But he has Tug onhis side, Tug and his boys have whisked Marcia away, but Tug wants Dusty to do soemthing for him: help him rob the hotel of the safe desposit boxes where some of the guests, in for the horse races, keep a lot of money, at least $200K all together…

Murders happen, doublecrosses, the babe from Dallas is in on it with Tug, they had set him up all along…and despite Dusty trying to do the right thing, nothing works out for him.

Like many Thompson novels, a noir read with a dark twist ending.

Always fun.

Swell-looking babes:

Gutter Road by Don Elliott aka Robert Silverberg (Sundown Reader 514, 1964)

Posted in crime noir, Don Elliott, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , on December 4, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This one is structurally a little different than Silverberg’s otrher softcore titles, or even his work in general — generally, Silverberg keeps to the point of view of one character, either in the first or third person. Gutter Road is a multi-character multi-POV story that seems like the kind Lawrence Block did — and we might have thought this was a Block if it had Andrew Shaw’s byline, but there are too many tell-tale signs of Silverberg’s typerwriter.

The little novel concerns a variety of mid life and sexual crises. Fred baumann is a CPA who, one night, picks up a young female hitchhiker, Joanne.  They park.  She seduces him.  In the middle of it all, she tells him no and fights him off but his blood is boiling too much. When all is said and gone, Joanne tells Fred she will go to the cops and claim rape if he does not pay her $20,000. He realizes he’s just been had, and under blackmail. A rape charge would ruin his career and cause him to lose his wife and teenage daughter.

He doesn’t have that kind of money so they agree on a $5,000 down payment and $100 a week until the end of the year.  Joanne knows she is getting more than she expected; she usually gets a few grand for each sucker; she has been a stripper and a streetwalker since she was nineteen and blackmailing men is lucrative for her, and keeps her and her hood boyfriend in money. She freely gives him her money and lets him have other women as long as he comes by each night and loves her up a few times.

Meanwhile, Fred Baumann’s wife, having no idea that their savings has just been hijacked, is getting hot and bothered in her middle-years.  She is not getting attention from Fred, so she starts offering herself to delivery men and repairmen and anyone else who shows up at the door.

Their 15-year-old daughter, Karen, wants to be bad, wants to be ravished, but she only dates nice boys who won’t take her when she offers. She masturbates in her bed to common rape fantasies: of hooded men breaking into the house, crawling into her window and taking her by force.  One night, in the wrong neighborhood, she is grabbed by a street gang guy, a knife held to her, and taken to a clubhouse where she is gang raped by a group of boys. They are flabbergasted when she drinks beer and undresses and tells them to do it.  This is her fantasy come true, right? But reality is too much, and although in terror, she falls into lust, the gang bang goes on for hours with men from all over the neighborhood libing up, broken up by the cops who investigate what is going on. The scene pays homage to the intense, surreal gang rape scene in Last Exit to Briooklyn.

And then Fred decides to murder Joanne because he can’t keep paying her,

Another good vintage read from Robert Silverberg.

Wine, Women, and Love by Adam Snavely (Kozy Books #160, 1962)

Posted in crime noir, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

When I previously examined Adam Snavely’s The Big Flick, I was impressed and wondered who this guy was, or whose pen name it was and to date I still don’t know (I have heard Adam Coulter, but I don’t know who that is either).  “Snavely” published seven books with Kozy, the rest are Bait, 2-4 Sex, Love Drive, Pool Side Pushover, and Split Level Love. I will get to them all eventually — they are all set in Los Angeles, so that’s one clue; the writer was probably L.A.-located.

Wine, Women and Love is a subtle suspense thriller involving domestic espionage, blackmail, and a group of shady government operatives.  The protagonist is a woman in her mid to late 20s, Peggy Porter; the first chapter opens with her in bed with some drunk man, a man who is important in some way.  She has lured him to her hotel room.  Just as the clothes are off and they are in the middle of coitus, several men burst into the room and start taking photos.

The intention here: blackmail the guy.

At first you think they’re grifters targeting rich men, or private eyes, but we get the sensation — it’s never quite said, only hinted at — that Peggy works for these government agents who target certain “key” men in Los Angeles with blackmail and extortion, to make use of at a later date. The group is headed by a sleazy suit named Al Manning, who seems to be power hungry in the political arena.  Is he an operative of . Edgar Hoover?  The operation sounds like the sort of illegal doings Hoover had FBI agents do in the 1950s-70s.

Peggy isn’t an agent; she seems to be a woman with some sort of criminal entanglement,  possible conviction, and she herself is under extorted measures:  she is doing this to keep out of prison.  She’s not the only one; the group has several women working undercover to get dirt and sleaze from various people….

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Lucy by Kay Addams (aka Orrie Hitt), Beacon Books #308

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , on September 12, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Hitt - Adams Lucy

A couple people asked me: “Does Orrie Hitt write difffrently under a female pseudonym or with his other pen names?”  Good question. Some writers do; some don’t. Some try; some don’t care, and some have no choice such as those who wrote for Nightstand and had house names like John Dexter and J.X. Williams forced on their work (not that they cared much, when the books were done for money rather than  literary prosperity).

“Kay Addams” is both a character and a pen name for Mr. Hitt — the books My Secret Perversions and My Wild Night with Nine Nudists are (both from Novel) written “as told to Orrie Hitt.”  This one, Lucy, and the lesbian novels Three Strange Women, Queer Patterns, and The Strangest Sin (all from Beacon) are “by” Addams.

Addams - Secret Perversions of Kay Addams

Lucy is about hopeless lower middle-class people who cannot pay their bills on time, never have enough money for anything, and drink too much to numb reality.  They have lousy jobs and sex gets them into trouble.  In many ways, this novel is like a Raymond Carver story — not that Hitt has the refined literary blue collarness of Carver, but these charcaters defintely live in Carver Country and the subject matter is something Carver would have tackled had he ever wrote a novel.  In fact, the “voice” reminded me of when Carver writes in the female first person, like his stories “So Much Water So Close to Home” and “Chef’s House” — you know this is not a woman writing, it is a man trying to see things through a woman’s eyes.

Lucy Corbin is married to Dale Corbin, a sorry fellah who manages his father’s insurance agency office in Manhattan.  His father is none too pleased with Dale because Lucy was a secretary there and he has a rule against employees dating, nonetheless marrying.  Lucy was married once before as a teenager, pregnant to a boy whose family tought she was poor white trash.  She lost the baby and lost the husband. She moved to New York City, got a job at an insurance agency, dated the office manager, and now here she is: living in the suburbs outside Manhattan in a place called the Hallows, a development part of the town Crestview with track homes sub-divided by economic class: lower-mid, middle, and upper crust middle dwellings.

Dale makes $200 a week. He gives Lucy $80 a week to which she uses to pay the mortgage, pay the various bills, buy groceries and booze, and more booze.  Often bills will go late in favor of booze.  She has not been able to buy herself any new clothes or shoes in three years.  She wants a baby but can they afford that?

Lucy is also a looker with a 40-inch bust.  Does any woman in Orrie Hitt’s universe have C, B, or A cups?  All his ladies are always overtyly busty, but this time Lucy mentions she feels she’s too big and wishes her boobs were smaller.

What does Dale do with the other $120 a week?  He says he needs it to take out clients, hotel rooms when he stays late and doesn’t catch the last train out of the city.  She knows he is having an affair but keeps quiet, until one day he gets drunk and confesses that he has been carrying on with a 17-year-old girl in the office — seems she is pregnant and if he doesn’t give her money for an abortion, or to live on, she will tell his father and he’ll lose his job, and she will put him in jail for statutory rape.  She wants $5,000.  It’s blackmail, obviously.

Lucy’s reaction is to drink. So does Dale. They get roaring drunk, fight, scream, have drunken sex like two Carver characters.  They drink when they wake up, drink all day until they pass out.  They drink with the neighbors who are just as miserable. They sit in bars with miserable lower-class people who talk aout how miserable their lives are and how many unpaid bills there are. To “make things even,” Lucy sleeps with two men in Crestville: the new neighbor and the guy who cleans the windows.

The teenage girl goes to Dale’s dad and tells him her son got her in a family way and dad fires them both.  She says she will go to the cops and have him arrested — she’s 17 after all.  Dale disappears when he catches Lucy with the neighbor.

Having to fend for herself, Lucy sells comestics door to door; at first she does well, but when she runs out of customers in town, ot ready for new orders, her income falls to nothing.

Addams - Lucy

There’s a rich woman who owns all the houses, who has their mortagge, Mrs. Williams — she married the developer and when he died, she inherited over 100 houses and collects all the mortgage payments. She tells Lucy there is a better way to make money and many of the good-looking local wives do it: in her 12-room mansion, Mrs. Williams runs a part time brotel, catering to well-to-do business men she knows.

Giving in to economic reality, Lucy agrees, but on her first day, the place is raided by the cops and she gets arrested.

Her husband shows up in court.  She gets off with probation.  Dale tells her that the girl got in a car accident and it was found out she is 19 an wasn’t pregnant, so he is off the hook.  They decide to give a go at their marrage again. Happy ending?  “We’ve learned that you don’t buy happiness,” she writes at the end. “You live it. And you live it together” (p.155).  Also like a Carver ending.  Was Carver reading Hitt in 1960?  he could have been.

Hitt tries for a little more sympathy and tenderness writing as a woman, but the Hitt misery and sleaziness is present.  I wonder now how he writes as Roger Normandie, Nicky Weaver (private eye stuff) and Charles Verne.

Weaver - Hitt - Love or Kill Them All

Love Nest by Loren Beauchamp (1959)

Posted in Loren Beauchamp, Midbook Books, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , on May 29, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

love-nest

One of Silverberg’s early Midwood titles, while he was still “David Challon” and “Mark Ryan” for Bedstand Books, and just starting Don Elliotts for Nightstand.

This is an odd, dark story with a bleak but “happy ending.”  Mike Foster is a cad married to a very wealthy woman.  he used to be a TV repairman and was  “seduced” by the defiant, rebellious fdaughter of a industrial tycoon.  The couple sleep in separate rooms; Foster has an apartment in Manhattan where he keeps his various mistresses, usually strippers he meets.  It’s always the same: at first they are all right with the arragement with this married man, because he has access to his wife’s money and the wife seems to look the other way…or Foster doesn’t discuss his girlfriends (his wife also bops the occasional man); then they want more, marriage and all that, and they know he will never divorce his wife because that would be the end of the money faucet for him.  So he goes from one woman to another…

The novel concerns two of his girlfriends, as he goes back and forth between them. Both are “B-girls.”  One, Peggy, finds out she’s three months pregnant after Foster dumps her; she blackmails him: she will tell his wife about the affair unless he givs her $10 grand, so she can get an illegal abortion (this is pre-Row v. Wade era) and start a new life in California  (10K was like 100K back then, maybe more).

It’s a late term abortion and risky.  Foster gets the money and his wife knows what is up but keeps quiet on the matter.  Peggy dies on the operating table.  Foster confesses what happened to his wife. Foster’s wife confesses her love and wants a new start.  A happy ending?

This is unlike the other Beauchamps that are told from the woman’s POV and ends with a sappy romantic ending like Connie, Meg, Nurse Carolyn, and Another Night, Another Love. Foster is left with his guilt over Peggy’s death, wrought with fear that his wife will divorce him, and surprised when she suggests they begin their marriage a-new.