Archive for con game

Recoil by Jim Thompson (Lion Books, 1953)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , on March 30, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

The Blazk Lizard edition:

This isn’t Thompson’s best, this is no Grifters, Getaway or Killer Inside Me. However, even Thompson not at his best is better than many during the era.

Pat, the narrator, has been in prison for 15 years for a bank robbery where nothing was stolen. He could spend his life behind bars unless he can find some outstanding citizen to sponsor his parole.  He sends out a number of letters…

An angel comes to spring him, in the guise of Doc. Doc acts like he is doing a good deed to atone for his sins, and says Pat got a crappy deal on the sentence.  Doc has alos enlisted the help of a Senator for the parole, securing Pat a government worker job.

Enter Doc’s wife who isn’t his wife, some shady characters, textbook salesmen, and a private ye Pat hires to find out the real reason Doc sprung him.  The gumshoe winds up dead and the cops finger Pat for it.

Before Pat goes back to the hoosegaw, he wants to know what the hell this is all about.  It seems convoluted at first, Doc swindling some money to get a certain textbook banned from the schools so the competing publisher can get that lucrative state-wide grant, selling thousands of textbooks at high prices.

But what really is going on, the Doc using that bribe money to guy ten life insurance policies on himself, fake his murder and make it look like Pat did it, and hiding out for a year as his real wife collcts the $100,000 double indemnity payouts.


Yes, it gets Chandler-esque in its strange crime plot, and kind of corny at the end with a two-page “happily ever after” ending where Pat gets an investigator job for foilibg Doc’s plans, and winds up with Doc’s wife as his own.


But a fun read, more goofy than dark.

Mona by Lawrence Block (Gold Medal, 1961)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Block - Mona2An early Block with quite a history. It’s been reprinted twice since its Gold Medal debut in 1961 — as Sweet Slow Death in 1986 from Jove, Mona in 1994 from Carroll & Graf,  and as Grifter’s Game as the the first offering from Hard Case Crime in 2005.  A lot of mileage for an old title that has now become somewhat a classic in 60s noir.

block-791579I read somewhere that Block had started this one as a Nightstand title, and $20 Lust as something for Gold Medal or Beacon, but things got switched around, and when his agent Henry Morrison at Scott Meredith read the manuscript, he concluded it was good enough for Gold Medal and under Block’s own name.  Thus, Mona became the first paperback Block had his name on the cover, instead of Lesley Evans, Sheldon Lord, or Andrew Shaw.

There’s a Mona, a dead ex-wife, in $20 Lust (aka Cinderella Sims), talked about earlier, and a number of Monas show up in Block’s Andrew Shaw books.  She’s like Harry Whittington’s Cora, popping up often in different, same soul.

Block’s many Monas are just no good…tramps, cheats, and liars all…

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