Archive for Evan Hunter

Las Vegas Lust by Dean Hudson aka Evan Hunter (Nightstand Books #1579, 1961)

Posted in crime noir, Lawrence Block, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Sheldon Lord, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on December 12, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This was the first of the twenty books that Evan Hunter did for William Hamling, and it is a nifty little gambling/crime book; in fact it reads, with it’s lack of the ususal sex scenes, like something Hunter may have written with Gold Medal or Dell or Avon in mind and could not sell, so he tacked on one detaled sex scene as the last chapter to make it fitting for Nightstand. That’s just a guess.

The protagonist is Mike McCloud, freshly sprung from the pen on a five year strecth for armed robbery. He grew up in a family of magicians and knows a lot of tricks. He hitch hikes to Vegas with nothing but the clothes on his back and $20 to his name. He walks into the Sunrise Hotel and heds to the craps table where, within hours, he turns twenty bucks into ten grand…he is using weighted dice palmed in his hand, a magician’s sleight of hand that not en the pit bosses know what he is doing. He then asks to see the owner, Frankie Harvard, and tells Harvard how he did a con to get the money, and asks for a job to catch hustlers. He gets the job.

The intricate details of gambling hustler tricks shows that Hunter knew some things here, reminding me of Lawrence Block’s/Shelon Lord’s The Sex Shuffle aka Lucky at Cards in certain ways that card game hustles were shown.

Lynn Munroe’s take on Las Vegas Lust should be noted:

McCloud is a laconic, flawed, tough gambling antihero, the kind of guy Paul Newman and Steve McQueen were playing in movies like The Hustler and The Cincinnati Kid. McCloud goes to work for the casinos, busting the con artists and grifters who breeze through the story. The sex scenes seem added on (they probably were), and one way you can tell Hudson’s heart isn’t in it is that all the different women are described in exactly the same words (every single one of them, we are told, has “long and dark” nipples). None of the “variety is the spice of life” smorgasbord of feminine types of the Clyde Allison books is at play here. Although the story eventually peters out into a thoroughly unbelievable ending with plot holes you could drive a fleet of trucks through, there is enough going on here to make us want to give Hudson another try. If, that is, you can believe a cutie Vegas lounge singer/gambling addict could be a virgin. Of course, our virile stud Mike McCloud will handle that at the climax.

True, the solution to McCloud’s big problem — the $53,000 gambling debt the virgin singer he is in love with racks up, a debt he takes on so she won’t have to become a hooker and fuck her way out of the jam — is a bit convoluted and strange, when with his skills he could easily do some tricky gambling and come up with the cash. The crazy solution is…well, unqiue.

The book is good enough for a revival, however; would make a fine Hard Case Crime title.

Sinville – Dean Hudson aka Evan Hunter – Nightstand, 1962

Posted in crime noir, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on December 9, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Evan Hunter (The Blackboard Jungle) was a wonderful paperback hack in his career and wrote under many pen names, mostly know  for Ed McBain. Few seem to know he penned 20 books for William Hamling as Dean Hudson. Thse Hudsons published after 1964 are not his.

Sinville is quite the find. I have had this one lying around for two years, not sure where I got it or how much I paid, but it is listing for $90 online.

This has Hunter’s tough, hardboiled style written all over it. The narrator is an interesting character: clean-cut, boyish-looking, wears a suit, carries an umbrella, Harvard educated, and a stone cold ruthless criminal and killer. He breezes into Sinville, part of Centre City, and quickly takes over the territory by shooting the neighborhood boss. Then he kills the area boss. He beds a few women, keeps on killing, keeps on moving up…meanwhile, he has to contend with a millionaire do-gooder out to clean up all the hooking, drug-selling and sundicate influence in Centre City. He is in for quite a surprise when he finds out who exactly runs the crime ring. This is pure Manhunt-style stuff.

The sex scenes are a different fair than the usual Nightstands, where an encounter is tossed in every other chapter. Hunter/Hudson devotes entire chapters to one sex act, going into sensual, almost poeic detail of every movement, kiss, and penetration. Nothing tedious, and gives the story a curious flow as other chapters have the guy shooting, cutting and strangling one person after the other.

This is the first Dean Hudson I have read and I will certainly be reading many more.

I’m Cannon — For Hire by Curt Cannon aka Evan Hunter/Ed McBain (Gold Medal, 1958)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , on March 6, 2011 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Before Block’s Matthew Scudder, there was Curt Cannon, a private eye with a severe drinking problem.  His name later changed to … with the Ed McBain byline, published The Gutter and the Grave by Ed McBain (aka Evan Hunter of Blackboard Jungle fame) by Hard Case Crime — Cannon’s  name changed to Matt Cordel. Seems Hunter was reluctant to have this old book reprinted, similar to Lawrence Block was with Grifter’s Game, but, like Block’s, critical and fan reception was positive. This is tough Manhunt-style, two-fisted hardboiled noir.

In fact, Cannon appeared in the first issue of Manhunt; there were four other stories, later collected in I Like ‘Em Tough.

In this nifty little hardboiled novel, Cordell lives on the streets in the Bowery, drinking his pain away until he passes out.  An old friend, Johnny Bridges, tracks him down, needing Cordell’s help in the detective realm. Cordell has no interest, and reminds his buddy that his license was yanked after an unfortunate incident that occurred when he found his wife cheating on him.

Johnny talks Cordell into it anyway — seems simple: Johnny operates a tailor shop and he believes his partner is reaching into the till. Cordell goes to the shop with Johnny and they find the partners dead body there.

The last thing Cordell wants or needs is to get involved in a homicide. But he is. Johnny is arrested for the murder and Cordell has to clear his buddy’s name and find the real killer. But first he must shave, shower, get a new suit, and look presentable. He doesn’t stop drinking, though.  And along the way there are women who throw their bodies at him, more dead bodies, and two-fisted moments in the noir fiction vein.

A fun read, whether you read the Gold Medal or Hard Case version.