Archive for Gil Brewer

Little Tramp by Gil Brewer (Crest Book #173, 1957)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on May 10, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Bought this one at the Mission Hills Paperback event last March for $20 — I couldn’t pass on the great cover art.

But it’s not one of Gil Brewer’s best, I have to report, not up there with The Vengeful Virgin.

Gary Dunn is a simple guy — a not-too-bright lug with some jail time behind him, who can’t hold down jobs for long, and who can have a temper when he gets out of control.  He’s working at a lumber yard and things seem to be going okay so far; people like him and he’s planning on getting married to a swell gal named Dolores — “Doll” he calls her.

One day he helps out a damsel in distress — teenage Arlene Harper has a flat tire on the road and he changes it for her.  She tries to give him a necklace in payment but he refuses.  She suggests sex, he’s not interested.  She does some checking on him and finds out he works at the lumber yard that her tycoon father, Mr. Frederick Harper, owns.

She requests his presence at her home and when he finds her there, he wants to leave.  He knows she’s a teeny vixen and trouble.  She complains that her rich father never gives her any money and proposes a plan where, with his help, they can extort money from daddy.

Daddy shows up and sees the two in what looks like a compromising position.  Gary loses his job over it.  He goes to a bar to get drunk and Arlene finds him there.

Next thing he knows he’s awake in some cabin, hungover, and Arlene is with him.  She forces him to help in her plan — she has been kidnapped, and they will demand ransom money from Daddy Harper.  If he doesn’t go along, she will accuse him of kidnapping and raping her and his life will go down the shithole.

It seems like an unlikely scheme to get money, but Arlene is a few fries short of a Happy Meal and doesn’t think straight.  Does she really want/need money or does she just want to play games out of boredom, or mess with her father’s mind?

Of course, later we come to find out that her real issue with her father’s “love” for her is an incestuous nature — whether he’s having sex with his daughter or she thinks that is what he wants, by the possessive way he treats her, is in her mind.

Either way, she is sexually reckless, an often tell-tale sign of a teenage girl secretly sleeping with dad — a private eye shows up at the cabin, he’s been on Arlene’s tail for a while, keeping an eye on her shenanigans and cleaning up messes at her her father’s request.  For instance, at the private school she attends, she was running an escort service of young female students; one got pregnant and the private eye helped the girl get an abortion and keep quiet about the prostitution on campus.  The gumshoe has also “convinced” certain boys and men she beds to keep mum about Arlene’s loose nature.

This shamus is tired of doing this shitwork, and he knows of Arlene’s faux kidnap plan and has his own designs of taking the ransom money himself and retiring.

Fast-paced, absurd, weird, this is a good read, but not Brewer’s best.  The cover, however, is worth the price of admission alone.

Wild by Gil Brewer (Gold Medal, 1958)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , on December 1, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Private eye Lee Baron has come from California to take over his dead father’s P.I. biz in Florida.  His first client is an old high school flame, Ivor Hendrix (Ivy?), who has had a spat with her trailer park husband and is afraid he’ll beat or kill her; she wants Lee to go talk to him and make sure all is okay.

It’s difficult for Lee, to see his old flame again, to remember all that youthful lust and fumblings…she’s older, but sexier, a woman he still has some feeings for.

He goes to the trailer out there in the Florida backwoods, and finds the husband: dead, and not a pretty decaying body.

He muses: “A corpse looks strange with no arms.” (p. 14).

Brewer jumps right into the action, wasting little time with character set-up. Dead bodies, big fat philosophizing thugs, wayward young women, love sick salesmen, a hound dog, cliched cops, backwoods hicks, shady guys in backroom bars, another dead body, $400K from a bank heist, this book has all the hackneyed elements from any PI novel.  But in 1958, they were not so hackneyed — other writers have since borrowed, pilfered, and appropriated so that the elements are now cliche.

It’s a bit predictable.  Brewer was not cut out for the gumshoe genre — with The Venegul Virgin and The Three-Way Spilt, he was best suited to crime, caper, and double-cross. There’s a double-cross here, of course, but you see it coming.

A fun read, though; but on the  1-10 scale, I’d give it a 7.

Three-Way Split by Gil Brewer (Gold Medal, 1960)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , on October 7, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Brewer - 3 Way Split

Another breezy fast-paced Gil Brewer crime novel set in Ft. Lauderdale and the Florida Keys, with bad fathers, cookie cutter gangsters, drunk wenches, and the sweet girlfriend who wants to get married.

Jack Holland is a boat bum…owns a sailboat that he charters now and then but is behind the rent on the dock slip, his phone and electricity turned off…his girlfriend, Sally, wants to get married before they get too intimate.  She has a wild sister, Vivian, a drunk wench who gets involved with Jack’s father.

Jack and his father don’t have the best relationship since Jack’s mother died when he was young.  Sam, the father, is a con man and grifter, always out for the big cash grab, and he has shown up with the mob sending hit men for an old debt…Sam kills the first “slgnutty” who comes after him.

Brewer - 3 Way Split UK

During a charter, Jack had dived into the ocean to retrieve a fake diamond necklace that went overboard and spots an old wrecked ship 2 fathoms down.  He tells a fried, Mike, about it — Mike is in his 70s, a retired treasure hunter and deep sea salvage man. Mike thinks the recent hurricane brought the old ship out from a sand burial, and that it could be one of 3 Spanish ships that vanished in 1724, with $700,000 of gold onboard.

But how to get to it before the next storm buries it?  Mike is too old for diving and Jack does not have the experience diving that deep in a dive suit.  They can’t hire a pro diver because (1) they don’t have the money and (2) a diver would blab his mouth and word would spread and everyone and their brother would be out to salvage the boat, not to mention the government making a claim on the gold, which often happens when people find old wrecks.

But Jack is desperate for money and Mike is desperate for one last deep sea salvage adventure in his autumnal years, so Mike gives Jack a crash course with an old diving suit.

To add to the mess, Jack’s no-good father gets wind of it all and thinks he’s entitled to part of the loot just because Jack is his son, and he could re-pay the mob what he owes (didn’t Han Solo have the same problem with Jabba the Hutt?)…and then the ob goons find out…now everyone wants a piece of the action, although no one knows if there’s anything on the ship, like gold.

The setting and situation is different than most urban crime noirs and that’s a welcome change.  There is a lot of detail about diving, so either Brewer did his homework well or had experience

“I felt the air rushing into my helmet an dthe pump transmitting its energy along the hose and into the old diving suit. I clung to th elife line, sick with wanting to be back aboard the boat, swaying with the surge of the violent overhead. It was bad. There were two toughs waiting up there with guns cocked. And they had my girl. It was either dive or stop a bullet with my skull. So I dove. I took it too fast and the changing colors of the water flashed past like the patterns in a kid’s kaleidoscope. Then my feet struck bottom. And there she was – like an enormous black monster, teetering on the sand bank. Two people had already died for the treasure in her rotten hull, and I was next in line.”

Like all noirs stories, things never work out quite right, with the two mob guys and his desperate dad waiting on the boat for the riches to come up, while Jack rishs his wife at the bottom of the ocean…

Stark House reprinted this one with another Brewer classic…

Brewer - 3 Way Split Stakr House

The Vengeful Virgin by Gil Brewer (Crest Book #238, 1958)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Brewer - Venegful Virgin

Gil Brewer – another self-destructive writer of interesting crime and sleaze novels that, like William Knoles, Elaine Williams, and countless others, drank himself to death, and is nearly forgotten except by crime noir, vintage paperback, and paperback history buffs.

Brewer, like Harry Whittington, lived in Florida and set most of his novels there.  The Veneful Virgin is another one of those “let’s kill the ruch old man and take his money and I’ll fuck you forever, darling” novels with a wayward beauty and a dizzy heel.  This one has a twist, of sorts — the girl is the step-daughter of the rich old dying man, instead of the wife.

Jack is a TV repairman in his 20s.  He may be too good-looking for his own good, as women flock to him — an ex-girlfriend, Grace, he can’t get rid of, an 18-year-old girl desperate for a new life, Shirley, and her lonely married neighbor.

Jack pays a visit for TV and intercom installations to a house and is set by auburn-haired bombshell Shirley, who takes care of her nearly invalid step-father, who has nearly $400,000 in the bank.  Shirley seduces Jack and tells him how much she wants out, needs out, and there’s money…Jack has no idea she’s a virgin when he takes her.

The two immediately plot the murder. To make things complicated, the woman next door has the hots for him and won’t leave him alone; her husband has been away to Alaska and she’s lonely.  And Jack’s possessive ex-, Grace, keeps showing up at the wrong place, wrong times.

The neighbor gets wind of the plot and Shirley kills the woman, and then they kill the step-father.  Jack disposes of the woman’s body into a bass lake.

All along, it’s hard to think how stupid Jack is, easily whipped by teen pussy into doing this.  That’s all that’s on his mind: her hot young body, plus the money she’s worth, and the new life both will give him…but many of these stories end up in a double-cross, right?  Even Jack wonders if she’s playing him.  But she’s not…she really is in love with Jack, until she wonders if he loves the money more than her.

People suspect, the cops come around…Jack and Shirley skip town with a bag full of cash, followed by his crazy ex and — yep, things just go to shit for poor Jack.  Our noir guys just never get away with the cash, the girl, and murder — they always have to meet tragic ends…

This is a fast-paced read — Brewe wrote it in a matter of days, like he did many of his best, and the writing doesn’t suffer, and we feel that dizzy sense of craziness.

I look forward to readng more Brewer books.

Hard Case Crime has also reprinted this.

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