Archive for heist fiction

Lemons Never Lie by Richard Stark aka Donald E. Westlake (World Publishing, 1971; Hard Case Crime, 2006)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction with tags , , , on August 21, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Richard Stark books were the more violent,  hard-boiled side of Donald Westlake’s fiction. Stark mainly wrote about Parker and his crime crew, with off-shoots like this one centered around Alan Grofield, one of Parker’s crew. Grofield does heists and robberies to fund his true love: a Midwest small theater he runs. (Theater figures in several of Westlake’s Midwood titles, too.)

The novel opens with Grofield in Vegas; he gets off the plane and pulls the lever of a slot machine, getting three lemons and a meager winning. While people around him see this as a lucky move, Grofield knows the omen is bad. He almost turns around, but decides to stay to do the crime job he’s been chosen for…a job that goes haywire with no profit.  He should have known better.

He goes back home, broke, back to the theater…but soon other guys from the botched job show up, and it’s a race from New Orleans to New York to get the guy who double-crossed them.

It’s a fun, fast-paced read.  The book has been reprinted a number of times over the decades, from Foul Play Press to Countryman Press, and finally a Hard Case Crime edition.

Crossroads of Lust by Andrew Shaw (Lawrence Block), Midnight Reader, 1962

Posted in Andrew Shaw, crime noir, Lawrence Block, Nightstand Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This Shaw is definitely penned by Lawrence Block — his style is all over it.  It’s essentially a heist crime yarn, in tune with the other crime fiction he was penning for Gold Medal and Beacon at the time.

Interestingly, Crossroads of Lust, another Shaw called Lust Campus, and John Dexter’s Passion Bride, were considered obscene for sado-masochistic imagery, as found in People v. Sikora, 32 Ill. 2d 260, 267-268, 204 N. E. 2d 768, 772-773 (1965), footnoted in a 1977 Supreme Court Case, Ward v. Illinois, appealing a conviction for selling obscene materials.  Justice Brennan noted in footnote 3 of his dissent:

The Illinois Supreme Court described the materials as follows, 32 Ill. 2d, at 267-268, 204 N. E. 2d, at 772-773: “`Lust Campus’ by Andrew Shaw is a story of sexual adventures on a [431 U.S. 767, 772] college campus `where even members of the faculty taught sin and evil.’ The book describes homosexuals `necking’ on a public beach; mutual masturbation; self fondling; a circle of persons engaged in oral-genital contact; rape; intercourse; lesbian intercourse; cunnilingus and flagellation; flagellation with barbed wire; an abortion with red-hot barbed wire; masturbation with a mirror reflection, and a transvestite episode. “`Passion Bride’ by John Dexter described curricular and extracurricular sexual episodes that take place during a honeymoon on the French Riviera. The book describes masturbation; intercourse; a party between an old man and three prostitutes; attempted intercourse in a bath; lesbian foreplay; flagellation; rape ending in the death of the female from a broken back and intercourse ending in the broken back of the male participant. “`Crossroads of Lust’ by Andrew Shaw describes the sexual adventures of various persons in a small town. There are numerous descriptions of intercourse; lesbian intercourse; oral-genital contact; and rape. A woman stabs a man in the course of intercourse, completing the act after he is dead. There are also three voyeurism scenes, two of which involve watching lesbian love play. The third is characterized by sadism and masochism.”

Did/does Lawrence Block know that his pen-named smut became a part of legal history, as a number of Cornith/Nightstand/Greenleaf books did?

Lynn Munroe notes that Crossroads of Lust is

a violent crime novel about an armored truck robbery. The Western movie The Sound of Far-off Tom-toms is on page 27 and, the John Dexter book No Longer a Virgin (NB1513) is mentioned by name on page 72.

Munroe has suggested that No Longer a Virgin, the first John Dexter novel, was penned by Block, or by Block and Westlake…I’ll get to that one soon…

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