Archive for mob

The Many Faces of John Dexter #10: Miami Call Girl by Al James (Reed Nightstand #3019, 1973)

Posted in crime noir, John Dexter, Nightstand Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on July 29, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

We read the 1973 Reed Nightstand edition of this one, which had the same title of an early Nightstand, a Dexter penned by Al James.

Al James generally published all his softcores under his own name, with Cornith, Midwood, Novel, etc. (we have a stack of them here, ready to get to).  He was the son of popular crime noir author Day Keene, a Harry Whittington buddy and compatriot. The crime element influenced is present in Miami Call Girl.

Mandy is a young, hot hooker who works the hotel racket with her pimp, Philip. Phillip found her in the stix, a backwoods girl doing ten dollar tricks with a bad home life and a molesting father. He took her out of the hay and put her on the beach, where she commands $100 a throw, entertaining 3-5 men a day/night.

She meets Jim, a dashing lawyer who rescues her from being “raped” twice, by a pimply teenager with hot hormones and a room full of fat ugly businessmen who want to gang bang her.

She sees Jim as her knight in shining shields, a man who will whisk her away from her sordid life as a whore. He claims he loves her and wants to marry her.  She goes for it.  So long, Miami call girl life, hello to easy life as a big time Chicago lawyer’s bride.

Or so she thinks…

Once she gets to Chicago, she finds out differently. One, Jim has never really touched her, made love to her, not even on their quick Miami wedding night. Two, he expects her to sexually service anyone who wants it, from his driver to all the mob guys he represents.

Seems he wanted a hot hooker wife for two reasons: as flesh for his mob clients to exploit, so they can trust some floozy isn’t recording them for criminal info; and as a “beard” to cover up the fact that Jim is gay, as a front for his more legitimate clients.

A quirky book, fun at times, with a too-smoothly and unbelievable ending (as if any of these books have believable endings, but you know what we mean). A B-minus and worth checking out, and well see how the other Al James titles fare…

Mary Learns How by Anonymous (Pendulum Books, 1968)

Posted in pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on March 18, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Mary Learns How…Pendulum didn’t do the best books, and each novel seemed to have a bonus short story attached, maybe to get up page count…

We add this one in because the story of the publisher is a curious one …Pendulum was located in Atlanta, Georgia, and connected with the mob, producing porn reels and running adult movie theaters and whatnot.  Apparently the publisher/owner shot his CPA over a money disagreement sometime in the 1970s and went to prison for life…

For Your Reading Pleasure..

For centuries, the introduction of young, nubile girls into the mysteries of sex has held unparalleled interest for most men. Reflected in such major works as Lucian’s Dialogues and elsewhere, the literary expression of such interest has found its way into the literature of the Western world, though admittedly much of it on the level of sub rosa erotica.
The two selections included in this fine volume, Mary Learns How and Mandy’s Adventures, both deal with the defloration of a virgin and her subsequent acceptance, nay, eager participation in scenes of more and more outrageous sexuality. These books might well become of great interest to those among the professions who find in works of folk literature an expression of the secret longings, most savagely repressed desires. Only by bringing to light these previously suppressed works can we hope to reach a complete, thorough understanding of the strange, devious, but eternally fascinating workings of the human mind.
The story of Mary and of Mandy is not that of the girl next door.

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Flames of Desire by M.J. Deer (France Books, 1963)

Posted in pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , on January 8, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

I have a number of titles from France Books here, that I will be looking at over the forthcoming months.

France seems to have been a part of the Hollywood-Los Angeles-vased American Art Enterprises, that had a number of imprints like Boudoi, Epic, Pillow, and later reprinted Midwood books under new titles and pen names when they acquired Harry Shorten’s inventory, because he owed them money, and American Art was known to have mob-ties — you don’t owe the mob money without having problems.  The Mafia had its hands in the sleaze book biz by the end of the 1960s and in the 70s, responsible for some really bad, trashy books.

The curious thing about France is that the book neverlist the author on the cover or spine, only on the ttle page.  Some of the photo model covrs also folded out, showing more of the women.

This particular book, Flames of Desire, is a grand example of a cover that has nothing whatsoever with the text. The cover, as you can see, shows a man and woman going at in a convertible — a common image for sleaze books, but the back cover copy tells something else:

The Ancients of the 20th Century, with their Ten Days’ War, had left the western country a bleak, radioactive desolation through which the Princess Yolande had led her hill people for years, in search of the fabled Tri-Cities of the Imperials.

The Princess dared not lose herself in the arms of any man lest she lose her power over him at the same time. But her servant-girls were lush and lovely, eager and willing, so that the lack of men to love was not a critical problem.

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Only the Bed by Don Holliday (Hal Dresner), Midwood #19, 1959

Posted in crime noir, Midwood Books, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

UPDATE NOTE (3/8/2011) After looking at one again, we don’t believe Hal Dresner wrote thus, it is not in his  style or that of other Holliday-penned books. This one actually reads more like early Block or a Block/Westlake collaboration. The narrator’s voice is a lot similar to the voice in Grifter’s Game.

The original Don Holliday was Hal Dresner, a Scott Meredith stable writer, who — along with fellow Meredith writers  Robert Silverberg, Donald Westlake, and Lawrence Block — provided manuscripts out of Meredith’s “black box” for Midwood, Beacon, and Nightstand, using various interchangeable pen names.

Later, as Dresner got busy with other work, he hired ghost writers to meet his monthly title deadline, such as Art Plotnik…and by the mid-60s, Holliday was a house pen name, turning to gay fiction written by Victor Banis.

(See here for a nifty review of Holliday/Dresner’s Sin Ring.)

Dresner excelled at absurd comedy, as seen in the classic The Man Who Wrote Dirty Books (see also Dresner’s Sin Professor as Frank Peters) and his employment by Jack Lemmon to write material and screenplaysOnly the Bed, and other early work, is serious, or not humorous like later Ninthstands; it’s a crime/sleaze novel with apparent influence from his buddies Block and Westlake (aka Sheldon Lord/Andrew Shaw and Alan Marshall) and their penchant for sleaze novels that were also crime books.

The narrator is Cliff Varner, the cabana manager at the Royal Hotel, a Miami, Florida vacation resort — a combination of Gil Brewer and Orrie Hitt territories  here.  Like Hitt’s hotel managers, Cliff tends to have sex with the guests, often as a gigolo, much like the characters in Loren Beauchamp’s Midwood title, Another Night, Another Love.

Cliff has a big problem, though: he owes his bookie $1600 for bad bets he made, he doesn’t have it, and his bookie is leaning because the local Miami syndiacte mob guys want their dough.  He knows if he doesn’t pay, something bad will happen to him, and a beefy hood who hangs out at Dino’s Pizza Parlor tells him so — Friday.

Cliff has a week.  So the book is all about Cliff’s frantic running around trying to drum up $1600–old loans he made, card game debts owned, fifty here, twenty there; he borrows from several loan companies, using the employment contract of a sous chef at the hotel. He even resorts to blackmailing rich teenage lesbians who came down without their parents knowing…he cheats at card games and sinks low enough to set up the forced sexual experience of a virgin girl staying at the hotel, all for the last $300 he needs.

The set up is a tried and true oldie: put a fellow in a corner with a great trouble and watch him try to squirm out of it.

Cliff’s not a good guy; he’s desperate and scared.  He could always skip town, but his bookie is a friend and he doesn’t want to put his bookie in a bad spot that might get him hurt.  $1600 is nothing to the mob, it’s the principle of the matter: if they let one person get away with not paying a debt, others will; if they make an example out of Cliff, people will know that the mob guys mean business.

Ad for all his sins, Cliff pays the price, espcially when his ex-lover, a nympho stripper named Doris, rolls back into town.

A swift, good read, on the verge of a Gold Medal, and may have been targeted for that market and sold by Meredith to Midwood when/if Gold Medal rejected it and  Midwood was looking for material in 1959, perhaps with some added sex scenes, like this clever, sunbtle-hinting description of cunnilingus:

…my lips left her breast and moved down onto her stomach. It was cold and smooth and still damp […] my tongue licked at the cool wet skin.

“Now!” she said. “Start now!”

There was a swelling pounding at my head and it built as I felt her body vibrating wildly, passionately under my mouth.

“Oh God!” she cried.

Then her hand fell open and I had the money.  (p. 83-84)

For all that licking, he gets a whopping $200.

An 8.5 and recommended read if you like these kind of suspense/crime stories.

Big Man by Con Sellers (Novel Books, 1961)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , on November 21, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This is my first Con Sellers book, although I have ordered several, and I’m not disappointed.  This is tough guy man’s fiction that Novel/Merit specialized in.

After a week of lesbian books, how about some two-fisted crime noirs?

I can see how Con Sellers turned to men’s adventure and military books in the 1980s-90s, as he’s a good fit, with the main character’s memories of the Korean War.

The protagonist — the Big Man — is Ben Dano, local union head for dock workers in Monterey, California, post-sardine era.  It’s Steinbeck land mixed with some Mickey Spillane and Orrie Hitt.  Ben is six-foot-four and 240 pounds of muscles, a guy who can easily take on many hoods at once, as he does in the opening chapter.

The union local Dano heads has not gone on the national strike that all the others have. They see no point and would lose wages, and know it’s a mob thing to muscle in.  Three goons come into Dano’s office to rough him up but he crushes hands and breaks ribs and knocks heads.

The union boss is mobbed up. His name is Mike Karl, and when local unions don’t follow orders from the national office, he uses muscle, bribes, assassins and lawyers to get his way.  Ben Dano is not in his gun sites, but every time he sends a goon, the goon comes back a mess.

So he starts to send more sadistic killers, like one who puts acid in Ben Dano’s shaving lotion.

Dano has a number of women in his life, good and bad — his 19-year-old secretary, Anna, wants him to fuck her badly but he turns her down, probably because she’s the daughter of an old friend; there;s Mai Wong, a Chinese stripper, friend of Dano’s ex-gurlfriend, also a stripper; there’s Dee, an heriness in a Farrari secretly working with the union boss to break Dano down.

There’s a lot of viewpoint shifts that are a little awkward, and this is the first Novel title I’ve seen that isn’t written from the first-person POV.

It’s all full of fun violence and sex and tough talk, real Manhunt-style fiction. No heavy ideas of literary ambitions, just entertainment.  I look forward to reading more Con Sellers.

Warped Ambitions by Ennis Willie (Merit Books, 1964)

Posted in crime noir, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

willie - WarpedAmbitionsLrg72

Several recommendations for Ennis Willie came in the past month or so…these used books are all pricey but managed to find a few on eBay in lots from people who didn’t know what they had (I got this one plus four other Merit Books for $9).

Merit Books evolved from Novel Books, both in Chicago, both boasting to publish shocking in your face novels “for men.”   On the cover spine reads: MERIT BOOKS – UNCESORED OFFBEAT NOVELS FOR SOPHISTICATED ADULTS.  Both were published by Camerarts, owned by Joe Sorrentino.

Orrie Hitt and George H. Smith were Novel regulars, but did not publish with Merit — some suggest that authors did not like their books re-issued with unauthorized new titles.

willie - vice townEnnis Willie published most of his books with Merit, and one with Sanford Aday’s Vega Books, Vice Town. Willie had a series character, Sand, who is the “hero” of Warped Ambitions (“A Sand Shocker”).

I didn’t need to read the previous Sand novels to get the gist of what was going on — Sand is a former syndicate knockaround guy who left the mob for moral reasons and is now on their hit list, but every time they send assassins, things get bungled.  I felt, half-way through, having read the first few Sand books would have been good, to get a better “feel” for Sand — he’s basically two-dimensional, your run of the mill killer with his own moral code not unlike Andrew Vachss’ Burke.

Warped Ambitions opens with a botched hit on Sand on the street; a passerby gets the bullet, an old man who, dying, makes Sand promise to “find Sarda.”  He later learns that Sarda is his daughter and they are carny people…and later he finds out Sarda is The Monkey Girl — she has a disorder where thick hair grows all over her body.

With “a blood oath” on his conscience, he sets out to find the Monkey Girl — was she kidnapped or did she run away, now that she has turned 18?  Sand uncovers info that Sarda was actually the daughter of an old time mythical mob boss who gave her up for adoption because of her condition, and has left her $250,000 for her 18th b-day.

There are stereotypical thugs and hitmen, the stereotypical overweight detective who is pissed that Sand is always leaving bodies around, and the usual gorgeous blonde rich woman who has a thing for apes and simian rights.

Despite the stereotypes, Willie is a remarkable writer — he is spare, minimalistic, violent and witty.  This book clocks in at 125 pages in large type and wide margins, probably 25-30K words long, far too short for commercial publishers like Gold Medal or Pyramid, where one mght expect gangster noir titles would come from.

Thee are some annoying issues with logic and continuity, however — if Sand is being hunted down by the mob, why do they have trouble killing him when he’s always out in the open, walking the streets, lives in a hotel room that everyone knows he is at?  In one chapter he takes taxi cabs, in another he has a car — why?  And the detective and cops just let him roam about with his gun, playing tit for tat…well, this is fiction.

In fact, the world Sand lives in is an alternate universe, much like Sin City — Sin City types of fiction ans film and many other dark crime works, even Andrew Vachss and Joe Lansdale, follow in Ennis Willie’s shabby footsteps.

I’m not sold on Willie yet.  I need to read more, especially non-Sand books. There is much to admire but there are some major flaws in the story-telling — but did that matter for a “sleaze” adult book?  This is not erotica or softcore, this is crime noir in the Manhunt vein with sleazy and dirty situations (a woman stripping in a private party to pay off her gambling debts), kinky encounters (a naked whore waits in Sand’s room as a gift to him, and she is surprised he does not take her as his slave), and warped ambitions (the rich woman wishes to have her favorite gorilla mate with the Monkey Girl and create a new species, which would be genetically impossible, but she does not care for facts).

EnnisWilliePhoto72Willie wrote 19-20 books it seems, and then stopped, taking up the fine profession of printing, or so I have read.  He apparently is still alive and kickin’ and there seems to be a call to put his work back in print. His books tend to be scarce and pricey to find.

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willie - Haven_DamnedLrg72

willie - scarlet goddess

Willie - Sensual Game

Willie - Luscious

Willie - erotic_search

Now, as for Merit Books — in this lot I got are some curious gems that I will talk about later, from writers Jerry Goff, Jr., Herb Mongomery, and Bill Lauren…I love finding these obscure writers who are obviously pretty damn good, lost in Amercan pulp literature’s margins…

Goff - Wanton Wench

Goff - Rocco's babe AGoff - Strange LoversNovel Books - Torrid Wenches