Archive for Novel Books

The Farmer’s Other Daughter by George H. Smith (Novel Books, 1963)

Posted in pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , on September 9, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

A quick and goofy read, one of George H. Smith’s many southern/swamp girl type books he did for Novel Books.  Certanly no serious work, the title page claims Smith is the author of The Farmer’s Daughter.

The farmer is Berle Gates, and he has a mail order bride from Germany, a bug healthy blonde gal that everyone is the town lusts for, even the Sheriff.

An okay read.

Shocking Mistress! by Orrie Hitt (Novel Books, 1961)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , on April 17, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This is the second book Orrie Hitt did for Novel/Camerarts — the first was Easy Women! — and probably his most political of all, in terms of socialist idealism, labor relations, and the power of labor unions in mid-20sth Century America.

This is more a literary social novel than sleaze or men’s book, as packaged.  Indeed, Novel allowed Hitt to go off on tangents that his other publishers, market-conscious, would not, although Hitt’s books do tend to touch on political and economic issues as farm and hard labor, the rich v. the poor, and insurance scams.

Hitt had a previous union boss book, Dolls and Dues, and had union reps and leaders pop in in The Color of Lust and Frustrated Females.

Sammy Layton is a “honest,” ethical union boss — he’s been through congressional and criminal investigations and has come out clean; he is fodder for editorials and politicians. He wields a lot of power and gets what he wants, claiming he is always looking after the common worker, with his notions of redistribution of wealth.

What is curiously fascinating is that some of what Hitt wrote in 1961 sounds like the rhetoric going on in today’s political climate:

The Mayor: “When you start destroying palaces of the rich, Mr. Layton, the next step will have to be taking away the houses of the poor. You want to redistribute the wealth. You want a socialistic, welfare state […] you’re trying to get something for your workers that they don’t deserve. No man deserves to be paid just because he’s alive. He has to produce. You’re asking for an increase in pay without an increase in production.  Who are you to decide? Let the free market decide.” (pp. 36-7)

Ellen: “This is the beginning of a socialist state, I know. I’ve read about it, the division of wealth and the eventual poverty of the masses because the government becomes everything and nobody is anything.” (p. 107)

Ellen: “I know what’s pushing you and you haven’t even got enough sense to understand it. What you seek is the socialist state where everyone owns a share and that’s only a short jump from the kind of life none of us want […] This isn’t what we need here in a free country.” (p. 123)

What is at issue is a major national strike at the heart of capitalism, that Sammy wants to bleed those businessmen with millions so much that they will have no profit to show.  Sammy does not believe in big profit, he wants the workers to all share the pie equally.  The backlash is that more job sites and businesses will collapse, creating an economic disaster.  Sammy has an agenda, wants to prove a point — he is Obama more than he is Jimmy Hoffa.

His weakness: women, and like all Hitt heroes, he has several lovers floating about:

Ellen, his live-in girlfriend whom he breaks up with early in the novel, and then tells him she’s pregnant with his child;

Sally, his executive secretary that he was having an affair with; she has called it quits but Sammy would still like to dip his wick now and then;

Anna, Sally’s sister, who comes to work for him and sets him up for a fall;

Norma, the young blonde daughter of a construction magnet, Charlie Adams, that he falls heavy for; but se has her agenda with Anna to bring about his downfall.

Sammy forces Charlie Adams into signing a labor contract that will ruin his empire.  Norma wants to stop this, so uses her charms and body, promising him her body if she leaves her father alone.  But she sets Sammy up for a bogus rape charge, and with Anna, they create a bogus bribery to Adams to make Sammy look crooked.

When he’s destroyed, Sammy sees the capitalist light, which is a bit corny on Hitt’s side:

The whole difference between capitalism and communism — or freedom and dictatorship, if you will — is the difference between owning what you produce and having the state own it.  When you own it, when you are allowed to keep what you honestly worked for and made possible according to your talents, then you are free. And other people benefit from it.

But when everybody else — whether it’s your government or union or some hoodlum on the street — has the right to demand that you give up part of what you own, no matter if it’s a million dollars or a hundred, then you’re not free. Then, even if it’s fifty years off or five hundred, the same kind of thing has to result as happened to Russia or socialist England or Nazi Germany.

I never thought America could turn out like that, but suddenly I realized how close I’d come to it. I began to look around me and saw that other men were further along[…] And I realized in that moment what I had never taken the time or had the courage to see before: and that’s exactly what a free country is! a country where each man produces what he can, according to how good he is, and how ambitious he is. I realized that there’s only one alternative to that: pushing the weak men, the less capable men to the top, even though they don’t belong there. I saw that some men have to produce more than others, that nature made it that way, just as nature made the color of our hair different. (pp. 152-3)

In the end, the only good union left in the country, he feels, is the marriage union, producing babies…

On the Hitt Scale, I give this one an 8.2.  An interesting book, a social and political diatribe disguised as a sleaze book, but it gets to be too much at times — you want that ol’ Orrie back with the blue collar worker jumbling dames and trying hard to make a buck.

Swamp Lust – George H. Smith (Novel Books, 1960)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , on February 16, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

In Paperback Parade #32, there is a letter from George H. Smith, who wrote for Cornith as Don Bellmore and elsewhere as Jan Hudson, and also wrote some science-fiction, that the George H. Smith who published “country and swamp girl books” was a different GHS.  This explains for the difference in styles.

Swamp Lust tells the story of Chad Cain (Cain?!), a simple southern fellow who one day catches his wife, Claudette, in the arms of a sleazy Frenchman, Henri.  In an O.J. Simpson-esque rage, he kills them both and tosses their bodies into the marshy swamp of the backwoods.

The novel deals with Chad deflecting any suspicion of the murders — Henri’s brother comes looking around, wanting revenge, but had kills him too.  And his new lover, Maria, thinks something is — fishy.

And Chad seems to be losing his mind, or is haunting — believing that his dead wife’s decayed body is wandering the swamplands, just to torment.

A fast and cheesy book, nothing great, decent entertainment with a great cover.

Harry Whittington’s “Cora is a Nympho…” (Novel Books, 1963)

Posted in crime noir, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , on February 12, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Prolific authors often have a re-occurring character name, along with a theme — for Orrie Hitt, it’s “Lucy” and for Harry Whittington, it’s “Cora.” Many Coras and Noras appear in Whittington’s work, under his name and others.

Whittington published this one under his name, as Cora is a Nympho…, and looking at the back cover copy (above), one wonders if the mob-tied boys at Camerarts knew who Whittington was. “We now take pride in presenting a  young unpublished author — Harry Whittington.”

In 1963, Whittington was 48 years old, not exactly a “young” writer, and had dozens and dozens of books under his belt, a run in the 1950s as a top suspense crime writer with Gold Medal and Ace, work in Hollywood films, riding the constant whirlwind of paperback and genre trends.  He penned westerns, nurse romances, tie-ins and mysteries.  Either the Camerarts guys did not know who Whittington was, or decided to market him as a new writer to an audience who wasn’t aware of his work — in the newsstands sleaze market, Whittngton had only written a few books, for the short-lived Bedtime and for Beacon and Newstand Library under pen names.

The original title of this book was To Find Cora.  Both Fawcett Gold Medal and Newstand Library rejected it — a bad blow for such a professional writer.  So said writer sells it to a secondary market, Novel Books, a Chicag0-based publisher of girlie magazines and men’s fiction with some questionable business ties.  He rewrote the story for William Hamling as a 1966 Sundown Reader by J.X. Williams, Flesh Snare. In 2009, Stark House reprinted it as To Find Cora in a three-book omnibus.

The 40,000 word novel is narrated by Joe Byars, an everyday-man whose wife, Cora, has disappeared on him.  Did she leave with another man?  Possibly, because she was not faithful.  Did she leave because she was bored in the marriage?  Possibly.  Did she meet foul play? Who knows.

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Mad for Kicks by Jack Lynn (Novel Books Special, 1960)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

This is dubbed a “Novel Books Special” and is one of a number of Lynn;s Tokey Wedge private eye books.  Not sure which one is the first but doesn’t seem you need to start with the first, although there are references to characters and incidents from other books.

Wedge is not your typical tall, dark and handsome gumshoe.  Wedge describes himself as

five-six and one half [tall]. One hundred aned forty-seven pounds. A bundle of nerve and verve. Persuasive. Permissive. When it comes to girls, I love ’em. (p. 19)

The women he connects with often note that he’s “a little guy” or “short man.”  On the cover of Tall and Torrid, we get an idea of what he looks like:

Like the typical 1960s shamus, he gets laid often, he’s tough as rawhide, and he kills the bad guys when necessary. Which has given him somewhat a rep — in Mad for Kicks,  a man offers Wedge $5,000 to track down the man men who kidnapped nd raped his daughter, and wants Wedge to kill them. He’s heard Wedge kills but Wedge tells him he’s not a hired gun, and has only killed ijn self-defense.  Wedge takes the five grand to track the men down, but says he will turn them into the cops. Wedge’s relationship with the local cops is shaky.

Novel Books’ usual hyperbole to make the book seem more than it cam be is employed with this blurb from Men’s Digest (which was owned by Camerarts, that owned Novel):

MAD FOR KICKS outdoes LADY CHATTERLY’S LOVER and any book that you care to name for that strong stuff that you men like. Not recommended for women and children.  This NOVEL BOOK powerhouse will make you do a double-take every time you pass a beatnik.

What the book’s connection to Lady Chatterly’s Lover is unclear, as this is a private eye two-fisted tough guy yarn…

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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.

Jack Lynn — Who Was He?

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on November 11, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Lynn - Torrid and Tall

Another Novel Books author I’ll be looking at in the near future in Jack Lynn, who wrote a series starring private eye Tokay Wedge, a five foot five middle aged gumshoe who likes tall dames.

I’ve seen Lynn’s name in old copies of Manhunt, Trapped, and other crime pulps…but who was this guy and what happened to him?

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Con Sellers — Who Was He?

Posted in pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , on November 9, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

con_sellers_portraitIn the next few weeks, I will be taking a look at Con Sellers and his titles from Novel Books.  I’ve become rather interested in Novel/Merit and their tough-guy, Manhunt-style fiction, their house organ Men’s Journal, and their writers, such as Orrie Hitty, Jerry Goff, Jack Lynn, Bill Lauren, Herb Montgiomery, Ennis Willie, G.H. Smith, and Con Sellers.

Along with his Novel titles, he seems to have branched out from the sleaze era and penned a number of men’s adventure and thriller books with Pysramid and Pocket (some as Crane Sellers).

His Novel novels, like all Novel novels, have colorful and suggestive titles and artwork…

sellers - female psycho ward

But will the text live up to the packaged hype?  We shall see…

We shall know…

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“Dammit — Don’t Touch My Broad!” by Hank Walters (Novel Books, 1960)

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

Novel Books - Don't Touch My Broad

A book with such a title, and such a cool cover, how could I resist?

Plus, it’s from Novel Books, so I knew had to be tough-guy noir, and it is.

Ever since Chandler’s The Big Sleep, the nude photos of a drugged/drunk wayward young girl have often been the plot impetus for many a noir, including several Orrie Hitt books.  Such is the case here.

The narrator of Dammit—Don’t Touch My Broad! is Pete, some kind of writer as he mentions writing and publishing books and other things.  He is called in by Governor Joe Caldwell, an old friend — Joe is the G9vernor of some sort of New England state, never sad, perhaps Mass. or Delaware, it seems small.  Joe has an out of control daughter in her mid-20s, Jean, that at one time Pete was engaged to marry, but she vanished one day and then called him to say the marriage is off (mentioned on the cover of the book).

Governor Joe has been sent some scandalous photos of his daughter — in one she is naked, looking stoned; in others, she is having sex with various men and women.  Joe wants Pete to find out whose setting up a scandal and blackmail, so that Joe can take care of things quietly.

Pete goes to see Jean. They have not seen each other since she called off the wedding two yeras ago.  He shows her the pictures. She is ashamed but won’t tell him what’s going on.

Pete, the writer playing tough guy private eye, starts asking around, getting entangled with hoods, heels, dirty state cops, and political foes of the Governor that want to make sure he never becomes a Senator.

In true tune with noir of the time, sometimes it’s hard to follow what the hell is going on, but the writing, the violence, and the tawdry sexual situations are enticing.

Who is Hank Walters?  Have no idea.  He’s done a few other books with Novel — Lucky Rape, Hey All Touch Me, Hood’s Mistress, and one from Merit, Take Me!

Why aren’t there publishers like Novel/Merit these days?  Or for that matter — Midwood, Gold Medal, and Kozy…

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.

willie - TwistedMistressLrg72

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