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A Girl Called Honey – Sheldon Lord & Alan Marshall/aka Lawrence Block & Donald Westlake (Midwood #41, 1960)

Posted in Lawrence Block, Midwood Books, noir fiction, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2010 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

We know that Donald Westlake sometimes contributed to an Andrew Shaw novel or three, and that the Sheldon Lord moniker was shared.  Here, we have Block and Westlake having their pen names collaborate — adding in a cute dedication:

this is for

DON WESTLAKE AND LARRY BLOCK

who introduced us

This is like K.M. O’Donnell once claiming that his pen name was Barry N. Malzberg!

Another little tidbit — a character in the story signs into a hotel under an alias: Andrew Shaw. “Call me Andy,” he says.

There aren’t any of the other clues such as references to Clifton College of The Sound of Distant Drums. It does start off in Ohio, where the fictional Clifton College, and major events happen in Albany, NY, where Block hails from.

This is an early work for both these writerly friends and co-workers in the Scott Meredith Agency fee department,and it shows. But it’s not a bad novel; it’s slow to start, but you get sucked in by the characters, and things get gradually bleak and the damn thing sticks in your head all night long…

Honour Mercy Bane–nickname “Honey”–is a small town girl from Kentucky who makes her way to Newport, Ohio, a town outside Cincinnati.

And Newport, fair city that it is, has everything that Cincinnati lacks. Cathouses by the dozens. Gambling dens by the score,  a pusher on every corner, and bootleg whiskey sold over the counter in every drugstore. (p. 10)

She was kicked out of her home by her religious parents, Abhraham and Prudence Bane, when they come one unexpected one day and ind her in the act of coitus with her lover, who happens to be one of her teachers at the high school.  “Go to Newport and be a bad girl,” they tell her, disowning her.

So she does.

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