Archive for tough guy fiction

Wild Pursuit by Bill Lauren (Merit Books, 1961)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

I got this book in an eBay lot; it was falling apart and in bad shape and I’d never heard of the author, but it looked interesting and it was a Merit/Camerarts title so I gave it a try, as a “wild” titled novel.

Who is Bill Lauren? Real name or pen name?  Who knows.  But he did a number of titles for Merit.

Wild Pursuit wastes no time and jumps right into the action from the first paragraph:

The blonde was split from neckline to waist and a bare, trembling breast poked out at me. She wasn’t trying to cover it because hshe had her hands full wih the torn top of her capri pants.

Her eyes were wide with pleading. “Help me! Please, help me!” (p. 5)

The blonde is Eddi, short for Edwina, on the run from goons trying to kill her.  She’s a cigarette girl at a club owned by the local Sndiacte boss, who is a choots with the town’s sheriff — both are planning to murder a politician getting in their way.  She overheard their planning it and need to shut her up.  So she’s on the run — and ran into the cabin of Brigham Galt, the narrator, a building contractor in the town of Marklyn (state unknown).

She’s hot, she’s in danger, and Galt has been separated from his wife for six weeks, after he caught her in bed with another man — so why not help her?  Even with the goons shooting at them, and then kidnapping his secretary and raping her, threatening to kill her if he doesn’t give up Eddi.

But since he’s had great sex with Eddi only hours after she came running into his cabin for help, he’s got feelings for her…

But there’s still his estranged wife, whom he has make-up sex with the next morning after being with Eddi…ah, the sex lives of sleaze book heroes!

It had all the usual sterotypical tough hero, gun-toting hoods, bad cops, and over-sexed dames, the elements that make for good men’s fiction of the 1960s, or even now.  This is no work of art by any long shot, but like Jerry M. Goff’s and  most Novel/Merit titles, a fast-paced, tough-guy good read. I’m interested in reading others by Bill Lauren.

Wild Wives by Charles Willeford (Beacon, 1956)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Charles Willeford’s orginal title for this quirky private eye yarn was Until I Am Dead, but Beacon Books re-titled it Wild Wives as the seond part of a double book, the reprint of High Priest of California, which had originally appeared in 1953 as the second half of a Royal Giant digest number.

Since both novels are short — c. 30,000 words — they were suitable for one regular-sized 60,000 word paperback.

Wild Wives is dubbed a “First Award Novel” which a number of Beacons from 1956-1958 were, for whatever reason…one will note that Beacon misspelled the author’s name as “Williford.”

This is my first read of Charles Willeford; people have been recommending him to me for years.  It takes me a while sometimes. He certainly has an interesting history as a writer.  Out of the army, he fancied himself a San Francisco beatnik poet, publishing a chapbook in the mid-50s, then turning to novels at age 30, writing the first few in a cheap room at the Powell Hotel on weekends, soaking up the San Francisco lifestyle.

His aim, like many young pulp crime writers then, was Gold Medal, but his books were too short. He found a home at Royal Giant/Beacon, and later Newsstand Library.  He wasn’t prolific.  He used the money to pay for graduate school.  He later went into college teaching, published more poetry and memoir, was re-discovered in the 1970s and 80s, and hit big time with the bestseller turn into a movie, Miami Blues.  In his autumnal years, he enjoyed his re-discovery as a pulp master, wrote more books, and passed away in 1988, age 69.

Since I have not read any other Willefords yet, I cannot say, but have read that Wild Wives is unlike his other novels, being a more “conventional”  noir/crime/gumshoe tale.

The narrator shamus is Jake Blake, San Fran wise-ass tough guy private eye.  In the first chapter, a 15 year old girl points a water pistol at his head then lifts her skirt and bends over, asking to be spanked — already we know that Willeford’s writing is a bit…off-kilter…

Continue reading

“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…

Hired Lover by Fred Martin (Orrie Hitt), Midwood #13

Posted in crime noir, Loren Beauchamp, Midwood Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, Robert Silverberg, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

midwood - hired lover

Accoridng to Lynn Munroe’s richly informative article on Midwood’s beginnings:

Amazingly, just 5 men wrote almost all of the first 40 numbered Midwoods. This hard-working group (Beauchamp, Lord, Marshall, Orrie Hitt and Don Holliday) carried and established Midwood until [Harry] Shorten was able to build his own stable of regulars –- names like March Hastings, Dallas Mayo, Kimberly Kemp, Joan Ellis, Jason Hytes and Sloane Britain.

Beauchamp was, of course, Robert Silverberg, Lord was Lawrence Block, Marshall was Donad Westlake, Holliday was Hal Drenser, and Orrie Hitt was himself.

Hired Lover is Midwood 13, published in 1959, although there are some early un-numbered Midwoods. Fred Martin was a one shot name for Midwood (and seems to have written one for the short-lived Magnet Books), and the style is easily identifiable: this is an Orrie Hitt book.  You can’t mistake Hitt for anyone else: the set-up, the dialogue, pacing, wrap-up.  Silverberg also did an early one shot, Immoral Wife by Gordon Mitchell (Midwod #11), that I discussed in this blog a while ago.

The question is: why these one-shot names?  Was it Midwood’s idea, to look like they had more than the same writers, or Scott Meredith’s, since the mauscripts came from the agency blinded as to the true writer’s identity. After all, Silverberg did an early Midwood, #7, Love Nest by Loren Beauchamp (see my review), and Beauchamp was his continued name for a dozen more titles from 1960-1963.

Munroe also notes:

Although nobody at Midwood knew it then, most of the books were by the same writers turning out the Nightstands. For example, Loren Beauchamp (Robert Silverberg) would become Don Elliott a year later at Nightstand, Sheldon Lord (Lawrence Block) would become Andrew Shaw. Some of the writers, like Alan Marshall and Clyde Allison and Al James, used the same name for both.

Midwood - Call Me MistressI have another early, un-numbered Midwood, Call Me Mistress by Tomlin Rede, and I wonder who wrote this one.  I haven’t read it yet but on quick glance, the style seems like early Westlake/Alan Marshall.

Call Me Mistress is a crime noir set in Hollywood and among syndicate crime lords, wuth a dash of lesbiana tossed in.  I will be getting to this book soon after I do my reading stint of campus sex books and lesbian titles.

Back to Hired Lover — yes, one of many Orrie Hitt’s novels but the name is not listed among Hitt’s pen names (Nicky Weaver, Kay Addams).  I Feldspar - Squeeze Playhave two Kozy Books by one “Walter Feldspar” (Loose Women and Squeeze Play) that look like they may be Hitts (there’s also a Beacon Hitt book called Loose Women) — Feldspar only penned two books, and for Kozy, and Hitt wrote many for Kozy as himself, Weaver, and Roger Normandie…like Lawrence Block and Robert Silverberg and others, there are pen names used that are not always associated with these writers, either overlooked by bibliographers or not admitted to by the writer (or remembered).

Hitt - Loose Women

Hired Lover is a first-person tough guy story — Mike has left Los Angeles after a bad incident and is in Chicago, where he has ties.  He’s working as a driving instructor when one day a gorgeous dame in her mid-20s, Kitty, is his student…she takes him to her mansion, gives him booze and fucks him.  She’s married to a rich old man — short fat,bald and ugly — whom she met when she was a nurse and he was in the hospital in diabetic shock.

As luck would have it, the rich man’s chaueffer just quit and he needs a new driver. Kitty suggests her hubby hire Mike — he can live in the apartment above the garage, where she can visit him for illict sin and lust.

While Kitty and hubby are away on a trip, Mike looks up an old business buddy who runs a stripper club.  One of the strippers has her sister, Ruth, with her — new in town, fresh from Ohio farmland, 18, a virgin, and ignorant of the big bad ol’ world of strippers, whores, booze and crime that her sister is involved with.  Mike manages to talk her out of going down that road — he’s no hero, since he also gets her drunk and takes her virginity, being 10 years older than the girl.

Right off, we know that Mike will end up with Ruth as his wife in the end.  This is typical of Hitt’s novels, mostly for Beacon — similar to the set-up of The Promoter, that I talked about last week.

(An aside: Beacon and Softcover seemed to require, as with lesbian novels, that the hero or heroine redeem and depent tgheir sinful ways by book’s end, married and in the arms of someone good, man or woman.  This does not seem to be the case with Hitt’s titles for Sabre and Novel Books — in fact, Novel gave Hitt carte blance to “take the gloves off” and write what he wanted, free of market and genre constraints.  I will be talking about a few of those in the near future.)

The set-up for Hired Lover isn’t new in sleazecore: the wife convinces the lover that they have to murder the old rich husband so they can be together and get rich.  That never works out, of course, and the wayward wife gets hers in the end — in this case, she has set up Mike in cahoots with the head butler/valet of the mansion. And the hero repents and finds love in the arms of a younger, less gutter-drivem woman, in this and other Hitts.  Mike, on the run from the set-up murder, is aided by young Ruth.  The cops wind up arresting the wife and the valet, but Mike is still guilty for the murder, and had helped plan it.  He married Ruth, but is dying from tetnus due to a untreated gun-shot wound.  The novel ends with Mike on his deathbed, confessing the murder to a Catholic priest, and holding his young wife’s hand, whom he has impregnanted so she will have something of his left.  It’s a sad ending, in a way.

Hired Lover is a great read, however, and if you dig Orrie Hitt, you will dig this — and it’s too bad that Hitt fans may miss this one,  so this blog/review will serve as a pointer for anyone doing research on Hitt.

Now that I am an Orrie Hitt fan  (where was he all my life?), and have bought several dozen books now, expect much discussion of his work here.

I have also found another promising sleazecore writer, Brain Black, who wrote a handful of Beacons, pen names for Western pukp writer Robert Trimnell. The books look good on first glance:

Black --Passionate Prof

Beacon - Unfaithfuil

Black 0 Jeanie