Archive for wenches

Three-Way Split by Gil Brewer (Gold Medal, 1960)

Posted in crime noir, pulp fiction, Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks with tags , , , , , , , on October 7, 2009 by vintagesleazepaperbacks

Brewer - 3 Way Split

Another breezy fast-paced Gil Brewer crime novel set in Ft. Lauderdale and the Florida Keys, with bad fathers, cookie cutter gangsters, drunk wenches, and the sweet girlfriend who wants to get married.

Jack Holland is a boat bum…owns a sailboat that he charters now and then but is behind the rent on the dock slip, his phone and electricity turned off…his girlfriend, Sally, wants to get married before they get too intimate.  She has a wild sister, Vivian, a drunk wench who gets involved with Jack’s father.

Jack and his father don’t have the best relationship since Jack’s mother died when he was young.  Sam, the father, is a con man and grifter, always out for the big cash grab, and he has shown up with the mob sending hit men for an old debt…Sam kills the first “slgnutty” who comes after him.

Brewer - 3 Way Split UK

During a charter, Jack had dived into the ocean to retrieve a fake diamond necklace that went overboard and spots an old wrecked ship 2 fathoms down.  He tells a fried, Mike, about it — Mike is in his 70s, a retired treasure hunter and deep sea salvage man. Mike thinks the recent hurricane brought the old ship out from a sand burial, and that it could be one of 3 Spanish ships that vanished in 1724, with $700,000 of gold onboard.

But how to get to it before the next storm buries it?  Mike is too old for diving and Jack does not have the experience diving that deep in a dive suit.  They can’t hire a pro diver because (1) they don’t have the money and (2) a diver would blab his mouth and word would spread and everyone and their brother would be out to salvage the boat, not to mention the government making a claim on the gold, which often happens when people find old wrecks.

But Jack is desperate for money and Mike is desperate for one last deep sea salvage adventure in his autumnal years, so Mike gives Jack a crash course with an old diving suit.

To add to the mess, Jack’s no-good father gets wind of it all and thinks he’s entitled to part of the loot just because Jack is his son, and he could re-pay the mob what he owes (didn’t Han Solo have the same problem with Jabba the Hutt?)…and then the ob goons find out…now everyone wants a piece of the action, although no one knows if there’s anything on the ship, like gold.

The setting and situation is different than most urban crime noirs and that’s a welcome change.  There is a lot of detail about diving, so either Brewer did his homework well or had experience

“I felt the air rushing into my helmet an dthe pump transmitting its energy along the hose and into the old diving suit. I clung to th elife line, sick with wanting to be back aboard the boat, swaying with the surge of the violent overhead. It was bad. There were two toughs waiting up there with guns cocked. And they had my girl. It was either dive or stop a bullet with my skull. So I dove. I took it too fast and the changing colors of the water flashed past like the patterns in a kid’s kaleidoscope. Then my feet struck bottom. And there she was – like an enormous black monster, teetering on the sand bank. Two people had already died for the treasure in her rotten hull, and I was next in line.”

Like all noirs stories, things never work out quite right, with the two mob guys and his desperate dad waiting on the boat for the riches to come up, while Jack rishs his wife at the bottom of the ocean…

Stark House reprinted this one with another Brewer classic…

Brewer - 3 Way Split Stakr House

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