Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Review: Lust Dupe

Lust Dupe Lust Dupe by Harry Whittington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the famed "missing 38" vintage sleaze novels by Harry Whittington. To my sensibilities this is also a lost and waiting to be re-discovered noir masterpiece. Although different in style, it is on par with the best of Whittington's Gold Medal published noirs. There's plenty of action, but what drives this story is the inner turmoil, the "inside voice" of the noir characters. Jim Harper is a bank teller in a small mid-western town who is dying on the inside because of the future he imagines. Into the bank walks Nora "you look like you were made out of hundred dollar bills" Bayer. Jim's a goner. After she spends eight days decking and wrecking him he will do anything she wants. Cue the bank robbery, where a guard is killed and Jim is taken hostage by Nora and her two accomplices. The rest of the novel is delicious disintegration. Noir never offers a way out. The only question is how will these lives shatter and what damage will the shrapnel cause. This was written early in Whittington's run of 38 novels for Greenleaf/Corinth, before he was burnt out by the one novel per month pace, and it still has all the character development, plotting, and action that he put into his "mainstream" crime/noir novels. My sense is that perhaps, at least when he wrote this one, that he also felt freed by writing for the vintage sleaze market: he could give voice to these characters in a way that wouldn't pass the editorial gatekeepers at Fawcett. That's how it reads to me, anyway. Awesome noir. Tough to find, but well worth tracking down.

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