Sunday, October 17, 2021

Review: Celebrity Suite Nurse

Celebrity Suite Nurse Celebrity Suite Nurse by Suzanne Roberts
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Repetitious and repetitious. With that said, we follow nurse Poppy as she wrestles with the decision of whether to return to the clinic in her small Georgia home town or to stay in glamorous Miami Beach. And which of the two men in love with her will she choose? Handsome Dr. Harper or pop idol Nicky Farrell? All three of these characters are emotionally high strung, so that at least keeps the narrative pinging from emotional high to low with ricochets everywhere in between. If it were half as long it would have a made a tight if predictable novella. Instead we have sixty pages of repetition and that makes a boring novel. True to the formula, you know how this ends before it starts.

View all my reviews

Friday, October 8, 2021

Review: Sin Doll

Sin Doll Sin Doll by Orrie Hitt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Basic good girl gone bad plot. Cherry's motive is money and heavy hitting the booze makes her go further than she intended. Plus she's constantly berated with “you are no good, just like your mother, she was a tramp and put you up for adoption.” Next thing you know she is quitting her factory job and becoming the sin doll of the title by posing nude for 1950s era pornography. As with most of Hitt’s books he stays on the good side of the censors by omitting the sex scenes and skewing the narrative with moralizing. It gets redundant as she has the same don’t-be-a-bad-girl-be-a-good-girl arguments with her parents over and over. And her boyfriend wants to have the same argument over and over about getting married. Having to listen to all that, no wonder she drinks and has a lesbian affair instead.

View all my reviews

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Review: New Gun For Kingdom City

New Gun For Kingdom City New Gun For Kingdom City by Ray Hogan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hogan was a prolific writer of Westerns, a contemporary of, and perhaps overshadowed by, Louis L’Amour in the 1960s and ‘70s. The 100 or so pages of Ace Double novelettes seem to be the optimal length for Hogan’s fast-paced and action-packed stories. This one tells the story of a hard-boiled and somewhat shady loner seeking vengeance for his brother’s murder in Kingdom City, a town run by a corrupt and lawless family. Hogan interjects an adversarial US Marshall who is tracking bank robbers and duped mail order bride into the mix and the result is a terrific and lean thriller without an ounce of fat or padding. Hogan’s tales never disappoint and this is a really good one. Four stars.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Review: Quick-Trigger Country

Quick-Trigger Country Quick-Trigger Country by Clem Colt
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Clem colt was a pseudonym for Nelson K. Nye. I haven't read anything else by him so don't know how typical this is of his writing. Although there are plenty of action scenes the plot proceeds either by coincidence or non sequitur, in other words it makes no damn sense. The narration at times reads as if it were copied from old newspaper articles or tourist brochures celebrating the good old days of Tombstone. We even have a Wyatt Earp sighting. The dialog is hokey and it was like listening to Billy Crystal and Jake Palance in the movie City Slickers - minus the humor. Did I mention it has plenty of action scenes? I didn't say they were great action scenes. The lead character's name is Turkey. Totally fits this book. Not recommended.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Review: The Last One Left

The Last One Left The Last One Left by John D. MacDonald
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Starts really slowly with multiple third person narratives, each with detailed character introductions and much backstory. I stalled out lost after a few chapters and had to restart from the beginning. I have a deep admiration for JDM’s early stand alone novels with their taut linear plots and low word counts. This novel is far more ambitious telling the tale of a complex scheme initiated by the devious and deadly beauty Crissy Harkinson to steal a load of dark money by faking a boating accident. This personally involves Texas lawyer Sam Boylston, an overbearing perfectionist with a marriage on the rocks, and with a kid sister on the missing boat. MacDonald was an exceptional writer and the prose here, albeit a bit wordy for my tastes, is superb. Yeah, the plot is complex and there are probably too many characters but MacDonald deftly ties the multiple narratives into a cohesive and compelling story. It takes a some effort and focus by the reader to get pulled past the slow start but the rewards are substantial. An excellent book that I’m going to dock one half star for the slow start and the excessive verbosity. Four and a half stars.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Review: On Company Time

On Company Time On Company Time by Daniel A. Morton
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A shallow tale of office romance. Robin arrives in the city from a small town in Iowa and quickly lands a secretarial job for the publisher of a scandal sheet. She falls almost instantly in love with co-worker Jim but before she can consummate that love, her boss - "Just call me Nails, everyone does" - goes into full seduction mode. Soon he's groping her in the office, in the restaurant, and in the taxi cab, where he, yes, you guessed it, nails her. It is that kind of book. What follows is a few dates with both the boss and Jim, more hanky panky, and some petty office jealousies, which causes a few people to get fired. Jim and Robin quit, but not before telling off Nails. That's it. Only 123 pages of large type and I read this in the amount of time it took to slowly drink a beer. Which may or may not be a recommendation. It's a Midwood paperback. Vintage 1960s sleaze. Not much to this one and not worth tracking down.

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Review: The Lustful Ape

The Lustful Ape The Lustful Ape by Russell Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Russell Gray was a pseudonym of Bruno Fischer and this novel of murder and blackmail gets off to a typical Fischer quick start as Dirk Hart, an ex-cop turned private detective, learns that his estranged wife was murdered right after visiting him in a negligee. Things get a bit confusing in the first few chapters as Fischer rapidly introduces a lot of characters and spins out sub-plots galore, but then he starts pulling all the threads together and we have ourselves a page turner. The title and back cover tease copy are misleading: there is a character named Ape, and he is lustful, but no more so than the other characters, and his lust has little to do with the story. This is all about a blackmail scheme that Dirk needs to unravel before he too ends up dead. Satisfying murder mystery. Also available as a Gold Medal paperback with the Bruno Fischer by line, and an ebook version is available from Prologue Books.

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Review: The Damsel

The Damsel The Damsel by Richard Stark
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is the first of four books in the Grofield series that Donald Westlake, writing as Richard Stark, spun off from his Parker series. At the end of The Handle - the eighth book in the Parker series - Parker leaves Grofield in a Mexico hotel room with a bullet wound in his back and a suitcase containing his share of the loot from their just completed heist. That's where The Damsel picks up Grofield's story. The implied plot is how does Grofield make it back home to midwest USA with his money. The book starts, however, with a woman climbing through his hotel window. She's escaping from guys Grofield recognizes as gangsters and his complications have escalated. What follows from there is a complicated but ultimately non-sensical plot that takes Grofield and the damsel of the title across Mexico to Acapulco to save the life of a totally undeserving dictator. It does have some excellent action scenes as Grofield is particularly resourceful in dispatching the gangsters. For the most part, though, this is a mix of Mexican travelogue (some of Westlake's best writing) and banter between Grofield and the damsel, which is reputed by many reviewers to be witty, but that I found mostly boring and imminently skippable. As with the Parker series, about halfway through we switch from Grofield's POV and spend several chapters with various antagonists. While these are all well-written character portrayals and serve the plot by showing what everyone else is up to, they are also essentially character assassinations designed to reveal how despicable these characters are. It's hard to care about any of these characters. I'll avoid any spoilers and stop here by saying that the ending was completely disappointing and not worth the journey. Westlake's writing in this first Grofield novel is silky smooth but entirely without the edge of the Parker novels. Probably better than I'm giving credit for but that is not a recommendation.

View all my reviews

Monday, September 13, 2021

Review: Nothing More Than Murder

Nothing More Than Murder Nothing More Than Murder by Jim Thompson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thompson's first noir novel and I really enjoyed the unfolding of the insurance scam and then the complete undoing of Joe Wilmot as his enemies start putting the pinch on him from every angle. Fantastic twist at the end, too. Thompson cleverly keeps the details of the scam from us readers early on, but does it in a way that creates a lot of tension: Joe and his wife Elizabeth talk about what they are doing in the quite realistic way that people do who know what the subject is and don't need to mention every detail. So we know they are up to something but not exactly what. Of course, it all comes out as the action unfolds. Really liked the snarky way the insurance investigator just keeps setting Wilmot up; those were good scenes. Not so good was the way Thompson drifted into Wilmot's back story throughout the last two thirds of the novel. It really didn't add anything to the story. There was also a lot of details about the movie house business, some of it was interesting, but that could have been trimmed down, too for a faster-paced story line.

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Review: Savage Surrender

Savage Surrender Savage Surrender by March Hastings
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sally Singer, writing here as March Hastings, was a skillful writer that toiled at penning mostly lesbian and sleaze novels for low-brow publishers like Beacon. Here she tells the story of a racecar driver and journalist named Chuck, his nymphomaniac wife Eve, a frigid woman named Robin who is married to an abusive husband, and their wimpy son, aptly called Skinny. The plot revolves around Chuck’s sexual obsession with Robin, with the other characters contributing various complications to his motives. Singer’s strength is her crackling dialog, although her plotting often falls flat. More of a drama than sleaze, and although a murder does occur there is no hiding of the body or noir type elements that I was hoping for. The murder does free Robin from her frigidity which I thought was a bit of a forehead slapper. The novel was okay but I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend it. Two stars, maybe two and a half.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Review: Dolls and Dues

Dolls and Dues Dolls and Dues by Orrie Hitt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Hitt's books make for interesting cultural anthropology artifacts because he usually focuses on some occupation or business or business-like scam and immerses his protagonist in that world. Here we have a union organizer circa 1957. The target is the 16,000 insurance agents at a large insurance company, and Paul Jackson's task is to get all those agents to join a newly created union and then call a strike against the insurance company. When the agents are slow to sign up Jackson comes up with his brainstorm: host big parties for the agents and make sure there are plenty of hookers and booze. Yes, the agents start signing up in droves. Jackson hires a crew of good looking women and sends them on a road trip to towns where the insurance company has lots of agents. The union dues start rolling in. I will spare you the rest of the plot, but it involves greed and fraud and the eventual fall of Paul Jackson from his perch as President of the union. Oh, yeah, he has a problem with the dolls. He beds pretty much every woman he comes in contact with, although none of that is ever described, simply alluded to in a sentence.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Review: One for Hell

One for Hell One for Hell by Jada M. Davis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This 1952 Fawcett Gold Medal noir novel has been lauded by readers as a lost masterpiece and it was deservedly brought back into print by Stark House Press in 2012. Jada Davis was a talented writer who decided that life as a fiction writer was more work and less profitable than other careers and he only published one more novel in his lifetime. ONE FOR HELL tells the story of a corrupt oil boom town that employs a charismatic drifter as a strongarm only to lose control of him as his sociopathic tendencies are revealed. The strength of the novel is in the characterization of the drifter - detailing his lies, deceit, and manipulations that keep piling up into a fragile house of cards that force him to escalate the violence to keep it from falling down - and taking his corrupt town partners with it. The subplots detailing the personal affairs of the townsfolk seems superfluous and I was glad when the narrative returned back to the drifter. Plenty of terrific dialog and several interesting characters although the drifter really shines as one of the most fascinating noir characters that I’ve ever read. Lost masterpiece? Sure, I’m on board and give it a solid five stars.

Available in paperback or ebook from Stark House Press.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Review: The Handle

The Handle The Handle by Richard Stark
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a real let down after The Seventh, which had always been one of my favorites in the Parker series by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake). The setup is actually quite good as The Outfit has hired Parker to take out a competitor who's operating a casino on a private island (owned by Cuba) 45 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas. They want Parker to rob the casino and its operator of everything and then burn the place down. Parker does recon and hires a crew and buys weapons. Unbeknownst to both The Outfit and Parker, the casino operator, Wolfgang Baron, is also under surveillance by the Feds because he's a nazi war criminal. The feds make a deal with Parker: we leave you alone and let you do your robbery, but we want you to deliver Baron to us. And that's the kicker as the story shifts gears from setup to heist. From this point on the novel seemed rushed and more expository as the narrative disappointingly shifts away from Parker's POV into first Grofield's (a character from The Score who is the lead in another four book series by Stark) and then Baron's POV, and we experience the heist and its aftermath from those two POVs and don't come back to Parker until the final twenty pages of the novel. And that wrap-up is somewhat perfunctory and extremely anti-climactic. So I'm not a real fan of this one.

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Review: Untamed Lust

Untamed Lust Untamed Lust by Orrie Hitt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In between all the sleaze-noir rutting, what we have here is some of Hitt's most evocative writing. And where does his best writing show up? In his descriptions of Eddie out trapping animals in the woods. Fascinating that one of the rare times that Hitt's writing approaches literary quality is when he describes trapping turtles, otter, fox, and mink. Hitt is usually at his best when describing his characters at their work and he is at the top of his game describing Eddie in the woods. He is laughable, however, when he describes Eddie bedding down the three women in this novel with prose steeped in junior high sensibility. Hard to get too excited about this novel because its interesting characters and a good noir plot are obscured by Hitt's at times shallow writing.

View all my reviews

Friday, August 20, 2021

Review: 13 French Street

13 French Street 13 French Street by Gil Brewer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was Brewer's big seller—with more than 1.2 million copies sold on its original Gold Medal print run—and, from a literary standpoint, it certainly has some of his best prose. Although I'm more partial to Brewer's propulsive out-of-control style, the best example being A Taste For Sin, but 13 French Street has plenty of forward energy. Overall, I give it 4.5 stars, with the deduct being mainly for repetition, and that is partly by design as the bulk of the action takes place claustrophobically on the second floor of the house. As with Brewer's Satan Is a Woman, the femme fatale spends the first half of the novel teasing the protagonist - Alex Bland - into an obsessive and near insane frenzy. Once he's hooked, the murders begin. A brilliant noir depicting Bland's self-destruction as his conscience is eroded by desire, at first reluctantly, then willfully, and finally under a haze of alcohol as he deliberately tries to drive away the pain he's caused himself by jettisoning his conscience.

View all my reviews

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Review: End of the Tiger and Other Stories

End of the Tiger and Other Stories End of the Tiger and Other Stories by John D. MacDonald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

MacDonald, who published 500 stories and 70+ novels in his career was a master craftsman and this collection of 14 stories and 1 novella shows off his technique quite well. The collection opens with “Hangover”, which was published in 1956, and reads like an episode of Mad Men, as an alcoholic ad executive gets fired for saying the wrong things (namely the truth) to Detroit auto executives at a big rollout meeting. “Blurred View” is a neat noir with an inventive double-cross ending. Same with “The Fast Loose Money,” only with a long simmering revenge twist added in. The plot twist of “Triangle” - a story of a husband trying to hide an affair - is absolutely devilish and MacDonald pulls it off smooth as can be. The novella “The Trap of Solid Gold” was published in 1960 and depicts the now all too familiar story of a young executive forced to live beyond his means to maintain the image - with home, cars, country club memberships, etc. - that the company expects its executives to portray; and the inevitable downfall ensues. Amazing ending sentences, which it will not spoil the story to quote: “Happy endings were reserved for stories for children. An adult concerned himself with feasible endings. And this one was feasible, as an ending or as a beginning. You had to put your own puzzle together, and nobody would ever come along to tell you how well or how poorly you had done.”

View all my reviews

Friday, August 13, 2021

Review: The Name of the Game Is Death

The Name of the Game Is Death The Name of the Game Is Death by Dan J. Marlowe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first started reading Gold Medal and other crime-noir paperbacks in junior high and back then this novel was one of my favorites. Marlowe pulls off the rare feat of creating a sociopath that you want to root for. The book begins in the middle of a bank heist in Arizona and our first person narrator is wounded and goes to ground. His robbery partner heads to Florida with the money. They have a plan to meet up. After a few weeks a telegram from his partner arrives and after reading it our protagonist realizes that his partner didn't send it and that someone else must have the loot. He begins driving cross country and in the course of this five-day journey from Arizona to Florida we see him not only in lethal action, but he also conveys incidents from his past that show how he became the criminal he is. Strangely enough, it humanizes the sociopath. In Florida he establishes himself as a tree surgeon in a small town, which is his cover story while he tries to find out what happened to his partner and the money. So we see him in normal human activity, but we also see the calculated way that he operates and know him for what he is: a cold blooded killer. Just a fascinating narrative perspective. As the novel progresses there are twists and turns, with an especially neat side-plot that has other criminals following our guy while he tracks down the ones who took out his partner. Marlowe delivers some neat cat and mouse scenes before the final explosive ending. One of the best in the genre and a must-read for fans of these Gold Medal paperbacks.

View all my reviews

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Review: Candy

Candy Candy by Sheldon Lord
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another early Lawrence Block book. The first chapter is a doozy as our first-person narrator Jeff comes home late still reeking with his mistresses' perfume and is confronted by his wife. The narration is flavored equally with asshole-ness and self-loathing and really starts the book off with an edge. Then we get a back story chapter showing how Jeff gets involved with Candy. Candy's goal is to be a kept woman and clearly Jeff doesn't make enough to keep her. He becomes obsessed with her. She dumps him. His wife leaves him. He hits the bottle. Losses his job. And then tries to find Candy. To say more would be spoiler, except that the crime elements all come late in the book. In the iBook store this is classified as erotica. It isn't, not even by 1960 standards. Couple of sex scenes, but they are not even written to excite. Overall, some good stuff here, but also plenty of filler, and it's easy to see that Block was ready to make the move to Gold Medal style books.

View all my reviews

Review: Yesterday's Virgin

Yesterday's Virgin Yesterday's Virgin by John Furlough
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

John Furlough is a pseudonym used by Glenn Lough/Low for his Beacon offerings. This one is backwoods sleaze, a favorite subgenre of mine, and tells the story of hunky Harty Blestow, a cranky and amorous young buck living in a cabin on his deceased grandfather's land where there is rumored to be hidden treasure worth $25,000. A darkened-bedroom mystery woman warns Harty of a plot devised by some violent local hillbillies to steal the treasure, which Harty doesn’t believe actually exists. At the same time a couple of cute and horny distant cousins from the big city unexpectedly show up to do a little ancestry digging. Very well written for a Beacon with some wild and outrageous plotting and plenty of sex and violence. The writer makes fine use of cliffhangers at the end of the chapters, like the Hardy Boys books, making this one propulsive and difficult to put down. A very pleasant surprise and very clearly a top notch backwoods sleazer. I liked it a lot. Four stars.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Review: B-Girl Decoy

B-Girl Decoy B-Girl Decoy by Eve Linkletter
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The best part of this novel is the first third where the whole "B-Girl" ploy is described and shown in great detail as Mercedes goes undercover as Eva. Written in 1961, so what you have is a contemporaneous depiction of the scam. The middle third is decent as a lot of complications are introduced and the energy picks up as the point of view shifts away from B-girl/undercover cop Eva whom we began with. The final third is weak despite more plot complications because none of the police part is realistic, and in fact, is quite moronic. Where this novel really falls apart, however, is that when we are in Eva's point of view she never seems to think the way an undercover cop would. So the novel is a fascinating period piece with a great historical depiction of what the B-Girl scam was, but as a novel it fails because the main character is not presented in a way that is believable. The minor characters, on the other hand, seem quite believable. So a rare example where it is the main character who is the prop rather than the supporting characters.

View all my reviews

Review: The Lost Continent

The Lost Continent The Lost Continent by Edgar Rice Burroughs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Originally published as BEYOND THIRTY in All Around Magazine in 1915 the short novel was then un-published until 1955 when Ace released the mass market ERB paperbacks re-titling it as THE LOST CONTINENT. Sort of a post-apocalyptic Lost World story that tells of a period 200 years in the future where Europe has been decimated by war and has returned to tribal barbarism and overrun by jungle animals. The Panamerican narrator/hero is forced to cross the 30th parallel, which is strictly banned and enforced, and he ends up in England dealing with lions, tigers, and wolves, plus uncivilized natives including a beautiful princess, A pretty typical ERB adventure yarn with the flowery prose of the time and cardboard characters. The hero’s marriage to the queen of England was an unexpected and somewhat outlandish touch. An okay Lost World story that doesn't quite measure up to the Caspak and Pellucidar books.

In the public domain and freely available at Gutenberg.org

Friday, August 6, 2021

Review: The "B" Girls

The The "B" Girls by Thomas N. Tomm
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Good find that has me looking for more books by Tomm. At the sentence level this is some of the best writing I've read in a sleazer. Literary quality. Structurally, though, pretty dang strange. The mystery is introduced with thirty pages to go and then is quickly solved. It does look backward and explain some of the events from earlier in the novel, but totally missed the opportunity to have the protagonist chasing the mystery from the start. Same with the murder, which comes at the halfway mark; should have happened much earlier in the book. Instead we get a lot of character development and a mild adventure and plenty of sex scenes in the first 80 pages without knowing where things are going or why. The writing is good, though, so who cares? Then we have the murder and our protagonist is on the run for fifty or so pages, before finally waking up and realizing he has to solve the mystery we didn't know existed. It's actually quite complex but is dusted off in 15 or so pages after 10 pages of setup. Enjoyed this one a lot, but it definitely could have been a more rip-roaring crime novel with a different structure.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Review: Knock Three-One-Two

Knock Three-One-Two Knock Three-One-Two by Fredric Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some devilish twists at the end so I won't say too much about what happens. The setup is that a psychopath is on the loose, having strangled two women already, and early on we get a couple of scenes from the killer's perspective as he tries for a third victim, but is thwarted both times. Although the omniscient narrative jumps around to a lot of different characters, the protagonist, however, is Ray Fleck. Ray is a gambler and he has racked up big losses that he can't pay back to his bookie. Ray is also a chiseler and a liar and a thief and worse. We see him at his worst trying to raise the money he owes. Ray and the psychopath will meet. Enough said. Brown dials up some neat plotting, but I was disappointed in this one because a lot of the narrative was exposition rather than scenes. That complaint is just my personal preference to scene based narratives and might not bother other readers. He also used a couple of other clunky narrative devices. For example, a character writes a letter to a psychologist friend to explain his theory about the psychopath. So deduction for clunky narrative techniques that detract from an otherwise good story. Add a star for the cover art.

View all my reviews

Monday, August 2, 2021

Review: Devil in Dungarees

Devil in Dungarees Devil in Dungarees by Albert Conroy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After a great first chapter that sets the stage as we meet two doomed (no spoiler, this is noir after all) protagonists - Walt Bonner, a cop planning a bank heist, and Peggy Jennett, the devil in the dungarees, leading him on with herself as bait - the story slows down a bit as we meet the other robbers involved in the heist. At this point the narrative also shifts from Walt's POV to what will become an omniscient POV. What we lose with the close identification with Walt is repaid with a much broader sense of the action. And action is the key, because from the moment the robbery starts there is no let up until the end. Conroy (a pseudo of Marvin H. Albert) adds a new complication every couple pages with the classic plotting technique of pose a problem, solve it, create another problem, and keep it up to the last page. As a page-turning, action-packed, crime-noir novel, this has all the goods. Would have a made a great movie.

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Review: Old Dogs

Old Dogs Old Dogs by Ron Schwab
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Old Dogs in the title refer to Jack and Rudy, a pair of aging and retired Texas Rangers now ranchers, and Thor, a loyal and much loved dog. A young woman claiming to be Jack’s granddaughter shows up out of the blue asking Jack to help recover her herd of horses that that been rustled by hostile Comancheros. Jack, unaware that he even has any offspring, is at first shocked and then inspired to come out of retirement for one last dangerous mission to recover the stolen horses. This mission drives the plot but is really secondary to the themes of growing old and love of family, friends, and dog. Truly a wonderful book that packs an emotional punch, especially I think, for men of a certain age - like me. One of the best Westerns that I’ve read in a while and highly recommended. Five stars.

Available as an inexpensive ebook.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Review: Love or Kill Them All

Love or Kill Them All Love or Kill Them All by Orrie Hitt
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Writing as Nicky Weaver, this was Orrie Hitt's attempt at a hard boiled detective. Maybe it's not as bad as my one star would indicate, but there are so many better books. Why bother? The dialog is really bad, corny and full of non-sequitors. Dialog is usually a strength of Hitt's books. Not here. The plot is somewhat coherent, but Nicky Weaver's investigation isn't. Doesn't happen very often - didn't and don't want to finish this one.

View all my reviews

Monday, July 26, 2021

Review: Dirt Farm

Dirt Farm Dirt Farm by Orrie Hitt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Classic Hitt. Clean prose and plenty of tension. Similar plot to several other of his books: drifter type shows up looking for work. This time it's a farm. There's too many women around for him to keep his mind on the job. Hitt does a great job using the dialog to show character, letting several characters hang themselves with their words. Would have been better if there were more action and less talking, however, and could have used more sex and more violence. Lost steam in the second half and the ending was also disappointingly anticlimactic.

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Review: Operation Fireball

Operation Fireball Operation Fireball by Dan J. Marlowe
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Plenty of good scenes and writing here, and Drake, in this the third book of the series is now someone we want to root for, however, just too many scenes, especially in the first half of the book, that don't advance the plot. It's as if Marlowe got stuck on the same plot point, thought it was more important than it was, and then wasted a lot of energy with half-step-forward, half-step-back scenes. He turns the characters and the action loose in the second half, but this is not as strong as the first two in the series or his other non-Drake books.

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Review: Angel!

Angel! Angel! by Carter Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

These Carter Brown novels always annoyed me when I first read them back in junior high because they all had the sexy Robert McGinnis cover art and then, unlike the sleazers they were made to look like, they never delivered. That's what we have with Angel. Al Wheeler, the cop on the beat here, spends a lot of time describing sexy women, but never gets to partake. He does solve the crime, however, and in typical mystery novel convention, the wrap up comes, after quite a few red herrings, in the last ten pages. This is a quick and easy read with plenty of interesting characters and a decent plot. Some of the Carter Brown dialog stylistics get slightly annoying, the too clever repartee, and particularly the speech tags (he growled, he snarled, he said laughingly, etc) which is a don't do as far back as creative writing 100.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Review: The Mistress

The Mistress The Mistress by Carter Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This Al Wheeler novel finds the amorous police lieutenant in typical form, he’s irresistible to women, has conflicts with his superiors, and offers an endless barrage of wise cracks. Even though Wheeler is a cop, this is not a police procedural, but rather falls squarely into the “whodunit” mystery genre. Here Wheeler’s police captain finds a dead woman on his porch at home after being threatened by a Las Vegas casino owner that wants to move his operation to Pine City. Turns out that the dead woman is the captain’s niece, the irascible captain assumes a vendetta, and puts the screws on Wheeler to bring in the suspect. Under pressure, Wheeler finds an ally in a stacked stripper named Gabrielle to track down the killer as the bodies pile up. Nicely plotted, snappy dialog, and a quick and easy read like every Carter Brown book I’ve ever read. Three stars.

Now available in paperback or ebook in an Al Wheeler collection from Stark House.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Review: The Score

The Score The Score by Richard Stark
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Did anybody write better heist novels than Richard Stark (Donald Westlake)? Well, maybe Dan J. Marlowe - One Endless Hour and Four for the Money are good examples. Seriously, though, it's hard to top these Parker novels for their depiction of heists. And this one is all about the extreme caper - to rob an entire town in rural North Dakota. In the previous Parker novels he'd been trying to clear himself from the Outfit or dispensing with unfinished business. In this one he is free and clear and all about the job. The first half of the book is all setup: describing the job, finding the crew, procuring the guns and the vehicles. Need a movie reference? Think Ocean's Eleven. Second half? They do the heist. Expect some monkey wrenches, but this one is all about the crew pulling off the take down of an entire town. Grofield also makes his appearance in this novel, so that is kind of cool, as he will get his own four book series later: The Damsel, The Dame, The Blackbird, and Lemons Never Lie, which was reprinted by Hard Case Crime.

View all my reviews

Review: The Wounded and the Slain

The Wounded and the Slain The Wounded and the Slain by David Goodis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the more remarkable first chapters in the noir genre. The first paragraph begins with the as yet unnamed focal character considering suicide. As we flip from page one to page two we have this: “At the other end of the bar they were having a good time, talking pleasantly with some energetic laughter thrown in. He tried to hate them because they were enjoying themselves. He collected some hate, aimed it, tossed it, then knew right away it was just a boomerang. There was no one to hate but himself.” He is Bevan, drowning in self-pity and alcohol, and we learn him with a narrative point-of-view that alternates between close third and second person. This narrative approach becomes quite stunning as Goodis introduces Cora, Bevan’s wife, and treats us to the same alternating close third and second person treatment of her, which is juiced up by her seeming schizophrenic second person voice. As the first chapter winds down Bevan is falling down drunk in the bar trying to pick a fight with a guy who comes to help Cora get Bevan out of the bar. The second chapter is Bevan’s back story. He marries young Cora but it turns out she is not interested in sex so Bevan takes up with a hooker, gets found out and trades the hooker in for booze, and races towards alcoholism to the point where a change of scenery is suggested to him by a neurologist. Cue chapter three, the morning after in Kingston, Jamaica and the beginning of a descent that immediately brings to mind Malcom Lowry’s Under the Volcano, published in 1947 and a work Goodis surely would have known. Goodis’ prose is a bit ragged when describing action scenes like the bar fight, but he is at his mesmerizing best when narrating from within the soul-tortured heads of Bevan and Cora.

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Review: The Violent Vixen

The Violent Vixen The Violent Vixen by Alan Marshall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Alan Marshall was one of the pseudos used by Donald Westlake, but he frequently subbed out his contracts to writer friends in need of cash, so there is some dispute among collectors about which Marshalls are Westlake's and which aren't. The character development in this one has the Westlake feel to it and the quality of the writing is a couple of notches above most pulps, so whomever wrote this one took more care than was typical of the genre, but I doubt this is a Westlake. The title makes no sense as there is no violence in this one. The lead character, Judy Stanton, is an actress making her career in beach party movies. (Character seems modeled on Annette Funicello - so think Beach Blanket Bingo.) She's in a long-term contract and wants out, wants to make other types of movies. So there are scenes with her business managers and attorneys where they plot ways out of the contract and there are the inevitable scenes where she is in conflict with the director and producer of the current movie she is making. All that takes up about 50% of the book. The other 50% is sex scenes. Ah ha, the real purpose of the book! Originally this was published under the Greenleaf imprint Sundown Reader, but there's a knock-off eBook version.

View all my reviews

Friday, July 2, 2021

Review: Sin Hellcat

Sin Hellcat Sin Hellcat by Lawrence Block
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was a collaboration between Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake and they alternated chapters and did a remarkable job matching styles so that it reads seamlessly. So it is interesting from that perspective. But not much of a novel. It is mostly a lot of tongue-in-cheek writerly pyrotechnics, a lot of spinning of wheels to fill pages in between the sex scenes, of which there are plenty, described in censorship era figures of speech.

View all my reviews

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Review: Longarm on the Humboldt

Longarm on the Humboldt Longarm on the Humboldt by Harry Whittington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Longarm novels, and Adult Westerns in general, don’t seem to get much respect even though they were written by talented work-for-hire authors like Lou Cameron, Frank Roderus, James Reasoner, Pete Brandvold, and of course Harry Whittington who wrote this one, the 28th book in the series. Whittington would go on to write five more Longarm novels over the next couple of years, and although I have all of them, this is the first one that I’ve read. Whittington’s take on US Marshall Custis Long clearly pegs him as a hard-boiled detective, and the familiar tropes are here, getting beat up, captured, escaping, getting laid, etc. The story consists of two investigations, an assignment from the US Government, and another at the behest of a beautiful young blind woman who is seeking revenge. Some may say that Whittingtons best days were behind him in the 1970s, but I don’t think that's true. His descriptive prose is elegant without being wordy, the dialog crackles with authenticity and humor, and the plotting is, not surprisingly, exceptional. There is a Mormon subplot, which was entertaining enough, that smelled of padding that could have easily been cut to really make this a taut 200 pager, but only a minor quibble. Four stars.

View all my reviews

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Review: The Lady Kills

The Lady Kills The Lady Kills by Bruno Fischer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm surprised that Bruno Fischer didn't receive any coverage in Haut's or O'Brien's books on crime noir. Even in Horsley's The Noir Thriller there is just one mention of Fischer, in the Fatal Women chapter, and it is for this book. And I have to say, Beth Antler, is a femme fatale character in all caps, pretty much a textbook example, you could teach a course on the topic using her as an archetype. The noir protagonist is Simon Field and he's an editor working for the newspaper published by Beth's father. The small town is run by gangsters who control the politicians and the newspaper's editorial page is at war with the corruption, which becomes a bigger focus in the second half of the novel. The first half is all about Simon falling under the spell of Beth, even to the point of covering up a murder for her. The plot complications expand out from there, including a nice twist up at the end. Strong characterization, good plot, and the usual noir trappings. The pace was a bit slower than a lot of the Gold Medal era books, but Fischer was a good writer so the less than break-neck paced sections are still interesting reading. Prologue has an eBook version so this is readily available.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Review: The Squeeze

The Squeeze The Squeeze by Gil Brewer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Finishes strong after a clunky setup requiring major suspension of disbelief. The squeeze of the title is that everyman accountant Joe Maule loses a bundle gambling and has to repay a mobster by tracking down 260K stolen and hidden by another guy. As I said, major suspension of disbelief required with this plot. It gets even harder to believe following a twist Brewer introduces. But once you get passed that in the first third of the book the action picks up and the story rips along to the end. The dialog seemed out of whack at times, with the mobster sounding like something from a B-movie, and our protagonist - as Brewer's protagonists often are - mostly uncommunicative. What this novel has, however, is another of those great extended series of scenes involving the disposal of a body. Ranks up there with similar scenes in Brewer's The Vengeful Virgin and Satan Is a Woman. Mid-tier Brewer, but the body disposal sections are top-notch and make this one worth tracking down.

View all my reviews

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Review: Affairs of a Beauty Queen

Affairs of a Beauty Queen Affairs of a Beauty Queen by Orrie Hitt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hitt's books from the late 1950s and early 1960s are interesting because, using the term somewhat loosely now, they are a kind of cultural anthropology. He frequently picked a business or some cultural practice and then showed its sleazy underbelly. Here we have beauty contests sponsored by newspapers. Not exactly a scam, but clearly a shady business practice. As Hitt describes it we have small town newspapers running beauty contests where local businesses sponsor a contestant and the newspapers feature pictures of the contestants along with ads for the businesses. The only way to vote is to go to the store in person to cast your ballot. The newspapers sell lots of ads and the stores report that business is booming. The winning contestant gets $500 and the Miss whatever city title and a chance to go on to the county contest and maybe the state and the national contest. In this book we have two city contests and two contestants and two sets of sleazy participants. The contestants are Lili and Cherry and most of the book is narrated in alternating sections from their POVs. What will they go through to win? Who will they bed? Who will take advantage of them? Will they win? Those are the plot elements. Throw in blackmail and attempted rape and there is just enough crime elements to create some edge. Decent writing, decent plot, some good cultural anthropology, but could have used more edginess.

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Review: The Key-Lock Man

The Key-Lock Man The Key-Lock Man by Louis L'Amour
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another of the first L'Amour books I read back in junior high (it's like a reading time capsule!). Cat and mouse plot with a lot of great descriptions of the Utah and Arizona deserts. Omniscient POV, and L'Amour makes full use of it, roving in and out of every character's head to provide a complete picture of the pursued and the pursuers. Saves the climax until the last couple of pages, so this is a page turner to the very end.

View all my reviews

Review: The Long Night

The Long Night The Long Night by Ovid Demaris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Private eye Vince Slader is a character born from Spillane’s Mike Hammer school of ultra hard-boiled detectives, hard-boiled to the point of self parody. Most of the familiar hard-boiled PI tropes are here, Slader is a former cop, gets beat up, gets laid, hands out plenty of brutal violence, barks caustic and smart ass dialog, etc. Demaris writes all of this very well and adds a couple of nice touches, a best buddy, and a love interest that humanize Slader and make him more sympathetic. The plot has something to do with killing a husband and collecting the insurance and although familiar, is executed well. The destination isn’t all that important, it's the ride, and the novel delivers a fun and wild one. Four stars.

Digital copy available from Cutting Edge books

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Review: Dawson's Run

Dawson's Run Dawson's Run by Tim McCloud
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A good example of "don't judge a book by its cover" as the cover art and blurb have nothing to do with the story. This is a straight-ahead western. Ben Dawson is the marshall of Piney Flats and inserts himself in the middle of a feud between two neighboring ranches, one of which borders his own spread. When Dawson's ranch is raided - cattle stolen, buildings burned, ranch hands killed, and his daughter kidnapped - Dawson goes all out to find the killers and his daughter. Some of the transitions are abrupt and there are quite a few cliches and some hokey western dialogue, but this book is non-stop action with almost continuous shoot-outs and hardly any filler in between. A fast, fun, and frenetic read for sure. Does a have a couple of explicit sex scenes, which is rare for 1960s era westerns, and that makes it a nice vintage sleaze collectible, particularly with the cover art.

View all my reviews

Review: Nevada Death Trap

Nevada Death Trap Nevada Death Trap by J.R. Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Robert Randisi, writer of all 470+ Gunsmith books, is a consistently entertaining teller of dialogue driven, easy to read stories. The Gunsmith books can be read in a sitting or two and are perfect escapist summer reading. Here Clint Adams befriends a family of Gypsies and helps them get to town to repair their wagon. A bigoted rancher, and the townsfolk in general, want the Gypsies driven out and Clint is forced to protect them. This is an Adult western so naturally there is a beautiful Gypsy woman and the rancher’s horny daughter for Clint to have explicit sex with. I have a box full of Gunsmith books and can pick any one of them out randomly and know exactly what I’m in store for - a reliably amusing story well told.

Digital ebook available from Amazon.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Review: The Moon in the Gutter

The Moon in the Gutter The Moon in the Gutter by David Goodis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is not so much a novel as a short sequence of events that goes nowhere. It has the kind of fatalism that noir is known for: the protagonist who is doomed. In this case he is trapped by his own limited sense of identity. He apparently hasn’t heard of the “American Dream,” where hard work can take you anywhere. He grew up on the mean streets and in his mind that’s the only place he can live. So when the upper class woman shows up in her sports car and wants to take him uptown? No can do. “Don’t you see the way it is? We don’t ride the same track. I can’t live your kind of life and you can’t live mine. It ain’t anyone’s fault. It’s just the way cards are stacked.” Spoiler alert, that is on the last page. And it is actually a fitting wrap up for this annoying protagonist who spends the novel, in between fist fights and drinking binges, in situations where he needs to say something but can’t get the words out, or needs to move but can’t. He is frozen in place and unable to act. The novel begins with him staring at the blood stains where his sister was murdered. At the end of the novel he knows the answer to who her murderer is. We do too even though the murderer is never identified.

View all my reviews

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Review: Nurse Lily and Mister X

Nurse Lily and Mister X Nurse Lily and Mister X by Diane Frazer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author Dorothy Fletcher wrote several vintage Nurse Romance novels using the pseudonym Diane Frazer. This one from 1961 tells the story of Nurse Lily who has been entrusted to care for a VIP, a Brit named Sir Edgar, whose identity must remain a secret. The conflict that drives the story involves a dashing young newspaper reporter named Andrew who has been assigned to sniff around on a lead speculating the secret patient's identity. A romance develops, but is Andrew really falling for Lily, or is he just trying to pump her - for information that is. Sir Edgar is a fascinating character, brilliant and cantankerous, and he encourages Lily to feel out the potential threat of discovery by Andrew while providing plenty of snappy and amusing dialog. The strengths of the novel are the smart dialog and plotting, a few nice twists that I didn't see coming, and a weakness is the subplot about Lily’s friend Norman that didn’t really go anywhere (maybe word count filler). In general this is a terrific story and a top notch Vintage Nurse Romance novel if you’re interested in this genre, which was once popular and now sadly forgotten.

View all my reviews

Monday, May 31, 2021

Review: The Widow

The Widow The Widow by Orrie Hitt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Orrie Hitt wrote 150+ sleaze-noir novels in the 50s and 60s. I've read more than 50 of them so far and the quality of the writing is quite varied. Not sure where this one will ultimately rank after I've finished reading all of Hitt's books, but right now The Widow is very close the top of the heap. Generally, his pre-1960 books are better written, and this is mostly because in the early 1960s Hitt was cranking them out assembly-line mode every couple of weeks and the quality of those books dropped off severely as he rarely made an effort to write from within the character as he did with his early novels. The Widow is the story of Jerry Rebner's decline and fall. When the novel starts he has just been fired from his job operating a backhoe because he punched out his boss. He's ready to leave town until he gets his head turned by a skirt he wants to chase. In the classic noir pattern, we sense that his doom is sealed at that moment. But how it happens is the story and Hitt does a great job of stretching that out in beautiful tease and deny mode. What elevates this novel in my ranking of Hitt's novels? His dialog is stinging back and forth shots on goal, frequently fulfilling the dictum of "using exposition as ammunition." And Jerry Rebner is haunted by the death of his wife in a car accident and there are several scenes where his torment is shown completely from within the character. He's a heel, but these scenes of torment humanize him in a way rarely seen in Hitt's novels (at least the ones I've read so far). And thus we feel his fall even though we can despise his choices. It does get a bit repetitive at times - the repeated tease and deny - and this plot (as many of Hitt's plots do) bares some similarities to other of his novels, but this is one of his best.

View all my reviews

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Review: The Long Lavender Look

The Long Lavender Look The Long Lavender Look by John D. MacDonald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This 12th novel in the Travis McGee series starts not with the beginning of a salvage job, as so many in the series do, but with McGee and Meyer in a car crash, getting shot at, and arrested for murder. So initially the story is about piling it higher and deeper on top of McGee to learn if he can dig fast enough to keep from getting buried in shit. Yes, he can dig fast enough to get out from under one pile and into another where the manure isn't accumulating quite as fast as in the one he'd escaped from. That's our McGee out of jail, but he can't leave the county, so he starts snooping around. The cast of off-the-rails characters grows, as do the complications, as McGee stirs up his own brand of shit while unraveling an almost too complicated whodunit about a years-ago armored car heist. It's a Travis McGee story, so you just knew that there would be a pot of gold out there somewhere for him to chase down. Plenty of action down the home stretch and MacDonald delivers not one but two of his trademark climactic action sequences. Here it's like a rollercoaster with two big humps before the hard brake at the finish. Actually, a great standalone crime/noir. Because it doesn't follow the series M.O., if you'd never read any of the others it doesn't matter. For McGee fans it's another episode. For noobs, it works on its own and maybe draws them into the series. MacDonald firing on all cylinders in this one. My one ding is that at times the narration slips into McGee lecturing himself in third-person, and although I'd agree that narrative move has a certain utility when it comes to characterization, for the most part, McGee talking to himself like that in a first-person POV was annoying. MacDonald also delivers a great metaphor for the mystery McGee is trying to solve: Before Pluto was discovered, the planet was inferred from other observed phenomena - it had to be there - just as the hidden antagonist of this story is waiting to be found and confronted by McGee.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Review: Unfaithful

Unfaithful Unfaithful by Peggy Gaddis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Peggy Gaddis without a pseudonym in this Venus paperback original from 1952. That's Rudi Nappi with the cover art, which makes this a nice collectible. Once you accept the basic premise - a young woman trapped into prostitution - the follow-on plotting is really superb, as Gaddis just keeps piling it higher and deeper for her protagonist Karen. Definitely kept me reading to see how she would get out of the jam. This is both a crime/noir and a romance. You've got a neat prostitution scheme run by the sleaze-ball manager of a motel and you've got Karen's unrequited love for Shaw, whom she has to chase away because she knows he would reject her if he knew about her "side-job" at the motel. That's the basic set-up and from there Gaddis just keeps raising the stakes. The double-cliff ending was maybe a bit weak on the wrap-up, but overall this was a tight bit of plotting and an enjoyable read.

View all my reviews

Monday, May 24, 2021

Review: Madball

Madball Madball by Fredric Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A “madball” is carney lingo for a crystal ball, the kind that Dr. Magus the alcoholic fortune teller, uses to manipulate people. Equally adept at manipulation is Burt Evans, a greedy carny sociopath who has found $42,000 in stolen cash. This drives the two main narratives with Magus brilliantly deducing the location of the stolen fortune, and Evans killing without remorse to protect it. The book provides an insider look at carnival life of the era with several fascinating characters and a relentlessly paced plot - since all the machinations need to be completed by the end of the carnival season. At its heart it’s a story about greed and what people are willing to do to get what they want, which covers a lot of bases - stealing, prostitution, murder, etc. since the carneys are not a very lawful bunch. A slice of carnival life, compelling and repellant at the same time, combined with cracking good plotting and dialog place this book near the top of the carnival noir heap. An easy five stars.

Available from Stark House Press Black Gat Books.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Review: From Door to Door

From Door to Door From Door to Door by Orrie Hitt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the things I like best about Orrie Hitt's books is that his characters have jobs and he usually digs in and shows you what those jobs are like from the inside. The books were written in the late 1950s and early 1960s so his books are fascinating cultural anthropology. The job explored in this book is selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door. Yes, it was as scammy an operation as you'd imagine. The first-person narration is by Les Drake, who manages one of the selling crews working small cities (less than 100,000 population) in New York state. He aspires to be state manager. One of his salesmen wants his job. And as the book begins Les is sleeping with Ellen, one of his salesgirls. Before too much longer she will be telling him that she's pregnant and has been lying about her age. So that's one set of plot drivers. The main storyline of the book, however, is that the owner of the company sends his daughter June to work with Les to get some field experience prior to taking over running the company. Les is not above telling lies to make sales, but otherwise he runs a clean operation compared to some of the competitors. June has other ideas. Sex sells. She recruits some girls willing to put out to get the magazine subscription. Complications evolve from there. Enjoyed this one a lot. Cool look inside the magazine subscription racket. Strong storyline with engaging first person narrator who has an edge to him. Plenty of biting back and forth dialog when the characters are in conflict. Loses a bit because of what is left out because of censorship-era editing. There's crime because of the prostitution angle and the scam selling techniques, but definitely not noir because of the ending.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Review: The Sin Fishers

The Sin Fishers The Sin Fishers by Harry Whittington
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another of the "missing 38" vintage sleaze novels that Harry Whittington wrote in the mid-60s under a pseudonym for the Greenleaf/Corinth publishing house, this time as John Dexter. Quite an interesting novel because although it has a crime element - a gambler/gangster and his muscle are tracking and intending to kill his ex-mistress who ratted him out to the IRS - this is much more of a psychological noir. Rafe Fuller seems our focal character at the start as we begin with him following his wife's funeral and he makes all the classic mistakes noir characters fated to doom make, except for a spoiler I won't give away. Whittington, however, jumps the narration around between several characters so that we are continuously enmeshed in different psycho dramas. Characters reacting to their obsessions is what drives the plot and the focus is on the interpersonal drama rather than the action sequences more typical of this era's crime/noir genre. Although published by a sleaze house, the sex scenes are minimal and tame even by 1965 standards, so would imagine that some readers back then were disappointed. All in all, not bad, but there was a lot of repetition, as Whittington was obviously trying to stretch out the word count to fit the 190-page Greenleaf format. If you are a Whittington completist, like me, you'll want to read this, but otherwise you can probably stick to his readily available Gold Medal paperbacks that are much better.

View all my reviews