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.
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