Saddle Sinners by Harry Whittington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
One of Whittington's famed missing 38! Objectively, Whittington's novels published in the 1960s by mainstream publishers such as Fawcett Gold Medal, Avon, Ace, etc. are more conventionally plotted and the writing is more polished. What they lack, however, is everything that you will find in this Greenleaf/Corinth sleaze noir, which is narration that is relentlessly edgy and full of inside voice. The YA Twilight series has more sex than this one and yet these early 1960s publishers were hounded and eventually jailed for publishing novels such as this. As I've written before when reviewing other Whittington sleazers, this genre, and the anonymity of writing for Greenleaf, freed him to write brutally honest crime/noir novels that he couldn't publish with those mainstream publishers. Although tame by comparison with what is published now, this 1964 novel shows what Gold Medal novels would have been like if there had been no censorship. I'm giving it five stars because I loved it, but also because Whittington broke the molds and gave us a crime noir we wouldn't have had otherwise. He was one of the few writers who took his sleaze assignments seriously. And it shows. Block and Westlake were great writers, but read their sleazers and it is obvious that most of the time they were taking the piss. Not Whittington. Back then he did what noir writers do now, he made it dirty. So what do we have in Saddle Sinners? A gigolo drama at a dude ranch, plus a hostage scenario and a heist, and a frigid wife awakened. Plus plenty of inside voice narration to show how F'd up all the characters are. Highly collectible, so it won't be cheap, but it is well worth the price if you can find a copy.
View all my reviews