Friday, July 1, 2022

Review: Sin Ship Skipper

Sin Ship Skipper Sin Ship Skipper by Alan Marshall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Better written and edited than most vintage sleaze novels I've read, which makes me wonder which well-known author might have written this one. Alan Marshall was basically a house name for Greenleaf, although it was first used by Donald Westlake when he started publishing with Midwood and later for his Nightstand (Greenleaf) novels. This is not a Westlake, however, and its 1968 publication date likely rules out some of the other mainstream authors who started out publishing sleaze under pseudonyms. That said, sometimes older manuscripts were pulled out of storage and published years later, so who knows. Need to do more sleuthing, and this may be nothing, but I have found numerous stylistic and textual clues (of the sort that have been used to identify Whittington and Block novels) that point to John Jakes. Jakes was identified by Earl Kemp (Greenleaf editor) as the early J. X. Williams (a pseudo also later also used for Whittington novels), and one Alan Marshall—Shame Isle —has been previously linked to Jakes, which is one of the novels where I found stylistic similarities to Sin Ship Skipper. This is a bawdy blackmail fueled crime novel that takes place mostly at sea on board a yacht on its way from San Francisco to Panama. The first person protagonist is Captain Toby Dorn who has a reputation in the bunk as well as at the helm. The guests on the yacht include a bevy of what Dorn might describe as bed-able broads and he spends most of his time bouncing them on his bunk. Well, what else would you expect from a Greenleaf novel? The sex is not too explicit and the last half of the novel is focused on the unraveling of the blackmail plot and a series of murders that go along with it. Not great but a cut above the typical sleazer.

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