Raoul Whitfield was one of the pioneering figures of hardboiled fiction and wrote as many as ninety stories in the famed Black Mask magazine. He was a contemporary of Hammett, Chandler, and Carroll John Daly, and a drinking buddy of Hammett’s. Green Ice was Whitefield’s first published novel and is in actuality a set of five shorter stories that were originally published in Black Mask. If you are looking for real, hardboiled stories without pretense and just plain action, action, action, this is it. Mal Ourney served two years in Sing Sing, taking a manslaughter rap for a gal he had been dating and, while there, word gets out he is has it out for the big guys, the crime breeders, who control all the action on the streets. Violence is everywhere as he steps out of the Big House and it all looks like it is going to come back down on Ourney just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hammett himself described Green Ice as 280 pages of naked action and tough, staccato prose. It may not be as cleverly plotted as some other hardboiled novels – these were originally short stories- but it literally breathes that tough, dark, hardboiled atmosphere.
Excellent gritty crime fiction anthology. Not a clunker in the bunch. Nasty, bloody, hard-nosed. With a sardonic sense of humor. I read the first story about a Yankees Reds game just as the real life a Yankees Reds game was starting. Sabathia didn’t pitch particularly well today, but it wasnt as exciting as a story about a game being interrupted by calls about one’s wife being kidnapped and threats to send her appendages in a box. That’s followed up by gang warfare on the Hawaiian Islands. From there, we are faced with dogfighting and it’s intellectually superior fans. And then the fun of ripping off the rich kids. Bill collectors are never boring in a gritty crime fiction way. Very story here is a gem right down to the advice we get about neighborliness and liquor store stick ups
Nil Korpon is one of the modern crime writers whose tough, uncompromising visions are published by Snubnose Press. If you like dark, gritty crime fiction and want to read stuff that’ll make you gasp, this is your ticket. These are short nuggets of literary stuff. The stories are filled with desperate people, often at the end of their ropes, often dreaming of a better life somewhere else, somewhere better, safer, more wholesome. The truth is few of them escape the bitter nasty world they are living in. It’s a world where everyone is a con artist, no one can be trusted, no one will stick it out, and you can never turn your back. The writing style just grabs you and it often includes amazing prose, poetic descriptions and more. Amid the tales about adultery, conmen, condemned buildings, bar fights, accidents, and the like are lines about “empty street slumbers” and the “chain fence slinking around our building” like “snake skin at the corners.” There is the man in the “white polyester suit”who looks like “a Messiah Elvis” and “the taste of salt on her neck” and the “hot sweat on her thighs.” When he describes a woman, he talks about her hair fluttering in “thin burgundy wings” but its not all light and shadows because this is a book about screams falling underwater and voices drowning in blood. And the gal on the operating table, “Her skin parts like wet silk under a razor, and even with a gaping hole in her face, I think she’s quite beautiful.” This is not just literary stuff though. There are fight scenes in some of these stories violent and gory enough to make Spillane take notice. This is a great introduction to Korpon’s work. Some of it is disturbing. Some of it is raw like an open wound.
During his John Lange period, Crichton had a penchant for writing about the Monte Carlo, the French Riviera, and the Costa Brava. This book is no exception as the action begins outside a casino in Monte Carlo before moving on to Cairo, Lisbon, and Copenhagen. In each of these cities, mysterious assasinations took place.
In the beginning of the book, there are a lot of things going on with disparate people in a variety of cities. It is hard to keep them straight. A terrorist group composed of Algerian and other Mideast elements wants to stop shipments from getting to Israel, which is building a nuclear reactor. The CIA wants to counteract what the terrorists are doing. So they send an assassin to Europe. Meanwhile, the Associates, led by Dr Georges Liseau, hire Ernst Brauer to counterattack the American assassin.
Into all this steps Roger Carr, who is heading to France for a real estate deal but somehow gets mixed up in international intrigue. It’s several decades before the internet and fax machines and digital phones and in this semi-primitive time, mistakes about identity can be made and both the Associates and the CIA think Carr is Morgan who never made it to France. Carr gets strange phone calls at his hotel room, notes left under his drink at a cabaret theater, a strange taxi driver who leaves indecipherable clues, and a woman who approached him at the cabaret shows in his hotel room and suddenly vanishes sans her underthings. And, that’s the weird stuff before the naked woman with a gun, the stranger on the palisade with a gun, and the Tommy-gun erupting on the street. There’s also the matter of the knife-wielding guy who shows up in Carr’s hotel room.
Meanwhile, Carr just scratches his head, confused.
Chrichton writing as Lange has done better work. It’s readable, but not as slick and finished as it could be
Gun Work is a terrific fun book that fits well with soldier of fortune or spy novels. It is not a mystery (at least after the first section).
There are three main parts to the book. The main character is Barney, an ex-US Army soldier, returned from battle in Iraq, where he met a news correspondent, Carl Ledbetter. Barney is ensconsed at a gun range in Los Angeles, where he works and practices his shooting every day. He keeps his most valuable possessions in his safe at the gun range and is not terribly connected to modern society. He is the kind of friend polite people don’t associate with much except when they need some real muscle and firepower to protect them and get them out of a jam. “When you worked at a range with a piece on your hip, every customer was your pal from bangers to cops.” Indeed, “people tended to seek Barney’s counsel whenever they fell afoul of some extralegal difficulty, the kind of gray zone balls-up that consistently befalls people you think of as completely normal and law-abiding.” The author tells the reader to rate your friends and acquaintances and admonishes the reader that you already know which friend you’d ask for help “when shady bad stuff rears up in your life.”
Carl, in a panicked telephone call from a payphone in Mexico City, tells Barney that he was recently married, they vacationed in Mexico, and his wife has been kidnapped with one million dollars ransom being demanded. And, Carl doesn’t know what to do. Of course, Barney, being the hero that he is, flies down to help Carl. Carl doesn’t seem to know how to handle a gun and is taken aback when Barney brings weapons to the hostage exchange location. Everything seems to go wrong and Barney ends up suffering in a hostage hotel in some really horrible ways. After he escapes (and if he didn’t, there wouldn’t be much of a story, so that’s not giving anything away), he plans his revenge with three other gun-toting vigilantes, almost like the posse heading to the rescue in a Western, guns blazing away.
The action takes this story from Mexico City to Manhattan to Los Angeles. There is plenty of gun play and fighting and the author seems to take immense pleasure in detailing the precise weaponry and defensive armaments that Barney and his small army are wielding. Although the start of the book is like a pulp-era travel adventure, the majority of the book is a mean, lean action story that reads incredibly quickly. Besides the action, the book includes one of the most dangerous femme fatales the world has ever seen and dozens of masked wrestlers.
If you open this book expecting a hardboiled detective novel in the Sam Spade tradition, forget about it. This book is an action-packed adventure from beginning to end. Well done.
John Lange was one of the early pen names of Michael Crichton, best known for The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park. While enrolled at Harvard Medical School, Crichton began publishing a number of novels. This is one of a number of Crichton’s early novels that have recently been re-released by Hard Case Crime. The others are Scratch One, Zero Cool, Easy Go, The Venom Business, Odds On, Grave Descend, and Dealing. I have read a number of these already and, while not perfect, they are fun, light, fast reading that I have found worthwhile. I haven’t read any of Crichton’s more famous works, but I will note that these early novels compare favorably to many of the bookstand pulp/adventure/crime novels that could be found in the late sixties and early seventies and these books should be read in that context.
While a light easy read, Drug of Choice is not on par with the other early Lange books. It’s easy to see the genisis of many of Crichton’s later ideas, but this book is a lot more amateurish. There are three basic parts to the book. In the first part, The doctor encounters two patients, one a Hell’s Angel biker and one a movie star, both of whom appear to be in deep comas with no apparent cause and both piss blue urine. The movie star finds the doctor interesting and they start dating or at least spending the night together. In the second part, the doctor and the movie star vacation together on a secret island whose exact location no one knows and where your every vacation fantasy comes true. It’s the best resort in history. In the third part, the doctor happily conducts experiments for an amazing corporation.
There are themes here of drug addiction, scientific experimentation, mind control, secret corporations, consumerism, and psychosis. There are certainly the seeds here of Crichton’s later work but the whole story loosely hangs together.
Most people know Erle Stanley Gardner as the writer of the 80-novel strong Perry Mason series, but he also wrote nearly thirty novels in the Cool and Lam series about a mismatched pair of detectives, which Gardner wrote under the pen name AA Fair. Unfortunately, Cool and Lam, at this time, is not available in ebook format with two exceptions. Bertha Cool is a heavy-set, loudmouthed, notoriously tightfisted, publicity seeking detective. Donald Lam is a slightly built, bantamweight detective who is cool, clever, and irresistible to beautiful women. Their partnership is odd, humorous, and somehow works. Cool seems to always get the agency in a jam and Lam always seems to deduce a solution.
The Count of Nine is book 18 in the long-running series and features a millionaire, missing artifacts from his world travels, his beauty queen wife, a model who can’t keep her clothes on, and numerous other characters. It is Gardner’s locked-room mystery where a body is discovered in a mysterious locked room with very little access. All of the action takes place in about a day or two and there are few actual action scenes such as brawls or shoot-outs. Nevertheless, Gardner skillfully writes this one so well that it is a quick read. Every book I have read in this series has been great and this one is no exception.
In 1942, Chase published his only short story collection while serving in the war, “Get a Load of This.” It contains fourteen different yarns. Most have an unexpected twist. Many are hardboiled, violent, often leaving the reader uneasy. They are all told in an easygoing, storytelling voice.
And what do you have here? A story about an “all-metal blonde with a buildup that does things to you, and a figure that weakens your resistance.” It’s a story about a nightclub, a blonde, and a gunshot. Never heard the phrase “all-metal blonde” before, but it’s worth pondering and it’s an example of why Chase was so good to read. You also have stories about surviving a hurricane with hitchhikers, one of whom was a honey, beautifully curved and blonde, and one who was six inches taller and almost mannish in her charms, stories about Latin American rebellions,a story about a man named Hemingway– George Hemingway — who was the center of attention at every gathering, who thrived on deep sea fishing, who owned oil wells, and drove race cars for a living , a story about a young assassin in Cuba and how he evades capture, a war story about a battle against overwhelming odds and a wonderful artillery piece, and a story about what happens when two hoods go for a walk in the park.
Here, Strange and Quinn are both former Metropolitan Police Department Officers. Strange is an older African-American man who keeps his office right in the city on Bonifant Avenue as sort of an example to younger men in the area. Quinn is Caucasian and a bit younger than Strange. Quinn left the police force after a controversial shooting in which internal affairs found his actions to be “right as rain.” This story takes place some time after the events in “Right as Rain” and Quinn now has a private investigator’s license and assists Strange with cases.
One case involves Quinn working on finding a teenage runaway who more than likely is now working the mean streets of Washington, D.C., and Quinn makes contacts with other street workers as he attempts to find Jennifer and free her from the life she has been reduced to. Along the way, he has to deal with Worldwide Wilson, Jennifer’s pimp, who towers over Quinn. Pelecanos does a great job of showing Quinn’s discomfort when Sue Tracy, another investigator, actually rescues Quinn.
Another subplot of the book is the Peewee football team that Strange and Quinn coach and how the uncle of one of the players is caught up in the life and how that eventually leads to trouble.
All in all, another terrific book in a top-notch crime series. One of the hallmarks of a Pelecanos novel is the backdrop of music and cars. You always feel the music pumping in the background of his books.
Nisbet has written more than once about the schisms in our modern society between the high tech go-go world of dot-coms and the drug- addicted losers and what happens when their paths cross. Here, he takes an unemployed Indian-American scientist whose career was ripped up by corporate downsizing and resizing and the like. He feels lost as he tries to keep up appearances, wandering into open houses in California’s steroid fueled housing market. The scientist and his wife are pretty sure the neighbors quietly deal drugs. At least, they appear to only be concerned with getting stoned and working on their tans: the stoner and his ex-stripper girlfriend. This story is a bit like Breaking Bad where a buttoned down straight laced guy gets swept up into a world he barely knew about. There’s a lot of stream of consciousness here and commentary on everything from chemical warfare to cable boxes to manners to 9/11. It’s an odd book and it is an interesting read. It’s shortcomings include the fact that the storyline isn’t necessarily compelling and though the main character is drawn well, it’s really hard to care about what is happening and, as a reader, you keep waiting for something more.
The Getaway List is the third (and perhaps final) volume in Eric Beetner and Frank Zafiro’s Brick & Cam Job Series, three volumes of noir with a touch of humor. The way they’ve designed this series, the two authors alternate chapters with Zafiro giving us Bricks’ narration of events and Beetner giving us Cam’s narration. Bricks (Paula Brickey) and Cam (Cameron Lowe) are two ex mob “hitmen” (“hitpeople”?) on the run cross-country to parts where they are not known so well. A few wrong turns later, they are smack in the middle of some Dukes of Hazard wannabes country in the Northwest and one thing leads to another and the fireworks 💥 start. A quick, easy, exciting read filled with characters that work precisely because they don’t take themselves so seriously.
Charles Bukowski is one of the those writers you either love or hate. His writing is either considered literary genius or drunken ramblings of a fool. If Bukowski were alive today, I am sure he wouldn’t have it any other way. This was his last book. Another one of his books is entitled Notes of a Dirty Old Man. So that kind of gives you the flavor of his writing. He wrote about booze and broads and rambled on.
Bukowski brilliantly entitled the book, “Pulp.” I say brilliant because, although he died in 1994, he had the foresight to know that there would be an internet and that there would be Amazon and that, if he entitled his final book “Pulp,” it would always be at the top of the list whenever anyone searched for pulp or pulp fiction. Sheer genius that move was! Although it might sell better if the publisher lowered the price to a reasonable level.
This book must be read with the deep understanding that it is not to be taken seriously. Not at all. It is a farce. It is a satire. It is meant to be funny. In it, Bukowski creates a character, Nick Belaine, with a one-man PI office in Los Angeles. In between scratching his balls and taking shots of scotch, he encounters several odd clients, including Lady Death (who has legs that go on forever) who wants him to find Celine, the writer. He is also engaged by a producer who wants him to catch the wife in the act, but that doesnt go well. And, another oddball hires him to track down the space alien, Jeannie, who is haunting him, Of course, there are the obligatory mobsters and guns and bartenders and dames.
The chapters are short, some only a few pages. You could probably pick up the book and start on any page and get the gist of it. If you have read a lot of pulp novels as I have, you will find it hysterically funny. but, then again, you find it to be silly and stupid. That’s the nature of Bukowski’s writing. Read on.
Andersen Prunty writes horror stories that really aren’t horror stories. They are poetic prose that have an otherworldly quality. Often, there is a supernatural thing in them, often at the end of a story, but the stories are far richer than you would think if you merely labelled them horror stories.
This is an excellent collection and if you have never read Prunty before, you are in for a treat. The seven stories are about lost childhoods and things that live in the woods and succubus witches and
enchanting places. There is a darkness and a sadness in them and people lost and all alone, so desperate for that human touch that they would risk everything to enter the deep pits and the witch’s embrace. I didn’t think there was a single clunker here.
Beware of people who pick up hitchhikers. Beware of locked rooms. Beware of sexy women who are just too good to be true. Remember those things you were scared of when you were a child. You were right to be scared. Right to run away. Right to stay away. Your instincts were on the ball
Dead, She Was Beautiful is a terrific story. It is written with such a smooth and easygoing style that the pages just seem to turn themselves. It is not heavy on pulpy phrases, but it’s filled with a classic pulp situation of a guy being played for a patsy as he is conveniently present when someone is murdered and, since the someone murdered is his ex-wife who had cheated on him and made a fool out of him, he’s got a real neat motive. Might as well gift wrap this guy and plop him at the door to the nearest police station. Of course, Hagen claims he is innocent and no one believes him. Naturally, on his own, he goes out and tries to solve the thing on his own. Filled with bodies plummeting, femme fatales, vengeful relatives, and a pile of evidence that just keeps pointing to Hagen’s guilt, this story is perfectly told all the way through. If you like to read classic pulp fiction from the fifties, don’t pass this one up.
“The Body Lovers” is the tenth book in Spillane’s long-running Mike Hammer series. It is solid, vintage Spillane and filled with all the action that readers expect from Spillane’s writing. Anyone who likes Spillane would be happy adding this volume to their collection.
The story starts with strong and continues strong all the way throughout. At the beginning, Hammer is just driving along, minding his own business, when he “heard the screams through the thin mist of the night and kicked the car to a stop at the curb.” He finds a hysterical child sitting in a pile of rubble and then sees what the kid was screaming about: “the mutilated body of what had been a redheaded woman. At one time she had been beautiful, but death had erased all that.” “She had been in her later twenties, but now time had ended for her. She lay there on her back, naked except for the remnants of a brilliant green negligee that was still belted around her waist. Her breasts were poised in some weird, rigid defiance, her long tapered legs coiled serpentine-like in the throes of death.” “Half- opened eyes had looked into some nameless terror before sight left them and her mouth was still frozen in a silent scream of pain.” There are few writers alive or dead who can open a book with such a description. Spillane does and he does it well. Within pages, the reader is deep in the action, wanting to know what happened to the lady and how Hammer is going to deal with it. Of course finding bodies is nothing new for Hammer.
This is a good, solid detective story with Hammer working to ferret out the clues as to what happened to the redhead in the green negligee as more bodies start popping up. The usual Hammer associates are found in this book. There’s Captain Pat Chambers, head of homicide, who “still resembled a trim business executive more than he did a cop . . . until you got to his eyes.” Velda, who is Hammer’s secretary, is here, too: His “big, beautiful, luscious doll. Crazy titian hair that rolled in a pageboy and styles be damned. Clothes couldn’t hide her because she was too much woman.” “She was deadly too.”
It’s Hammer’s world here and, in typical Spillane fashion, its not rainbows and mermaids he sees spouting in the distance, but a “New York gray, damp with river fog that held in suspension the powdered grime and acid grit the city seemed to exhale.” Its interesting hearing him talk about Greenwich Village being no more than a fantasy people looked around and tried to find like Hollywood and how silence is a funny sound that you hear when everything is too still and there’s someone with a gun ready to pick you off.
Hammer comes through here as tough as ever and as willing to bull his way through to truth and justice as anyone ever. There is nothing about a Mike Hammer novel that is not fun in a hardboiled way.
“Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” is a 1947 novel by McCoy and it was made into a movie, released in 1950 starring James Cagney. That movie was banned in Ohio because of its immorality and that it showed step by step how to commit crimes.
It is too bad McCoy didn’t write more novels because what he did write was absolutely terrific. This is noir-era novel that is steeped in darkness and almost never leaves that dark, foreboding world. Cotter is a on a prison work farm somewhere in the South and he’s made a deal to get out of there with Holiday, whose young brother is in custody with Cotter. Holiday is sex appeal personified. She is a woman of incredible appetites and almost hypnotizing beauty. She is also a machine-gun toting moll whose loyalty lasts so long as you are in the same room as her. The passionate scenes between McCoy, whose been in custody for two years, and Holiday are powerful to say the least.
With Holiday’s help, Cotter escapes the prison work farm and, although initially intent on leaving the nearby town, begins step by step to take it over. The story includes daring, violent armed robberies, crooked cops, and a romance with a wealthy dame whose perfume reminds Cotter of his childhood.
If there is one word to use in describing this book, that would be intensity. The entire story is told in the first person, including Cotter’s thoughts and memories. He’s tough, hardnosed, bold, and has little loyalty to anyone whose friendship is not to his advantage. Some of the scenes are just awesome such as the prison escape and Cotter’s romance with the rich blonde in the sports car. The action doesn’t seem to let up in this book.
This is a top-notch, excellent novel with rich, deeply- drawn characters, a fascinating plot, and lots of action. The storyline takes the reader from the high mountains of New Mexico to the Florida marinas to the sun-drenched Bahamas and even to the dreaded Bermuda Triangle.
If you haven’t read a Helm novel before, be prepared for the most realistic, hardboiled secret agent you’ve ever encountered. Helm knows what it takes to get the job done and even notes that there have to be brave men and women willing to execute their missions for our society to survive. In his world, there are no hostages to save and he is expected to take whatever actions are necessary.
There was a five-year gap between the publication of the previous Helm novel and this one. You don’t need to read any previous Helm books (18 of them) to either understand or enjoy this story. Nevertheless, this story, more so than other Helm novels, harkens back to include a number of characters from his past. Perhaps Hamilton was starting to draw the series to a close — although he went on to write seven more in the series.
This novel in some ways reminded me of John MacDonald’s McGee series both in the in -depth analysis of some of the characters and how here Helm does indeed tend to some wounded sparrows. The novel also includes a houseboat in a Florida Marina and various nautical adventures. None of this detracts from the story. It simply at times has a different pace from the usual Helm novel.
Hamilton throws a lot in this novel including pirates at sea, journalists and what they’ll stoop to, gangsters, politicians, environmentalists, fueling agencies …..
All in all, simply a terrific novel, perhaps even a standout among the Helm novels.
Nude in Nevada, which neither takes place in Nevada nor features much nude action despite the title, is the final book in the nine book series of Peter Schofield novels published between 1957 and 1965. It is a fun and fast read that probably does not encompass more than a couple of hours of reading. There’s nothing complex about this book. It’s simply fun paperback original to read.
In the series Schofield runs a one man PI office and cases seem to have a way of dropping in on him. Sometimes clients find their way to him in unusual ways. This case is no exception to the pattern except that there’s no client here. Instead, in the way back from Las Vegas, Schofield’s fan belt goes and he luckily remembers an old chum with a cafe walking distance away. From there, all kinds of crazy things develop and Schofield keeps hanging around and running into more trouble.
One of the more unusual aspects of this PI series is that Schofield is happily married to Jeannie, a stunning redheaded San Fernando Valley housewife whose provocative figure always supplies a distraction to Schofield and who always is wiggling in or out of something. Few PI novels of the great paperback era feature wives at all and certainly none like Jeannie who is ready to hop in the backseat at any excuse.
Overall, it is a fun read that will easily keep you entertained. However, the plotting in this novel is a noticeable drop from the plotting if earlier novels in the series. There are all kinds of disparate things that are thrown together such as a retired wrestler in the Mojave desert, a femme fatale of a fully tattooed Eurasian dancer who barely speaks a lick of English, a bunch of hoods wreaking havoc, a general practically hypnotized by the dancer, and more. The plot barely hangs together and the shenanigans make little sense. But it’s a fun read.
At The Very Gates of Hell
Down these mean streets… The genius of Kerr is that he takes the dark dreary Hardboiled detective Gunther and placed him not on the mean streets of Los Angeles, but in the midst of Hitler’s Germany in 1938…at the very gates of Hell, on the eve of Kristalnachtt. In so doing, Kerr paints a picture of sadism, debauchery, and fear, that is uncanny. You can feel how dark the very skies are becoming, how thick the air is, how twisted logic has become.
This book has Gunther rejoining the police force – although not by choice- and hunting for a serial killer and a web of blackmail. Like all the books in this series, it is a terrific read, although the plot line is not as sure as that in the first book, March Violets, and appears to meander a little at times.
“A Key to the Suite” is a 1962 novel, published before McDonald became immersed in his Travis McGee series shortly thereafter. Nevertheless, if you listen carefully, you can hear his McGee narrative voice developing in this one. This one is about the insider’s scoop on the corporate ladder wars, set against the backdrop of a Florida coast convention in a seaside hotel. The target of a corporate downsizing is taking no prisoners when he fights back by setting up his rival with a high-priced call girl who is being paid to seduce and publicly embarrass the rival. The call girl, Corey Barlund, steals the show here, turning into quite a complex and intriguing character. This book s a slowly developing story so hang on until everything explodes in the end.
Tampa Bay has a long history in crime fiction. For me, it will always be the place Talmage Powell set his Ed Rivers Stories. For this anthology, a number of big names in the crime fiction business were recruited, including Ace Atkins, Michael Connelly, Lori Roy, Lisa Unger, and Tim Dorsey. The stories here give us a modern Tampa of subdivisions, of homes on canals, and of a Florida where no one really can claim to be any more native than any other newcomer, not even those returning to the scene of their childhoods.
Widows, Whiskey, & Murder
Too Friendly, Too Dead is the forty-fifth Mike Shayne novel and was published years after Davis Dresser stopped writing Mike Shayne mysteries. However, it appears to have been a collaborative effort by Dennis Lynds (who is most well known for his Dan Fortune series) and Dresser. It was Originally written as a novella for the Mike Shayne mystery magazine by Lynds, who says that Dresser expanded it into a full-length novel. It is a well-written mystery and really hard to put down. It is basically a who-done-it mystery with Shayne trying to figure out what happened to the friendliest guy in town who went out for a beer and never came home. The widow, of course, is young and vivacious. In many Mike Shayne mysteries, Shayne is suspected of murder, beaten, kidnapped, jailed, busy moving corpses, pocketing evidence, and racing against time to solve the crime before the noose is lowered around his neck. Not so here. Shayne never really is in trouble here or suspected of foul play. That does lower the tension a bit here. Nevertheless, it was a real good read.
“Kill Her With Love” is one of the later of the two dozen Eve Drum novels put out by Gardner Fox under the pseudonym Rod Gray. Created as a spoof of James Bond, this series falls into the sexpionage group of paperbacks. Eve is agent 0-0-Sex and works for the secret organization, L.U.S.T., the League of Spies and Terrorists. Lighthearted, campy, no-holds-barred spoof. This one has Eve playing like one of Charlie’s Angels, secretly becoming a “Mink” which is like a thinly disguised Playboy Bunny in one of the private clubs after the Hefner-like CEO has one too many fiancés murdered. Not a badly written easy sleazy read.
This selection features an espionage novel by pulp author turned watergate burglar, a Howard Hunt, a man of many talents, a true renaissance man. This novel features a return to France decades after the Second World War and a search for missing gold bequeathed to partisans in he heat of war and then forgotten. Cafe singers, bodies dropping on doorsteps, and secret cabals fill the tale. Readable, although a bit stiff.
Wildside Press Megapacks are truly a great deal. Here, you get four novels for the price of one, three by Thomas B Dewey and one by Burt Arthur (a psuedonym for writing westerns??) There might not be a particular reason these were bundled together.
Two of the Dewey novels are top-notch pulp novels. Run Brother Run could use a snazzier pulpier title, but that’s really the only complaint with it. It is a terrific fifties-era pulp story that is easy to read and hard to put down. The pacing is terrific and the action relentless. Dewey gives us a tale about a prison break, a group of ex-cons holed up together with no one trusting each other and for good reason, nightclubs, strippers, knife-wielding hoods, and a fortune in jewels. It’s much much more than your average prison break story and it’s filled with terrific characters that really come alive visually. Reminded me a little of westlake’s Parker novels. Nothing -absolutely nothing not to like here.
Kiss Me Hard is another terrific pulp novel that pairs a hard-drinking piano player with a missing girl as they make their way across the country with the law and other menacing figures on their heels. They hop freight trains and sleep in hayfields and rundown hotels on the wrong side of town just like out of Kerouac’s On the Road. This story is worth reading as you follow these tragic figures trying to escape their pasts and trying to get by day to day.
The third Dewey novel A Season of Violence is more of a Perry Mason type court case novel, but I thought it meandered a bit too much and lacked the raw passion that the other two Dewey novels had.
Finally, the Burt Arthur novel is a classic western.