|Vintage Pulp||Nov 28 2023|
Above: a little Beacon Signal sleaze for you today, a cover for Woman's Doctor by Terry James, published in 1962. We've shared numerous medical paperback covers over the years. Several of our favorites are here, here, here, and here.
|Vintage Pulp||Nov 26 2023|
|Vintage Pulp||Aug 22 2023|
Does Hell Is a Woman look like a crime novel to you? Us either, but it is. Beacon Books decided to market this effort from Garrett W. Deas as sleaze, and used cover art from Jack Thurston to implant the idea into book rack browsers' heads. Beacon also wrote cover text in that vein, though it's wildly inaccurate.
Protagonist Sheriff Ben Randall's wife Helen loved other men behind his back? Not true. She has an affair with one man. Mary Ann, according to the cover, loved other men in front of Ben? Not true. She starts the novel as a corpse. Lorna loved in very special ways? Maybe. She pines for the sheriff and ignores other men. Also, Helen's cheating is meant by Deas to be a suspicion followed by a revelation. Beacon spoiled that. You take your chances with cover blurbs.
But all that aside, as a crime novel Hell Is a Woman is pretty good, with a rural setting that works, and Sheriff Ben as a likeable sort who doggedly tries to solve three murders while the county bigwigs want everything swept under the rug. The main flaw of the book is that the identity of the killer becomes obvious well before we think Deas means it to, but overall he did decent work. It seems to have been his only novel, though, which is too bad.
|Vintage Pulp||Dec 29 2022|
Brian Aldiss was better known as a sci-fi author, but his 1961 novel The Male Response deals with sexual mores and politics. On Aldiss's website he writes: “Only marginally science fiction, the story tells how the indecisive Soames Noyes is sent by his company with a computer to the newly free black state of Goya, in Africa, where he becomes entangled with women and witch-doctors. Reluctantly, Noyes faces all challenges and, following by public promiscuity, becomes President.” That certainly sounds fun, especially the promiscuity to president part. It obviously could only happen in sci-fi. The cover art here is by Robert Stanley.
|Vintage Pulp||Nov 29 2022|
A while back we said we'd skip the 1954 Orrie Hitt novel Cabin Fever because we had several other Hitt books awaiting our attention. But the cover art for 1959's Tawny enticed us, so we bought it and—turns out we didn't pass on Cabin Fever after all, because Tawny is Cabin Fever published under a new name. It was also published yet again in 1974 as Lovers at Night. Lesson: watch out for re-titles in vintage literature. But it's okay. Hitt is interesting if erratic, and since this is an early effort from him—possibly only his third, though we can't be sure because he published four books in 1954—we were curious to have a look.
So the question is who tries to kill who? Or maybe they both take a whack at homicide. We ain't saying. In the end, though, you still have juicy adultery and a sinister murder plot. We've read a lot of books along those lines, often by better writers, but we've read them by worse writers too. In the hands of a top stylist Tawny might have been a real barnburner. As it is, we can call it readable but not special. The art on this Beacon Signal edition (it was also published by Softcover Library in 1969) is by an unknown, which is too bad because it's one of the better covers on a Hitt novel. The far less tawny original painting appears below.
|Vintage Pulp||Aug 13 2022|
A little bit of vintage lesbian fiction today, Her Raging Needs, by Kay Johnson for Beacon Signal, 1964, with uncredited cover art. A libidinous young woman finds herself widowed, after which point she goes from to man to man, never satiated, until she finally crosses the line and jumps into bed with another woman. This one deserves points for the main character's name: Honey Bard. Amazingly, the book got reprinted in 1970 by Softcover Library.
|Vintage Pulp||May 24 2022|
|Vintage Pulp||Mar 15 2022|
|Vintage Pulp||Feb 14 2022|
Elaine Dorian's 1961 novel Love Now Pay Later has more depth than usual for Beacon Signal sleaze fiction. She has a real feel for the setting and her lead characters, Ross and Gay, two people trying to find happiness while swept up in the fast paced worlds of publishing and politics in New York City. For both of them ambition is their undoing, though of different types—Ross will do anything for success, including throw away love, and Gay will do anything for love, including throw away success. Both lose their way, and both debase and publicly embarrass themselves, though again, in different ways. Dorian serves up strong anti-sex undercurrents, but her story basically works. We wouldn't call the book good, exactly, so much as better than average. But in vintage sleaze, that's good enough.
|Vintage Pulp||Feb 7 2022|
This is a nice piece of cover art, though unattributed, for Lee Brill's 1962 novel The Skin-Tight Sheath. The above-the-title teaser text is almost exactly backwards. This is really about one man who uses everyone to even the score with one woman. Or tries, anyway. Stuck in a loveless but socially necessary marriage, he wants to have his cake and eat it too by hooking up with an old flame, keeping both wife and mistress. His plan goes great—until it goes wrong. His downfall? He's sadistic, and his need to hurt people begins to destroy him. If only the real world had the same moral clarity as sleaze novels. Reasonably entertaining, but not unmissable.