Vintage Pulp Jul 11 2023
WOMAN'S PRISON
There aren't any bars, but there's no way out.


A few years ago we read a thriller by Ben Benson titled The Venus Death, the first of a series featuring his franchise character Massachusetts state trooper Ralph Lindsay. It was good enough that we wanted to return to Benson, so here we are with his second Lindsay novel, 1954's The Girl in a Cage. Benson writes in a style more akin to novels from the mid-sixties and beyond, which is to say things happen in his books. There's excellent pacing. The stories aren't built solely around dialogue. By a quarter of the way through this one there's a fistfight, a second fistfight/brawl, and a few other attention getting moments. Amidst all this trooper Lindsay is working undercover to bust a car theft ring, but finds himself dealing with an unusual brand of sociopathic kingpin. The caged girl of the title is Leta Nofke, who the villain considers his personal property, so much so that he's branded her. Lindsay thinks he can help her, but only if she wants to be helped. And there's the rub. Another nice effort from Benson, who we'll read again. 

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Vintage Pulp Dec 21 2020
VENUS DE MURDER
This one has both her arms—and they're .38 calibre.


The versatile Mitchell Hooks is back, working in what we like to think of as his realistic mode on this cover for Ben Benson's The Venus Death. We wrote a little piece on Hooks and his various styles of painting. You can see that at this link. This novel is a solid thriller about the sparks that fly when a young state trooper named Ralph Lindsey crosses paths with an even younger femme fatale named Manette Venus. Yes, that's a ridiculous name, like something a stripper made up. So maybe it's no surprise that within the narrative it turns out to be a pseudonym. But Manette Venus isn't a stripper. She's just a woman with a secret—and some unsavory acquaintances.

Benson can write. He's not a master, but he also doesn't litter the narrative with grammatical clunkers or overcooked stylistic flourishes. In workmanlike fashion and in somewhat procedural detail, he tells the story of Ralph the trooper digging to the bottom of a baffling mystery involving a bizarre shooting, two guns, and the sometimes tricky place where presumption and proof clash. He learns at the end that sometimes people can be one thing, then seem to be the opposite, then turn out to be what you thought they were in the first place. That's vague, we know, but we liked the book, so you get no concrete hints. This edition came in 1954 from Bantam.

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Vintage Pulp Feb 27 2017
LESS THAN HERO
Femmes fatales are tough but are they bulletproof?

We've run across some low characters in paperback art, but these guys are the lowest. Faced with danger they've grabbed the nearest woman to use as a shield. Women in mid-century fiction have it rough—they're interrupted while skinny-dipping, carried off against their will, manhandled, spied on, tied up, and more. They have their victories too, thankfully—put a gun in their hands and they start dropping men like two-foot putts. Well, good thing femmes fatales are so tough, because they'll need to be hard enough to stop bullets to get out of these jams. We shared another cover in the same style back in 2009 and you can see that nice effort here.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 3 2015
ALL THUMBS
Well, mostly thumbs.

The hitchhiker has been a central element of many a mid-century thriller, with the results of these rides ranging from hot sex to bloody murder, and several outcomes between. Above you see a cover for Jean Holbrook's Girl on the Run, and below is a collection of more paperback covers depicting various characters casting their fates to the road. Wish them luck—they’ll need it. And thanks to all the original uploaders on these.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 22
1944—G.I. Bill Goes into Effect
U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Servicemen's Readjustment Act into law. Commonly known as the G.I. Bill of Rights, or simply G.I. Bill, the grants toward college and vocational education, generous unemployment benefits, and low interest home and business loans the Bill provided to nearly ten million military veterans was one of the largest factors involved in building the vast American middle class of the 1950s and 1960s.
June 21
1940—Smedley Butler Dies
American general Smedley Butler dies. Butler had served in the Philippines, China, Central America, the Caribbean and France, and earned sixteen medals, five of which were for heroism. In 1934 he was approached by a group of wealthy industrialists wanting his help with a coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in 1935 he wrote the book War Is a Racket, explaining that, based upon his many firsthand observations, warfare is always wholly about greed and profit, and all other ascribed motives are simply fiction designed to deceive the public.
June 20
1967—Muhammad Ali Sentenced for Draft Evasion
Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who was known as Cassius Clay before his conversion to Islam, is sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to serve in the military during the Vietnam War. In elucidating his opposition to serving, he uttered the now-famous phrase, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.”
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