She's going to get rich even if it costs everything you have.
Lionel White is a solid author, one we've enjoyed several times. In Marilyn K. he sets a challenge for himself. He takes the hoariest cliché—a stranded woman by the roadside with a suitcase—and runs with it as far and fast as he can. She's a mobster's girlfriend, the suitcase contains $350,000, she may have killed someone, she's possibly being chased by dangerous people, the hero should ditch her but she's a real sexpot, etc., etc. This is a film noir-style story in which the protagonist finds himself in deeper quicksand with each passing chapter. And as in film noir, he's moth-to-flame with a femme fatale who seems certain to destroy him. He needs to figure out if he's being set up, avoid murderous mobsters, try not to get arrested, and keep his dick in his pants long enough to have a good long think about all of the preceding. The last challenge is the hardest by far. In the end there's a twist—more of a switcheroo—that you'll see through immediately, after which the book resolves in suitably noir fashion. Despite some lapses this is a decent tale. But when White is on form, he's great. Marilyn K. is from 1960, and the cover art is by Harry Schaare.
Well, duh, of course we used you until you were sad and broken. What the hell do you think we learn in business school?
Above, a cover for Carlton Joyce's campus sleazer Fraternity Row, 1963, about a charming sociopath named Chaz Graycen III, king of the hotshot Delta Mu fraternity, who knows no bounds of taste nor conscience when it comes to using people for his own benefit. So basically it's a deadly accurate take on entitled one percenters. The cover art is by Tom Miller, who we did a little feature on here.
Actually, the flap on my bikini does slim the hips. It also hides pistols. Now get your hands up, idiot.
William Ard's Like Ice She Was stars his detective creation Lou Largo in a missing persons case. He's looking for a former prostitute who robbed a Montreal casino owner and fled to Miami. He finds her, but the situation escalates to murder and an attempted frame-up. This character was supposed to tentpole a series, and it did, but this was the second and last Largo written by Ard, as he died after writing it. The books thereafter were ghost written by Lawrence Block, and later John Jakes. Like Ice She Was is copyright 1960, and the Monarch Books cover guide has the art as uncredited, which is a shame.
Well, its only fair. Your husband backed his car over my wife's rose bushes last year.
There's no end to suburban misadventures in mid-century fiction. In Sam Webster's My Neighbor's Wife, a sales manager at a steel company develops an interest in an employee's wife, so he gives the employee a traveling position and tries out some positions with the wife. Webster was a pseudonym for author Ben Haas, and this is copyright 1963 with Tom Miller cover art.
Going for the throat.
First rate Harry Barton art of a guy devouring his girl's golden delicious adorns the cover of Ronald Simpson's Eve's Apple, the story of a university student who embarks on a troubled affair with an older woman. Rear cover blurbs are an art form, and this one, using dialogue from the novel, is sublime:
“Well sir, it's a bit embarrassing. There's this married woman..."
“And you've been having an affair with her?”
The professor stared blankly for a moment before committing himself. “Well, Hobie, perhaps I shouldn't say this, but boys will be boys.”
“But—but she's pregnant, sir.”
“Hobie, you really have a problem.”
“No, sir. The problem's yours. You see, it's Eve—your wife, sir.”
We can only assume the professor fails Hobie at that point. 1964 copyright, from Monarch Books.
I'm sorry for bringing you here, baby. The travel guides didn't make the Day of Blood sound nearly so violent and terrifying.
William Vance's Day of Blood looks like a western at first glance, but it's actually set in Kenya against the backdrop of a looming uprising by the Mau Mau, whose “maniacal leader had vowed to kill all the whites in Kenya on sight.” What nerve, right? Some people just refuse to take invasion, land theft, and mass subjugation lying down. This one has all the hallmarks of mid-century fiction set in Africa—rugged and world weary hero, sexually desperate women ranging from rapacious to virginal, and, of course, wrongheaded tribal locals trying to ruin the colonial party. Not our thing, but for readers willing to look past the obvious shortcomings, these types of books often offer solid entertainment. 1961 copyright on this one, with nice art from Harry Schaare.
You know what? I know we’re supposed to be disaffected and rebellious and all that, but I’m actually quite satisfied at this moment.
Two hard-luck juvenile delinquents find each other and fall in love in the slums of New York City, but can they keep it together when their surroundings threaten to destroy them? That's the basic idea of Yield to the Night. Author Jack Karney specialized in this, writing about East Side gangs in many novels, including Work of Darkness, Cry Brother Cry, Cop, and Tough Town. 1960 copyright on the above, with Rafael DeSoto cover art.
Wow, these are great. I can't believe I was ever worried about getting “the” and “twins” tattooed on my boobs.
When we started thinking about this post we went straight to candies for tattoo ideas. Apparently there's a candy called Nik-L-Nips that you have to suck the juice out of, but we thought that was too obscure, and of course Milk Duds was an obvious option, but it sounds a bit insulting, so in the end “the twins” seemed like a classic. The Pulp Intl. girlfriends agreed. Brian Agar's Have Love, Will Share is a bit of a classic too, or at least it uses a classic sleaze set-up—the marriage counselor whose patient is a nymphomaniac and soon sets her eyes on the doctor. Agar was a pen name used by author W.T. Ballard, an original contributor to Black Mask who wrote many novels under many names, including Jack Slade, Clay Turner, et al. This effort is from 1961 and it has Rafael DeSoto cover art.
Next time he should try thinking about baseball.
Above is a nice piece by George Erickson for Eric Allen’s Like Wild. It’s the story of a soldier of fortune who returns from Laos to find that his patch of land in Florida is coveted by a local villain. Complicating matters is the villain’s wife, who is a seductress with no qualms about a little action on the side. You know the drill. You may also notice the rather Freudian aspect of the art—i.e., the female figure wraps herself around the male figure in a sexual style embrace that causes his, er, drink to overflow onto the carpet. Well, the stain will come out with water and soap, hopefully. Top marks on this one.
Remember that time I pinned you down and shoved an earthworm in your mouth? That’s a bit ironic now, isn’t it?
Brother and Sister is Donald E. Westlake writing incest sleaze under the pseudonym Edwin West, telling the story of a twenty-one-year-old meathead and his nubile teen sister who, er, come together on a deeper level after the accidental deaths of their parents. They hump like rabbits for a few weeks, deal with a villainous uncle, then morality triumphs and they die in the end. The male character here is in the Air Force, which is appropriate, because Westlake must have written this on autopilot. The Harry Schaare cover art shows a much older guy than the punk-ass troublemaker in the story, but it’s still quite nice. 1961 copyright.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1995—Roger Zelazny Dies
American fantasy and science fiction writer Roger Zelazny dies at age fifty-eight of kidney failure related to colo-rectal cancer. Zelazny won the Nebula award three times, and the Hugo award six times, for novels such as ...And Call Me Conrad and Lord of Light, but was best known for his fantasy serial The Chronicles of Amber.
1971—First of the Pentagon Papers Are Published
The New York Times begins publication of the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret U.S. Department of Defense history of the country's political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. The papers reveal that the U.S. had deliberately expanded its war with carpet bombing of Cambodia and Laos, coastal raids on North Vietnam, and Marine Corps attacks, and that four presidential administrations, from Truman to Johnson, had deliberately misled the public regarding their intentions toward Vietnam.
1978—Son of Sam Goes to Prison
David Berkowitz, the New York City serial killer known as Son of Sam, is sentenced to 365 years in prison for six killings. Berkowitz had acquired his nickname from letters addressed to the NYPD and columnist Jimmy Breslin. He is eventually caught when a chain of events beginning with a parking ticket leads to his car being searched and police discovering ammunition and maps of crime scenes.
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