This is nothing. When I get really mad I grow to enormous size and destroy entire city blocks.
There's getting into trouble, getting into serious trouble, and getting into ridiculous trouble. In Gil Brewer's 1959 thriller Wild To Possess, the main character Lew Brookbank finds his wife and her lover murdered, and, thinking he might get blamed, panics and disposes of the bodies. Trouble. Later he overhears two people plotting a kidnapping and murder and decides that if he robs them of the two-hundred-fifty grand they expect to profit he can start a new life. But he's a drunk, so signs don't point to success. Serious trouble. Then a man turns up determined to send Lew to the electric chair for the two murders he never committed. Ridiculous trouble.
In an effort to make this loony plot believable Brewer shuffles the timeline: it opens with Lew overhearing the pair talking about the kidnap/murder, then the narrative backtracks and reveals that his wife's murder is why he became an alcoholic basket case. It actually works, sort of, which is good, because bizarre things keep happening, some of which involve a trapdoor above his bed. We won't even explain it. This is mid-level Brewer, quality-wise. While it has some fun ideas, it could have used extra detailing from a dedicated editor. But it's worth a read, especially this Monarch edition with iconic Robert Maguire cover art of an orange-topped, Hulk green femme fatale. More Gil to come.
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.
I know we’re supposed to be disaffected and rebellious and all, but know what? 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.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1920—Royal Canadian Mounted Police Forms
In Canada, The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, aka Gendarmerie royale du Canada, begins operations when the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, founded 1873, and the Dominion Police, founded 1868, merge. The force, colloquially known as Mounties, is one of the most recognized law enforcement groups of its kind in the world.
1968—Image of Vietnam Execution Shown in U.S.
The execution of Viet Cong officer Nguyen Van Lem by South Vietnamese National Police Chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan is videotaped and photographed
by Eddie Adams. This image showed Van Lem being shot in the head, and helped build American public opposition to the Vietnam War.
1928—Soviets Exile Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky, a Bolshevik revolutionary, Marxist theorist, and co-leader of the Russian October Revolution, is exiled to Alma Ata, at the time part of the Soviet Union but now located in Kazakhstan. He is later expelled entirely from the Soviet Union to Turkey, accompanied by his wife Natalia Sedova and his son Lev Sedov.
1933—Hitler Becomes Chancellor
Adolf Hitler is sworn in as Chancellor of Germany in President Paul Von Hindenburg's office, in what observers describe as a brief and simple ceremony. Hitler's first speech as Chancellor takes place on 10 February. The Nazis' seizure of power subsequently becomes known as the Machtergreifung.
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