Category Archives: Pulp Review

Lezzer of Two Evils

The Evil Friendship

By Vin Packer

192 pp.

© 1958

Publisher: Fawcett Publications, Inc.

Series: Gold Medal Books s797

In 1954, two teenage girls in New Zealand murdered the mother of one of them. Peter Jackson made a 1994 movie called Heavenly Creatures about the crime and the relationship between the two girls. I never saw the film but have it on good authority it was a creditable piece of cinema despite its lack of hot lesbian scenes.

However, the story provided entertainment fodder long before the movie premiered. In 1958, Vin Packer (one of the many pseudonyms of lesbian-pulp pioneer Marijane Meaker) published The Evil Friendship. The book is inspired by, rather than based on, the actual events. The murderesses in the novel have been renamed Mary Drew Edlin and Martha Kent, and the story takes place in the south of England instead of new Zealand.

The two meet and form a clandestine relationship relationship in that hotbed of rugmunchery and denial, a private girl’s school. Bored with other students and school traditions, they retreat into a private world of make-believe. The fairy tales they concoct in their conversations and diaries create a catalyst for their budding romance.

As one can imagine, sapphic trysts are frowned upon by both the school and their parents, and the secret does not remain a secret for long. Alpha butch Evelyn Rush was formerly involved with the gym teacher Miss Nicky, a mustachioed dieseler with thunder thighs. Now has her she sights set on Martha. who wants nothing to do with her. Rush, spurned and spiteful, rats her out to the administrators.

The notification from the school puts a strain on the family life of the two girls, which was never perfect to begin with. Mary Drew’s mother insists that her daughter see a psychiatrist. Her father is against the idea, saying, “they sit on their behinds and come out telling everyone they’re crazy! What if I told everyone their teeth were rotten!” Coming from a dentist in England, his argument doesn’t work so well and Mary Drew is sent to the shrink.

Martha’s home life provides its own set of challenges. Neither parent is terribly upset. The father is too absent-minded a professor to deal with such mundane issues as child rearing and the mother’s attentions are distracted by an extramarital affair with an american houseguest. Matters get complicated when she decides to divorce her husband, move to America with the man, and take Martha with her.

What are our two young lesbian lovers to do? Martha wants Mary Drew to come with her but there are the obstacles of money and parental consent. To solve the first problem, they engage in a little blackmail and theft. The total haul doesn’t seem enough to cover expenses, but the girls have an idealistic view of money matters one often finds in people their age. To fix the issue of parental objections, they decide to bump off Mary Drew’s mom, the one who was kicking up the biggest fuss.

The story is told in a combination of narrative from the day of the crime, flashbacks to events over the past year, and proceedings from the trial of the two girls (spoiler alert: they get caught).

I haven’t poked as much fun at this book as I have in past reviews because the plot and the writing are so much better, and I’m not saying this because I think lesbians are hot. The transition from a platonic friendship to romance seems natural. Sexual details are seldom explicit for “Palace of Pain” scene, where a little bondage and cutting might merit a second read if you’re into that sort of thing.

The good and the bad that came out of their relationship was born from innocence. It was an innocence that allowed their love to blossom and one that made it worth preserving no matter what the cost.

Guns & Amour

Broad Bait!

By Jack Lynn

160 pp.

© 1960

Publisher:Novel Books Inc.

Series: NB 5014

Special Agent Kevin Kar has a real appetite for the ladies, more than most FBI men and a lot more than J. Edgar Hoover.

Broad Bait opens with a detailed description of the ample bustline of a woman attempting to lure Kevin to his doom. He is on the trail of a ring of gun runners and they would like nothing better than to see him retired from the case permanently.

But Kevin is no fool, not even for love. He doesn’t trust women as far as the nearest bed on which to throw them. So when her gun-toting accomplice sneaks up behind him, the G-man keeps his cool.

Kevin uses the young lovely as a human shield. He spins her around and she take’s the would-be assassin’s bullet between the eyes. He then returns fire, killing his assailant. It’s all in a day’s work. He never got to score with the girl before he died (and I assume he had no desire to afterward), but the story has just begun and he will have plenty of opportunity as the tale unfolds.

After the murder of a key witness in the case and a couple of attempt’s on Kevin’s life (including one by a woman he was successful in bedding. Good for him), he travels to Florida to stop the 600 tommyguns from being sent to Castro’s rebels in Cuba.

The careful reader might notice that the book was published in 1960, more than a year after the Cuban revolution was a done deal. It seems unlikely that Fidel Castro would be in need of guns as much as ammunition replenishment for those firing squads of which he was so fond. For those put off by this seeming anachronism, try to remember that great literature is not beholden to timeliness.

Kevin arrives in Miami and checks in with Melvin Blake at the US Customs office. Blake is…well, he’s some guy named Blake. Kevin is far more interested in Angelica, Blake’s secretary who is employed on the side of the law but whose curves defy gravity.

At first, Angelica rejects Kevin’s advances but he eventually wears her down with lines like, “But honey, you’re in your twenties and have a body that must’ve been used.” Given such a persuasive argument, she relents and our intrepid hero scores again.

That case is cracked but there is still the small matter of keeping the illicit ordnance out of the hands of godless communists. The prime suspect is Paul Jackson, who lives on the Gulf Coast in luxury with no discernible source of income. Since these are the days before RICO, the FBI can’t simply move in and seize everything, leaving Jackson to try to prove his innocence in court. Kevin needs evidence.

His methods are unorthodox to say the least. To solve the case, he beds the owner of the local motel, blows his cover by picking fights with the suspects, and roughs up an innocent kid with leukemia. Jackson, not to be outdone, orders one of his henchmen to open fire on Kevin’s car after a search of his house turns up nothing. The story climaxes (so to speak) with Angelina, who is in league with the gun runners, giving up her chance to escape because Kevin is so hot in the sack.

In this war on crime, the first casualty is plausibility.

Poppy, Cock

Assignment: Lust

By Winston Reynolds

192 pp.

© 1964

Publisher: L.S. Publications Corp.

Series: An Original Gaslight Book GL 114

Heroin is not sexy but infiltrating a smuggling ring can be. At least that’s true if you buy into the premise of Assignment: Lust. Eschewing techniques such as informants and wiretaps, the authorities enlist the aid of a sexpot journalist and send her to Algeria to investigate.

Indeed, there is nothing that makes the criminal element drop their guard like having a member of the press hanging around.

But never mind the lack of plausibility. The author wants you to direct your attention to Maggie Barton, the curvaceous reporter who enjoys having lots of sex with both men and women. The narcotics-investigation component of the story does serve a purpose though. It provides a reason for Maggie to travel from one exotic locale to another. Without it, all of her sexual exploits would come from cruising restrooms at the airport.

Maggie’s itinerary first takes her to Algiers where she meets a local film actor. After they have sex, he reveals by using the code word “primrose” that he is a fellow agent working on the case. He makes arrangements for her to meet Ali Ben Haroud, an old college friend whom he suspects is involved in the drug trade.

She takes a chartered flight south to Haroud’s palatial home. There she has a hot sapphic encounter with a belly dancer. Later, Maggie is tied to a pole and felt up by the men of the village prior to being flogged by her host. “How rude, Haroud,” you may say but Maggie likes it. A lot.

When she returns to Algiers, the other investigators praise her for reporting observations that confirm what they pretty much knew to begin with. She is offered a chance to continue the mission in Rome and off she goes.

The plot thickens as she beds a guy who used to star in Tarzan movies and then indulges herself in kinky goodness with a whip-wielding lesbian. Next stop is Paris and a threesome with an artist and a male model.

In the end, Maggie’s repeatedly being brought to climax results in the guilty being brought to justice. If only the real War on Drugs were this much fun.

Slip It Inn

They Came To Sin

By Don Holliday

190 pp.

© 1966

Publisher: Corinth Publications

Series: Nightstand Books NB1806

To enjoy They Came To Sin, I had to rid myself of preconceptions about where the story was supposed to go. Like many people born after 1960, I was raised on a diet of teen slasher films. When presented with a tale of oversexed college kids who go on a trip and veer off the beaten path, I expect most of them to die horribly at the hands of some guy in a goalie mask.

But this is not a flick, slasher or otherwise. These four kids, thumbing their nose at bourgeois morality go on a two-week journey and…who cares? They’re annoying and the best parts of the book are enhanced by their absence. Don Holliday seems to agree as these characters make themselves scarce for about half its length. Sure, they arrive at the inn, act smug, and do their share of fornication while there. The real story though, at least what did it for me, was of the people running the place.

Proprietors Mrs. Cabal and her daughter Rebecca hate sin because it is, well, sinful. They are none too pleased about the arrival of their libertine young guests but are content to vent their displeasure with a few derisive sneers behind their backs. When it comes to lashing out at wickedness, the two have plenty to keep them busy without involving outsiders.

Rebecca’s younger sister Elizabeth has gone insane, leaving her feral and decidedly lacking in sexual restraint. She is locked in a cage stark naked to keep her on the straight and narrow.

This may seem like an effective tactic but in practice, the victory of family values over indecency is far from total. Ajax, the mute, deformed, and retarded porter visits Elizabeth when his sexual urges get the better of him. Though the young woman is an eager participant, neither mom nor sister condone the encounter. Ajax must be punished.

They keep a whip handy in the basement for just such occasions. While Elizabeth watches and howls like an animal, Mrs. Cabal and Rebecca take turns torturing the man. The daughter is by far the crueler of the two and aims the whip straight for the groceries.

Lest you think that Rebecca is motivated only by sadism, the author gives us a clue that her own shame and guilt over her own lust are at work here. On occasion, she masturbates (gasp) and when she does, her penance for the deed is to leave her door unlocked so Ajax can lumber in and have his way with her. She makes a point of protesting the dullard’s advances but not enough to dissuade him. Her words may say no but her body is pulling his neck wallet and begging for more.

Then the story gets weird.

We learn about the father, no slouch himself in the special-needs department, who mistakes his daughter for his wife and does something really inappropriate as a result. Mom walks in on the two of them and he dies in the ensuing battle. We discover what chain of events drives a wedge between the sisters’ once sapphic closeness, reducing one to a naked beast in a cage and turning the other into a pillar of sadomasochistic puritanism.

When the guests finally do reemerge toward the end of the book, they understandably find themselves out of their element. College can only prepare you for so much.

Domme-Foolery

One Violent Year

By Ralph Brandon

147 pp.

© 1959

Publisher: Fabian Books

Series: Z-129

At the opening of One Violent Year, the narrator Steve tells that he is impotent. According to him, his condition was brought on as a direct result of orally servicing a woman for an eleven-year stretch.

Unfortunately for Steve, that was all he was allowed to do to her. You see, Mary Ellen was a genteel southern belle and he was poor white trash. She considered him a dear friend as long as he knew his place, which happened to be on his knees making slurping noises.

Other youth of his era were able to placate their sexual frustration with the strategic use of National Geographic and some axle grease from the tool shed. Not Steve. He spent his time with his face between the legs of a young lady who sips mint juleps and says “Fiddle-dee-dee” while climaxing. Eventually, his thwarted member threw in the towel.

However, his erectile dysfunction proved not to be a lifetime affliction. It is now four years after Mary Ellen’s untimely death and Steve is ready to get his groove back. While working with a crew painting Bobbi’s road house, he sees Phyllis, the corpulent owner’s hot youngest sister. A long-dormant part of him springs to life.

When it rains, it pours. Before Steve has a chance to get his mitts on Phyllis, middle (in both age and chunk-factor) sister Jeanne makes a play for him. Their brief encounter in the parking lot does not go well. She grabs his head and attempts to shove his face deep in the heart of Dixie. This brings up a lot of painful memories for Steve and he refuses, so she expresses her insistence by putting out her cigarette on the side of his neck. He responds by punching her hard in the stomach and the date’s over.

The debacle with Jeanne proves but a minor detour as his romance with Phyllis gets into full swing. Failure to perform becomes a thing of the past as he plow her furrow with both skill and stamina. It seems as if nothing will get in the way of their living happily after.

The couple runs low on money while vacationing, so Phyllis earns some cash by administering beatings to an older gentleman who is into that sort of thing. Steve is not pleased, admonishes her about the slippery slope of perversion, but is willing to accept her story that she derived no pleasure from her sadistic act.

Convincing himself that her transgression was solely due to financial need, he decides that getting rich in the corn-whiskey business will solve everything. The Chavis clan dominate the local market but their stuff is both vile and overpriced. Better add cheaper hooch could be obtained from Doc Hart, a kindly old physician who has amassed a small fortune both by selling moonshine and then performing abortions on women too drunk to worry about birth control. Steve also falls for the good doctor’s daughter Alice, whose dominant and sadistic streak appeals to a side of him he’d rather not think about.

He figures he can get rich distributing the shine locally. This of course ires the Chavises, who stage an ambush to get even. With them is Jeanne, who has her own score to settle.

When Jeanne was a girl, she and Phyllis used to play with Lonnie, the son of a black laborer working on their father’s tobacco farm. Actually, Phyllis played and Jeanne tortured, subjecting the kid to beatings and electric shock, and demanding oral sex. Lonnie put up with it for a couple of reasons. First, there wasn’t much he could do about it. In the pre-civil rights south, African Americans had little recourse against the whims of crazy white people. He also enjoyed the abuse, up to a point. But after Jeanne mutilated his genitals to keep him from fooling around with anyone else, Lonnie had had enough and fled.

He found sanctuary with Doc Hart. Alice assumed the Jeanne role, albeit with less depravity. Her racism kept actual intercourse with Lonnie out of the question, leaving her virginity intact until the advent of Steve and his Caucasian pecker.

Alice’s newfound love life was short lived however as Jeanne got even for the stealing away of her beloved Lonnie. After Steve was shot and beaten unconscious, Alice was brutally raped by three of the Chavis boys while Jeanne cut her face off with the same knife she’d used on Lonnie’s naughty bits.

Revenge begets revenge. After Doc Hart puts his daughter out of her misery with a shotgun and tends to Steve’s wounds, it’s payback time. Steve dispatches the three rapists and leaves Jeanne for the doctor’s amusement. She dies after three days of slow torture (the first of which consisting entirely of “dentistry”).

Steve is now a broken and shamed man who creates his own private hell by becoming fat Bobbi’s love slave. One night, he is being forced to watch her and Phyllis abuse a couple of homeless guys. This proves too much for him to bear.

Reaching deep to find his inner real man, he smacks Phyllis unconscious, abducts her, and proposes marriage where refusal means death. She accepts and through will power and denial, the two begin a new life as a normal loving couple.

This is the Ralph Brandon book I’ve reviewed, the other being Asylum – or Hell? In both novels, justice prevails when dominant women are brought to heel with man’s brute force. Love him or hate him, the author had issues. That what makes him so much fun to read. When I’m scanning the dusty shelves of Kay Books, you better believe I’ll keep an eye peeled for the name Ralph Brandon.

Green Mountin’

Whirlpool of Thunder

By Warren Caryl

190 pp.

© 1961

Publisher: Newsstand Library

Series: Magenta Books U174

I used to think of Vermont as a quaint little state, a land of sap tapping, Patrick Leahy, and Phish fans. Other than the cold winters, there just didn’t seem to be anything menacing about the place.

Whirlpool of Thunder disabused me of this notion. Vermont is chock full of wickedness.

Gerry has arrived here by way of New York and Florida, one step ahead of the law. He is a small-time grifter, whose specialty is pimping non-existent women to the horny and gullible, then buggering off with the cash deposit. He also dabbles in blackmail, but turns tail and runs whenever his intended victim threatens bodily harm in lieu of payment.

So it is odd that he targets a local farmer named Calvin Garfield. He is told that the man is penniless, psychotic, and prone to violent outbursts. You may ask yourself why Gerry would bother with such a loose cannon where there is no profit incentive.

Evidently, the author started asking himself the same questions after he had already written the first four fifths of the novel. Plot contrivances started popping up toward the end of the book. We learn that Calvin just happens to have 100 acres of prime real estate and ten grand from an insurance settlement just sitting in the bank. I guess plausibility as an afterthought is better than no plausibility at all.

We do however learn early on that Calvin something to hide. Years ago, he killed a young woman and buried her in a swamp. Don’t be too hard on Calvin though. Things just got out of hand and he felt real bad about it afterward. Our heart goes out to him as muttering about God’s wrath and beating his wife senseless becomes part of his healing process.

So Gerry, that despicable non-murderer, wants to get the goods on Calvin. He really has no idea how to go about this but figures that having sex with the man’s wife and daughter might work.

Lilac, the wife, is a sultry sexpot who seduces any man who comes near since Calvin only beds her on those rare occasions when he gets drunk enough to forget that women are evil. Daughter Jennifer, not yet 16 and not to be outdone, throws herself at Gerry when her advances on her own father are rebuffed.

OK, we’ve got murder, spousal abuse, adultery, statutory rape, but no incest. Nor a cohesive plot, for that matter. The novel muddles along until the suicide-by-cop finale where both Calvin and the story are put out of their misery.

That said, the book was a fun read. There is nothing quite so entertaining as unintentional farce.

Not-So-Gentle Ben

Shame Mates

By Andrew Shaw

190 pp.

© 1964

Publisher: Corinth Publications

Series: Evening Reader ER 719

Finals can be a tense time for any college student. Most deal with the situation by hitting the books and studying long into the night. Others might temper their cramming with the occasional night on the town. And then there is Ben Wellington, who copes with the stress by raping his professor’s wife.

To be fair, doesn’t really want to rape her. If she greeted him crawling through her bedroom window with open arms, he would be OK with that. In fact, she does seem to come around and even expresses some enthusiasm the third time he forces himself on her.

I’ve found that in books of this caliber, consent is something one earns through persistence.

After finals are over, Ben goes home to New York to see his adopted father Jerome and the new Mrs. Wellington, Laura (the previous one having died some years ago). Laura is an attractive redhead in her thirties who loves Jerome for both his money and his heart condition.

Her plan to inherit everything involves more than just waiting for Jerome to keel over. There are two other heirs to contend with, Ben and another adopted child, Carol. The two have sibling-rivalry issues (Ben tried raping Carol, Carol killed three of Ben’s dogs) so Laura decides to work this to her advantage.

She starts by seducing Ben and then proceeds to seal Carol’s fate with the help of Sheila Holt, a female Jabba the Hut who runs a Greenwich Village brothel and eats peyote buttons like bonbons. After a memorable party, Carol ends up addicted to smack and turning tricks for the enterprising Ms. Holt.

Ben, of course, is a willing participant in the shenanigans but unaware that Laura plans to take him out of the equation as soon as she gets a chance. That chance never comes for her though as she gets brutally raped by an acquaintance of Carol’s and then dumped at the doorstep of a defrocked doctor whose bedside manner involves a lot of stink finger.

Daddy Jerome dies from a massive heart attack while Ben watches and eats a sandwich. It would appear as though the young man has prevailed, but appearances can be deceiving. Professor Addison, the husband of the woman Ben assaulted in college, has come to New York vowing revenge.

After reading this book, one is tempted to feel nothing but disdain for the young Ben Wellington. But try to put yourself in his shoes. He had to endure the first twelve years of his life in an orphanage where he was molested by a housemother who wasn’t even all that hot. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m crying a river.

Hell Comes to Hillbillies

Sin Cult

By Bruno Decesare

190 pp.

© 1962

Publisher: E.K.S. Corp.

Series: Bedside Book 1235

To fully appreciate Sin Cult, you must first understand the protagonist Mark Hanes. Mark has hit the road to put as much distance as possible between himself and the immorality of New York City. Raised in a wealthy family and given a monthly allowance, he was able to settle into life as a painter in Greenwich Village without any of than starving that artists are known for.

Then he meets Candy and fell in love. He proposes marriage. She says no, citing her nymphomania and need to sleep around as a reason, so he rapes her. This wins her heart and they wed. Soon though, Mark starts to have second thoughts about the whole marital-bliss thing, cuts her a check to cover the inconvenience, and hauls ass.

Now that we have the sterling character of our hero worked out, we can get on with the story.

Mark is driving his Thunderbird to California but is in no hurry to get there. He’s willing to take detours as long as there are some landscapes to paint along the way, but when he picks up a young hitchhiker named Carol, going off the beaten path gives him more than he bargained for.

Carol is willing to offer up the groceries but Mark is on a nookie hiatus, at least for a little while. She suggests he check out Devil’s Bend, which she says has lovely scenery. He drops her off and drives there afterward.

Carol was right on the money, if you don’t count the unkempt moonshiners that populate the town and surrounding area. Devil’s Bend even had an ineffectual and possibly corrupt sheriff, a vital stereotype for any small-town fight between good and evil.

It wasn’t long before the evil presented itself. Mark was up in a nearby canyon, looking for something suitable to paint. He saw three hillbillies sexually assaulting a young woman off in the distance. Morally outraged, he reached for his binoculars and observed the outrage in greater detail. When it was over, he approached the victim, who said she was from Peace Haven and was out picking berries when she was attacked.

Mark, to his credit, decides to report the crime but the sheriff refuses to do anything about it. Nobody in Devil’s Bend cares much for the well being of Peace Haven folk because the place is reportedly some sort of cult preaching peace and love. And if there’s anything hillbillies hate worse than revenuers and marrying outside one’s immediate family, it’s peace and love.

Undeterred, he decides to pay a visit to Peace Haven to see if he has any luck there. They offer him their hospitality, but are unhelpful and suspicious. Passivity is Peace Haven’s way, at least that’s what’s in their mission statement. The reality is that this cult recruits young women from the criminal-justice system who are given the choice between serving their sentences in prison and a pastoral setting where everyone wears white robes and sings “Kumbaya” a lot. What the women are not told is that their probationary duties include servicing horny old men of influence who visit Peace Haven for a romp. The cult also brings in a few male convicts to keep the womenfolk in line.

Mark, being the hero and all, takes it upon himself to right this great wrong. He goes about this with grim determination, pausing only once or twice to sample the local lovelies and spy on the odd atrocity at length so his moral outrage does not waver.

In the end, justice prevails, not that I gave a shit. It’s the lurid excess, not the triumph of virtue, that make novels like this a joy to read. And it is Mark’s habit of stopping to watch these excesses in all their glory that makes Sin Cult worth converting to.

Homeless Hunk Thwarts Dworkinian Payback Plot

Originally featured June 13, 2006.

Asylum – or Hell?

By Ralph Brandon

152 pp.

© 1963

Publisher: Art Enterprises, Inc.

Series: Intimate Edition 718

When you put a nymphomaniac in charge of a mental institution, you’re asking for trouble. Top that with a feminist agenda heavy with revenge and sweetened with a substantial profit motive and you have Asylum – or Hell? This is a tale full of sex, false imprisonment, torture, mutilation, and deception. All it lacks is plausibility, suspense, and a narrator who doesn’t need to be slapped.

“The minute Diane Morrisey walked into the room I knew she would be in bed with me before she left,” opines protagonist Robert Howard at the novel’s opening, warming the reader’s heart with his unassuming charm.

He knows this by the way by the way she sways her hips when she walks. Some folks read tea leaves, others palms. Robert reads hips, and what they tell him comes in the form of both an offer and a challenge. What the hips say is this: only serious stud muffins need apply.

However, there are a few questions the hips don’t answer. Where is he? How did he get here? What happened to that gutter he collapsed in with only his whiskey vomit to break his fall?

Diane explains that she rescued him from his predicament, bathed him, and allowed him to rest up long enough for him to answer the call to action. If you haven’t figured it out already, Robert is not your workaday average Joe. He is a bum and proud of it. He live by his own rules and follows his own schedule. When it’s time to leave town, he goes. When it’s time to make a few bucks, he works. When it’s time for basic hygiene, he takes it under advisement.

This is not to say that Robert is some run-of-the-mill rummy. Oh no. When Diane first came upon his prostrate form a day and a half earlier, she was able to look past the growing yellow puddle around him and realize that she was in the presence of a veritable love machine. My guess is she assumes that a man must have the sexual capacity of all the Kennedys combined if he has the alcohol capacity of Ted.

To Diane’s credit, this line of reasoning makes as much sense as anything else in the story.

The bulk of the next forty pages of the book can best be summed up as AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” translated into prose. Between the copious sexual romps, Diane tells Robert how she rose to her present level of privilege and why it’s so swell to be her. It turns out that she was sent to a mental hospital, married her psychiatrist, and transformed the place into an institution as successful at making money as it is at treating troubled minds. Robert’s take on this is to take exception to being called “Robbie” and uttering “I’m the man, you’re the woman” and other pearls of patriarchal pithiness.

When Diane thinks she’s won Robert’s trust (or near enough), she drugs his drink and he wakes up in a padded cell. After various steps are taken to break his spirit and warp his psyche, he is introduced to the other members of Diane’s four-man harem. Before this happens, Robert swears revenge:

I swore that if I ever got my hands on her I’d kill her, but I promised I’d have her once more before I did. She owed me those two things – first her lust, then her life.

At least he got them in the right order.

Being the newest arrival, Robert is top dog. The number-two man, Larry, explains the grim situation. If you’re in first or second position, your job is to be her personal concubine. Excellent job performance is crucial because if you drop into the number three or four slot, she has you castrated and you must find alternative means of pleasuring her. Robert shudders at the notion as he feels the limp handshake of the gelding Martin (castration reducing hand strength is just one of the fascinating facts I learned from this book). If you fall from the top four, you get lobotomized and spend the rest of your days tending the grounds and watering the plants with your drool.

The harem is just one part of the hospital’s evil plot. Diane and her co-conspirators are making a mint having wealthy, sane men legally committed at the behest of their greedy spouses and relatives. And as long as no one on the staff tattles and alley cats don’t knock over a trash can full of testicles and frontal lobes, the plan is foolproof.

Robert realizes that to escape this fate, he needs to pretend to be madly in love with Diane. True to form, his means of expressing this love is by running amok, assaulting several guards and punching out poor Martin while he’s at it. Diane, finding herself in the presence of a real man worthy of her, swoons.

She spirits him away from the asylum and takes him to her cabin in the woods with no guards and the two have a lot more sex. She also explains her reason for the harem. Men, you see, have been rat finks to women since the beginning of time and it is her right to even the score. She cites several historic examples such as: murder of female offspring from the Chinese, sexual slavery from the Hindus, crocodile rape(!) from the Romans, witch burnings, and so on.

Robert’s rebuttal of two wrongs not making a right didn’t do any good so his only recourse is the time-honored male tradition of not paying attention until she runs out of steam.

At this point, a very curious thing happens. Robert falls in love with her for real. He decides to try to get her to listen to reason, understand that she’s sick, and put things right for good. Will he convince her or will Robert be consigned to the same fate as Jack Nicholson at the end of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, albeit with looser-fitting pants? I won’t give away the ending but will assure you that credibility will be stretched in ways you never thought imaginable.

Dial “M” for Misogyny

Originally featured May 31, 2006.

Passion Madman

By Andrew Stole

192 pp.

© 1963

Publisher: Corinth Publications

Series: Leisure Book LB 603

Jack Garth is not a nice guy. He kills people for money, enjoys doing so, and performs his job with gusto. If you’re looking to have a murder done where the victim is undetectably poisoned or made to disappear a la Jimmy Hoffa, you’re probably better off hiring someone else. However, if you prefer a crime scene that spattered with blood and festooned with entrails, Garth is the man to call. Early on, author Andrew Stole treats the reader to a
vivid, if gratuitous, description of the killer’s style:

Now was Sheila Keller lying naked, her insides shot to pieces. Now was him putting the gun there where he had intended to put something else and pulling the trigger until the hammer clicked dully over an empty chamber.

Party on, Garth.

This is not to say that all he likes to do is kill, far from it. Jack Garth also enjoys rape. A lot. Fortunately for him, he lives in a world before the advent of DNA fingerprinting so he can mix business with pleasure without worrying about any crackerjack CSI teams ruining his day.

The story opens with Garth sitting in a bar after a botched hit, the first of his career. His employer has sent him to bump off an entire family because a relative in Vegas had amassed a huge gambling debt and needed some inheritance money pronto. He manages to butcher five of the six members of the Regan family, but misses daughter Linda.

The first thing we learn about this other focal character in the book is the tightness of her sweater, followed by a description of the tightness of her pants. Such dwelling on Linda’s physical attributes is arguably sexist yet preferable to attempts have the reader see inside her mind through really painful beatspeak such as this:

She began to feel groovy again, almost. The shock of her family’s death had been such a monumental bring-down it had seemed like the whole world had gone sick and nothing in it could possibly swing again. But if it was going to swing again, it would be here in Hip City, nowheres else…

After reading this passage, I found myself wanting to snap my fingers. This was less an urge to groove to the hepness of the prose than a subconscious desire to get Garth’s attention and direct him to Linda so he can kill her immediately.

Since the offending paragraph sits on page 45 and there are roughly 145 more to read, it is perhaps unrealistic to to expect Garth to wrap up the plot this far ahead of schedule and spend the rest of the book committing grisly murders for his own enjoyment and ours.

Oddly enough, this is pretty much what he does except for the killing-Linda-first part. He tells his boss that he finished the job, making a rational assumption that since she has gone into hiding, his little fib is difficult to disprove. Not so rationally, he figures she will stay hidden until he finds her so he takes on other jobs, apparently assuming
that he will eventully bump into her on the street.

Garth now finds himself in the employ of some swarthy foreigner of indeterminate national origin who is a prominent figure in New York City’s heroin trade. The swarthy heroin guy disapproves of unfair (or even fair) competition and decides that arranging a few murders will send the message that he is not a man to be trifled with. He also sends the message he possesses absolutely no business sense because the first people on his hitlist happen to be his biggest customers.

None of these concerns matter much to Jack Garth provided there are both cash and atrocities involved. Of course, there still is the Linda Regan issue to be resolved. Will he spare a moment to focus on carrying out the only killing that has anything to do with the plot of this book or will she survive the beat era to become an even more annoying hippie? In the end, the reader is treated to a prolific enough killing spree that it hardly matters either way.