Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Cunning Linguist (Troy Conway, 1970)

And now for something completely different! Why not finish this year in some style?

Won't even try to analyze this. Cannot be done, it is indescribable. And my vocabulary and my sense of humor are both beneath this little masterpiece of craziness. Just take a couple of minutes and go through the facts section below. Satisfaction guaranteed!

Not even sure to call it a guilty pleasure but in any case this deserves five out of five stars for its sheer insanity. Cannot believe this stuff was actually written. And published. And that it followed 31 novels in this series!

So happy new year 2016! I'm off to eBay to buy myself a gift. Yes, you've guessed it - more of the Coxman's adventures. They are a bit pricey but I have no doubt that this will be money well spent! Stay tuned for more of the Rod's whipping...

5/5

Facts:

Hero
I am a Wisconsin Whoremaster, after all is said and done.
But still a spy, for all of that. A Coxeman, a secret agent, a transatlantic James Bond with wheels on. A very hard working spy, to tell the truth and shame the Commies. Nobody had accomplished more in so short a time as Rod Damon.

"...the leading sexologist in the universe. Since I am barely thirty, and am well-hung and uncomplicated, I am the cock of the walk. And rightly so. I have made thousands of female truth-seekers happy."
 "No man is bigger than I am. Nor as insatiable. I simply can never get my fill. My women have to quit on me long before I do."

But thinking this over I'm reluctant to consider that probably Rod's rod is the actual hero. Only that it's not called a rod or something as vulgar as dick or cock or even penis. Instead it ranges from the good old fashioned "family jewels", "shipping department", "heavy artillery", "secret weapon", "instrument of desire" to somehow more daring "shaft", "whip" and "ploughboy" to slightly bizarre "glittering kingpin" and "Great White Waler". Among others...

Or simply "my greatest gift to womankind"!

Sally Parker had stretched  the truth a bit in her gratitude for the kicks we had had. Let the truth be known. I'm not fifteen inches, bless her two-coloured eyes.
Fourteen and three quarters is nearer the fact.

Location
Like The Devil's Cockpit this one also takes place in Budapest and once again for some unexplained reason Red Commies are plotting against USA on Hungarian soil (btw - Hungary is frequently refereed to as "Over There"). But Rod hasn't done his home work in geography because he flies to Munich and then drives a small Fiat for 12 hours to Budapest. 

And it seems like Mr Conway had also missed a lesson or two in geography since Rod was able to see Austrian Alps from Budapest (app 400 kilometers away). Not sure if he had been aware of a political situation during the cold war either because Rod was able to cross the Hungarian border pretending to be a traveling salesman (selling bras) on his way to a convention in Budapest. 

But I'd better stop, this is just some needles and pointless hair splitting. We all know by now that Rod has plenty of other talents, right? Fuck geography, who needs it!

Body count
Only 6 which is probably a record low for a super-spy adventure novel. And there's a good (big?) reason for such a low total:

I'm not much for guns. I think better without them. Anyway, my other gun is quicker and far more reliable. I definitely do not like killing people. Any kind of people. Maybe that's another reason I am one of the world's greatest lovers.

None of the killings are special but they do make Magda even hornier so the orgies that follow them are unforgettable!

Object of desire:
Albanians (?!) working for China (!?) trying to stir shit between USA and Russia:

"Say, a colder cold war, where the Soviets will eternally worry about the U.S. and not about China nibbling away at her Siberian border? Yes, that is even better, I think. It is devoutly to be desired."

Colder cold war!? Don't you just love this stuff? 
 
Dames
First and foremost there's Magda. For her detailed and juicy description I would suggest you read the whole page 40. But some short ones below will give you a starting point: 

She was the Lust and the Bust and the Power and the Glory. All in a nice wholesome blonde package.

There was nothing I could ask of her body that it could not perform. She was in a word - magnificent. Magda the Magnificent. Magda the Great. She might have been a female Rod Damon. That's how good she was at being a woman.


My kind of woman, all right. Her raison d'ĂȘtre, like mine, was Sex!

And then there's mysterious Siri and we come to the only part of the Cunning Linguist I didn't like. Because you see, Siri is a Lesbian (yes, with a capital L) and (as you would expect) Rod's mission is to convert her into a "real" woman. Which turns into a bit nasty misogynistic crap to be honest...

Whatever Siri was or might turn out to be , personality-wise, there was nothing wrong with her in the physical department. In a word - ring-adinga-ding! ... was a dream out of Orgyville... Her face was an oval of amazement. A remarkably chiseled set of features, as if they had been chipped out by a Michelangelo. 

But finishes of the two scenes (each one several pages long) in which Rod has sex with them for the first time are unforgettable

Magda (after she has been "demolished sexually"): 
"Merry me... Never have I - you must whip me again and again. I want you to whip me twenty-four hours a day." 

Siri (after her "Venus Mound had been bombarded with monumental force and savagery"):  
"You will stay with me... and we shall live happily ever after."

And in case you're confused about that Magda's whipping, do not be alarmed! With a couple of exceptions (again, both funny as hell) there's no fucking. But we do have "whipping", "scourging", "tattooing" (!?!), "jouncing", "pumping", "love-humping", etc, etc

Blackouts
nope, unless we count an orgasm as a momentary loss of consciousness
 
Title: 
I know what you're thinking but stop your dirty mind! Rod is of course cunning and he speaks several languages (Hungarian - the "goulash language" is one of them) but the title is about Siri. She operates the "Transmitter X" which intercepts radio signal of "Voice of America" (don't ask) and uses her linguistic skills to impersonate and alter voices of the UN speakers (I told you not to ask!).

"This Siri. A cunning linguist, a great scientist, a sex fiend, and a bit of a maniac. It was frightening. I stared down at her  with fresh respect."

Edition:  
Flamingo Paperback, 1973

Cover
Rod and Magda (we can tell this for sure because Magda is blonde and Siri is dark). It's sexy but it could be better (as all the American editions covers are). For one thing, Rod's face looks stupid. And he uses a gun only once (he uses The Gun frequently though!) . Plus I don't recall Magda wearing a bikini...

Notable cover blurbs: 
No blurbs, but story summary on the back cover describes Rod as a "Capitalism's favorite tool" which is a spot on!
 
Cool lines:  
The whole damn thing is infinitely quotable. At some point I simply stopped taking notes because it took me too long to actually read it. Here are some of the finest:

As much as they wanted me, they wondered how they could stand up to such a man. I smiled to relieved their fears.

[after the whole chapter of fucking the triples on their birthday]
Nobody, man or woman, on their twenty-first birthday, has ever blown out a bigger candle.

I stepped out of the shorts and shirt and let the horse escape from the stable. Never have I seen a woman's eyes try to pop that much out of her head.

I could tell she'd been to the races before. She'd obviously just never had a jockey as big as me. Poor denied child.

I continued like a maniac. I was mad but like Hamlet, there was method in it..

I only hoped they they wouldn't shoot me below the waistline. The undertaker that gets me ought to get the thrill of his life.

We moved as a unit and produced barrels and barrels of oil. 

One thing I would never do is kill a rabbit. Or a bull or a rooster.
Like me, they have far too much to live for.

She looked good enough to eat. I intended to do so if the opportunity presented itself.

For a woman in her thirties, I must have been something not to be believed or confused with reality.

"Yes, it is big. Very big. But can you use it? A gun is only as good as the man who uses it." 
"You saw Shane too, huh?" I bowed. "Like him, I am the best gunslinger in my field."

Time plays tricks on you, specially screwing time.

Little things can mean a lot. Big little things, of course.


She shifted her snake pit to accommodate the sliding majesty of that with which no other man is blessed.


But speaking sexually, I was my own thermonuclear fallout. Ask Siri, ask Magda, ask anybody. No explosion they would ever encounter would match the galvanic, bombastic assault I was now delivering for their education, edification and exhilaration. I was slamming them them with all the slam at my command.

And for the grand finale let me leave you with a list of Rod's sexual techniques. Each and every one of them totally insane (not sure if I got half of them). His sexologist books are unfortunately long out of print (apparently he has sold over three million copies) so if you're interested into a particular one, send me a message and I'll be happy to transcribe it and send you the details. Or even better - go find this book and check them all yourself! You won't regret it...
  • Toronto Trot
  • The Damon Drop
  • The Wheelbarrow
  • Nokama's Nip
  • The Texas Twister
  • The Grand Central Getaway
  • The Rear March
  • Japanese Rope Trick
  • Lost Horizon
  • Bookend Play
  • Yankowski's Ploy
  • The Tent,  
  • Dealey's Gambit
  • Trots, Gallops, Walks
  • 178 Positions
  • Samson's Northwest Passage
  • Magda's Ploy 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Lady Kills (Bruno Fischer, 1951)

Two acts. The first one - as predictable as it can be - is pretty cool. Right away, on the very first page, our hero tells us that "already I was being bewildered by her; and it would be years through passion and heartbreak and blood, before I would stop" and a couple of pages later her father warns him that "she won't be good for you, son". And so, as the title has already hinted, we have a femme fatale. What follows is the formulaic conflict of the free press vs the evil alliance of politicians and mobsters. Plotted nicely with suspension and body count rising slowly but surely. But when it reaches its peak, when our hero gets properly fucked over (literally and figuratively), it digresses from its formulaic path. It just stops.

Instead of fighting back, Simon simply packs his shit and leaves the town. And goes back to live with his parents! For five fucking years!! And then he returns to this small town. And the second act follows.

Okay, so he's no hard-boiled bad-ass tough guy. But by now he has become the owner of the local daily newspaper and one would expect that he would turn into some sort of a relentless crusader and do some serious Pulitzer prize winning type investigative journalism in order to expose the bad guys and win back his girl. Well, one would be wrong. At least I was. He falls for another girl instead and the whole thing plays out more like a melodrama than hard-boiled noir novel.

Which was little disappointing but I didn't mind that much. It's still cool. Cover blurb quote from New York Times promises "a nice balance of physical and cerebral action" and I tend to agree with it but would add that neither of those are delivered sufficiently. A twist or two wouldn't hurt as far as the cerebral aspect goes and a bit raunchier sex than simple "domestic bliss" (see 'cool lines') would make physical action part more interesting.

4/5

Facts:

Hero
Simon Field, initially the editor, then promoted to a reporter and finally the owner of the Indale Star daily newspaper.

Location
Fictitious (I think and Google maps confirms it) small town called Indale

Body count
4, not counting the old dog King and also not counting George Antler (cancer)

Dames:
Beth Antler: "I've never yet had trouble handling a man, whatever his age" [Fatale]

As two dimensional greedy and possessive bitch as she is supposed to be it's kind of unusual that parts of the novel in which she appears actually breathe with life and vitality. I think Fischer must have really liked writing about this girl.

Blackouts
None, but it's pretty close. Simon gets beaten by a couple of  thugs who leave him afterwards "crumpled to a miasma of sickness" but next paragraph simply concludes the action with "Time passed. Gradually I realized that I was alone in the street.
 
Title: 
"You enjoy killing, " her father had once told her.

Edition:  
Gold Medal original, Third printing, March 1958

Cover
Super cool and seductive. It depicts Beth (minus her eternal cigarette) in a scene in which she uses her feminine charms to get something from our poor Simon. A scene which will later reoccur several times in different variations.

I found her waiting for me in the narrow upstairs hall, and she was wearing nothing but a Turkish towel and her eternal cigarette. A big Turkish towel wrapped completely about her from under her armpits to halfway down her thighs and held together by one hand at her bosom. It covered her as adequately as a short robe. 

Beautiful illustration, I love that vortex in the background. It's definitely in the top ten of my modest paperbacks collection. Was really surprised that Google search didn't find it (came up with the original Gold Medal edition #148 which is also cool). Surely this one was done by some famous old school artist?

Cool lines:
"I think that few men can be rational under the assault of luscious female flesh." [The Coolest!]

She moved her mouth up to mine.
After a minute I said lightly, "One thing is sure: I haven't a frigid wife."
"Again so soon, dear?"
"Again and again and forever. There, that's it, Mrs. Field, you're doing fine."
"I feel so brazen, Mr. Field."
"This isn't brazen. This is domestic bliss. Sweetheart!"
"Oh, Simon, my husband!"

Friday, December 25, 2015

Made in Miami aka Lust is a Woman (Charles Willeford, 1958)

Boy meets girl. And falls for her big time. Which is unfortunate since she's already in love with herself. But this won't be Ralph's biggest problem. The thing is that Maria is not the smartest girl on this planet and she doesn't exactly think twice before deciding to progress her current career as a NYC secretary into more lucrative one as a Miami prostitute. Drama ensues.

Loads of drama, way too much in my opinion. Not that I have much against the genre and have in fact really enjoyed Willeford's early non-crime novels Pick-Up and High Priest of California. Both of them excellent character studies written in his distinguished style. But this one is simply extraordinary plain. Not good, not bad, just... well, it's just ordinary. It never really takes off and grabs you. Maria and McKay are characterized decently but our hero is pretty dull and (probably intentionally) pathetic, third person narration that alternates between Ralph and Maria slows down the pace and takes away suspense, dialogues are somewhat corny and let's not forget that the villain's henchman is called Tarzan. I kid you fucking not!

I don't know, must have missed something or misinterpreted the whole thing. Was this novel Willeford's way of saying fuck you to America 50s conformity, consumerism, materialism, conservatism... Or is it about young artist going (literally) crazy in this surreal environment? I couldn't say but I did remind myself again to finally read his biography in which I'll probably find the answer.

2.5/5

Facts:

Hero
Art student Ralph, working in Miami over summertime as a bellboy.

Location
Miami

Body count:  
"These aren't dead people," Ralph said quietly. "They can't be. This one is Gila monster, that one is an alligator. The brown one inside the door is a toad, and she - she's a black widow spider."

Dames
Maria stepped in close to the full-length mirror reflection, pressed her body against it, and kissed her bright red mouth against itself.
"I love you," she said. She really meant it.

"Will you be all right?"
"Sure. And thanks loads, Helen."
"I'll see you out in the arena in a few minutes. Just let that blank mind of yours stay blank."
"That's easy for me - I'm pretty dumb anyway."
"That goes for all of us, sweetie."

Blackouts
Poor Ralph tries to storm into pimp's house to rescue his darling but he gets knocked off right away:

A searing white light flashed inside his head, his knees buckled and, as he fell forward, the fingernails of his lifeless hand made a faint scratching noise as they raked the wooden door. 

Title: 
Not sure why publisher decided to change the original title since this story could have happened in any big city. Lust is a Woman sounds way cooler and it's also more accurate.

Edition: 
Point Blank Express, an imprint of Wildside Press, 2008. 

Cover
Again, nothing special about it. Don't really like it, looks a bit plain and too much like some psychedelic 60s novel cover or movie poster. By Olva design.

Notable cover blurbs: 
The usual one by Elmore Leonard (and one that got me hooked on Willeford btw): "No one writes a better crime novel than Charles Willeford".

Nothing to disagree about it but unfortunately this one hardly classifies as a crime novel...
 
Cool lines:  
"A young man can't be too careful, you know. Lot of things going around Florida these days. Asian Flu, sputniks, wheels, nuts and bolts, athlete's foot, old retired couples without driver's licenses..." [The Coolest!]

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Wax Apple (Donald E. Westlake writing as Tucker Coe, 1970)

Structured somewhat similarly to the first one of the Tobin series Kinds of Love, Kinds of Death. Once again our disgraced hero must pause his garden wall building and investigate a crime in an unusual surroundings. But nothing as exciting as a mob underworld this time - he needs to find an injurer in some local sanatorium. An injurer? A person who planted a few nasty booby traps in sanatorium that have severely injured several patients.

Again his investigation is based on a list of suspects and he methodologically checks them one by one. At least he tries to. But to be honest, he has no idea what to do. Three quarters through he gets so lost that out of the boredom even starts reading some psychoanalytical books. It never gets explicitly confirmed whether those books have enlightened him but he finally does get an idea!

Everybody thought that was a fine idea. At least, everybody thought it was an idea, and it gave us something to do, something to think about, and that was fine.

So what's this brilliant idea you might ask?
- Let's search the suspects' rooms to get some clues.

Mitch and his team of amateurish detectives made up of two doctors and one trustworthy patient promptly perform this room-by-room search and... find nothing. So still no breakthrough. In fact they remain totally clueless until the very last ten pages before the end. Which got to be some kind of a record in crime novels. But even if I'm wrong here, this super incompetency isn't something I'll remember Wax Apple by. It's the grand finale, the mighty round-up and culprit revealing scene which probably still makes good old Agatha spinning in her grave.

By now our hero has somehow managed to narrow down his list of suspects to the last six and decided to wrap up the case during the group therapy session with all of them rounded up. Even though he still doesn't know who the guilty party is, he is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. Somehow. His first technique is to reveal to the group that the killer left him a note... and then to observe suspects' facial expressions when reacting to this shocking news. But nothing. Then he tries to bullshit them by pretending that he knows who the killer is but lacks the evidence. This bluff also doesn't pay off. As a last resort he starts pleading to a culprit to reveal him/herself and surrender. Which of course doesn't happen either... so there's nothing left to do and session continues without anyone even mentioning the crime!!! But eventually Mitch gets another brilliant idea (pretty sure that those books did help him on this occasion) and breaks the case.

I like unconventional and unintentionally funny anti-climax endings (this one isn't too bad) but this crap is simply pathetic.

150 pages of small print without much white space at all. Endless dull descriptions sometimes broken into no more than a couple of paragraphs per page. Poor dialogues that don't help at all in bringing characters from their comatose state. Uninspired and simplistic plot... It was just a struggle to finish this one.

You never know with Westlake. The last one of his I read was "The Comedy is Finished" few months ago and really liked it. He is the Grand Master but I think he was too prolific and some of his stuff is very mediocre. Like this one which is memorable only for its crazy ending. Skip the whole thing or just read the 24th chapter.

2/5

Facts:

Hero
Mitch Tobin, an ex-cop

Location
Little town called Kendrick - "two hours from New York and a hundred million miles from home"

Body count: 1
Dames: /

Blackouts
yes, almost immediately upon his arrival he becomes another victim of the injurer when he falls down the stairs and breaks his arm: "When I hit I heard the dry quick snap in my right forearm. And nothing more."

Title: 
Mitch is admitted into the conservatory in a "Shock Corridor" manner. Undercover, pretending to be a patient:

"But I was in neither camp, really. The man in the brown suit would no more accept me as a policeman than these people would accept me as a resident. I was a wax apple in both bowls."

Edition: 
No Exit Press, 1989

Cover
Generic but pretty cool, I like the vivid colors on a white background. But motive is totally unrelated to the story.

Cool lines:/

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Nick Carter - The Devil's Cockpit (Manning Lee Stokes, 1967)

After I'd read Ice-Trap Terror I started to check out the back covers of Nick Carter paperbacks. Not that I've been expecting to find some plot that would surpass the one from Ice-Trap in its insanity (nothing can) but it's always fun to read about some crazy doomsday machines nearly finishing off our civilization unless Killmaster is there to save us all. The Devil's Cockpit is not one of them, it merely promises a total "destruction of the West". Which in itself wouldn't be all that interesting if the means of such destruction wouldn't be nothing more than a simple pornography. I quote:

Somewhere in the dark pit of Budapest, a highly trained group was producing thousands of reels of pornographic propaganda for a terrifying, barely human reason - total destruction of the West!

It's a bit vague and intriguing as a good blurb is supposed to be. Since sex still sells in my book I had no troubles departing from three euro coins. Wise decision this proved to be indeed!

Needs to be said though that this sex angle doesn't get much clearer. What is clear is that yellow commies are shooting skin flicks in Budapest (?) using some ex-Hollywood actress as their star. Three actresses (models/prisoners?) die after and not during the filming so I don't think these are snuff movies. Especially since they are shown to millions of Chinese comrades (which btw poses the question how can that corrupt Americans?). I probably did miss something and it's not really important because they are also guilty of another, much more serious corruption - flooding America with smutty comics based on children cartoons:

One could not, without extreme revulsion, accept the perverted sexual antics of Blondie and Dagwood, Maggie and Jiggs, or watch the seduction of a willing Orphan Annie by a wolflike Daddy Warbucks. Yes, they had even stooped to that!

So Nick Carter aka Killmaster - a man who would pursue, avenge and destroy - is mighty pissed off and he sets off to Budapest. But before he can go behind the iron curtain he needs to make a stop-over in London to do some investigation and prepare his plan. Which is cool because I don't like the usual excessive globetrotting in these man adventure/spy novels. Here we simply go to England and Hungary (not counting Vietnam from where he had just returned before he was called on this 'porn' mission). Anyways, London episode is pretty cool and surprisingly non-violent as he only leaves a single fresh corpse behind him. A fat fucking German pimp for whom we don't feel sorry about! And stage is now ready for some serious action.

He chuckled to himself now. The worst was over - the tension of waiting. Now it would begin. This was what he had been born for, no matter how much he told himself he hated it. Action! Now, Killmaster was at work, one man on his own with only his hands and a few primitive weapons. But they would be enough.

We are already on the page 100 now and at this point Mr Stokes probably realized he was approaching his word count too fast so he just wrapped it up. Action is not even broken into decent chapters and if I remember correctly a single chapter towards the end covers Killmaster's capture, torture and escape and (of course) killing a bunch of bad guys along the way. Furious stuff. My little objection to it would be that we don't really get to know the bad guys, not even how high they are in their corrupted and immoral hierarchy. Not that I cared that much for a detailed characterization but at least crazy (and tragic) Mona would deserve additional paragraph or two.

But it's still great fun. Plot is just crazy enough, action is balanced perfectly with some brain/leg work, sex descriptions are unforgettable and it's cool too. Front cover blurb from Buffalo News claims that "Nick Carter out-bonds James Bond!" but I would be a bit careful with such statement. The thing is that not everything goes according to Killmaster's plans. In fact more often than not his plans go to shit - he gets stuck in London almost abandoning the whole operation, after spending a million dollar on saving some girls their cover gets blown after one hour, Pam gets abducted and Nick himself is caught like an amateur when tailing some bad guys.

Could use a bit of a dialogue rewrite and few additional badass one-liners but nevertheless, it's pretty cool. I'll definitely check out more of the Lee Stokes' Nick Carter!

3.5/5

Facts:

Hero
Nick Carter, senior-ranking Killmaster for AXE, and it was he, as much as any single man alive, who had thus far managed to keep the planet in one piece.

He probably was the best agent in the world. He was even better when goaded by the cold anger.
[Even better than the best?!?]

Along with the wolf and tiger, Nick Carter also possessed a fair share of bloodhound.

...has extraperipheral vision - it saved his life more than once.
...drinks coffee as black as Satan's dreams.
...is oriented as well as a compass 
...can stay under water for over four minutes

Location
London, Budapest

Body count
8 (one of the main henchmen Kojak with Jekyll/Hide kind of split personalities/identities is taken into account only once)

Dames:
Florence Vorhees:

He kept his promise not to spare her. He had long been a devotee of yoga and his old guru had taught him many tricks, some of them sexual. So Nick, who was by nature a highly sexed man, had learned how to add tremendous endurance and iron discipline  to an already bursting vitality.

Florence Vorhees learned about men that night. The first thing she learned was that she had never known a real man before, in spite of a record of promiscuity that would shocked her parents to death.
After a time it began to be too much, yet she kept her bargain and did not scream for mercy. She knew she would not get it. And she did not really want it.

Pamela Haworth, ex-hooker now Carter's recruit for an AXE operator:

"Darling, I think I'm in love with you. And that does make me a fool, doesn't it?"
... 
Nick kissed her, then pulled the robe around her and fastened it. "You are not only a terrible brute," she whispered, "but you are also inhuman. Where do you get such self-control?"
"Later," said Nick. "Later, I'll show you something about self-control."

And let's not forget poor old crazy Mona Manning:

Her face filled the screen. She was a beautiful woman. Or would have been, in repose. On the screen now, she looked like Medusa gone mad.

Blackouts
Yes, but not much to write about - he simply gets hit in the back of the head with the butt of a tommy gun and then chapter ends.

Title: 
It's never explicitly stated but I would guess that the devil's cockpit would be one of the old fortresses lined along Danube where Chinese shoot porn movies.

Edition:  
Tandem, First printing 

Cover
Okay, but not nearly sexy enough! Girl lying on the sofa looks really hot, but most of the space is covered with text...

Cool lines:  
[on the train from Vienna to Budapest]
At Nick's laugh, someone several seats ahead had turned to stare at him. They were about to enter Hungary, and that was no laughing matter.

This character, Nick told himself, is a real character![The Coolest!]