Monday, September 26, 2016

Dolls are Deadly (Brett Halliday, 1960)

Pretty cool opening. Shayne is in his office nursing a glass of his Hennessy cognac, working on the dilemma of putting out his cigarette. He opts for the hardest of the three available choices by actually swinging his long legs to the floor and thumbing it out in an ashtray. And then the trouble comes knocking on his office door. Only this time the trouble isn't shaped as some beautiful damsel in distress. The distressed one is a muscle-man of the local loan shark and there are two reasons for his disturbed mental state. Someone has sent him a couple of voodoo dolls!

After mere five pages (of pretty large print) our shamus throws the big man out and reminds his secretary (who stopped typing and looked up reproachfully):

"I draw the line, Lucy, at keeping a professional murderer from being murdered. I know the law doesn't, but I have a code of ethics which I don't think it would hurt the law to embrace."

And then off he goes fishing with his Cuban friend Sylvester!

Pretty funny, I liked it. But in the very next chapter things start to go downhill a bit. It turns out that his little Cuban captain is being exploited by three shady characters and it doesn't take long before he ends up under his ship tied to an anchor. Which is not that good. I mean, obviously it's pretty fucking bad for Sylvester but what bothered me was that personal crap got involved and I don't like that in P.I. stories. However, on a positive note, at least it's not family crap which is the worst kind of personal crap.

But I'm digressing. So, we have two unrelated cases that our sleuth needs to solve. Not much of a spoiler to reveal that it turns out they are not unrelated. Nothing unusual of course about that, it follows well established and proven formula and we read such stuff all the time. What is worth mentioning, is that these two affairs are linked with a sheer coincidence. Protagonists of both sub-plots simply attend to Madame Swoboda's mystic seances.

Unlike coincidences combined with a personal/family shit is normally a recipe for disaster (sometimes for laughter) but in this one it still works. The story is quite complex and it culminates with a cool twist in an almost Ross Macdonald-ish type of tragedy.

I also liked the style. This is one of the first Shayne novels that were ghostwritten (according to this website by Walter Ryerson Johnson) and it seems to me that the author tried to capture the original style of the 1940s and in my opinion pulled it off more than well (check out the 'dames' and 'cool lines' of the facts below). But at the same time it has to be said that it also feels like it was penned out pretty quickly without much of reviewing and/or rewriting. There are some scenes that simply don't make much sense and are probably just some leftover ideas that the author forgot to drop when trying to reach his word count before the deadline. I mean, why would Shayne take his secretary to an interview with his client and then leave her waiting in his car?

Charming. The coolest Shayne I can remember of.

4/5

Facts:

Hero:
"Michael Shayne?" Ed repeated quickly. He looked at Shayne, as did Slim and Vince, from the wheelhouse. "You mean," Ed said with unsteadiness in his voice, "you're Michael Shayne, the private detective?"
"The same," Sylvester said proudly. "My friend, he is famous everywhere."
"Well, I'm damned!" Ed smoothed his angel's halo of graying hair. "Miami's best-known detective on our boat. Wait'll I tell the folks back home."

Bad guys:
It was rumored that he had known Lucky Luciano before Luciano was deported to Italy, and had since visited with the dope and vice czar there. However, as yet no crimes of consequence had been hung on De Luca by local or federal lawmen, for he was cunning and capable as well as ruthless.

Location:
Miami

Body count: 3

Dames:
There's Clarissa Milford with a smooth golden head... tall, but her bones were light... she gave the impression of delicate fragility... she seemed to be one of those rare feminine creatures without imperfection.

But the real star is the mystic Madame Swoboda. Check out her anatomical details: 
...ample and worldly breasts, extraordinary long lashes, slim fingers, aquiline nose. Her features were regular, her skin clear and fair, her face beautiful and tantalizing. 

Blackouts:/

Title: 
Someone is sending around voodoo dolls and some of the recipients end up dead.

Edition:
Jove Books, May 1989

Cover:
Some horribly generic photograph so I'm also including the original McGinnis illustration. Far from his best but still million light years in front of this.

Cool lines:
In any case, since murder unaccountably was breathing down the necks of some people, a talk with Sylvester was strongly indicated.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Coxman #25: The Penetrator (Troy Conway, 1971)

Who's Afraid of The Big Bad Russian Wolf?
Certainly not Rod Damon!

Unlike my first two Coxmans, this one doesn't start in his cabinet at Wisconsin college with our stud "studying" the species of opposite sex and being interrupted by his superior. Instead, the entire opening chapter is dedicated to introduction of his soon-to-be adversary Countess Marie Antoinetta Rubinov. You can read more about her in the facts below, but for now - just to keep your interest - let me just add that she has had over seventeen thousand men and was "mounted" by a heat-crazed horse on her tenth birthday! Yes - welcome to the crazy and sexed world of Troy Conway!

She is briefed about her assignment while being fucked with a dildo for several hours. The whole thing (I mean the assignment of course) is a bit odd but it involves a British super-spy called Penetrator. I think she is supposed to track him down and use her female charms to convince him into changing sides. Or something like that.

It's pretty unclear and as funny as it is, it doesn't really push the plot anywhere. So Mr. Avallone switches over to a proven formula. In the second chapter we do find Rod in his Wisconsin University cabinet, working on one of his sex theories with an assistance of his student Sarena. And being interrupted by Walrus-Moustache - Party-pooper, Killjoy, Bad News and Joe Btsplk Number One.

Rod's briefing is more conventional and his assignment also includes the mysterious Penetrator but there's another problem he must deal with. He needs to find out as much as possible about the "cobalt special - a granddaddy of all bombs".

So Rod is off to Moscow and this is where the plot basically ends before it has even really begun. For the next hundred pages or so there's nothing but fucking. And it's cool but it does get repetitive. There are several attempts to revive the story (dead spy, assassination attempt) but they don't amount to much so Mr. Avallone just wraps the whole thing up with a couple of surprising twists (for a lack of better expression) and a little reminder that this is not a spy story anyway.

And also tells us in his unique way to go fuck ourselves in case we expected one:

Spying just isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
But sex is.
And it's the only crack in the world that I, Rod Damon, will ever be interested in.
Local Russian spy rings, please copy!
And why you're at, go screw yourselves.
Da, da!

Da, da?

3/5

Facts:

Hero:
You see, I'm kind of the male Rubinov of the West when you get right down to it. A pure born satyr, first class. Only thing is I'm not sick about it. It's no hang-up.
More a hang-down, you could say. Ahem.

Bad guys:
"And who is the General?"
Him I hadn't heard of. Aside from Motors, Electric, etcetera.
Walrus-Moustache smiled at me almost fondly.
"I hope you never meet him, Damon. Few people that we know have. And lived to tell the tale. A man of mystery. A physical giant of over six feet six. Handsome as a statue, older than time itself. He drove a tank in World War I and led armies in World War II. And now he is the head of anything Russian that requires violence, liquidation and aggressive action. He is their executioner, as it were.

Driving tanks and leading the armies but yet only a few people have seen him?

Location
"Go ahead. Hit me with it. Tibet? Nope, Alaska? The moon-" 
"No, Damon. Russia."
I opened my eyes and in spite of myself, I felt a quickening of interest. You see, lately I've been on a Russian kick. Culturally, I'm kind of stuck on Redland. What with the Moiseyev Ballet, their opera, all those great-looking ballerinas and busty peasant dolls - in fact, I'd been toying with doing a thesis on Russian females. You know - Better Bed Than Red - or something like that.


Body count: 2
Not counting a dead CIA spy William Watts and a bunch of scientists that crashed down in Russian foothills in some deluxe private charter jet. But none of this has nothing to do with the operation Penetrator. At least I couldn't make a connection.

Anyway. As usual, let's rather go through Rod's sexual conquests. More fun.

Sarena #1
As mentioned, his student Sarena is the first one. He deflowers her and she comes back the very same night for more action (she couldn't study after THE experience). But she's not that inexperienced (she was natural) because she starts the foreplay with sticking her tongue in Rod's ass! Once finished, she concludes that "You are not to be believed! I thought you were a mirage!"

Nosha 
Upon his arrival in Moscow, the commies send a call girl Nosha to his room. This "steamrolling female tank" fucks him savagely but then he gives her the full treatment (I reamed it, steamed it and dry-cleaned it.) that includes a couple of his famous "sex ploys". And this is where we get the only Avallone LOL/WTF trademark moment. Check this:

Things got so worked up I once mistook her right ear for the natural target but she didn't howl or pull back but considered it another innovation until I explained my muscular mistake to her.

You get it!? I almost missed it the first time and had to reread and decipher it. Anyway, after they are finished, she just utters "You are not bad, Comrade. Not bad at all. In  fact, you are in a class by yourself."

Orgy at the Smirnski School of Psychology with "the finest scholastic specimens"
Rod is undercover in Russia as a visiting professor at Smirnski School of Psychology where he teaches cadets of Cosmonaut Space Agency his "Sex and Weightlessness" seminar. You know, to make sure they know how to fuck in outer space. On the very first lecture there's a brief introduction (8 Ivans and 4 quintessential babes) that ends with:

"All right! Now, select your partners. Two males to one female. And let's go. Fornicate! As best or however you can. And I warn you - I'm watching - I'm talking notes - and I'll ask questions later."

Ina the Ballerina
On his way back to the hotel he runs into Ina (torrid tomato)... who btw is the only Russian person he knows... and they end up doing the Wanton Waltz the whole night:

"Ah, Rodski - " she murmured happily as we careened around her bedroom floor. "You are Nijinsky, Nureyev - with something extra added - what drive you have! What extension!"

In limbo
For the next three days Rod is just waiting for something to happen and keeps his rod busy with spending his days with students and nights with Nosha.

Six Three
This idle period ends with an appearance of Six Three, his contact agent. Who has a little anatomical problem:
"I am very large down there, you see, It takes a big man to fill me, As you will see should you take on my problem."

He of course takes her problem on sooner as he can say Shostakovitch and two pages later we are treated with this unforgettable line:  
IT FITS! GREAT JUMPING TROTSKY - IT FITS!". 

To which he replies with yet another one of those inner-monologues spoken in Avallone language: 
"Of course, it did. Pooh-pooh and tut-tut."

And the scene ends with her simple:
"Comrade Demon - I love you - "

Rod-Manya history-maker
Everything until this moment was just a built up to Rod's encounter with the Countess aka the Silver Hair aka Manya. So when this historical moment arrives, it is first properly introduced:

BOOMMMMMMMMMM!
No, that's not an elephant breaking wind.
That's the sound of Rod Damon and Silver Hair meeting on even ground in the dark of a bedroom. A Rod-Manya history-maker.
A most historic occasion in the annals of the Coxman.

Then it goes on for several pages in such manner:
"- ohmylenintrotskymarxgodddd - " you are a man among men - truly, you are a might bull - ohmylord - againagain - and againagainagainagainagainagainagainagainnnnnnnaaahhhhh!"
"You're repeating yourself, Manya."
"Of course I am! And I want you to repeat yourself! A dozen times over - oh, Comrade - a whole troop of infantrymen have never given me so much pleasure - you are a marvel!"
"Thank you."
"You are welcome - come - do that once more - I tingle all over - and the itch is driving me insannnnnnnnnnne!"

But it suddenly totally anticlimaxes when Rod realizes that she's in fact nymphomaniac. He's appalled (She was sick for the stick, all right. And those are the worst kind!) and even gets pretty fucking mean to her:
"My baby shivers," she murmured. "Is Manya hurting him?"
"Not a chance, baby. Shut up and suck!"

Tumultuous orgy
Next day he's half dead after being ravaged the whole night by Three Six and Countess so Comrade Proffesor's lecture at the institute is about reviving a dead man with sex. Tumultuous orgy follows.

Manya's punishment
And it was there, I swear by all I hold dear, that I perpetrated the most incredible love act of my life.
...Even Fay Wray got a better break than she did

In short: he fucks her to death.

Sarena #2
Similar to Had any Lately? this one too finishes with the same girl that he started with. Once he's back in the States, she demonstrates what she has learned from his books while he was away.

Dames:
Marie Antoinetta Rubinov. In a (very) condensed summary: the swingingest lady this side of a Playboy centerfold,... the most rapacious Russian nymphomaniac since Catherine the Great put a whole regiment of Cossacks through their nighttime paces,... Vavavavoom!... some mad artist's horniest fantasy...even a bishop with his Bible would burn with a fervor not precisely religious... a body of creamy white sculpture that Michelangelo might have chipped out of pure Carrara marble if he hadn't been one of the wrong kinds of boys... big, beautiful breasts with scarlet nipples that look like a bloody sacrifice on the snowy white mounds they adorn... perfect Venus... 

And so on and on... And on and fucking on. But if you still haven't grasped the idea, there's her whole dossier on page 9 (interesting reading). In essence: Marie Antoinetta Rubinov, nymphomaniac extraordinaire, was the greatest spy in Russia's history.

And there's a reference to some fantastic beauty who specializes in sado-maschoism named (check this!!!) Legget E. Split from "Coxman #9: The Man-Eater". I guess I know now which Coxeman book to pick up next.

Blackouts:
He blacks out during the bomb blast when he's about to join the orgy #1.

Title: 
"Ahhhhhhh, Boris," Marie cooed, "and what is my assignment, pet?" She kept grinding away with her thighs, like a coffee-maker.
"Stop The Penetrator!" Boris panted, exerting himself mightily behind his artificial manhood.
..."- And who is that - Rod Damon of America?"
As you can see, my fame precedes me. The world knows me...

"No, no, Manya - not he, though he is bad enough - this is a British superspy. The Penetrator -"...born in London... raised in America... has a fluent command of most Russian dialects... has been able to penetrate the deepest Russian military secrets for M2 of Britain and the CIA... genius... 

But Rod does know him well:
I knew all about The Penetrator. Someone who made James Bond seem like a kid playing with an erector set. Heard of him? Has the Lone Ranger heard of Tonto? Has Dick heard about Liz? Does Raquel Welch know that every man in the world wants to tag?

Although he's not very impressed a couple of pages later when he's shown Penetrator's photo: 
"He looks like Woody Allen in advanced stages of tuberculosis."

Edition:
Paperback Library 73-125

Cover
Rod with some hot Brigitte Bardot look-alike.

Cool lines
I'm telling you, you learn something new every day. In every way. With every lay.

He said nothing, merely grunting, but he did shove very hard behind her and she felt every delectable inch of that delightful instrument [=dildo] probing deeper into her soul.
"My sainted ass -" she screamed dropping exhausted on the bed, physically spent and battered.

"Shut up," I snarled, "and let's fornicate!"