Bad Wife (Chariot Books, 1962)

bad wife

Are there ever any “good” wives in Orrie Hitt’s universe? There are always bad wives, tramp wives, frigid wives, suburban wives, cheating wives, just as there are suckers and pushovers and peeping toms, along with the wayward girl, motel girl, carnival girl, hotel girl, the torrid wench and easy women, the nude model and campus tramnp, caught up in suburban sin and mail order sex, these sultry sin dolls, party dolls, and burlesque girls.

Bad Wife: another hot- young-woman-marries-old-man-with-money- tries-to-set-up-to-murder-him-but-there-is-a-double-cross tale, a la noir and Cain/Thompsonville.  This is also a dark serious novel without the patent happy ending but one of those nasty sleazecore endings where one is left uncertain about the future.

Eddie Hart is the narrator, 2os, and works as the manger of his father’s car lot.  He has recently graduated college and has ideas about ethics, financing, credit and the economy that his father does not share — his father is basically a swindler, selling bad cars to people, and doing his own financing and getting people in hock.  He also does investment loans and mortgages, and if a person misses a single payment, it’s automatic foreclosure on whatever property they put up as collateral — cars, homes, furniture, land.

Eddie and his father have heated arguments about the nature of credit and loaning, making this a bit of a social commentary and political book that is, again, packaged as sleaze.

Eddie paints on the side, and would rather do that if he could make money.  He is dating Sally Frost, a neophyte writer who cannot sell the serious stories she pens but does sell sensational true confessions to the pulps, and they keep asking her for more. This may be another comment on Hitt’s writing for the demands of the market and writers caught up in commercial publishing.

Sally has only had one sexual experience as a teenager and it wasn’t good, so her “frost” last name fits as she eludes sex with Eddie, although the area she comes from, Water Street, is notorious for prostitutes and call girls.

The other woman in Eddie’s life is Jane, 24, who has married his 60-year-old cantakerous father.  For money, of course.  He met her at a convention she snuck into, acting like an agency convention girl.  What none of them know is that she and the photographer (who take pics of her nude for the photo racket) find marks and suckers — rich men to set up.

Jane’s plan: come between Eddie and his father, who do not get along, and get Eddie to murder his father for a split of the family fortune.

Ah, but things never work out, these best laid plans of wenches and woman.

Added is some lesbianism — when Sally drifts away from Eddie, she is seduced by a secretary work work’s for old man Hart.  Eddie finds out and isn’t too happy that his girl is exploring the twilight world of deviant women.

A good book, and the lack of a patent happy ending is welcome.

5 Responses to “Bad Wife (Chariot Books, 1962)”

  1. […] Bad Wife by Orrie Hitt Reviewed here. […]

  2. Brian Ritt Says:

    I’m glad you reviewed Bad Wife, because I’ve never found a copy of this title selling for less than $30; and since I did’t much like the two other Chariot books I’ve read, I never gave much consideration to buying it. But from your review, Bad Wife sounds much more interesting than the two Chariots’ (Tramp Wife and Strange Longings/Party Girl), so if I come across a reasonably priced copy, I’ll be sure to grab it.


    • orriehittfan Says:

      I have Tramp Wife and Party Doll (same as Party Girl?) but have not read them yet…also have Naked Model and Nude Doll (Kozy). Am reading Frigid Wife and not really liking it thus far. Before I left, some came in the mail that I took with on trip: Trailer Tramp, Pleasure Bound, Twisted Lovers, Wheel of Passion and Web of Evil…

      I am wondering if the Bedsid Pleasure Bound is the same as the Kozy Pleasure Bound? Robert Silverberg said he was never paid for some of his Beside titles so re-published them with Midwood as originals, and those books came out the same time as Orrie’s…and could be why he only did one book with Bedside, if he was never paid.

  3. Brian Ritt Says:

    My bad. You’re right, it’s Party Doll, not Party Girl.
    Musta had a brain freeze.

    Bedsides’s Pleasure Bound and Kozy’s Pleasure Bound are two totally different stories. A friend has both and I checked them out. They both have backwoods settings, which is not one of my favorites settings for any book. Just a matter of personal taste. Since I’m on that subject, I don’t particularly like books where a boat is a substantial part of the story.

  4. Brian Ritt Says:

    By the way, let me know how Wheel of Passion turns out, cuz I haven’t read either of the books Orrie wrote under the “Charles Verne” name.

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