Ladies Man (Beacon, 1957; Softcover Library, 1968)

HITT - LADIES MAN

Nicky Weaver, the narrator of Hitt’s first novel, I’ll Call Every Monday, (read Frank Loose’s excellent insightful comments on that book on James Reasoner’s blog)returns in Ladies’ Man, except the story here in told in third person, not first as in Monday.

This is the same Nicky Weaver — there are references to the events in Monday, which has made him weary of women; the lady he winds up “happily ever after” with at the end of Monday…well, that didn’t seem to last. She cheated on him with some hired help and he lost the $11,000 investment he made in the possible summer resort they planned.

There’s also reference to another woman, another sour relationship, that makes me wonder if Nicky Weaver is in some other novel I haven’t read yet.

I’m not sure if the reader needs to read Hitt’s first novel to get the gist of what’s fully going on here…maybe not, as Hitt gives some detail, but skimming over murder set-ups and insurance scams in half a page does not have the same effect of knowing exactly what happened…and why Nicky Weaver distrusts women so much now, and why he does what he does in this book.

Weaver has answered an ad for an ad salesman at a small 100-watt radio station in Chesterfield, New Jersey. He’s been kicking around and living in his car too long.  He figured a salesman is a salesman, whether it’s life insurance or spot ads.

The station is run by Marie of the pale skin and red lips and ultra blonde hair, a young lady who inherited it from her father. She’s an alcoholic with all her worries, drinking Scotch morning, noon, and night (Nicky can’t stand Scotch, he’s a rye guy).

The receptionist/secretary/co-producer is young Alice, with dark hair and a lithe body. Oh, of course, Nicky gets around to bedding them both, unbeknownst to each other, and they both fall in love with him, because he is, after all, a ladies’ man with the slick tongue and hard obesisk of desire.

Hitt - Ladies man 2I read the 1968 Softcover Library edition, with a different cover than the 1957 Beacon…what is also different is the language and sex. It was common for publishers, in the late 60s and 70s, to add in more risque material of older reprint titles as the laws would allow it.  There are dropped in passages that do not read like Hitt, and comparing the two editions, yes, these are add-ons, such as Marie telling Nicky “just shove it in” and “you’re nothing but a piece of pole meat in my pussy, you bastard!”

The third woman–there’s always a third woman in a Hitt book, remember this class, it will be on your final exam in Hitt 741 (upper class)–is Lola (another Lola!), a widow who has a loan note on the station and could call it in.

Nicky comes up with some sort of convoluted plan that is hard to figure out, having to do with forged insurance policies, cooked books, fake ad accounts and station appraisals,  a fanatsy buyer, etc.—but the end game is to have Marie “accidentally” murder Lola, and to take off with Lola’s cash, perhaps even buy the station “for a laugh.”

1. Nicky wants to get ahead in life, fast, for losing his $11,000, and losing on the scam in Monday, where a woman had set him up as the patsy for a murder.  He’s just getting back at womankind here: setting up a “tramp in a skirt” as he calls women to be the fall slit for a murder caper.

2. Nicky seems to genuinely hate the opposite sex, manly for having been lied to and docble-crossed so many times.  I can, in a way, sympathize–we men know how it is, you get screwed by one too many gals and you figure the next one will do you the same. That’s Nicky’s feeling, so he’s gonna screw first. What he needs is to meet a good girl…

3. “A good kid” is what he calls Alice when she informs him that he took her virginity and all the drinking and fooling around in the motel rooms is turning her into a sex-starved hellcat and she’s never been that way, and it both scares and excites her: the wonderful world of sin sex, booze, and love.  He feels bad for corrupting her…she was not the tainted woman he figured at first, and now he has tainted the girl.  Plus, she might be pregnant.  She takes off to Florida for a few weeks to think things out, which is fine with Nicky, as he can no set up Marie and Lola and not get Alice involved.

In Monday, he was half good guy/half crook, since he did fake an insurance policy to cash in with Irene when her husband died of cancer. Instead Irene shot him, trying to pin it on Nicky.  In Ladies’ Man, he is no hero: he is a cold calculating con man ready to send both these women up sit creek for daring to trust him and sleep with him.

Does it all work out? Of course not.  He’s lead away in handcuffs at the end, with half of Marie’s pretty face blown off by Lola’s gun, when it was supposed to be the other way around: Marie was supposed to shoot Lola.  And then Aice shows up, wanting to run back into his arms, only to see the love of her life, the man who took her cherry, being led away by the coppers, her boss on death’s bed.

So what’s to happen to ol’ Nicky Weaver?  He’s not telling his story from prison like the narrator in The Widow. In fact, the next book we see him in,  Love, Blood & Tears, he’s become a tough guy private eye…

Hitt - Ladies Man and Cheat UK

4 Responses to “Ladies Man (Beacon, 1957; Softcover Library, 1968)”

  1. […] Ladies’ Man by Orrie Hitt Reviewed here. […]

  2. […] has the morning show on a small 200-watt radio station in Salem, NY, pop. 15,417, similar to when we last saw Nicky Weaver working at a radio station in Ladies’ Man (another clue?). Hitt himself sold […]

  3. […] Cheat, since my 1957 Beacon was falling apart.  As with the Softcover edition of Ladies’ Man, reviewed here, there were some tossed in explicit sex scenes that were not in Hitt’s voice and felt out of […]

  4. […] Call Every Monday and Ladies Man, both novels with Nicky Weaver as protagonist. Ladies Man picks up a few years after the action in […]

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