Hotel Girl (Chariot Books #58, 1960)

Hitt - Hotel Girl

From Hotel Woman to Hotel Girl — a Hitt summer resort tale set in the Catskills. The narrator is Johnny Crane, a drifter in the hotel business — in the summer, he works the Catskills; in the winter, he works down in Florida.

Florida is where he met Rita, the girl he’s sharing a room with. In fact, they were both fired for having a fling in the open.

Johnny isn’t a hotel manager like most Hitt hotel men; he’s just an all-around worker and he gets a job at the Granger Hotel (700 rooms) as food inventory clerk. He keeps tab of all the meats and vegetables and canned goods, tosses out what goes rotten, orders from distributors, keeping an eye out for workers who may steal stock and sell it (like huge chunks of meet, etc.) In some respects, it’s a lot like Bad Wife, another Chariot title, giving us an inside-look at this particular niche of blue collar work.

The usual shenanigans go on at the hotel — waitresses moonlighting as hookers, sex among the staff, etc. Although Johnny is trying to break off from Rita, he keeps away from all the sex, which is hard, but it finally gets to him…

He’s been housed in the building where there are 30 female employees and only him. Naked woman are everywhere, and at night they are drunk and bringing men over…all Johny wants to do is sleep, save money, and go somewhere else — away from Rita, until she shows up to live with him and get a waitress job. She thinks she might be pregnant too. Sound familiar, Hitt fans?

He also gets blackmailed to commit a murder.

Old man Granger is in a wheelchair and his mind is fading, so has left the hotel in charge of his son, Foster, and his teenage daughter, Ann, whose mother died in childbirth and the old man has always blamed her.

Foster and Ann don’t see eye to eye on how to run the hotel — Paul has lowered rates to get more people, and pays his employees substandard and doesn’t buy the best food. He also encourages all the prostitution and sex. However, they are not showing a profit the way his father did. Ann wants to clean the place up, make it respectable, pay the staff a good wage and hike up the rates a few dollars.

There is also Sally, Paul’s fiancee, who has wiggled her way into the biz and wants a cut of the profits when they sell the place after the old man dies.

Of course, Johnny winds up having sex with both Sally and Ann. Ann makes him a proposition: if she can get a photo of him with Sally, she will pay $1000. She wants her brother to see that his fiancee is not faithful. Johnny agrees — why not? He doesn’t trust Sally, even though he succumbs to her advances, and he could use the cash.

Except Sally and her husband-to-be turn the table: they say they will use the photo as proof that he raped Sally. Sally will say she was raped and he will go to prison. They tell Johnny that in order to avoid this, he has to kill Ann and he will get $10,000 too. Paul wants Ann out of the picture so he has full control of the hotel and whatever money their father left her will go to him.

He and Ann swim at the lake together all the time, he is told, and people drown…

Poor Paul: blackmailed to murder and with a pregnant ex-girlfriend. But he and Ann come up with a fake murder scenario, her body missing, to set up Paul and Ann for a conspiracy rap…

This isn’t a bad novel from Mr. Hitt, just territory already covered. It moves slow at times, but the slowness gives an interesting view of the many people who make a meager living going from hotel to hotel, wasting their lives away for the profit of others. Like some of his other books, this works as a social and political text on the plight of the low-wage earner.

One interesting part is when there is a crate of bad fish, rotting. They smell so bad that he can’t throw them in the dumpster, where the stink will carry to the guests, so he goes out into the woods and digs a whole and buries the fish. Who would’ve guessed? This is obviously a tidbit from Hitt’s own experiences working hotels. That experience is what makes this novel, and the others, have a ring of truth to them.

This novel was also published in 1960, one of Hitt’s salad years when he was pumping the books out like crazy, with Beacon, Midwood, and Kozy issung titles monthly. From 1957 to 1963, I doubt there wasn;t a month that Hitt did ot have at least two books on the market.

I do feel he turned to lesser publishers like Chariot and Saber, whose product was a bit shoddy with cheap thin paper and covers, to publish the manuscripts that Beacon or Midwood most likely rejected. Prolific writers don’t always hit the mark — they churn out the duds, the mediocre, and the gems alike, often in the same month.

So I can see Beacon and Midwood, and maybe Kozy, saying, “We’ve already published a few resort hotel titles from you” or “this one isn’t as well-plotted as The Cheaters or The Widow,” etc.

On the Hitt Scale, I give this one a 6.8. The cover is cool — that tawdry cheap looking gal in her undies on a single bed. The story is too familiar, although the blackmail for murder is a new angle, rather than the narrator (“a big guy”) doing it for pussy and cash.

But what of the other resort novels, Summer Romance and Summer Hotel and Private Club? I will get to those eventually…eventually…

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