The Strangest Sin by Kay Addams (Beacon, 1961)

Possibly Orrie Hitt at his literary smoothest, I was wonder if he consciously wrote in a different style that denoted “this is Kay Addams.”  Gone are the clipped sex scenes and dialogue, yet the same desperate characters trying to make a living are present.

The Strangest Sin is also a sociological and economic novel that examines what happens to a community when it loses its main source of revenue.  Sandersville is sleazy working class town that depends on the big shoe factory to employ half the citizens.  When the factory closes and moves, the economic downtown has a domino effect — when people don’t have money for food, they definitely don’t have money for vice.

Sharon feels the crunch the most.  She’s 22 with a 42 inch bust and owns a small bar that caters to the working stiffs.  She inherited the bar from her parents, now dead; all she knows is bartending and the bar world.  she’s had offer to sell but turned them down; now that there are no customers, she couldn’t sell the place for a dime.

This reminded me of the Catch-22 situation of communities built around mines — the mining town owns the rental homes, the stores, everything around; thus, workers use their pay from the mining company to give back to the mining company for housing and food.  The mining company comes out rich in the end.

With the shoe factory gone,  people can’t pay rent and buy food in Sandersville, nor can they spend money on booze and beer and the hookers who hang around.

Sharon has been sleeping with Jimmy Shade and every morning she wakes up in his stinky bed in his room, a room she gives him money to pay rent on.  She also gives him money for beer, food, and cigarettes.  He’s a lazy heel, but big and strong and good-looking.  There’s no future with him, especially when he starts working for the local mobster, Robinson.

There’s also the tool salesman, Carl, an average nice guy she dates now and then who wants to marry her.  He won’t have sex with her until they are married, even when she offers herself. He has no idea she has been going to Jimmy for a pounding.

Then there’s her bartendress, Lucy — another Lucy! — who runs away when she’s robbed at gun point and gives over the $3,000 in the safe, putting Sharon deeper in the hole.

But when Lucy comes back, something sparks between her and Sharon — the strangest sin, the twilight desire. Yes, the two go out at and here we have a Hitt woman jumbling three lovers instead of a man.

This book has a similar feel as The Cheaters — centered around a bar, a bad guy shaking the bar owner down, a seedy area of town populated by hookers, shills, gangsters and losers.  Hitt jumps between three points of view well — from Sharon to Lucy to Jimmy — delving into the desperation of each, as they grow destitute and their backs against the wall, and how the sink to the lowest extremes to get out of poverty.

On the Hitt scale, a 9.

One Response to “The Strangest Sin by Kay Addams (Beacon, 1961)”

  1. […] Lesbiana: The Strangest Sin Reviewed here. […]

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