Archive for murder plot

Cabin Fever – Uni-Books, 1954

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , on September 22, 2011 by orriehittfan

 

 

Ol’ Orrie’s third published novel, after I’ll Call Every Monday and Love in the Arctic, and a hard volume to find, as many Uni-Book titles are.  Unis were Universal Publishing’s pulp digests before the Beacon imprint, which lead with two Hitt books: Shabby Street and She Got What She Wanted.  The UniBooks format were large, magazine digest sized, 35 cents.

Cabin Fever is a seriously flawed narrative, but also a blueprint for many future Hitt hits: we see the seeds of The Cheaters, Dirt Farm, Two of a Kind, Violent Sinners, Sins of the Flesh, and others.

Danny O’Connor is your usual Hitt hero: a WW II vet, six foot three, broad-shouldered, womanzing. He’s less a heel than he is a chump for women. Yes, he jumbles three women: Tawny, the wife of an older man named Stone; Randi, a waitress; Sue, his ex-girlfriend wgho has been saving herself for their marriage, something Danny doesn’t want to wait for.  There is a cast of charcaters page:

 

Danny is on vacation from his warehouse job…and he is also getting away from Sue so he can cat around. He runs out of money fast so takes on a seasonal job of storekepper at the cabin resort place in the mountains, a job that Hitt had and a locale and job that pops up now and again in other Hitt books.

Within hours, he beds the owner’s younger wife, Tawny. She tosses himself at her, so what can he do when a hot bonde bombsehll does so? Of course, she has a plan: seduce Danny, get him to murder her husband, get half of the property and money…and her…but then her husband appraoches him to kill her and get a $10,000 payday.

Cain territory.

And of course he is being set up as a patsy by both, along with Tawny’s old boyfriend from her burlesque show days.

An interesting foundation for better books, but a disappointment in bad writing, bantering dialogue, and characters one could care less about.

Damn nice cover, though.

 

Loose Women (Domino Books, 1963)

Posted in Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , , , , , on January 11, 2010 by orriehittfan

Another good Domino title, and here ol’ Orrie treads some ground that isn’t upper New York state or about insurance salesmen or peeping toms, although the narrator’s name is Joe Black, it doesn’t seem to be the same Joe Black who narrates Unnatural Urge.

Joe Black is a boat bum who spends time either down in Florida or up on the New Jersey shore, making a meager living with charters.  Hitt is walking on Gil Brewer and Harry Whittington territory here — the first clue is a woman named Cora, the ex-wife who burned him.  Right now he’s traveling  on the boat with a gal named Alice from Florida to New Jersey.  They’ve had a nice time of sailing and sex, but once they reach Jersey, he parts ways with her and she gets a job as a waitress.  He doesn’t want to get serious with any woman, even though Alice does.

Cora made him untrusting of all women and their intentions.  Joe comes from a wealthy family of lawyers and business people, and was groomed for the best college and a life as a Black.  Then, after high school, he met Cora, a bad girl from the other side of town; he got her pregnant and married her, against his parents’ wishes. They disowned him. Then Cora lost the baby and he found out what a tramp she was, how much she cheated on him even while pregnant, and he wonders if the baby was his.  He’s been disowned by his rich faily and has been working jhard labor to support her…then she takes off with some salesman and the two die in a car crash (the same back story is in Diploma Dolls, used at the narrator’s motivation for womanizing).

There is one typical Hitt element: the hot younger wife married to an older man. Carlton runs Carlton Bay but he has no good boats for charters and is always drunk.  He talks Joe into takingh a $200 job and wants Joe to stay and work for him, but Joe wants to high-tail it out, go somewhere else.  Carlton’s sexy 22-year-old wife, Sandra, tries to use her body to keep him around — and she tells him her husband is too drunk to be a man, and is unable to give her a baby, and she wants Joe to take his place: run the boating dock, have her, give her a kid.  Everything Joe doesn’t want.

But Hitt starts to fall into the typical — Sandra has an ulterior motive, a plot for murder and money, and the book wraps up like a Gold Medal-wannabe, with some implausibility on a boat drifting bind;y in the fog and five people on it.

Like the other Domino titles, Lust Prowl and The Color of Lust, this is a tight 125-page novel and the writing is clean and smooth.  Don’t know if Hitt had a good editor at Lancer or, keeping to 40,000 words, there was no need to pad his manuscripts with repetition and redundant scenes, to get to 50 or 60,000 words as his other publishers required.

On the Hitt Scale, a 7.5.

Woman Hunt (Beacon #192, 1958)

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , , on December 8, 2009 by orriehittfan

I’m starting to notice that ol’ Orrie’s novels from 1954-59 tend to be excellent and original, before he started repeating situations and themes from 1961-64.

Woman Hunt sucks you in from page one — Bill Masters, mid-30s, is an encyclopedia salesman who makes good money — enough to keep him and his wife, Cynthia, living decently in an apartment and a summer lake cabin, to give his mother $75 a week and his lazy younger brother a few bucks.  He also agrees to pay $1200 for surgery his ex-girlfriend Donna’s son needs. He cannot escape from Donna’s lure, and memory — they were lovers as teenagers and drifted apart when he went into the army; she had another man’s child and broke his heart.  Old wounds open up whenever he sees her (she lives in the same building as his mother) but he often winds up having sex with her, especially after agreeing to pay for th surgery.

Basically, he knows that everyone just wants money from him — his mother, his brother, his ex.  His wife wishes he made more money.  She gets $6,000 a year from her father’s life insurance annuity; she shares none with Bill.  He has a $100,000 life insurance policy on her, one of the reasons why he is plotting her murder. The other: she has been cheating on him with a lot of men, including a guy from a rich family that she threatens to marry after she divorces Bill.

In a way, this calls to mind Raymond Carver’s short story, “Elephant,” about a successful writer who family hounds him for his new-found wealth: kids, ex-wife, mother, brother, they all want a piece of his pie and feel they deserve it.

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Pleasure Ground (Kozy #142, 1961)

Posted in Kozy Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2009 by orriehittfan

This Kozy is a far better novel than Wild Lovers, both published around the same time.  Hitt seems to be at his best when writing first-person, rather than jumping POVs in third, though he does have some pretty good third-person books, like The Strangest Sin.

This one had a semi-backwoods/rural farm setting, with the typical big man narrator, Bert Forbes, a laborer who wanders from one job to another.

I was twenty-five years old and a nobody. A nobody who had been kicked out of one foster home for something I shouldn’t have done. A nobody who had married another nobody and who supported a child who carried my name but didn’t have a drop of my blood. (p. 11)

He’s a lot like the narrator in The Widow or Two of a Kind or Peeping Tom...a hired hand trying to get by.

He’s working at the Collins Farm, dubbed Lonely Acres, painting; he’s no good with cows and other farm work, he’s made this clear, though his cranky boss, Flint Collins, keeps pushing farm work on him.  He hates Collins, but it’s a job — Collins is 50, somewhat wealthy, and used to getting what he wants.  “I always win,” he says.

Flint is awaiting the arrival of his new bride, twenty-year-old Sharon.  Orrie Hitt certainly had a hair up his arse about older men marrying young women, as this situation happens a lot, and the older men are never painted in a good light.

And then there’s the women, always the women…

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Affair with Lucy (Midwood #10, 1959)

Posted in Midwood Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , , , , , on November 16, 2009 by orriehittfan

Hitt - Affair with Lucy

Ah, back to the Orrie Hitt we all know and love — after three disappointing books, it was actually welcoming to return to insurance agents on the make, insurance scams, married women with murderous designs, young women married to older men, the nudie pic racket, the deflowering of a virgin, and existential alcoholism in a small upper NY state town of Waverly.

Hitt - Married Mistress - LucyAffair with Lucy was an early Midwood, #10, published between Summer Romance and Hired Lover (Midwood began numbering books with #7, Sheldon Lord’s Carla).  It was later reprinted as Married Mistress. It was the first Hitt Midwood too, followed by Girl of the Streets (#11) Hired Lover as Fred Martin (#13), Summer Romance (#16) and As Bad as They Come (#23) — all published in 1959.  1960 would see A Doctor and His Mistress and The Cheaters and Two of a Kind.

There are many women named Lucy in Orrie Hitt’s world, from Lucy to The Strangest Sin.  That’s okay, even if the name isn’t the sexiest around (too many connections to Lucille Ball). Sometimes Lucy is a good woman, sometimes se’s a bad one.

Here, she’s a bad one, with white sand blonde hair and a body to kill for — which narrator Pete Clayton gets suckered into doing.

Pete is numb and cares little for life or others, feeling the pain of loss: his wife Alice died from some sort of illness; he sold their childless home (she was desperate for a baby but couldn’t happen) and moved into  rooming house.  He is ready to leave Waverly and move to New York City with a different insurance company.

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Unnatural Urge as told by Joe Black to Orrie Hitt (Midwood, 1962)

Posted in Midwood Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , , , , , on November 9, 2009 by orriehittfan

hitt - unnatural urge

Another one of Hitt’s peeping tom books; this one is written with much more confidence and grace than The Peeper and Peeping Tom. The prose is so smooth that I have a feeling the editorial hand was involved here — such as when a female character refers to sex as “having relationships.”  I don’t see ol’ Orrie using that term himself.

Was this one edited by Elaine Williams (ala Sloane Britain) like Hired Lover, The Cheaters, and Two of a Kind?  Possibly. The pub. date is 1962 — there was a two year gap between books that Hitt did for Midwood; maybe he was too busy providing titles for Kozy and Chariot, and of course Beacon, his prodigal home.

Joe Black, apparently telling Orrie Hitt the story of his peeper urges in a bar somewhere, runs a gas station in Clinton, NY (a town that appears frequently in the Hittverse); he has taken the business over from his elderly father, who has married a young woman, Linda, who happened to have broken Joe in to the world of sex when he was a teenager…

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Dial “M” for Man (Beacon, 1958)

Posted in Beacon Books, Orrie Hitt, pulp fiction, sleazecore, vintage sleaze books with tags , , , , on November 9, 2009 by orriehittfan

Hitt - Dial M for Man

First off, another excellent novel by our pal Orrie. The only thing that bugged me was the title, as it makes no sense to the story; apparently Beacon wanted to cash in on the similarity to Hitchcock’s film, Dial “M” for Murder, based on William Knott’s 1952 stage play, which gave birth to dozens of imitations in the genre.

MIt’s about a man arranging the murder of his wife.  In Dial “M” for Man, a a woman arranges the murder of her husband — yes, she’s a 22 year old former convention girl and her husband, Ferris Condon, is 60 and a wealthy real estate crook.  He builds crappy houses and sticks them to suckers.  He’s made a killing, and is on the board of the local bank of Hawley, NY, a small town of 15,000 people.

The narrator is Hob Sampson, a TV repair and salesman.  TV repairmen always meet interesting women, it seems, as we found in Gil Brewer’s The Vengeful Virgin, reviewed here. Hob meets Doris Condon, the 22-year-old blonde wife, while on a service call.

Unlike Hitt’s other heroes, Hob is not jumbling three women; in fact he seems to avoid them.  There’s Kathy, whom he has been casually dating, and one night he takes hr virginity, or so she says.  She has also suckered him out of $300, saying she needed it for a job change.

When Doris makes a move on him, he turns her down. He does this twice, because he knows she’s trouble — married, too young, all he sees is hell down the road. But he finally gives in, mainly to get back at her husband.

Hob has been trying to get a bank loan to buy the building where he rents space for his business. He wants to expand. The bank turns him down, at Condon’s request.  Seems a long time back, Hob’s father was a real estate inspector and had given bad marks to many of Condon’s shabby houses, costing him a lot of money.  Condon wishes to get back at the man by ruining the son.

Condon also buys the building and tells Hob he needs to get out.  So ob turns around and fucks his young wife.  Only he falls for her, and she asks him to kill Condon for a number of reasons: not only will she get his wealth, but Hob can buy the building from her for nothing,  and Condon won’t be able to mess with Hob anymore at the bank.

Hob can’t kill Condon, as much as he hates the old man; he is not a killer. But he has an idea: get his former business partner Ben to do it.  Ben is in a bad way and needs money.  Their partnership ended because Ben would not turn in the repair visit money, instead spending it on booze and b-girls and married women cheating.  Ben has a vice: he likes to get drunk and he will sleep with “anyone under 50.”  He’s jobless, his truck is breaking down, he’s broke, and he’s knocked up a 16 year old girl who needs $300 for an abortion; if her parents find out, she will be disowned and he will go to jail for statutory rape.

Of course, he’s being played and all goes haywire…

This is a vivid book about desperate people. Hob is desperate to be a successful small business man, and then gets desperate for a woman who is a lying wench — what does he expect from a hooker?  His ex-partner is so desperate for money that he agrees to kill Condon for $2,000 — with the money he can skip town and all his problems, start new.  The teenager he knocked up is desperate, so much so that she dies from a botched abortion.

Hitt also shows how hard it is for a person to run a small business in a small town, as he’s shown in other books like Bad Wife and Bold Affair.

On the Hitt Scale, this one is a 9.5 and recommended for a good read.

A note: the copy I read was an Australian edition. The paperback size was bigger than usual, and the spelling within was Aussie style — “tyre” for “tire,” etc.

Hitt - Dial M for Man Aussie ed