Bibliodiscoteque Ep 52 – The Corpse Wore Pasties

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From Johnny Porkpie’s site:

Jonny Porkpie: The Burlesque Mayor of New York City, regular candidate for “actual” mayor of NYC, creator of Pinchbottom Burlesque, the “Best Burlesque” in NY (New York Magazine, The Village Voice) which produced the Off-Broadway shows “The Pinch Brothers in The Bawdy House” as part of MarxFest in May 2014, and “Pretençión: un cirque de burlesque, un burlesque de cirque” in 2013. A Pastor at the Church of Titillation, her is also the creator of Dead Sexy and international bump and grind gameshow Grab My Junk, author of The Corpse Wore Pasties, burlesque performer, teacher, and host, and all-around fool.

The Periscopes – Beaver Shot
The Genteels – Take It Off
Mel Smith – Pretty Plaid Skirt
Reverend Beat Man – Don’t Stop to Dance
Gold Dust Lounge – Bunny Yeager
The La Bombas – Taboo
Big Bo and the Arrows – Big Bo’s Twist
The Embers – Alexandria
The John Barry Seven – The Stripper
Earls of Suave – In My Dreams
Stinky Lou and the Goon Mat – Sexual Feeling
The Cramps – I’m Customized
Los Mambo Jambo – G String Murders
The Megatons – Shimmy, Shimmy Walk Pt 1
Eddi Platt – Cha Hua Hua
Miss Kitty and The Texas BS Band – The Pussy Cat Song
Arsen Roulette – Shake It All Around
Daddy Long Legs – Long John’s Jump
The Spellbinder – Casting My Spell
Syd Hale – The Hell Raisers
The Tremolo Beer Gut – The Sleaz e nator

Review: Odds On by John Lange aka Michael Crichton

Odds On
Zero Cool
Grave Descend
Michael Crichton
Hard Case Crime

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Michael Crichton is a staple in world of pop culture. Prior to his passing, Crichton left a legacy of rich vibrant texts which melded hard science and adventure. From the Congo to Isla Nublar to the depths of the Pacific, Crichton brought us to exotic locations of the imagination. But all writers need to start somewhere.

Michael Crichton’s start was as John Lange: a pseudonym for his low-brow entrance into the world of pulp. Now, after decades after their disappearance from bookshelves, Hard Case digs up these archeological curiosities and gives them some new life, courtesy of Crichton himself.  The results, however, are mixed.

The first book in the eight volume series is Odd On. It’s a heist novel of epic proportions as a team of professionals use a computer to intricately plan the perfect caper -so long as no new data enters the equation.  And it does: in the form of three nymphomaniacs.

In all fairness, Crichton wrote Odds On while in med school and it was his first published novel. His protagonists do well to break beyond cardboard cut-outs and the cliché, but it reads like the fantasy of a guy who can’t afford the movies or pornography. When in doubt make your own. Nature will find a way.

The heist itself is interesting, although bland by today’s standards, and the dialogue is realistic and intriguing, but overall, the story feels like a neophyte exploring the genre. As pleased as I am for these book to be back in print, I have yet to be overwhelmed with any of them. I gave up on Zero Cool and grudgingly finished Grave Descend when they were first published by Hard Case several years ago. As a collector and completionist, I’m also not too overly-thrilled to be purchasing them a second time as part of the series.

For scholars and followers of Crichton, I can understand the allure of reading his humble beginnings. The stories are intricate and sophisticated, but I found that I was reading them more out of intellectual curiosity than a passion for Crichton’s later work.

Best Books of 2013

I apparently read a sizable amount of crime-fiction this year. Although I love capital ‘L’ literature, various science-fiction, and fantasy, I spent 2013 nestled in the breast of violence and mayhem-fiction. That said, these are the creme of the crop. The best of the best. The essential five.

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The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

The girl who wouldn’t die – hunting a killer who shouldn’t exist.

In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential. He stalks them through their lives across different eras, leaving anachronistic clues on their bodies, until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and turns the hunt around.

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Joyland by Stephen King

As I hit the midpoint of the Joyland, Stephen King’s latest novel, I began to fret that I missed the plot. Based on the gorgeous Glen Orbik cover and flavor text, I anticipated a ghastly killer fun-house or a crazed madman ripping through teens like cotton candy. What I didn’t expect was the most profound reminiscence of youth and growing up since King’s The Body (later titled Stand By Me).

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Seduction of the Innocent by Max Allan Collins

Collins’ original fiction is a blast and I cannot speak enough about my love of his work. Quarry and Ms Tree are two of my all time favorite characters. His CSI tie-in novels are better than the shows. Hell, I even read the novelization of Waterworld because his name was on it. But his historical fiction rises above ‘em all. I find them so in-depth, well researched, and well-crafted, that I wish history teachers took such care and love for the eras they talk about. Sure, I know that this is fiction. I’m not pretending much of this is real, but I know that he creates such a gorgeous overview of the time that it drips with realism.

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The Hard Bounce by Todd Robinson

Boo Malone lost everything when he was sent to St. Gabriel’s Home for Boys. There, he picked up a few key survival skills; a wee bit of an anger management problem; and his best friend for life, Junior. Now adults, Boo and Junior have a combined weight of 470 pounds (mostly Boo’s), about ten grand in tattoos (mostly Junior’s), and a talent for wise-cracking banter. Together, they provide security for the Cellar, a Boston nightclub where the bar-tending Audrey doles out hugs and scoldings for her favorite misfits, and the night porter, Luke, expects them to watch their language. At last Boo has found a family.

But when Boo and Junior are hired to find Cassandra, a well-to-do runaway slumming among the authority-shy street kids, Boo sees in the girl his own long-lost younger sister. And as the case deepens with evidence that Cassie is being sexually exploited, Boo’s blind desire for justice begins to push his surrogate family’s loyalty to the breaking point. Cassie’s life depends on Boo’s determination to see the case through, but that same determination just might finally drive him and Junior apart. What’s looking like an easy payday is turning into a hard bounce—for everyone. (from Tyrus Books)

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Skinner by Charlie Huston

A combination of Le Carré spycraft with Stephenson techno-philosophy from the novelist hailed by the Washington Post as “the voice of twenty-first century crime fiction,” Skinner is Charlie Huston’s masterpiece—a new kind of thriller for a new kind of world. (from Mulholland Books)

The Secret Lives of Married Women by Elissa Wald

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The Secret Lives of Married Women
Elissa Wald

I have to admit that I was thrown for a loop with the latest release from Hard Case Crime. Over the past several years I have read numerous re-released and forgotten classics. I’ve even been introduced to some fantastic current authors. All of which have provided rugged, bare-knuckle hard boiled experiences.

The Secret Lives of Married Women is a different sort of sordid tale. It’s sold as a sensual thriller. A erotic expose. It’s a double tale of twins who are each experiencing their own form of awakening.

In the first half, The Man Under the House, Leda and her husband Stas have moved to a quiet town. Things seem to be plan and bland in suburban monotony, until a neighbor begins to feel too welcome in their lives. Here, the horror is not typical to Hard Case Crime. Instead of manly bravado, it is the horror many women face across the world: The creeping line of uninvited attention and a man unwilling to comprehend or respect boundaries.

In Abel’s Cane, it is Lily, Leda’s sister, who tells a story of crossing lines. It a tale of her most recent case involving a blind attorney and his ex-submissive secretary. As the case unravels and Lily learns more about the players, she finds herself becoming too embroiled in the secretary’s past. The tales weave together well and the book reads like a recorded conversation. The narrative is simple and to the point without ever feeling as though it is trying to be exploitative. It is, in a word, real.

Of course this is not to say it is perfect. The second story is a bit too heavy handed with the religious allusions: The submissive is named Nan Magdalene,  the lawyer is Abel, and it is not until Lily becomes a disciple and Nan sacrifices herself that a lesson truly surfaces.  The tale also has an odd timelessness to it. Although there are comments that this takes place in the age of cell phones and in the the early 2000’s, the feeling is more early 80’s. Perhaps it’s the idyllic eerieness of middle America or the ‘housewife exploring the world’ motif, but the setting appears dated. Finally, both stories are told in first person with little build-up. It feels more like a conversation that’s being eavesdropped on instead of a prose tale setting a scene.

Its disorienting, its confusing, but succeeds in making us feel like we are part of a dark dirty secret.

Hard Case Crime in October

In the ‘Take All My Spare Money” Department, Hard Case Crime will be releasing eight Michael Crichton crime novels from the late ’60’s and early 70’s when he wrote under the name John Lange.
Both Zero Cool and Grave Descend have been published before, but you really should order them all for the integrity of the set.

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Here’s the lowdown from the Titan Publishing press release:

ODDS ON (1966): The perfect heist, planned by computer, in a luxury hotel off the coast of Spain.

SCRATCH ONE (1967): On the French Riviera, a case of mistaken identity could cost an American lawyer his life when a group of international assassins confuse him for the secret agent sent to take them down.
EASY GO (1968): Can an Egyptologist and his band of thieves find a lost tomb buried for centuries in the desert – and get away with its treasure?
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ZERO COOL (1969): An American doctor vacationing in Europe gets caught between rival criminal gangs who both demand his help to find a legendary gem.
THE VENOM BUSINESS (1970): An expert on venomous snakes and smuggler of rare artifacts accepts an assignment working as a bodyguard to a man everyone wants dead.
DRUG OF CHOICE (1970): Bioengineers at a secret island resort promise pleasures beyond imagination – but what’s the secret behind the strange drug they’ve created?
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GRAVE DESCEND (1970): A diver in Jamaica, hired to search the wreck of a sunken yacht, uncovers secrets deeper and darker than the waters in which the ship rests.
BINARY (1972): A terrorist mastermind and a federal agent wage a battle of wits and of nerve when the villain plots to unleash poison gas on San Diego, killing one million people…including the President of the United States.

Episode 39 – Stephen King’s Joyland

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Joyland by Stephen King
Hard Case Crime

For this episode I am forgoing an original cover and instead reposting the beautiful Glen Orbik and Robert McGinnis covers.

After the positive reception of the Batman 1972 podcast I’ve tried a similar experiment (keeping the tracks specific to the year and text) . I’ll get back to garagepunk, rockabilly, and punk soon enough, I promise, I just wanted to break from genre and play some classics.

Wanna speak like a carney for fun and profit?

Rage Well,

Can’t You Hear Me Calling –  Johnny Otis
Can’t Read, Can’t Write BluesBig Joe Turner
Hound DogElvis Presley
Crocodile RockElton John
Good VibrationsBeach Boys
Stay With MeThe Faces
Baby Please Don’t GoBilly Lee Riley
I Remember YouThe Ramones
Right Place Wrong Time – Dr. John
Brain Damage  –Pink Floyd
Cars Hiss By My WindowThe Doors
Run For Your LifeThe Beatles
Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)The Hollies
Walking The DogThe Rolling Stones
Love Is All AroundThe Troggs
(Wish I Could) HideawayCreedence Clearwater Revival
The Door Into SummerThe Monkees
Show Notes After the Jump
Can’t You Hear Me Calling –  Johnny Otis
Can’t Read, Can’t Write BluesBig Joe Turner
Early in the novel someone tells protagonist Devon Jones about the musical greats who have played at Joyland and, if King mentions it, its important. I don’t think for a minute I got the right tracks, but I got the ones that are right for this episode. I meant to showcases Devon’s depression: Tracks that he gravitate towards after his break-up.

Hound DogElvis Presley
The park’s mascot is a lovable dog named Howie and if you only have one licensed character – you use him. Turns out Devon is one heck of a hound. “I Can’t Help Falling in Love,” does appear in this book, but I thought that “Hound Dog” spoke to the park itself. I was tempted to split hairs and use the Big Mama Thorton version but it just didn’t seem to fit correctly in the flow.

Crocodile RockElton John
Released as a single in 1972, this track ate up the charts in 1973.

Good VibrationsBeach Boys
Now turn to page 22 in your copy of Joyland. Read the bottom of the page and continue to the top of 23. See?

Stay With MeThe Faces
A track for Devon who spends just as much time pining for lost love a most of us do. I suppose that is why the book never gets monotonous. King always manages to focus on the common threads of humanity and Devon’s pain is all to real .

Baby Please Don’t GoBilly Lee Riley
I figured this was a solid bookend for the Elvis track. It’s rock ‘n’ roll and it’s plot is simple and familiar.

I Remember YouThe Ramones
Yeah, this track came out several years after the events of the book – I know this. This was one of my melo-dramatic anthems as a kid and thought it fit the narrative. If you worry about the massive anachronism, put this book in the Colorado Kid/Dark Tower series and move on.

Right Place Wrong TimeDr. John
Brain Damage  –Pink Floyd
Devon spends a ton of time plugged into Floyd’s Darkside of the Moon. Although he doesn’t spend any time with Dr. John’s 1973 funk track it does have th line, “My head was in a bad place” Dr. John’s insight into looping emotions connects beautifully to Floyd’s line, “There’s someone in my head but it’s not me.” Add the lines about lunatics and slashing and, well, we’d have spoilers.

Cars Hiss By My WindowThe Doors
I promise that this track is referenced in the novel, but I can’t find any trace of it in my notes. Spooky? No. Just poor marginalia.

Run For Your LifeThe Beatles
This is the creepiest John Lennon has ever sounded and I’m not sure I ever really payed attention to his obscene threat of violence. I did think about playing the Nancy Sinatra cover , but figured this would be an interesting first The Beatles track for the show. Also, check page 44.

Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)
The Hollies
After you spend time on pg. 44 turn to pg. 69.

Walking The DogThe Rolling Stones
Brian Jones and Jagger share the vocals on this cover of Rufus Thomas song.

Love Is All AroundThe Troggs
Skip back to page 30.

(Wish I Could) HideawayCreedence Clearwater Revival
I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone so after you read the book come back this point.

The Door Into SummerThe Monkees
Off of Pisces, Aquarious, Capricorn, and Jones, this is one of the most reflective and beautiful songs about summer and the price of youth. A fitting end to a beautiful narrative.

Joyland by Stephen King

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And he thought he heard the echo of a penny whistle band
And the laughter from a distant caravan
And the brightly painted line of circus wagons in the sand
Fading through the door into summer
“The Door into Summer”, The Monkees 

As I hit the midpoint of the Joyland, Stephen King’s latest novel, I began to fret that I missed the plot. Based on the gorgeous Glen Orbik cover and flavor text, I anticipated a ghastly killer fun-house or a crazed madman ripping through teens like cotton candy. What I didn’t expect was the most profound reminiscence of youth and growing up since King’s The Body (later titled Stand By Me).

For 135 pages, we watch Devon Jones learn the ropes of the carnival circuit, reel in the wind after the loss of his first love, and leave youth for adulthood. And to be honest, I stopped caring if a crime story ever developed. Certainly under all of the character building a lone ghost haunts the House of Horror crying out in the darkness, but that’s just an apparition. The flesh and bones of the novel are built around friendship and the unparalleled value of life.

As the second part of the novel picks up speed, there is a touching moment when Devon mispronounces one of the victim’s names and is immediately told that these were living souls and that they deserve the respect of their names said correctly. It’s a sublte statement, but in a society were we race to shove news down the throats of anyone who’ll listen and sell violence on 15 minute prerecorded loops, we forget about humanity. We forget that victims had lives with their own history and their own stories and their own voice. In today’s timeless news loops we silence the victims and reduce them to caricatures and carnage. King’s Joyland seeks to remind us about their humanity and the stories we carry.

Stephen King has not written this summer’s best selling thriller. He has written this year’s finest work of fiction.

Episode 36 – Harlan Ellison’s The Glass Teat

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Way back in Episode 7 I started to create soundtracks from the collected volumes of Harlan Ellison.

The first two went off without a hitch. When it came time for the third installment I balked. I couldn’t find the right songs in the right order. It just failed to work, so I tossed it aside an moved on.

When I reviewed Hard Case Crime’s reprint of Web of the City, I felt that itch. The one in at the base of my brain that constantly rubs when I leave a project incomplete. So I dug down deep, reread The Glass Teat and produced this: One of my favorite episodes to date. Yeah, I’ve used some of the sound clips before. Sue me (not you, Harlan, this is simply to work of a fan). As I mentioned before on other episodes, the parts that are Harlan speaking can be found at Deep Shag Records (vol. 1 – 3 are especially mesmerizing) except for the bit from “Welcome to the Gulag”. Harlan’s fiery words become incendiary when spoken.

Enjoy the show and Rage Well,

Production Notes:

Some people have asked for a look into the process and the hows and whys song are chosen. Since I tend to write notes anyway, I’ve decided to start typing them up for each podcast.
Enjoy

I Hate the TV – Violent Femmes
I pulled the Violent Femmes from my Fan Service 80’s podcast in exchange for this one. I’ve been battleing with The Glass Teat podcast for a year now. I originally said it would be out last summer, but I never found the right mix. My worry with this track is that it is too obvious, but the line “I hate the president” (which was a Reagan line) only hit me when I remembered that it was Reagan who put Harlan on a rabble-rouser list with poets and artists alike.

Old Square Eyes – The Mobbs
This one made the very first set list. I particularly love the lines which focus on the computer and playstation. Harlan’s last word on the subject of The Glass Teat, an audio recording called “Welcome to the Gulag”, turns the argument toward our dependence from TV to the zombie-esq allure of our phones and other devices. It is a trap: A dangerous one which tricks us into believing that we are living life simply because we take an instagram of it.

TV Screen – Thee Spivs
“What are you watching?” seems to be, in my life at least, the grown-up equivalent of the teenage “Who are you listening to? The image of wanting to punch out your eyes from the back of your head makes me chuckle constantly.

TV Soup – The Singing Loins
“Let’s watch someone else’s revolution…” and the passivity of action versus inaction.

Colour Television  – Eddie Currant Suppression Ring
ECSR gives a Velvet Underground-esq attack on the propaganda we see on the ole boy. I like to think that the drone in this song is the white noise of TV and the ‘million hypnotized’. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll be half way through a show with not clear idea of what I’ve seen. I get lost in the drone and lose the thread of the story.

Read more

Seduction of the Innocent by Max Allan Collins

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 Seduction of the Innocent
Max Allan Collins
Hard Case Crime

 

I was working for a rare book dealer when I came across a volume of the 1955 U.S. Congress Committee on the Judiciary Volume of Juvenile Delinquency: Comic Books, Motion Pictures, Obscene and Pornographic Materials, and Television ProgramsIt was a volume (some 1,000 pages) of committee transcriptions dealing with how these monstrosities will infect American youth like some horrible drug. It sought to curb the temptation set up by the comic industry by making crime and evil so damn seductive.  For impact, there are transcripts  from purveyors, priests, parents, and victims.

My favorite bit comes from the Code of Comics Magazine Association of America (adopted 26 Oct. 1954):

“The comic-book medium, having come of age on the American cultural scene, must measure up to its responsibilities…
To make a positive contribution to contemporary life , the industry must seek new areas for developing sound, wholesome entertainment.”

Of course transcipts continue to allude to an American tradition of decency and fairness. Since most of these Senators are from Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas, and this is pre-60’s Civil Rights, I was never sure whose vision of American tradition they wanted preserved. I can make good solid guesses though.

Anyway, when I saw that Max Allan Collins was releasing his third Jack and Maggie Starr novel through Hard Case Crime I was pretty damned thrilled. When it was revealed that it would be a fictional attack on Dr. Frederick Wertham (the McCarthy of Comic Books) I was down-right ecstatic. Wertham firmly believed that he could save the world from the savagery of comic-books and did his best to see the industry crippled. He would save The Children by waging a war on a magazine stands of filth threatening to destroy a generation of adolescents. So, an imaginary comeuppence at the hands of master story teller Max Allan Collins seemed like the best possible way to spend a few hours.

And it was.

Collins’ original fiction is a blast and I cannot speak enough about my love of his work. Quarry and Ms Tree are two of my all time favorite characters. His CSI tie-in novels are better than the shows. Hell, I even read the novelization of Waterworld because his name was on it. But his historical fiction rises above ’em all. I find them so in-depth, well researched, and well-crafted, that I wish history teachers took such care and love for the eras they talk about. Sure, I know that this is fiction. I’m not pretending much of this is real, but I know that he creates such a gorgeous overview of the time that it drips with realism.

The most shocking part though, is the care that Collins takes to create Dr. Werner Frederick (the fictionalized Wertham) as a victim. Collins recognizes that in order to have a true crime the reader must give at least one care about the victim’s untimely death: Otherwise, most of the comic community would probably cheer, applaud, and stop reading midway through. Collins’ job, to make a victim of an industry’s greatest nemesis (until Tipper Gore of course) is nigh impossible. Especially considering that whenever the Starrs are on the page all attention turns to them (I’m convinced he could write a Russian play with just these two bantering and I’d read it). Not only does Frederick’s death need to mean something, but it should also seem more important than the charisma of the protagonists. It is the moment when Dr. Frederick is in his inner-city office confronting a boy with a knife that  Collins wields his power as an author. It is a moment which highlights the fact that as misguided and destructive as Wertham was, he was still  human.

Seduction of the Innocent is an absolute must-read for a fan of comic history, wise-cracking investigators, and fans of historical fiction.

Hard Case Essentials Part II

Long ago I started a list of some absolute must-owns from Hard Case Crime. With a bevy of great new novels coming out in the next six months, I thought I’d help you build a back catalogue.

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5. Deadly Beloved by Max Allan Collins
I love Max Allan Collins and of his two greatest protagonists, the first is Ms Tree.
There aren’t enough Ms. Trees in the world. This is her only prose novel but you can ebay the comics. Its worth it.

Based on the longest-running private-eye comic book series of all time, DEADLY BELOVED brings you an all-new adventure of the legendary Ms. Tree—the groundbreaking female P.I. who put the ‘graphic’ into graphic novel…

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4. Fright by Cornell Woolrich
Set in 1915, this ye olde crime noir is high on suspense and .. Fright. Here an ‘Everyman’s’ error leads to murder in this, one of Hard Case’s darkest and most compelling reprints.

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3. The First Quarry by Max Allan Collins
Quarry is a hitman hunting hitman (and my absolut favorite Collins creation). What I love about this series is the pure ethos. We watch Quarry hunt and stalk his prey with the vigor of a African big game hunter and believe  this is the life of a hitman. Don’t look for the ‘Heart of Gold’ part, Quarry is one of the biggest and most vicious bad-asses since Parker. I will say that I can’t help but grabbing a can of Coke and sandwich every time I pick up a Quarry book. Read it, you’ll see.

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2. Memory by Donald Westlake
Not necessarily noir or hardboiled, this, Westlake’s last  novel, is a moving tale about a man attempting to rebuild his life after a near death beating. Advertisers used to scream ‘not for the feint of heart’, but this one is for the tough guy with too much heart.

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1. Somebody Owes Me Money by Donald Westlake
Life sucks for cabbie Chet Conway, but when a horse pays off he thinks he’s on easy street. Until his bookie ends up dead and life starts to suck even worse.  This comic novel from Westlake is the book I give to people starting out in noir. It contains all of the elements of a great crime drama, but with an ability to laugh at the ridiculousness of the genre. Damn, I love this book. Plus, it has one of the sexiest covers of the Hard Case line…except this one…

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I mean, who doesn’t love a paramilitary gal?