Vintage Pulp Oct 11 2021
TOURIST TRAP
Shit, that waiter is fast! The meal sucked and his service was worse, but maybe we should have tipped him anyway.


This cover for the 1965 Ace Edition of Martha Albrand's 1959 novel A Day in Monte Carlo caught our eye for a couple of reasons. One is the nice art by an unknown, but the other is because we're almost finished with David Dodge's 1952 travel book The Poor Man's Guide to Europe, and it encompasses the south of France. Why read a 70 year-old travel book? We knew it would be like a priceless time capsule—and it is. We'll get to it a bit later, but suffice to say it made us see this cover as two vacationers stiffing a waiter who's now chasing them with a scimitar. As you'd expect, however, this is actually an espionage novel, and a well reviewed one.

But sadly, A Day in Monte Carlo, which you might categorize as romantic suspense, is silly. Its main flaw is that the central relationship between American spycatcher Mark and French dancer Fleur is built on the gimmick of love at first sight. They meet, fall in love within minutes, and agree to marry before half a day has passed. After that point one of the main sources of plot tension becomes: how can Mark carry on a love affair and still chase the great and mysterious Timgad, mastermind behind the Algerian rebel movement, who flits from the Sahel to the Riviera with the ease of a migratory hawk? Well, there's an answer to that, though not a good one.

Albrand was something of an expert at this type of fiction, having published other novels in the same vein, but reputations can deceive. A great writer, perhaps, could pull all this off, but Albrand, whose go-to lines are things like, “Oh, Mark, I was so afraid. Is it really worth it to love this much?” is not a great writer. At least not in this book. We've actually seen her compared to the aforementioned David Dodge, who in addition to travel books wrote fiction classics like To Catch a Thief. But while Dodge wrote with wit, panache, and a touch of romance, he also wrote with gravity and grit. A Day in Monte Carlo needs a dose of the latter two qualities. Onward and upward. 

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Vintage Pulp Jul 15 2020
FRENCH TRYSTS
I've already had nine episodes. Once I have you my season will be complete.


Above you see a cover for Mack Reynolds' Episode on the Riviera, published in 1961 by Monarch Books. If you check Reynolds' Wikipedia profile it tells you that he wrote five sex novels from 1961 to 1964, and that this is one of them. Everyone's got bills to pay, right? Well, we don't know about the other four, but this one isn't a sex novel, or even a sleaze novel. While the language is bit more frank than usual and a couple of then-esoteric acts are implied, it's actually a David Dodge influenced lightweight drama, and it's as confidently put across as anything Dodge ever wrote. Most of the action takes place at French Riviera casinos, beaches, and parties, and in main character Steve Cogswell's travel agency, one of whose customers a particular summer week is Nadine Whiteley, a woman determined to solve what she perceives as her own sexual problem by having an anonymous affair with any suitable swinging dick she stumbles across. Cogswell seems to fit the bill, but he has his own sexual quirks. Just when these two look set to get together, both their exes arrive from the U.S—Nadine's to blackmail her into marriage so he can get his mitts on her money, and Steve's to win him back after she's betrayed him with his best friend. While the sexual problems of both characters are imperfectly handled, overall this one is a winner, an easy and effervescent summer read. 

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Musiquarium Jul 14 2011
RIDING THE RAILS
You know where you hope this train will take you, but you can’t be sure.

We came across this shot of Frank Sinatra waiting for a train and it really struck us. We didn’t know the photographer, year or place, but there’s this thing called the internet and it has a lot of information on it. Soon we found that the photog was a Frenchman named Luc Fournol, and not long afterward we identified the time as June 1958. As for the place, we’d assumed Spain because of the architecture, but apparently this is the Monte Carlo train station. Sinatra was in town to perform at the famed Sporting Club, and that concert produced another iconic photo, which you see below. And what the hell, just to be completist about it, if you want to hear the concert, which is of course great, it’s downloadable here.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 5 2009
GRATEFUL DEAD
Okay, I’ll have one drink. Geez, you dead are pushy.

American author Jay Flynn, aka J.M. Flynn, is one of those writers whose real life reads as entertainingly as some of his fiction. He was a heavy drinker with a case of wanderlust, and he set up shop in places like Massachusetts, California, Paris, Mallorca, and Monte Carlo. 1959’s Drink with the Dead is considered one of his better books—you see Paul Rader's U.S. cover art above, and as a bonus we've shared Richard S. Prather's Finnish edition of Bodies in Bedlam, which borrows the same image. Drink with the Dead concerns a bunch of modern day bootleggers—ironic, considering Flynn got involved in the illegal liquor trade at one point. He was one of those rough and tumble writers that injected a lot of personal experience into his fiction, and whose erratic, hellraising ways always made subsistence a struggle. He spent time on skid row, was hired and fired by a lot of publishers, and refused to give up the booze even after his doctor said it would kill him. He died younger than he should have, perhaps, but left behind a lot of writing. You can find a detailed review of Drink with the Dead here. and a detailed bio of Flynn here.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
November 26
1922—Egyptologists Enter Tut's Tomb
British Egyptologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon become the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in over 3000 years. Though sometimes characterized as scholars, Carter and Carnarvon were primarily interested in riches, and cut up Tut's mummy to more easily obtain the jewels and gold affixed to him.
November 25
1947—Hollywood Blacklist Instituted
The day after ten Hollywood writers and directors are cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to give testimony to the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the group, known as the "Hollywood Ten," are blacklisted by Hollywood movie studios.
November 24
1963—Ruby Shoots Oswald
Nightclub owner and mafia associate Jack Ruby fatally shoots alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of Dallas police department headquarters. The shooting is broadcast live on television and silences the only person known for certain to have had some connection to the Kennedy killing.
1971—D.B. Cooper Escapes from Airplane
In the U.S., during a thunderstorm over Washington state, a hijacker calling himself Dan Cooper, aka D. B. Cooper, parachutes from a Northwest Orient Airlines flight with $200,000 in ransom money. Neither he nor the money are ever found.
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