We’re at the end of the confirmed Westlake sleaze catalog with this grab-bag post. Bedside and Nightstand were part of the same operation, and they published the first four books in this post. I don’t know anything about Evening Reader, but they scored the last one.
I will once again defer to the inimitable Lynn Munroe:
William L. Hamling started publishing Nightstand Books in Illinois in 1959. The little paperback originals with pink or yellow spines and titles like SEX GANG and SIN GIRLS were immediate best sellers, and Nightstand brought more out each month, a couple hundred of them over the next few years. And other lines were spawned by the same publishing house: first Midnight Readers, then Leisure Books and Ember Library and many more, a couple thousand of them over the next decade. The books were brilliantly edited from 1961 on by Earl Kemp and featured flashy cover art by such brilliant talents as Harold McCauley and Robert Bonfils. And by some combination of foresight, luck and serendipity, almost all of the early pseudonymous Nightstands were written by young authors who would become famous over the next few years. A lot of sixties “adult” paperbacks from other publishers were written by hacks, copycats, sub-morons and dweebs. But the authors who wrote the early Nightstands using pseudonyms were later revealed to be such well-known names as Robert Silverberg, Harlan Ellison, Lawrence Block, Donald E. Westlake, Evan Hunter, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and John Jakes. Relying first on hungry young writers from his science fiction magazines, and then on a stable of talent pooled from the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, the Nightstand Books were the best of their genre. And no matter how you look at it, credit has to go to the man who had the original idea: William Lawrence Hamling.
Needless to say, lots more at Lynn’s site.
So what from this bunch are the Westlakes? Here they are, heavy on the sin.
Off Limits by Alan Marshall (1961)
Pictured above. I assume that’s a cop wearing a riot helmet on the cover. I haven’t read the book, so I can’t tell you why there’s a perfectly made-up woman giving the come-hither to a cop in a riot helmet. Maybe one of these days I’ll read it and find out. (More pics.)
Call Me Sinner by Alan Marshall (1961)
A typo on the front cover blurb, and artwork that is both creepy and compelling. The back cover has its merits of a sort as well.
For you married guys out there: Make sure you’re not a dumb dodo she never should have married in the first place. Otherwise, she’ll end up a sated trollop somewhere else.
What a great cover.
In my younger days, I delivered pizzas, salads, sandwiches, you name it. I can tell you from personal experience that hot housewives answer the door in broad daylight buck naked except for high heels all the time. Sometimes you have to tell these insatiable creatures, “Hey, you’re only an eight. My next delivery is a ten. Sorry.” It hurts the tip, but a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.
I need to feature the back of this one as well.
“…the piston-hipped women…” That’s just awesome. The rest of the copy is as well. (More pics.)
Sin Hellcat by Andrew Shaw (1962)
This is the third and final book co-written with Lawrence Block. It’s collected in Hellcats and Honeygirls, and is available individually for Kindle.
I’ve posted too many back covers already so I won’t put the image up for this one, but this one features the phrase “kicked body,” some early sixties slang I had not heard before now. (Assuming the person writing it didn’t just pull it out of the blue.) (More pics.)
The third and final volume of the Phil Crawford trilogy. The back cover (more pics) reveals that Mr. Crawford has some fun with a young lady named Merry. I don’t know if it’s the same Merry from Man Hungry.
And that’s it for the absolutely 100% confirmed Donald Westlake sleaze novels. The next post will feature only two, somewhere between probably and almost certain. Two revelations, I think. Stay tuned.
Posts in this series
Nailing down the Westlake sleaze catalog, part IV: Bedside, Nightstand, Evening Reader (this post)