RETRIBUTION: Fourteenth in a Series of Jess Williams Westerns (A Jess Williams Western Book 14)
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Allison, Clyde William H. Knoles, ranks among the more talented and tragic figures to come through the paperback jungle. Like many. Knoles, like Westlake and the others, began fulfilling assignments for various adventure and erotic magazines, and later graduated to writing softcore sex novels for such publishers as Midwood Books. Knoles, unlike some of the better-known Meredith authors, never found his way to more upscale assignments. According to the paperback historian Lynn Munroe, who discovered much of what is known about the mysterious writer, Knoles was manic-depressive and his mental health problems no doubt hindered his attempts to break out of the sleazy paperback ghetto, despite his apparent talent.
After already turning out perhaps as many as sexy softcover novels—the exact number of titles in his bibliography remains a mystery—Knoles began to write the books that would earn him his reputation. The books were funny, hip, and sexy as hell. Twenty of the books were written and published in the space of four years, with as many publishing imprints, all small time. But that was not to be. Late in , he killed himself with a razor to his throat. The delightful books are now some of the most sought-after vintage paperbacks, and in fine condition they may command a higher price than the author was originally paid to write them.
Indeed, the books can be seen as out-of-sync hangovers from the earlier era, particularly Swamp Sister, almost a nostalgia item from the years when rural vixens were briefly considered major erotic icons and numerous paperback pros chronicled their misadventures. But if Alter seemed to have missed the heyday of his subgenres, the two books were at least excellent examples of their benighted kind.
Swamp Sister centers on the hot-to-trot denizens of a slimy backwoods community, the alluring young woman of the title, the boy who covets her, and the lost fortune in cash buried in an aircraft crashed in the swamp and surrounded by alligators and deadly snakes. Alter died suddenly at the age of 40, and some of his later works were published for the first time many years after his death.
Ambler, Eric Alter is remembered chiefly for two novels, paperback originals from the s. Swamp Sister and Carny Kill , both Fawcett Gold Medal books played out against classic low-class milieus of sleazy softcover fiction in the early s: the southern swamp in the first and the traveling car-.
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Ambler, Eric certainly among the first few authors to establish the boundaries and possibilities for such a genre. Sporting left-wing sympathies and, after World War II, a jaded middle-of-the-road political stance , he brought an iconoclastic sensibility to what had been a hidebound form of popular fiction, either mindless action and intrigue or earnest patriotic adventure.
He was also, not incidentally, a writer of great skill and wit, whose best work was colorful, insidiously amusing, and ineffably cool. Ambler, whose first novel was published in , and who was still working into the s, bridged the gap between the old world spy fiction of E. Born in London and educated at London University, Ambler first considered a career in engineering, then pursued a burgeoning flair for words as a copywriter at an advertising agency. He had moved up to creative director by the time of the publication of his first two novels, The Dark Frontier and Uncommon Danger , brought out in America by Alfred A.
Knopf as Background to Danger. These were followed by Epitaph for a Spy and Cause For Alarm, like the first two, suspense novels with continental settings. With a third and fourth novel published, Ambler had enjoyed sufficient success to quit the advertising grind and devote all his time to writing novels. Already, Ambler had separated himself from the English spy story traditions. He chose to stay away from professional espionage agent heroes, preferring ordinary people caught up in strange circumstances, or footloose characters journalists, writers, adventurers.
He also showed. In the end, in a slowly anticipated but blissfully satisfying plot development, the two planes come together, with Latimer facing down a figure seemingly back from the dead: Dimitrios himself.
The story climaxes in a welter of suspense, a final blackmail plot, a fight to the death, and two bloodsoaked bodies in a back-alley Paris apartment. Ambler concludes with a signature irony: like an appalled Alice backing away from all she has seen down the rabbit hole, Latimer flees the secret world he has uncovered the world of ruthless criminals, ubiquitous corruption, global events controlled by international corporations and paid assassins and returns to the comforting unreality of his next cozy mystery plot, another gentle murder in the country vicarage.
The contacts and experience he gained would lead to screen writing work for British and American movie companies. Ambler returned to novel-writing after the war, but his comeback novels Judgment on Deltchev and The Schirmer Inheritance , contemporary tales of intrigue, lacked the old zest. More readable were a series of light suspense adventures Ambler wrote with Charles Rodda under the pen name of Eliot Reed. Passage of Arms was even better, with a more intricate plot and big cast of colorful characters in a story about gun-running and revolution in Malaya and environs.
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The narrator is Arthur Abdel Simpson, a hapless and hopelessly untrustworthy Anglo-Egyptian roustabout, parttime tour guide, pimp, and pornographer. In Greece, Simpson not quite innocently comes into the employ of a gang plotting to rob the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul. Simpson, in the dark, thinks he is working for terrorists and is forced to be a secret agent for the Turkish police, before ultimately joining the jewel thieves in their ingenious heist.
This was a.
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In the same jauntily cynical frame of mind, Ambler produced his next novel, and his last great work, The Intercom Conspiracy, the story of a muckraking newsletter published in Switzerland that is used as a front for extorting payoffs from foreign intelligence agencies. This obscure hard-boiled novelist deserves greater acclaim as a rare female holding her own amidst an otherwise fraternal order of hack crime fiction writers in postwar Britain.
By she was comfortably ensconced with Scion Ltd.
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Her screenplay credits include at least one notable work, Beat Girl , directed by the singular Herbert Greville. Works Calling Mr. Anderson, Edward — Anderson was one of the writers of the s who found inspiration and literary success in the travails of the Great Depression. His two novels, published within a couple of years of each other, remain among the small body of work that appears to have truly captured the feelings of the American underclass in those dark days: the aimlessness, resentment, and desperation that left many wandering the country as hoboes, and some turning to a life of crime.
Born in Weatherford, Texas, Anderson grew up in various towns in that state and in Oklahoma. He began working for newspapers as a teenager, and by the time he was 25 he had held jobs on about two dozen papers around the Southwest. Anderson then hit the road, spending a year as a hobo, riding the rails, begging for handouts, eating in soup. His experiences resulted in a huge stack of notes that slowly became a novel called Hungry Men, the picaresque adventures of Acel Stecker, an out-of-work musician— his aimless hoboing on freight trains, his odd jobs, his love affair with an unemployed New York typist.
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They featured the same sort of lurid, oil-painted covers of voluptuous women in distress, but inside the stories were held to be strictly factual, narrative retellings of actual crimes, mostly murders, with real and staged photographs as illustrations. It was a story about bank robbers, the kind of young people like Bonnie and Clyde and Pretty Boy Floyd, who had turned to crime because there seemed to be no other way to survive, and whose exploits made them folk heroes among the poor and dispossessed. The bandit has more guts. Anderson wrote of a gang of bandits—Bowie, Chicamaw and T-Dub—roaming the Texas-Oklahoma byways, small-time criminals who dream of robbing enough for a small grubstake and money to pay for their burial.
At first, however, the author had trouble finding a publisher for it, and considered rewriting it for the true-detective magazines.
Stokes Anderson managed to secure a screenwriting job in Hollywood. He passed some time in the movie capital, working for Paramount and Warner Bros. He returned to newspapering while trying to find the material, and the energy, to write another book, but he was on a downhill slide. His alcoholism and sometimes bizarre behavior made him increasingly unemployable even on the small-town papers where he looked for work.
A well-received film adaptation of Thieves Like Us, directed by Nicholas Ray and released in under the title of They Live By Night, and subsequent paperback reprintings of the novel, did little to resurrect his name. He died in obscurity, working at a Texas border town paper. Andrews, V. Andrews has attracted a devoted and usually young following for her strange, perverse stories of madness, revenge, horror, family curses, and eternal love. The book read like a cross between a Grimm fairy tale and an episode of The Jerry Springer Show, had such a forum for the grotesque love affair and dysfunctional family existed then.
The novel concerns the tragic and sociopathic Dollanganger family. A widowed mother with her four young children in tow is forced to return to Foxworth Hall, the grand manor house of her wealthy parents. Years of abuse and neglect follow, times of horror, fear, death, and a sexual coming of age that results in a loving—yet damning—act of incest. No great literary stylist, and with a story line that left some critics repulsed or contemptuous, Andrews nevertheless connected deeply with millions.
To the susceptible, Andrews had endowed her cruel nightmare with an emotional force that haunted many readers. Flowers in the Attic and the sequels that followed found their largest audience among young teens. Like Stephen King, Andrews was an adult whose fears and fantasies made a particularly direct connection with the adolescent mind. Five volumes comprised the Dollanganger sequel, including the prequel, Garden of Shadows,. Andrews published seven novels in all, and had written notes and outlines for many more when she died.
Not many people had been aware that V. Andrews suffered a fall as a year-old girl and remained on crutches or in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She lost her father when she was 20, lived with her mother, and never married. Writing for many years without success, she had piled up a large number of rejected manuscripts before Flowers in the Attic was accepted for publication. Andrews died of cancer in , a brief seven years after she became a published and popular author. With such a rabid fan base for the deceased, family members worked with her publishers to continue producing fiction under the V.
Andrews name. A hired hand, Andrew Neiderman, was assigned the task of writing new novels that captured the gothic modern romanticism and shocking melodrama of the originals. He has been at various times, and often concurrently, a millionaire businessman, a writer of best-selling pop fiction, the youngest elected member of Parliament, a life peer with a seat in the House of Lords, a flashy art collector, a telegenic media pundit and controversial talking head, the star of headline-making sexual and business controversies, and a convict.
After receiving his degree—in sports education, ordinarily intended for future gym teachers—from Oxford, he was soon running a successful public relations company.
At 29 the Conservative Archer won a seat in Parliament, but five years later he was compelled to give up his rising political position when he became attached to a major business scandal involving fraud and massive economic losses. To recoup his own great losses and to set the record straight, he wrote a novel about grand scale revenge with a background of international finance and embezzlement. Published in , Not a Penny More, Not a. Penny Less, with a compellingly readable story line and a large cast of colorful and glamorous characters, was a best-seller in Britain and America.
In addition to providing easily-consumed stories with crackling plotlines and strong characters, Archer understood the rising value of media savviness and personal promotion.