Pulp Friday: The Smashers

The smashers“A novel of The Organisation – girls, horses, dope, murder.”

Regular readers will be familiar by now with my admiration for the late Donald Westlake. Westlake was the hard boiled writer’s hard-boiled crime writer, having penned numerous books over his career, including the wonderful Parker novels under the pseudonym of Richard Stark.

Today’s Pulp Friday is one of Westlake’s early efforts, The Smashers, aka The Cutie, aka The Mercenaries. This edition is the first Dell publication in 1960.

The Smashers was Westlake’s official fiction debut under his real name. His previous fiction efforts, like those of his peer Lawrence Block, were soft porn paperbacks written under other names (here’s a nice post on one of these titles Back Stage Love – “The Shocking expose of what goes on behind the scenes at a summer stock theatre”).

The Smashers is the story of Clay, the right hand man of New York mob boss Ed Ganolese. Clay gets a late night call from a junkie with a dead woman on his hands and the police on his tail. The junkie claims he’s innocent and because he’s connected to Ganolese, Clay has to adopt the role of a PI and find out who the real killer is.

It’s an early and interesting take on the criminal as protagonist that Westlake was subsequently to perfect with his Parker books.

I think you’ll agree the cover art is great. The back cover blurb is short and to the point:

“The blistering story of a syndicate overlord, the men who enforce his private law, and the women who answered his personal calls…”

I must confess this is one of the few Westlake books I haven’t read. That’s something I plan on rectifying sooner rather than later.

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2 Responses

  1. Wow, this looks like a good one. I’m going to try to track it down as well. Any idea why the title has kept changing? And is this something Westlake was OK with? Or is it just a publisher’s whim? ~ Mark

  2. Yeah, it’s great isn’t it. I could see a good photograph based on that cover…

    Re the title – The US version was The Smashers. Penguin brought it out several years later under the title, The Mercenaries. Hard Case Crime published it a few years ago as The Cutie. I’m not sure why the title was changed so many times, probably just marketing. Westlake was a professional writer, I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded what it was called as long as it was being publishing and the green was coming in.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Andrew

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