Pulp Friday: double shot of Gil Brewer

“She lit a fuse inside men.”

Last time I featured Gil Brewer on Pulp Friday, it resulted in a spirited Twitter discussion as to who was the quintessential hard-boiled pulp author, Brewer or Donald Westlake aka Richard Stark.

Personally, my votes goes to Westlake/Stark on account of his Parker books.

But I do love Brewer’s sleazy psychological take on pulp fiction. He’s also a case of life imitating art. He died in 1983, after years of alcoholism, mental health problems and financial stress. And Like most of the most accomplished pulp novelists, he only gained critical attention well after his death.

Both the titles featured today were published by Monarch Books, based in Derby, Connecticut, Play It Hard in 1964 and Wild To Possess (“She lit a fuse inside men”) in 1963.

It looks like Brewer was in good company in the Monarch stable of pulp writers. As the advertisement on the inside back cover of Wild To Possess states, you could buy these two Brewer titles and three other Monarch pulps for just $1.50. That’s value, especially given that among the titles to choose from were The Key Game “A fast moving exhilarating story of emotional fadism among uninhibited married couples”, and The Lolita Lovers,  a “dramatic novel of the ‘beat’ generation living and loving by thir own rules in a teeming asphalt jungle”.

The back cover blurb for Play It Hard is a great example of the sort of twisted  tales Brewer churned out.

“Girl in skin-tight suit.

She wore Jan’s skin-tight clothes, Jan’s provocative scent, and had all of Jan’s built-in equipment for driving men crazy. But she made love like no woman Steve Nolan had ever known – including Jan, his wife of less than a week.

But how could he prove she wasn’t Jan when the girl swore she was his wife – and none of his friends had met his real pick-up bride?

Steve suspected someone was out to get him, using this provocative sex bomb as bait. And when the girl he’d really married was found brutally murdered, he had to move fast – before the police got to him first.” 


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