Greg Shepard of Stark House and I have been working for many months on the first Three-Fer, three out of print paperbacks that deserve republication. Nice to know that our first review comes from David Pitt at Booklist and that's starred.
*STAR*Marlowe, Dan J. and others The Vengeance Man/Park Avenue Tramp/The Prettiest Girl I Ever Killed. May 2007. 400p. Stark House, $23.95 (1-933586-14-1).
Three long-out-of-print novels originally published by Gold Medal Books in the 1950s and 1960s are reprinted here. Taking them in reverse order, Charles Runyon’s The Prettiest Girl I Ever Killed is about a man determined to prove his brother is innocent of murder and who winds up in the crosshairs of the real—and manically determined—killer. Fletcher Flora’s Park Avenue Tramp lives up to the seediness of its title by telling the story of a married woman who falls in love, and her husband, who usually puts up with her wandering eye, decides he’s taken quite enough. These two novels (by authors who are, sadly, largely forgotten today) are beautiful examples of pulp fiction: sardonic, fast-paced, and tightly plotted, with tough-speaking men and beautiful, deceptive women. But it is Marlowe’s magnificent The Vengeance Man that is this three-in-one book's headliner, and all by itself it’s more than worth the price of admission. The tale of a man so hungry for power and status that he will let no one, including his own wife, stand in his way is just plain riveting. Brutally violent, sexually explicit, and completely wicked, the novel reads like Marlowe was tapping directly into the dark side of his mind, the place where all the secret fantasies live, and where there is no such thing as inhibition or self-control. The novel is a masterpiece and deserves—no, demands—to be read by every mystery fan. —David Pitt