Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Forgotten Books: Scandal on The Sand by John Trinian; Top Suspense Group

Forgotten Books: SCANDAL ON THE SAND by John Trinian

John Trinian was a working name of Zekial Marko. He was a former
convicted criminal who started publishing when he got out of jail
in the early sixties. His first novel was under his real name
(Scratch a Thief, Fawcett Gold Medal 1961, also as Once a Thief),
after which he started using the pseudonym. As Trinian, he
published five or six novels with various paperback houses, such
as Pyramid. Scratch a Thief is an excellent novel, you should try it. That's
the only book I've read by him, sadly, so I can't comment on the
others. -- Juri Nummelin (on Rara-Avis)

Ed here:

Further information on Trinian has him writing for The Rockford Files and other TV shows. While I don't think he was as good as Malcolm Braly, another Gold Medal author who served hard time, I do think his novels had both a lyrical and sexual aspect that we don't find in most of Braly.

I just finished Trinian's SCANDAL ON THE SAND (1964) and I have to say that it offers just about everything I ask for from a novel. A unique story, a strong voice, a definite worldview and several compelling characters, most notably the rich young woman at the book's center, Karen Fornier.

A dying killer whale washes up on a stretch of deserted Southern California beach. Karen, hungover and dismal that she finally gave into the childish wanna-be macho man Hobart, the one her parents would like her to marry...she leaves their beach motel hoping to lose him. Wandering along the beach she finds the whale and for her its appearance is almost religious. The way she bonds with it is moving and is a credit to Trinian's skill.

Hobart insists that the whale is dead and should be cut up for cat food. He finds a sinister, arrogant young cop, Mulford, who agrees with him. Mulford orders a tow truck to come in and drag it away. He then orders Hobart and Karen to leave the area. Hobart sees in the harsh machismo of Mulford everything he's secretly wanted to be, that not even his considerable inheritance could buy him. He sides with Mulford and tries to drag Karen away. But she defies them both and stays. Not even when the whale proves to be alive will Mulford stop the tow truck. He says he'll shoot the whale.

All this is being observed from close-by a hood named Bonniano who is to meet a runner who will give him enough money to escape to Mexico. Bonniano is in the news for being a hit man who last night iced a prominent mob figure. Everybody's looking for him.

These and others play into the story of whale on the beach. The character sketches show the influences of Sherwood Anderson and John O'Hara and the cutaways to life on the beach bring the 1964 era alive. Boys wearing white clam digger pants--girls lying about in pink bikinis with transistor radios stuck to their ears--and just about everybody managing to grab themselves a little marijuana whenever the opportunity comes up...all this being the lull before the flower power storm that was less than two years away.

A cunning little book. Trinian was the real deal.

-------------------------------------Top Suspense Group

Last night I posted information about The Top Suspense Group. Since I'm part of it I can hardly offer a balance opinion but I will say that if you're looking for some really good e books are reasonable price, head to our website.

-------------------------------------Peter Sagal

I always spend Saturdays listening to Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me on NPR. In format it's like old time radio's live audience participation quiz shows with two exceptions--there' a panel of smart ass celebrities (numerous authors, comedians and actors) and all the innuendo would have gotten them thrown off the air back in the thirties and forties.

Peter Sagal is the host and he's quicker, smarter and wittier than all the late night boys combined.

Last Saturday he invited a guy who'd written a history of Wisconsin on the show. (The show often comes from Wisconsin towns.) He naturally wanted the guy to hit some of the highlights that would interest and amuse people. The guy was irritating. Sagal would say how about the story about--and the guy would say "Nah, that's too long" or "Nah, that isn't that interesting." He really knew how to move books.

Finally Sagal cleverly led him into telling the story of a Catholic community/outpost way out in the wilds in the middle eighteen hundreds. Visitors would always remark that while some Catholics were persecuted in other areas these Catholics seemed to be extremely happy. Well, there was a reason for that. Entire families guzzled a drink called Fox River Elixir. They probably drank it while they were erecting some very beautiful churches and creating a very pretty little town. Happy and industrious. Americana.

Sometime in the 1860s (I think this was the date) a scientist decided to analyze Fox River Elixir which had about it a "sanctified" air because some of the imbibers felt it had "holy properties." Well, if holy meant a drink that was fifty percent river water, thirty per cent very heavy wine and twenty per cent cocaine, a bottle of this and you'd be on your way to the pearly gates.

But even that isn't the kicker. Somewhere in the 1870s the people at Fox River Elixir got whatever Pope was wearing that skyscraper hat to endorse the product in a print ad! The ad ran in newspapers. Sagal said "I'm not sure which Pope but it was but it was probably one of those Leos. I never trusted those guys."

Mind boggling. A Pope hawking booze and cocaine. I wonder if he got a cut.


Fred Blosser said...


Follow-up to the discussion about John Flynn's movies a couple of weeks ago ----

Out this week from Warner Archive as a print-on-demand DVD-R, THE OUTFIT. The visual quality on these Warner Archive releases, at least the ones I've seen, is pretty good. Downside: they're bare-bones, so they lack the extras you might find on a regular DVD release (as in this case, the alternate ending they used to show in the TV print).,default,pd.html?cgid=ARCHIVENEW

The TCM blog ran a lengthy article this week on ROLLING THUNDER. The writer offers some perceptive comments and includes great stills and poster art. There is a minor typo where the article refers to the director as "Joe Flynn." I thought that was inadvertently funny, although it probably wouldn't mean anything to anyone other than us old-timers who remember the dithering comic actor in McHALE'S NAVY forty-plus years ago.

I was going to comment about John Trinian with some observations on THE BIG GRAB and its movie version, ANY NUMBER CAN WIN, but I'll need to brush up first.

Matt said...

Cosmic weirdness. I read John Trinian's The Big Grab on a plane today.

Bill Pronzini said...

I like Trinian/Marko's novels too. Although I didn't like him the one time I met him: something of a nasty drunk. He was the brother of Kenn Davis, who wrote the Carver Bascombe PI novels for Gold Medal and co- wrote, with John Stanley, BOGART 48.

Matt Paust said...

And thus was born the idea for Coca Cola?

Must keep an eye peeled for Trinian. But only after reading Ed's "Stranglehold," which should be arriving any day.

Ed, is the new McCain novel coming out next month? I have a McCain jones.

Ed Gorman said...

BAD MOON RISING, the next McCain, will be out in the spring of 2011, thanks for asking.

Todd Mason said...

Picking it up when it arrives. Will check those e-books.

Do you ever give any time to Harry Shearer's LE SHOW? I suspect you'd enjoy it.

And, of course the Pope got a cut...though I doubt the advertisers at that time worried too much about getting his permission for the ad featuring him...