After Brian Evenson's weird and effective The Open Curtain I thought I'd be in the mood for something lighter, maybe something old, maybe something pulpy (or paperbacky). I have tons of old paperbacks in my shelves, but not enough to time for them. So I thought I'd read one.
I read two or three westerns by Frank Castle when I was doing my book on American westerns paperbackers called Kuudestilaukeavat ("Six Guns" in English) and liked them well enough to try one of his crime novels. I picked up Lovely and Lethal, a Gold Medal paperback from 1957, and started it - and pretty soon dropped it and moved on to something else.
Lovely and Lethal is a bit like a private eye novel, but the hero of the book, one Jeff Normand, is actually a lawyer moving to a small town and getting acquainted with both the high society and the low-life of the place pretty quickly. He meets a beautiful dame, whose sister had possibly killed herself, but in odd circumstances. Normand starts to unravel the mystery behind the sister's death.
Castle's prose style is flat and not very interesting, not even very hardboiled, though I remember his westerns were pretty tough. The characters in Lovely and Lethal are pretty much stock. There's too much talk, not enough action. So Lovely and Lethal proved a bit boring and thought I'd read something else instead. And the book has a boring cover. Where's Robert McGinnis when you need him? There are enough sultry babies in the book to warrant a nice GGA cover!
Here's my earlier post on Frank Castle and his later crime novel "Sowers of the Doom" that seems to have been published only in Finland, and here's Castle on Steve Lewis's MysteryFile blog. I'm beginning to think that the book published in Finland only was the last one on Castle's career, unless he moved on to markets where he used only pseudonyms, writing porn or some such, and the pseudonyms have never come to light.
I'm now reading Michael Marshall's The Straw Men and enjoying it more.