Book Quote:

“Mr. Harsh, the only way I will deal with you is to buy you. I do not care to work with you on any other basis. I buy you or nothing. You are a cheap man, so buying you will not be expensive. Get it straight—I buy you, or I have nothing to do with you.”

Book Review:

Review by Guy Savage (NOV 7, 2009)

In Honey In His Mouth from pulp author Lester Dent, Walter Harsh is a nomadic, small-time grifter who makes a tenuous living selling photographs. Partnering with whichever woman he happens to be involved with, and working under the guise of National Studios of Hollywood, Harsh moves from town-to-town hustling customers to buy more photographs than they’d planned to when they “won” the free 8×10 portraits. It’s a low rent, sleazy operation, but it’s a living. Unfortunately, Harsh ripped off a supplier to the tune of $720 for photographic supplies. So when the supplier spots Harsh in a gas station, he’s out–not just for his money–but revenge too on the “thieving bastard” who took him for an idiot.

The car chase ends with Harsh in hospital with a broken arm. At first Harsh thinks he’s lucky to be alive, but when Harsh’s story doesn’t quite add up, a nosy sheriff begins sniffing for the truth, and Harsh, stuck in hospital recuperating–is worried that he’ll end up in the slammer.

As the net tightens around Harsh, suddenly his luck seems to change. Fellow grifter and accomplice, the avaricious, “well-stacked little trollop” Vera Sue shows up at the hospital along with a man known only as “Brother.” Brother presents Harsh with an offer of an unspecified job for $50,000. Harsh may be desperate, but he’s no fool. Every attempt to question Brother leads to a dead end, but since the sheriff is still pushing for answers, Harsh finds himself blackmailed into going along with Brother’s plans…whatever they may be….

Harsh soon finds himself a “guest” in a sprawling, beachside Florida villa, staring at the safe that contains his $50,000, but this $50,000 is just a chunk of what’s really at stake. The problem is that with a pot worth millions, everyone has their own ideas of who “deserves” the loot and who should get the biggest cut. None of the players trust each other, everyone has a separate and secret game afoot, and many old scores have yet to be settled.

Thrown into this classic noir plot is a womanizing South American dictator who models himself on Mussolini (one of his heroes), a handful of the dictator’s “trusted” advisors who’ve been busy transferring the dictator’s misappropriated funds to American banks, and Miss Muirz, the dictator’s beautiful but pissed-off discarded mistress. This avaricious, vicious blend of characters all appear in Honey In His Mouth–the story of a small time grifter who may very well have hit the big time.

Honey In His Mouth was originally written in 1956–just three years before the book’s author, Lester Dent died. Dent is one of the great pulp fiction writers of the 20th century who is best remembered for his most famous fictional creation, Doc Savage. But while Doc Savage is a larger-than-life fictional hero, Walter Harsh is a morally corrupt, nasty piece of work who rightly belongs between the pages of a noir novel.

This is the first ever publication of Dent’s novel, and once again it’s thanks to the dedication of Hard Case Crime that these lost gems see the light of day. For noir, crime and pulp fans, Hard Case Crime is a great, inexpensive way to discover new and almost-forgotten authors.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-5-0from 3 readers
PUBLISHER: Hard Case Crime (September 29, 2009)
REVIEWER: Guy Savage
AMAZON PAGE: Honey in His Mouth
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Wikipedia page on Lester Dent
Lester Dent, Doc Savage Novelist
EXTRAS: Excerpt

Fake I.D. by Jason Starr

Killing Castro by Lawrence Block

Quarry in the Middle by Max Allan Collins

Bibliography (currently in print only):

November 7, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Thriller/Spy/Caper

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