Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fiction: The Unhatched Egghead

(Ted Mark, Lancer Books, 1966)
Another winner from “Ted Mark", the man who brought you The Nude Who Never and A Hard Day’s Knight, not to mention I Was A Teeny-Bopper For The CIA. If it is of any relevance, The Unhatched Egghead is actually a lot better than Mark’s much more popular (and easier to find) The Pussycat Transplant – although the cover photograph is hardly half as attractive as the cover art of the latter publication.
The story is about Archimedes Jones, the son of loving and unbelievably rich parents, a young man in his late teens, a boy of genius intelligence, gifted in sciences and the arts, able to move smoothly between the world of hip young cats, big business industrialists, cerebral science and fine arts, but plagued by one problem: he’s a virgin. Revealing this to a lecherous scientist friend one evening, call girls get called to solve his problem, but before he can get both legs out of his trousers for some serious fun, a shot rings out and the story begins. His pal is dead, the call girls have disappeared and top secret papers revealing how gold can be gained from simple metals have vanished.
Archi decides to find out who killed his friend and save the gold standard (and thus the world, of course), and does so by following up the names he finds in the little black book of the dead man. Going from woman to woman, he experiences one “hilarious” adventure after the other, continually getting mere inches away from losing his cherry, but forever being stopped at the last second.
Is it funny? Well, more or less. The book probably won’t make you roll on the floor in laughter – or even laugh loudly, for that matter – but it is at least painless to read, goes at a quick pace and causes a slight chuckle on occasion. Like most of Mark’s books, The Unhatched Egghead is a dated attempt at a humorous updating of Voltaire’s Candide. Unlike most of his books, though, this Lancer edition has one fucking ugly cover photo – a cover that has little to do with the book’s contents. (As is, actually, normal for most of the cover illustrations to a Ted Mark book.)

Non-Fiction: Rascals in Paradise

James A. Michener & A. Grove Day, Fawcett Crest, 1983)
Originally printed in 1957, its reprint in 1983 had undoubtedly something to do with the author's unbridled success as a best selling novelist at the time. A perfect book for a precocious pre-teen youth who dreams of south sea adventure but gets bored by Errol Flynn movies. Other people might find it useful for learning the true events behind such legendary stories as The Mutiny on the Bounty, including the before, during and after. Modern purveyors of low culture will find the chapter on Leetag, the legendary American painter of black velvet kitsch that lived and partied in Tahiti. Easily five out of the 10 chapters of the book read as if they could make a damned exciting movie, if not a mini series. The chapters on "Charles !" and Dona Isabel make one sick to the stomach from disbelief and disgust, being yet more narratives proving that the stupid and evil always land on their feet. The stories would also make great films—though Hollywood would probably want to make Dona Isabel a nice person. The most un-understandable of all stories narrated is that of Will Mariner. Homesick or not, why a guy would want to give up all that which he managed to create on a dream island in exchange for the dull life (and death) he returned to in England defies comprehension. Well researched – as to be expected from a Michener book, non-fiction or not – with a thick bibliography, the book is an easy and informative read, both for those interested in the subject and those just looking for something entertaining to read while soaking in the tub.

True Crime: The Beauty Queen Killer

(Bruce Gibney, Pinacle, 1990)
Any regular reader of True Crime books should be familiar with Pinnacle Books and their never changing quality. True Jack Webb “Just the facts, Ma’am” publications, based mostly on newspaper research, fleshed out by police reports, normally lacking any on-site research or noticeable psychological insight. This book is no exception, right down the company’s tendency for second-rate editorial work: more than one sentence in this book is incomplete, more than one pronoun is indirect. (But then, what else can be expected from a company that even misspells its own name on the book’s cover, forgetting the second “n” in the word “Pinnacle.“)
First printed in 1984, the same year that the killings transpired and probably concurrently to some of the victim’s funerals, this book dryly narrates the 26+ day cross-country murder spree of Chris Wilder, an Australian-raised American builder. (Gibney refers to both a six-week, 47 day and 26 day time period, so take your pick.) Starting down in Florida, where he lived at the time, Wilder went on throughout the USA, killing a large number of young, hot looking all-American young women along the way before killing himself in a backwoods hamlet in Connecticut just as some police were about to bag him. The actual amount of murders and related sex crimes he may have committed is unknown, for there is more than enough evidence to suggest that he had been committing such crimes both in Australia and in the USA for many years previously, if not for much of his adult life. Easy reading padded with a totally unnecessary article about some True Crime Reporter’s less than successful use of a psychic to discover the unlocated bodies of two of Wilder’s victims, as well as the Psychological Reports made by the two shrinks who examined him prior to his final joy ride. That Wilder was one sick man is obvious, but the when, where, why, what and how he became so isn’t to be found in this book; even the psychological reports are not of much help, as they fail to agree on what’s going down in the man’s head. As to be expected, Gibney takes the easy if not somewhat true stance that American justice screwed up again by not realizing earlier just how sick this known sex-offender was and stopping him before he left his body strewn path across the 48 continental states. Regrettably, and also to be expected, he offers no feasible suggestions on what should be corrected—but then, that might be expecting too much from a supermarket pulp quickie like this one.
In any event, before you blow your hard-earned 50 cents at the next church swap meet on this piece of trash, go to this website for a better, more factual (and, needless to say, up-to-date) version of the events.

Pop Culture: Sci Fi TV – From the Twilight Zone to Deep Space Nine

(James Van Hise, Harper Non-Fiction, 1995)
Nothing special here – in fact, this by now long out-of-date paperback isn’t really worth the paper it is printed on. Indeed, one can only mourn for the trees that were wasted on this sycophantic time-waster. Van Hise's tastes run pretty mainstream, and seem to lack any appreciation of kitch or good bad taste, ala UFO. His "authoritative, magnificently opinionated guide to the first fabulous fifty years" is pretty thin reading, made quicker by the fact that my copy of the book was misbound and lacks pages 55 through 86 (but comes with two sets of pages 167 through 198). In truth, I doubt the missing pages would have improved the publication any. His style is painlessly poppy and reads easily, but most of the book consists of synopsises of his favorite episodes, the little criticism lacking depth or insight. But what makes this book trash is the last chapter, a paean to Deep Space Nine written before the program had even been aired. Okay, maybe Deep Space Nine did become the most interesting of all the Star Trek series – up until its extremely rushed and dissatisfying final episode – but to praise it before it has been on the air reeks of ass kissing or advertising residuals and casts a suspicious light to the whole book. Reference material this book will never be, but as paper to get the barbeque going it functions fine. If you see for sale at your local thriftstore, leave it there.

Non-Fiction (?): The Happy Hooker

(Xaviera Hollander, 1973, Dell Publishing Co.)
Another thrift store bookshelf staple, a long out of print relic from the past which made big, big waves when it first came out and went through numerous printings—17 between its first release in February 1972 and this copy printing in May 1973—but which has aged rather badly, though perhaps not quiet as badly that late 1960’s fictional account of the life of stewardesses, Coffee, Tea or Me, to which Hollander’s book shares many similarities in writing style, humor and illiberal “liberal” attitude. Most women probably don’t even know or remember who she is, while most men probably know or remember Xaviera only as the (former) progressive, hedonistic advice columnist from Penthouse, always ready with a racy sex story related to the question. Since her deportation years ago and gradual disappearance from any headlines but for the occasional supermarket tabloid’s, few Americans have probably ever actually read this book or any of the other myriad of straight-to-paperbacks she has written. Not to say that this book isn’t an entertainingly sleazy read, providing one merely skims most of the books last third. Oddly enough, from today’s point of view, in The Happy Hooker, Xaviera, possibly excepting her willingness to screw a dog and her dead-on-the-head-of-the-nail attitude about prostitution as a viable economic choice and phenomenon that will never go away, comes across not only somewhat conservative, but both judgmental and slightly messed up as well.
Much of what she writes seems questionable at best, sometimes in terms of its truth, other times in terms of its message. Her Daddy may have been a great guy, and walking around the house naked is normal, but doing so with a hard-on reeks of something other than fatherly love or actual fact—especially if her mother was the type to tell her to save her virginity for when she gets married. Likewise, not only does her description of nudist camps as fuck happy bacchanalian places to swing contradict my personal experience of rolling green acres decked out mostly with old, sagging or flabby flesh, but her claims that many a bored Westchester housewife earn pocket money and add a little excitement to their lives by working as a prostitute seems more sensationalist than realistic, especially when one considers that it must be their husbands who keep prostitutes hard at work (which, in turn, would mean that that hubby and wife’s paths must eventually cross). And if she really did get around to regularly porking her sister’s husband down in South Africa after deciding that the dog wasn’t enough, would she really stop the affair so her sister doesn’t figure it out, only to publish it some years later in a guaranteed best seller for the whole world to read? And let’s not even get into discussing her version of the events that led up to her getting busted, for surely, as she says, she never, ever, ever tried on her own to bribe any NYC cops into letting her run her business undisturbed.
Amongst the more glaring signs of how badly this book has aged is the ease in which she drops the derogatory “fag“ and even tries to lend substance to the absurd, unrealistic idea that “fags“ can be “cured“ by a good fuck with a good woman like her. In turn, it is also oddly disconcerting that a swinging, bisexual, nymphomaniac, hedonistic hooker that is not only willing to fuck a dog but also admits to having a special kink for popping the cherries of virgin teenagers (where was she when I was growing up?) should heap such a large amount of judgmental, derogatory slag upon kinky people whose fetishes are as inane as cross dressing, water sports, B&D, S&M and so forth. (Okay, maybe the concept of Hot Chocolate is sickening, but if one doesn’t forcefully hurt others, what they do is their thing.)
Probably the most factual aspect of The Happy Hooker is its presentation of men as being, for the most part, assholes who have little or no respect for women. But then, Hollander seems to have a fable for abusive relationships, for both her two big loves did little more than use her, abuse her, disrespect her and toss her aside.... interestingly enough, she in turn herself does all but the last to her (at the time) present boyfriend Larry, the first man in her book that actually seems to care for her. But then, unlike her other relationships of importance, he doesn’t have a big dick.
All in all The Happy Hooker is entertaining enough, with more than one salacious sex scene and a few interesting points. Regrettably, not only does it does get dull and repetitious after the first two thirds, but Hollander’s naiveté verges so much on being criminal, if not simply unbelievable, that after a while, she loses all sympathy of the reader. A little more common sense, self-insight and self-criticism wouldn’t hurt her. As it is, the book leaves a slightly distasteful aftertaste, much like a drinkable cheap wine beginning to go to vinegar.
Update: So where is she now? Try her website and find out. She done good for herself–all the power to her. Still, I wonder if she still thinks “fags” can be cured by a good hetro fuck. Many of her books have been updated and rereleased, including this one.
Images (all found on-line), top to bottom:
The cover of the recent printing.
An image of Xaviera being measured for a new bra.
Xaviera today, heavier but happy as always.
A photo collage of photos of Xaviera – the smaller black and white inserted one was taken from Earl Wilson’s non-scandalous book Show Business Laid Bare (Signet, 1974), in which she is incorrectly referred to as “Scandinavian”.

True Crime: Deadly Lessons

(Ken Englade, Grafton,1991)
Another book by Englade about another not so interesting murder that has none-the-less held US America's fascination for a long time – the murder even indirectly served as the inspiration to Gus Van Saint's popular film To Die For (1995).
Much like Englade's Beyond Reason, this book tells about yet another young, mildly attractive, mildly intelligent, cold-blooded fem fatale who convinces her boy-toy to murder for her. Unlike Beyond Reason, the dastardly deed takes place not amongst the well-bred families of the pedigreed upper class and international consuls, but rather, grovels smack dab in the middle of lower middle class and white trash New England. Likewise, unlike Englade’s other two-word titled volume, Deadly Lessons is readably short in length and utilizes a simplified vocabulary, much like any super market quickie, though Englade’s trademark wittily picturesque descriptive phrases still pepper the pages. The title Deadly Lessons is actually stretching the truth, for while Ice Princess Pam Smart did indeed work for the school administration in New Hampshire, she was never a teacher. The only lessons she gave (the at-the-time virgin) Billy Flynn once they met in 1990 were purely extracurricular.
Twenty three years old, unhappily married and oddly immature, Pam Smart used lies, money and 15-year-old Billy Flynn’s raging hormones to convince the young idiot to kill her husband, Gregg Smart. Wanting to keep the dog, the white sofa and the money from Gregg’s life insurance, Pam saw divorce as no option and ended up involving at least five young teenagers in the sordid and brutal shooting death of her unwanted husband. Needless to say, “murder want out“ and within three months the shit hit the fan and three youths plus Pam are on their way first to court and then to jail. Not very interesting a case, more sordid than unusual, which for the most part propagates the idea that there are a lot of stupid, cold-hearted egoists out there in the big bad world. Needless to say, she lost the dog, white sofa and the insurance money.

Update: Pam is still in jail and has a metal plate in her head from a beating she took for supposedly snitching on the lesbian relationship of two jail mates (Mona Graves and Ghania Miller). Pam will probably die in jail, but the various teenagers she involved will all be coming up for parole towards the end of the next decade. Maybe they’ve all learned their lesson...?

Fiction: The Pussycat Transplant

(Ted Mark, Berkley Medallion, 1968)
Truth be told, the best thing about this book is the cover, which features – as you can see above – a nicely painted illustration of a young, healthy, slim woman lying naked on a bed, her nether regions discreetly covered by a white towel, her long legs, flat stomach, hour glass figure, and pleasantly sized orbs free for all to see, a happy smile decorating her pleasant face. The book is a sequel to The Girl from Pussycat, also by “Ted Mark,” the author of untold trash from the 1950s to 1970s, including the nefarious but seldom read Man From O.R.G.Y. books, one of which was actually made (minus most of the sex) into a third-class Z-film in 1970 by James Hill, the director of the famed family film, Born Free (1966). Seldom screened anywhere, it is also known as The Real Gone Girls. Ted Mark is actually the pseudonym of at least one writer, possibly more. (This book is copyrighted to the American writer Ted Gottfried, born 1928, but the number books and articles attributed to Ted Mark is so large that the concept of one man writing it all is almost unimaginable – he would’ve had to have spent as much more time at a typewriter than Stephen King has at his computer, especially since Gottfired is known to have published under 4 or 6 other pseudonyms as well.)
Most of Mark’s books from the late 60s and early 70s feature the same type of hippie humor that Terry Southern specialized in his books Candy and The Magic Christian, but read more like cheap, badly written imitations penned by pubescent boys who giggle at the word sex. Hit or miss affairs, they can elicit an occasional chuckle, but generally they wear thin quickly and become annoying, the humor being as dated as it is childish.
In this book, like its forerunner, the heroine is hardly a “conniving female,” as described on the book’s back jacket, but, just like Terry Southern’s Candy, is rather a less than intelligent but physically attractive young chick who has gotten herself pregnant. In search of an illegal abortion (for those of you who don’t remember, it wasn’t always your right to have one), she ends up at the practice of a “Dr. Kilembrio” and his lesbian nurse “Miss Carridge” (Ha! Ha! – get the jokes?). In the sixties, lesbians were still perverts, so the reader gets treated to a rather unpleasant sex scene in which Mark goes into detail about the dirty fingernails of Miss Carridge as she “examines” Penny’s clitoris. Neither funny nor sexy, everything that comes afterwards seems almost anticlimactic. (Ha! Ha! – get the joke?) Penny gets popped into a furnace by Miss Carridge when the nurse mistakenly believes the practice is being raided, but Penny’s barbecued body gets pulled out early enough for them to transplant her brain into the body of a man upstairs (also named Penny) who just blew his brains out. Penny, her breasts gone “without so much as a thanks for the mammary,” spends the rest of the book getting use to her penis as she tries to find out why Mr. Penny stole a lot of dough from work and then killed himself.
Virtually every women in the book end up being killed by the book's end, as does (s)he – only to wake up at the end with her brain again newly transplanted into the body of yet another young pregnant woman, the father being the same man who had gotten her knocked up in the first place (and, actually, taken her virginity in the first book of the series, The Girl From Pussycat).
Anti-establishment satire? Hack writing paid by the word? Hilariously off the wall? Idiotically immature? Sexist? Modern? Well, take a guess, why donchya....

Fiction: Carter Brown – None but the Lethal Heart & The Tigress

(Signet Books)
As an addicted purveyor of both thrift stores and secondhand bookshops, I have been in stores selling used books in numerous states throughout the U.S.A. as well as in various cities in such countries as Germany, Holland, Ireland, Denmark, Spain, Czech Republic, France, Uruguay and Peru. (Of them all, outside of the US, oddly enough, the best book purchases are to be made in Holland, the Czech Republic and Uruguay.) On all those bookshelves and in all those boxes full of books I have dug around in throughout the world, it has never failed that somewhere amongst the numerous volumes of cheap romances and yesterday's bad bestsellers, a slim volume suddenly sticks out, habitually featuring an unbelievably amazing—if not downright erotic—cover illustration of a fabulously beautiful babe and with the name of the author, Carter Brown, flagged prominently across the top. Again and again I have stumbled upon well-worn paperbacks featuring this name, the striking covers of which are often matched by the equally catchy titles. A reluctance to fill my own bookshelves with books that so many other people obviously see no reason to save long kept me from throwing down the few quarters generally required to purchase a secondhand Carter Brown book.
Eventually, however, much like the less readily found novels of the once ubiquitous Ted Mark, the magnetic attraction of the covers and the hilariously playful titles convinced me to spend my hard earned small change and I finally bought two novels. It was the attractive and busty babe in a bikini with a loose top and on her knees that graces the cover of None but the Lethal Heart (Signet Books, third printing, 1959) that finally got me to spend my fifty cents. True, I had in the past seen many another much more exciting cover, but in the box I was digging in at the moment, it was the most attractive cover I saw. Further down there was a second Carter Brown novel entitled The Tigress (Signet Books, first printing, 1961), and though the cover was cheap and boring in comparison to that of None but the Lethal Heart (consisting of little more than a badly painted close-up of some redhead's eyes), I decided to play Rockefeller and splurge for both. Thus I came to own my first two Carter Brown novels.
Having read them, I can truly say that in as much as what one can gather by reading only two of an estimated 223 novels, the best thing about Carter Brown novels—like those of Ted Mark—seems to be the cover art on the books. But then, if he did indeed write all the publications credited to him, the man was a prolific writer, and as one knows, quantity can directly affect quality.…
Carter Brown is actually just one of five known names under which the English born Australian writer Alan Geoffrey Yates published. Born in London on August 1st, 1923, Yates served in the Royal Navy from 1942 to 1946 and then migrated to Australia in 1948, where he became a citizen. A one-time salesman, sound recordist and PR rep for an Australian airline company, Yates took up writing full time in 1953 and, though he died on May 5th 1985, his last Carter Brown book seems to have been 1981's The Wicked Widow. He reportedly published only one novel as A. G. Yates, a science fiction book entitled Coriolanus, the Chariot! Otherwise, he generally used the names "Carter Brown" or the two variations "Peter Carter Brown" and "Peter Carter-Brown", although one source claims that he also wrote some 38 gothic novels starting in 1966 under the pen name of "Caroline Farr". (A problem here is that a different source claims that "Caroline Farr" is the pen name of another writer named Richard Wilkes-Hunter, who also wrote under the pseudonyms "Tod Conrad" and "Alex Crane". But in as much that even some of the Carter Brown books are bannered with the statement "The Carter Brown Mystery Series" rather than "by Carter Brown", it is imaginable that more people than simply Yates himself might be answerable for the huge production of novels as a whole.)
Amongst the regular main characters that he repeatedly spun his stories about, the most popular seem to be "New York's toughest private eye" DANNY BOYD; the Hollywood private eye and "savior of blackmailed film starlets" RICK LARRY HOLMAN; the hard drinking and womanizing homicide lieutenant named AL WHEELER; and MAVIS SEIDLITZ, an extraordinarily proportioned private eye who is definitely not even half as intelligent as she is good looking. Oddly enough, despite the fact that Yates/Brown was writing from Australia, seemingly all of his novels are set in the United States. Equally ironic, none of his novels ever achieved the same level of popularity there that they did in Europe or down under.
The Tigress is a Wheeler book, None but the Lethal Heart a Mavis tale. Both are quickly paced, have their share of action and more than enough corpses and occasionally prepubescent humor, but neither is a masterpiece. Of the two, The Tigress reads quicker, but None but the Lethal Heart is more fun once you get past the P.I. notion of a pulchritudinous blonde airhead detective. Still, for all its sexism and infantile humor, the novel never goes to the extremes of a Ted Mark or Terry Southern novel, though Mavis is indeed such a innocent amongst the wolves that one cannot help but occasionally think of Southern's famed main character of his novel Candy, despite the fact that Southern's novel appeared some decade or more after Mavis debut in Honey, Here's Your Hearse (1955). Actually, it seems odd that Mavis Seidlitz has never been discovered by Hollywood, for it is easy to picture her in some garish, pop art comic film of the sixties or in something similar to the Austin Powers films that have as of recent been so popular. Or a television show in the style of the original Batman TV show—that would be groovy!
The Tigress is for all intents and purposes a disappointing book. The cover blurb says "The wanton redhead was like a female tigress stalking her mate… and she made fair game for a killer:" But the back blurb turns the concept around and indicates that the "dedicated siren in search of love" is the guilty party of the novel. Inside, The Tigress turns out to be one Tania Stroud, a nympho hot for any man, and while she is a suspect she is neither the most important character nor main object of Wheeler's womanizing ways. The book, which is built around the murder of a psychologist's girlfriend and involves a private club that is best described as a Plato's Retreat for the sexually adventurous (called "perverts" back when the book was written), is not half as funny as the author tries to make it, nor is it really all that mysterious or thrilling. While some of the images are catchy—like the dead gal lying in a grave, a murdered old dead guy found laying in a coffin, a sexy babe in a maid's outfit and the Tigress herself—the story flounders forwards with no real highpoints. Hardly hardboiled, the psychological mumbo-jumbo is tiresome, the true murderer is easy to figure out, the action hardly exciting enough to wake the reader up from the state of sleep most of the book induces. Yawn. If Wheeler is indeed the most popular of Carter Brown's characters, then one can only assume that The Tigress is one of the lesser works. Indeed, in comparison to such other titles as Lament for a Lousy Lover (1960), Blonde on the Rocks (1963) and A Corpse for Christmas (1965), even the title seems second rate.
Rather unlike None but the Lethal Heart, the title of which reads much more literate than the novel itself does. This time around Mavis, "the torrid blonde private eye gets stuck with a cold corpse that's too hot to handle." The editors that wrote the cover texts must have had a lot fun writing stuff like: "Here is a sizzling scorcher, a red-hot tale of murder and mayhem, chills and spills, and the daffiest detective work this side of a dizzy blonde bombshell…named Mavis." Unlike with Wheeler, Mavis is a completely humorous figure and the novel, though featuring a lot of characters and plot twists and action, is less a detective story than a screwball comedy. Mavis, whose breasts and figure seem to be surpassed only by her self-defense abilities, is the type of person who seemingly forgets that she knows how to use her fists, for though she'll beat some guy senseless in one scene, in the next one she'll just flail her arms around idiotically as the gentlemen save the day. Still, she is such a Candide amongst the wolves, so off-the-mark that she normally only succeeds in spite of herself, that the fun eventually begins to be shared by the reader. The book is definitely fast-paced, though the whipping scene does come across ever so slightly misogynistic, even if she does manage to make a payback. By the end off the novel, not only is the body still there (augmented by a few more), but the new government of Mexico still stands, as do our heroes. You won't role around the floor laughing when you read None but the Lethal Heart, but you might smile a few times.
One could argue that it is hard to place the merit of the man's output from reading only two of his novels, but in the case of Carter Brown, the argument is probably moot. Like the works of the raunchier Ted Mark or more anti-establishment Terry Southern, the novels of Carter Brown are a product of their time. Hardly what one would call great literature, but rather much closer to assembly-line product. A painless way to survive subway rides but nothing to write a term paper about, the best advice in regards to purchasing a Carter Brown book is probably "Go by the cover." If nothing else then, even if the book is lousy, at least you have some great cover art to enjoy…

Small Images: All taken from the web, these are examples of typical Carter Brown covers – none of which I yet have.

True Crime: Sex, Money and Murder in Daytona Beach

(Lee Butcher, Pinnacle Books, 1993)
Another book that proves that America is truly the land of the proud, the brave, the intelligent, the moral, the superior. In other words, more true crime idiocy, this time in the midst of the lowlife scum of the Daytona Beach boardwalk and the area's much better off Greek-American community. From page one it becomes obvious that there was no way in hell the idiots there were going to get away with it. Kosta Fotopoulos, a gun-happy fool with a definite superiority complex comes to the USA from Greece and ends up tying the knot with Lisa Paspalakis, a rich woman of Greek descent, heir (with her brother) to a money-making family business. Intelligent or not, likes so many a woman she obviously had no taste in men, for she definitely married the wrong one. Obsessed with becoming a crime king and assassin, Kosta read one too many comic books and copies of Soldier of Fortune, and tried to build his Crime Reich. Not satisfied with a ton of counterfeit money and the dough his wife would share with him, he bathed in the seamy side of the area and hooked up with an egotistical, self-centered but good looking psycho case named Deidre Hunt. It seems they told a thousand people of their plans to kill Lisa, and when they finally got around to implementing it, they did it with about as much finesse and success as Laurel & Hardy would have, had the latter couple had been psychopathic. What boggles the mind most when reading this book is how many people, both "respectable" and "non-respectable" seemed to know of Kosta's illegal activities or his plans but didn't do or say anything. Even Lisa comes across like either being a blind idiot or, at least in regards to Kosta's many activities, oddly complacent. As for all the lowlifes, well, there is no honor amongst thieves either it seems – nor brains – so no death, no confession, no witness is all that surprising. Somewhere along the way, Deidre shot an old friend to death for Kosta, who filmed it on video and then actually left the tape someplace where it was relatively easy to find, which of course happened after the ridiculous attempt on Lisa's life. Lisa now walks around with a bullet in her head, but she is alive, which can't be said of the dude who shot her. Kosta nailed him before he left the bedroom, a bullet through the head, execution style. Typical of people who believe themselves superior to everyone around them, the two made a thousand mistakes along the way that guaranteed their eventual conviction. A quick read and unbelievable story, with the typical amount of typos and general bad proof reading expected in a Pinnacle publication.

Update: Kosta Fotopoulos lost his February 15, 2008 attempt to get off death row when a prior reversal in the case was overturned, which now brings Fotopoulos one step closer to never-never land. His ex-wife Lisa has since remarried, and Deidre Hunt’s death sentence has been converted into a life sentence (she is now prisoner DC# 161918 at Homestead Correctional Institution).

Images: (Top to bottom, and, as always, trawled from the Web): The book cover, a thinner and older Kosta, and Deidre Hunt smiling for the camera.

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