Mon 29 Aug 2016
KERMIT JAEDIKER – Hero’s Lust. Reprinted in A Trio of Lions, Stark House Press, softcover, 2016, in a “Classic Noir” collection with The Man I Killed, by Shel Walker, and House of Evil, by Clayre & Michel Lipman. Introductions by Gary Lovisi and Dan Roberts. Originally published as a paperback original: Lion #156, 1953.
The connection between the three novels in this recent collection from Stark House is that while nobody but the most fanatic paperback collector will have heard of any of them, including the authors who wrote them, they are also prime examples of the toughest, most hardboiled fiction you can find outside the line of Gold Medal paperbacks being published (and far more well-known) at the same time, roughly 1949-1957.
If ever a book could be both hardboiled and noir at the same time, Kermit Jaedicker’s Hero’s Lust would be it, ranking close to a ten on both scales, out of ten. What’s more, it manages to be both without even being a crime novel, unless you consider graft and city corruption a crime, which I suppose it is. I stand corrected.
The story is that of newspaper reporter Red Norton, who’s wholly in the pocket of Crescent City’s crime boss, Mayor Gowan, who’s up for re-election, but with the money he has and the favors he can hand out, who can stand a chance against him? Well, maybe there is someone, and Norton is semi-recruited by an old colleague and a semi-friend to work on the side of the opposition.
But Red doesn’t recruit that easily, even going so far as to go along with a double-cross. But as fate would have it, as in the best noirish fashion, there is a girl, a TB patient who is going to undergo an operation and whom Red is writing a series about. Ann Porter is a sweet young thing, and pretty soon Red has her convinced that life is worth living after all. Is Red able to respond in equal fashion?
A lot of things come together at the end of this rather intense tale that I would have you read than tell you any more about. Jaediker has an almost crude, definitely unpolished writing style that is extremely effective for the book at hand. If you are like me, you will be reading the final few chapters as fast as you can turn the pages.
As for what is known about the author, there is a long column about him on the Mystery Writers of American website. If I’ve intrigued you a bit about the book, the column will intrigue you as greatly about Jaediker himself.