Fri 30 Oct 2009
THOMAS WILLS – You’ll Get Yours. Lion #87, paperback original; 1st printing, June 1952. 2nd printing: Lion LB129, November 1956. Also published as by William Ard: Berkley D2037, pb, 1960.
This was the second novel of William Ard, a popular suspense writer of the fifties who is mostly forgotten today. While Ard’s first book, The Perfect Frame (1951) was a good-humored Eye thriller somewhat in the style of Richard S. Prather, this one owes its stylistic inspiration to quite another source.
The publisher’s blurb calls Wills: “Fast as Hammett, sharp as Chandler, tough as Spillane,” while actually, in its treatment of lowlife types caught up in a sordid web of greed and lust which they themselves barely comprehend, You’ll Get Yours is most obviously patterned after the work of James M. Cain.
It’s as if Cain set out to write a private eye novel. At least, that’s how Ard probably intended it.
Barney Glines, a poor but honest private eye, is called in to deliver the payoff for a beautiful millionairess who is trying to buy back some stolen jewelry. Things go wrong, naturally, and before long Glines is caught up almost over his head in a nasty case of drugs and murder, and manages to fall in love with the millionairess along way.
The writing is pure Cain, terse and hardboiled, utterly lacking the humor of Ard’s first book. The plotting is also Cainesque. The book is not primarily about a crime or crimes being solved, but about a group of people hurtling themselves headlong toward their own self-destruction.
Unfortunately, any suspense inherent in such a storyline is sabotaged by the singularly foolish device of telling most of the book as a flashback — after the identity of the villain (and his fate) have been made obvious in the first chapter!
Certainly Glines is a minor creation, in no way as memorable or believable as Ard’s major eye, Timothy Dane, himself the protagonist of nine fine novels.
Sure, Ard does an adequate job of imitating Cain, but so what? Who needs imitations? Although I’ve likened Ard’s previous book to Prather, Ard was very much his own man; a superb plotter and stylist in his own right. This one has all the earmarks of a hurriedly produced script to earn Ard some extra pocket money in between his more notable genre work.
Lion Books itself was an often seedy, bottom line paperback house of the early fifties, and collectors of old paperbacks will know what I mean when I say that You’ll Get Yours could just as easily have been published by Ace Doubles or Gold Medal. Packaging and content are practically identical.
Rate this one a near miss from a first-rate hardboiled writer.
The most entertaining portion of the book, for me, was the description of an exotic dancer’s striptease in a club. One half of the girl is made up as a woman, slinky gown, gaudy makeup, all of that. The other half, from head to toe straight down the middle, is made up as a man; short hair, suit, the whole bit.
The number consists of the male half trying to feel up and strip down the female half, with the female half desperately fighting off the advances. Now that’s exotic!