EDWARD ADLER – Living It Up. Ace S-114, paperback original, 1955. Cover art by Verne Tossey.

   Buried pulp treasure.

   Living It Up opens in David Goodis territory, with Joe Rodick in a spot labor hall, waiting with a bunch of winos and Bowery bums looking for work. He gets hired on at the Haven, a summer resort in the Catskills owned by Abe Sole, a hard-ass businessman with a lovely wife. And we can feel trouble coming just pages away.

   But in fact, Adler lets things stew for a few chapters while he limns a world of toil and trouble, populated by toilers transient and temporary, with their eyes on the monthly paycheck and the binge that awaits when they get it. He paints a word picture of manual labor — scrubbing, painting, roofing, digging, repairing and construction — so vivid I felt my back ache. And then when he’s evoked his sweaty milieu, he rings in Sex, as the boss’ wife Hanna makes a play for Joe.

   This would put us in James M Cain territory in any other novel, but Adler has other aims, and Living It Up becomes a steamy thing, with sweaty sex, sweaty work, and a bit of depth in the characters. Turns out Joe isn’t a habitual bum, just a guy who fell apart when he found his wife cheating on him. And Hanna has some very good reasons for taking up serial infidelity.

   Add to that some colorful low-lifes, an aspiring waitress, slumming college boys, violent drunks and chaotic fights, and the result is an Ace book that could stand beside the best Gold Medal Originals of its time.

   I wasn’t able to find out much about the author. There was an Edward Adler who worked in Television, but that may not be the same one. Whatever the case, I’ll be looking for more by this guy.