Frank Loose, a regular reader of this blog, sent me some comments on Orrie Hitt’s novel I’LL CALL EVERY MONDAY, which was given a high recommendation by August West, another regular reader and the author of the blog Vintage Hardboiled Reads. I thought Frank’s comments deserved a post of their own, so here is Rough Edges’ first guest blog.
James … Your fascinating story about author Orrie Hitt, in your February 19th blog entry, prompted me to track down and purchase a copy of Hitt’s book I'LL CALL EVERY MONDAY. I just finished it last night and it is a good read. Hitt does not write scenes with the intensity or the relentless pacing of Gil Brewer, nor is he the craftsman that Charles Williams was, but what he does, he does well. In I'LL CALL EVERY MONDAY, he creates a first person narrator with a distinct, consistent and engaging voice, and a story line that, while a tad slow for folks used to thriller and suspense pacing, moves forward with a natural ease and grace that sucked me in.
From what I have read about Mr. Hitt, his writing career is notable for his prolific output and for writing in what I guess you could call the sex genre. I'LL CALL EVERY MONDAY has sex scenes, but by today’s standards they are tame, and are actually well written. This is not exploitation, but the real lives of people played out on paper. Yes, there is a heavy focus on viewing every woman from a physical point of view, but this true to the main character’s personality–––one obsessed with the female form and the pleasures and escape he can find there.
It was also a reflection of the times. Given what was obviously titillating writing for these times, Hitt delves a bit deeper by juxtaposing the main character’s attitudes toward women and sex, with another pivotal character who is portrayed as someone who has “stepped over the line” of society’s mores. A hack writer of expendable fiction doesn’t worry about that sort of nuance, but Hitt did and it layers his story. There are more examples, but enough said on all this without revealing plot points. You may decide to read this book.
The story involves an insurance salesman named Nicky whose main goal in life seems to be bedding every woman he finds attractive. He has no pretense of relationship. Still this is no “lay ‘em and leave ‘em attitude,” as he seems to establish relationships in spite of himself. And just when you are thinking he is despicable and self-centered, he surprises with an action for someone from which he will reap no gain. He steps forward because it is the right thing to do. Hitt has drawn an interesting multi-dimensional character. The book starts slow, but the story picks up speed, ala James Cain, when he meets a woman who Hitt shows is a real match for Nicky, both in her ability to manipulate and in her sexual desire, which she shows can outmatch Nicky for intensity. Throw in an insurance swindle, again ala James Cain, and you have the basis for I'LL CALL EVERY MONDAY.
This book probably wasn’t Gold Medal territory at the time it was written, but it was published by Avon, no back street publisher by any stretch. August West, in his post to you, rated this book in his Top Twenty Favorites, and I can see why he thinks highly of it: strong characters, a building sense of emotional and physical danger, and a twist at the end. An enjoyable read–––and if nothing else, worth tracking down to see what kind of book an author can knock out typing away at his kitchen table while entertaining his daughter’s friends.
The true test of a book for me is how long the characters stay with me after I finish reading. So, the jury is still out on this one, but based on past experience I think this one may stick around.