(This post originally appeared in somewhat different form on September 4, 2006.)
Look behind the soap-opera-like title and the soft-core porn cover of this book published by Monarch in 1961, and you’ve got . . . well, for the most part a soap-opera-like, soft-core porn novel. Which isn’t too much of a surprise considering that “Tom Phillips” was really Thomas P. Ramirez, who wrote dozens of Nightstand Books and Midnight Readers under the pseudonym Tony Calvano.
What makes this book better than it might have been is its behind-the-scenes look at a gigantic construction project, in this case an oil refinery and the company town that goes with it. Ramirez worked in the construction business, and those sections have an air of gritty authenticity about them. The corporate intrigue and sabotage and big business atmosphere make this book resemble a John D. MacDonald novel at times. The numerous lurid romantic entanglements are actually the weakest part of the story.
I don’t know if Ramirez wrote any other Monarch Books as Tom Phillips, but if I ever run across another one, I’ll probably pick it up.
(Update: I have quite a few books by Ramirez, but I don't recall if there are any Monarchs among them. I really need to read more of them.)