Recently Stark House reprinted two more of Robert Silverberg's early Sixties soft-core novels, LUST QUEEN and LUST VICTIM, so strictly speaking I don't know if you can call these books forgotten, but it wasn't that long ago they were. Bill Crider wrote about LUST QUEEN on his blog a while back. Today I'm taking a look at LUST VICTIM.
This novel was originally published in 1962 under the title NO LUST TONIGHT, which Silverberg mentions in his introduction was changed from his original title LUST VICTIM by editor Earl Kemp. For the reprint the original title has been restored, which is good because it works on several different levels. Almost every character in this novel is a victim of lust in one way or another.
Dave Lamson is a successful young industrialist married to a beautiful wife named Moira. Their idyllic suburban life is shattered one Saturday night when a burglar breaks into their house, ties up Dave, and forces him to watch while he rapes Moira. They both survive the incident, but their lives are ruined by the psychological effect the attack has on Moira. This leads Dave to have a number of sordid affairs—and also provides the requisite number of sex scenes for the book.
Silverberg is nothing if not clever, though, and not everything is what it seems to be. There's some detective work and some hardboiled action before the book arrives at a fairly satisfying conclusion.
The biggest problem with LUST VICTIM is that Dave is such a jerk it's hard to root for him. "It's been TWO WHOLE DAYS since you were raped. Aren't you over it YET?" (I'm paraphrasing, but that's the way he comes across at times.) Still, Silverberg is a skillful enough writer that we do indeed wind up rooting for Dave. And of course the book is well-paced and the prose just as smooth as it can be, as always from Silverberg.
I have to admit, I love these books from William Hamling's publishing empire. Even when they're not as well-written as those by Silverberg, Lawrence Block, and Donald E. Westlake, they're such perfect snapshots of the era in which they were published. And thankfully more and more of them are being reprinted. For now, you can't go wrong with this Stark House edition of LUST QUEEN and LUST VICTIM.