Friday, May 13, 2016

Forgotten Books: Hero's Lust - Kermit Jaediker

This summer Stark House is going to be reprinting three noir novels originally published in the early Fifties by Lion Books. HERO’S LUST is the first book in that volume, and it’s well worth being in print again after more than sixty years.

The protagonist is reporter Red Norton, who works the City Hall beat for the Courier in Crescent City. As Gary Lovisi points out in his introduction, the book’s title is something of a misnomer, because Red’s really a far cry from a hero. He’s actually on the Mayor’s payroll and is as crooked as the Mayor and everybody else in the city administration. Red knows this, but he goes along with what’s expected of him anyway. Because of that, he agrees to write a series of stories for the newspaper about a patient in the city’s new hospital, which is the Mayor’s pet project. The patient they pick to feature in the stories is Ann Porter, a young woman who has tuberculosis. What nobody is planning on is that Red will fall in love with her, and that leads to dangerous complications for everyone involved.

HERO’S LUST is actually a pretty simple book at its heart, which is the struggle between Red’s greed and the few decent impulses he has left, which grow stronger as his relationship with Ann develops. What really carries it along is the powerful writing of its author, Kermit Jaediker, who wrote only one other novel. Jaediker was a newspaperman himself, and you can really tell it in this book. The feeling of authenticity is undeniable, as is the passion for reform that runs through the book. It’s a little hard to believe that Jaediker didn’t write more fiction, because he was very good at it. I can give this one a high recommendation, and I think most of you will understand why when I say HERO’S LUST is really a punch in the gut! I’m looking forward to reading the other two novels in the Stark House volume. 


George said...

Love those LION books! I also enjoyed the posting on BLACK GATE this week about your MIKE SHAYNE stories with the Fu Manchu elements!

Charles Gramlich said...

A new one to me. Sounds interesting.

Todd Mason said...

Stark House is right up there with Hard Case in doing noble work, and with, I suspect, fewer millions to cushion any blows.