Friday, April 27, 2007

They Couldn't Say No -- Matt Harding (Lee Floren)

This is the soft-core porn novel by Lee Floren, writing as Matt Harding, that I mentioned a few days ago. Originally published by Beacon Books in 1961, it was reprinted in ’71 by Macfadden-Bartell (the edition I read). In looking through my shelves, I discovered that I have a couple of Beacon Books by Floren/“Harding”, MOTEL TRAP and THE NEAR-NUDES. I don’t think I’ll be reading them any time soon, though.

Floren wrote several hundred Westerns under his own name and various pseudonyms. I’ve read maybe a dozen and thought they ranged from passable (the early ones) to downright poor (everything after the mid-Fifties). THEY COULDN’T SAY NO, while not a Western, still falls into the downright poor category. It’s the story of Brad Raleigh, an up-and-coming Broadway actor who’s summoned to Hollywood to play the lead in a big Biblical epic. Before leaving New York, he breaks up with his long-time girlfriend, Mavis Montgomery, who had been his college sweetheart. Mavis wants to get married, and Brad doesn’t. What Brad wants to do is have sex with just about every woman he meets, which he proceeds to do for the next 140 or so pages. Mavis heads west, too, has a few flings of her own, and winds up working as a newspaper reporter in California, where – you guessed it – she runs into Brad again.

While the plot is extremely predictable most of the way, I’ll give Floren credit for coming up with a fairly decent twist at the end. It’s not anything to make the reader gasp in surprise, but it’s not the way I expected things to wrap up, either. The prose is so flat and lackluster, though, it would have taken more than that to save this book.

Of course, the reason I read THEY COULDN’T SAY NO in the first place was to see if I could spot any stylistic quirks of Floren’s that would indicate he might be the author of that first Butcher book I read recently. I didn’t. Which doesn’t really mean anything. Determining the true author of unattributed house-name books is usually just an educated guess at best. But that won’t stop me from trying to figure these things out, because I enjoy the hunt.

1 comment:

Juri said...

I've read two Westerns by Floren and liked them both pretty much. They were both published in the early 1950's, though. Too bad he got sloppy.

FWIW, the titles of the books I read are: DEPUTY'S REVENGE (Star Library 1951; also Paperback Library, 1964) and WAR ON ALKALI CREEK (Phoenix Press 1951, as by Will Watson).