RAPTURE ALLEY, another novel in the latest Harry Whittington triple volume from Stark House, ventures into Orrie Hitt territory, since its plot includes both nude modeling (sort of) and the plight of unwed motherhood. For the most part, though, this is Whittington's dope novel, and in that respect it reminded me of Robert Silverberg's first Don Elliott novel, LUST ADDICT.
Originally published in 1953 by Carnival Books under the pseudonym Whit Harrison, RAPTURE ALLEY is the story of Lora Cassel, a beautiful young woman who moves to New York in an attempt to become successful as a singer and actress. She lives with her sister, a sweet-natured invalid who's confined to a wheelchair, and her brother-in-law, a virile, successful salesman. Doesn't take a genius to figure out what's going to happen from that set-up, and as Whittington quickly reveals to the reader, an affair is already going on between Lora and her brother-in-law Ken.
The stress and guilt of this affair, plus her continuing trouble finding any success in her career, lead Lora to make a bad decision and start going to marijuana parties with a TV industry flunkey she meets on a job. From here the plot begins to take on a slight feeling of REEFER MADNESS as Lora's life spirals more and more out of control. Whittington does a great job with it, though, keeping the story moving along at a brisk pace and making the reader feel Lora's desperation as she makes bad decision after bad decision.
Eventually things work out, as they usually do in books from this era, but not until there's a minor but interesting plot twist late in the game. RAPTURE ALLEY is a very solid, very entertaining entry from Whittington, and one more reason, as if you needed it, to pick up this collection from Stark House.