Friday, February 24, 2012

Forgotten Books: Strictly for the Boys - Harry Whittington

STRICTLY FOR THE BOYS is the third and final novel in the new Harry Whittington collection from Stark House, and the only one of the three to appear originally under Whittington's name. First published in 1959 by a small paperback house called Stanley Library, STRICTLY FOR THE BOYS is domestic noir, a genre in which Whittington was never very prolific, but he does a fine job of it, as he did with everything else he wrote.

The protagonist of STRICTLY FOR THE BOYS is Amy Reader, still in her teens but already married . . . and on the verge of a divorce. She's left her abusive husband Burt and gone home to her mother, herself a bitter divorcee who wants to see Amy stay married at all costs. Not surprisingly, Burt shows up and starts stalking Amy, intruding into her life even after she manages to divorce him. She gets a job at a manufacturing plant, and there's a guy there who might offer her some hope for the future, but in the meantime Burt is determined to win her back and is getting crazier and crazier . . .

This is a really fast-paced book in which Whittington keeps piling more and more troubles on his heroine, while at the same time providing a vivid portrait of lower middle-class life in the late Fifties, the same sort of insightful exploration that can be found in many of Orrie Hitt's novels. STRICTLY FOR THE BOYS generates a lot of suspense as it races toward its conclusion. I'm really glad to see this one back in print, since I used to have a copy of the original paperback but never got around to reading it. It's a fine companion piece to RAPTURE ALLEY and WINTER GIRL, making this collection one of the most entertaining volumes I've read in a long time. Highly recommended. 


George said...

I've never seen a Stanley Library book. But I have the Stark House omnibus volume. You're right: Whittington was a total pro. I've enjoyed all the Whittington books I've read.

Heath Lowrance said...

Great review. I'll be picking this one up.