Saturday, January 26, 2019

W.H.O.R.E. - Carter Brown

The front door opened almost immediately, and what sounded like a million decibels of amplified Rolling Stones hit me right between the ears. It was obviously the kind of party where you were nothing but a lousy dropout if you didn't burst a blood vessel within the first five minutes. Standing right in front of me was a cowgirl, straight out of the Wild, Wild West. A silver-streaked blonde with her hair gathered into a topknot that gyrated madly every time she moved her head. She was wearing a blue jacket and matching mini-skirt and white knee-high cowboy boots. The jacket was unbuttoned all the way down the front, revealing the ultimate in cleavage. An open-range-sized martini was clutched precariously in her right hand.

Signet - October 1971
This is one of the Al Wheeler capers from Carter Brown, and plenty of early 70's shenanigans going on in it. Cowgirls, Rolling Stones, martinis in one chapter, dead babes and gun-toting goons dressed as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck in another chapter. Also throw in a fruit-pickers demonstration into the mix and you have a "what the hell's going on?" kind of plot, where our hero Al Wheeler runs around the place trying to find missing suspects and dead bodies at the same time. And every clue leads him back to house that serves as the headquarters for a women's liberation group named W.H.O.R.E. which stands for Women's Hereditary and Obligatory Revolutionary Establishment, just so you pigs don't get the wrong idea!

It all kicks off when Wheeler responds to a beach house where the dead body of a beautiful young woman is discovered by a hysterical chick named Stephanie Channing. Stephanie claims to have no idea who the dead girl is. Stephanie was supposed to meet the owner of the cabin, a dude named Chuck Henry, who was to give her the keys to the place for the weekend. Stephanie immediately informs Wheeler that she's a foundation member of W.H.O.R.E., which provides Wheeler the opportunity to observe that she doesn't look like a lesbian! So yeah, it's that kind of a book. And Wheeler gets his fair share of crap from every member of W.H.O.R.E. he runs into throughout the novel. All of them are drop-dead hot, and all of them waste no time in calling Wheeler a pig. And all Wheeler can do is make cracks about none of them wearing a bra.

Well, as Stephanie is explaining how she came to find the body of the dead girl in the beach cabin, all of a sudden two gun-wielding goons show up wearing paper mache Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck masks. They put the drop on Wheeler and Stephanie and abscond with the body of the dead girl and a very much alive Stephanie after slugging Wheeling. From there on Wheeler has his hands full trying to convince his superiors at the Sheriff's office that a dead girl was whisked away by Mickey Mouse along with his only witness, a women's libber member of W.H.O.R.E. Just another routine case.

It's a goofy caper, and full of politically incorrect jabs at women throughout. I guess there is some turnabout in that Wheeler gets teased and tormented and made a fool of by just about every member of W.H.O.R.E. he comes across. Mind you, this is usually after they disrobe for him in the process. In the end, all of the loose ends get wrapped up, of course, and Wheeler gets the last quip.

These books are routinely entertaining and mindless romps with plenty of titillation and PG humor. This one is a standard Carter Brown novel in that regard, and I'll have forgotten the plot in a week. But a great cover anyway!


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