Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Spy Who Came To Bed

The Spy Who Came To Bed, by John Nemec
May, 1968  Triumph News Company

This grungy little paperback, while packaged as a spy thriller, is really just a “stroke book,” as Grandma used to call ‘em. (Just kidding.) Seriously though, The Spy Who Came To Bed is unrepentant ‘60s sleaze with some parts that are reminiscent of Ennis Willie’s Sand books, only with more of a sleaze overlay.

Like Sand, the protagonist, Rudy Heveson, is a private eye with a notorious reputation for being a bad-ass. Like Morocco Jones, Heveson was an Intelligence operative before quitting the Agency and starting his P.I. business. He operates out of North Lisa, California. Despite cashing in on the secret agent craze of the era, there is a definite hardboiled vibe to The Spy Who Came To Bed, as if it were from a decade earlier; while Heveson doesn’t actually do much bad-ass stuff (unlike Sand or Morocco Jones), he at least has some bad-ass dialog: “No shady moves. My hand’s cold and that’s why I’ve got it under my coat.”

Hired by the CEO of Alamo Aircraft, Heveson is given a regular assassination assignment: a mysterious KGB saboteur who goes by the name Alexander Shaw has been targeting Alamo, and the CEO wants him dead. Only problem is, no one knows who exactly Shaw is or what he looks like, despite which it is known he’s tops with a gun and other incidental details, as well as being a killer with the ladies.

Not that any one could match Rudy Heveson – the novel is mostly comprised of Heveson hopping into bed with one eager gal after another. As mentioned, a difference between this and other vintage sleaze books I’ve read is that Nemec really puts the focus on the sex to the detriment of the plot. But this is that unerotic sleaze of yore:

His answer was drowned under the onslaught of a throbbing need wich zigzagged into the body of Maxine and swiftly smashed her backward into the pillow and conquered her with its unmatchable strength. Because of her zeal, a contagious fever that could drive a man wild, he reached climax early. But she was right behind him, and they unlocked their arms and legs while the ebbtide swept into mastery in the motel cabin.


He felt himself reach the zenith and he knew that the damp, spasming wonderland of her valley had claimed its pulsating invader to the hilt. She bent away from him in a cruel arc. He moaned as she pushed her fists into his chest, and then he wrestled the nymphish woman down to defeat. He ground into her. She hopped and jumped as he ended the physical suspense with the eruption of a dazzling universe within her.

Heveson, tracking various digressive, go-nowhere leads, tries to hunt down Shaw, but mostly just screws a bunch of women. These range from Heveson’s sort-of girlfriend, Maxine, who herself is a CIA agent (who doubles as a topless waitress) to Jesse, a sexy Red Chinese agent who ultimately tries to kill Heveson later in the novel and who herself is killed (Heveson’s first kill, I believe), tossed into an alligator pit(!). There are dozens of others, from a switch-hitting babe who has naturally just been waiting for a real man like Rudy to come along, to a self-proclaimed “hippie” babe who spouts some New Age drivel before screwing Heveson.

It’s all just pretty dismal though, mostly due to how repetitive it is. Nemec shows some inventiveness with dialog, which ranges from hardboiled to free-spirited (particularly from the hippie chick), but the dullness of the sex scenes can’t be overlooked. The plot of chasing the mysterious Shaw is also underwhelming, with the Sand similarities again coming to the fore with Heveson more so chasing after a local Syndicate tough named Nick Talirosa, who had a working relationship with Shaw. While the Syndicate goons lack the spark of Willie’s characters, I would hazard a bet that Nemec might’ve been inspired by the Sand books.

Action is slim. Heveson resorts mostly to his fists, but at one point he arms himself with a “.48 caliber” automatic pistol – which he never even fires. This even during a battle with Hayseed Jones(!), a hitman Talirosa hires to take out Heveson. Characters by the way are abruptly introduced throughout, giving the novel a very rough, awkward feel – there’s barely any setup for anyone and Nemec will casually refer to not-yet-introduced characters as if we know them as well as Heveson does. At any rate a dude named Chester Devy emerges from the woodwork as one of the few recurring characters (most of which are one-off women); he’s a CIA agent who occasionaly assists Heveson.

The surprise reveal of who Shaw is comes just as abruptly in the final pages, Nemec clearly hitting his word count and figuring to hell with it. Here in the last pages Heveson actually shoots someone, and then ponders if he’ll marry Maxine after all…Nemec does his best to build a “will they/won’t they” dynamic between the two. Not so far as the sex goes, of course; rather, Heveson occasionally muses that he should give up the life and go ahead and settle down with the uber-busty babe who’s so crazy about him.

Anyway, The Spy Who Came To Bed is most recommended for those who like their vintage sleaze straight up. There’s really nothing else about it I could recommend – while many of these old sleaze novels are really great books with just hints of sleaze, this one doesn’t even beat around the bush (so to speak). It’s all screwing, all the time.


Zwolf said...

Yeah, there's one ironclad rule to writing sleaze: if the word "damp" appears in your sex scene, there's no way it's going to work.

Congrats on the new baby, by the way!

Joe Kenney said...

Thanks, Zwolf!

russell1200 said...

Ebb tide is when the tide is going out. So why is it flowing "into mastery"?