Check out this Vintage Review From 1001 Midnights ...
MICHAEL AVALLONE – The Case of the Violent Virgin. Bound back-to-back with The Case of the Bouncing Betty. Ace Double Ace D-259, paperback originals, 1957.
Michael Avallone, who has dubbed himself “The Fastest Typewriter in the East” and “King of the Paperbacks,” has published more than 200 novels over the past four decades, some thirty of which feature private eye Ed Noon.
On the one hand, Noon is your standard hard-boiled, wisecracking snoop with a taste for copious bloodletting and a Spillane-type hatred of Communists, dissidents, counterculture types, pacifists, militant blacks, militant women, and anyone or anything else of a liberal or civilized cant.
On the other hand, he is a distinctly if eccentrically drawn character whose passions include baseball, old movies, and dumb jokes, and who gets himself mixed up with some of the most improbable individuals ever committed to paper.
The gold-toothed, beret-wearing villain in The Case of the Violent Virgin, for instance-a guy named Dean, who, like Ed Noon, is on the trail of a six-foot marble statue called the Violent Virgin, “The Number One Nude,” not to mention one of the world’s most precious stones, the “Blue Green.”
Dean is a very well-spoken fellow; at one point in the narrative, he says to Noon, “Your precipitous exodus from serene sanctuary propels me toward Brobdingnagian measures. Spider and I mourn for your misdemeanors but your palpitating perignations [sic] induce no termination of our grief.”
Spider, who is Dean’s accomplice in crime, is not nearly so well spoken; he says things like “Okay, Dad. Make the parley with them. But fast. This choo-choo could get too hot for us.”
The “choo-choo” he is referring to is the Mainliner, which travels from New York’s Grand Central Station to Chicago. Noon is on it because he has been hired to bodyguard a woman named Opal Trace (who doesn’t speak her words, she “carols” and “musicales” them).
And what a train ride it is, chockablock full of a mixed-up mish-mash of double-dealing, multiple murder, vicious dogs, shootouts, a bomb explosion, and, to cap things off, a rousing derailment. None of it makes much sense — but then, one doesn’t read Avallone looking for sense.
What one does read Avallone for, primarily, is his lurid, bizarre, and often hilarious prose style. Noonisms — as his better similes, metaphors, and descriptive passages have come to be called — abound in The Case of the Violent Virgin; there are more to the chapter, in fact, than in just about any other Ed Noon adventure.
A sample: “Her hips were beautifully arched and her breasts were like proud flags waving triumphantly. She carried them high and mighty.” And: “I flung a quick glance through the soot-stained windows. A mountain range and a dark night sky peppered with salty-looking stars winked at me.”
Similar “palpitating perignations” can be found in such other Avallone spectaculars as The Tall Dolores (1953); The Voodoo Murders (1957); The Crazy Mixed-Up Corpse (1957); Meanwhile Back at the Morgue (1960), in which you will find the immortal line “The next day dawned bright and clear on my empty stomach”; and Shoot It Again, Sam! (1972).
Posted by Steve under 1001 Midnights , Reviews
Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007. Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.