Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Torrid Promises, Tame Execution

Spy in Black Lace, edited by Noah Sarlat (Lancer Books, 1964).
Illustrator unknown.

I’ve had this altogether lovely paperback cover gathering dust in my computer files for a few years now, but didn’t know enough about the book to write an acceptable post. All of that changed recently, though, when Joe Kenney, author of the blog Glorious Trash (which you really should add to your watch list, if it isn’t already there), produced thiswrite-up about Spy in Black Lace.

As Kenney explains, this is an “anthology of men’s adventure magazine stories … thematically similar to [1962’s] Women With Guns,” with which it shared an editor: Noah Sarlat, who, from the 1950s through most of the ’70s, edited men’s magazines such as Stag, For Men Only, Man’s World, Action for Men, Adventure Life, and Triple-Length Adventure. (Sarlat had previously been responsible for a 1952 short-story collection, Sintown, U.S.A.). Spy in Black Lace comprises eight abbreviated yarns—by authors as varied as George Raffey, Hal Hennesey, and Morgan Bennett—none of which features a particularly strong or memorable protagonist. “[W]ith only one exception,” he writes, “the women in the stories collected here are not female James Bonds and certainly aren’t the aggressive ass-kicking females so common in today’s action garbage. All of them (with one exception) just use their bodies in the line of duty, relying on sex as their sole weapon. In other words the collection isn’t very spy-fy in nature and is more about gorgeous women using their ample charms to sway various men in the line of duty.” Kenney sums up Sarlat’s Spy in Black Lace as “middling.”

Oh, well. At least the book boasts a dynamite front! And if you are so inclined, check out its back cover here.

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