Stark House Press

N e w s l e t t e r,  v o l u m e  1,   i s s u e  2

Silent Wall/Marvin Palaver

Opening Lines from Peter Rabe:

Hitch was with this great, high-heeled monster of a woman and the only reason I was along, I spoke Italian and Hitch did not. It turned out that the woman was not Italian at all, she was Sicilian, and her glue-voiced accent was so heavy that I understood almost as little as  Hitch. Not that it mattered.
                                     -- from The Silent Wall

The alarm screamed and kept screaming as the two men leaped out of the dark, ran down the alley and into their car. When the screaming did not sound so loud any more it became like a bug in the ear, a bug that stung.        
  "Don't choke it, for God's sake, don't stall now—"
 "Just shut up," said the younger one, "just shut up—"
from Hard Case Redhead

I died at the worst possible moment in life, just when I was coming out even. I'm not talking you come out ahead, let's be realistic, but to come out even with Sidney Minsk, may he live to be a poor man forever, that is worth a life­time of troubles.

          --from The Return of Marvin Palaver

Gang Girl/Sex Bum

“…And because we all worked under pen names, we were free to let our inhibitions drop away and push our characters to their limits, without worrying about what anyone else — friends, relatives, book reviewers — might say or think about our work. We had ourselves a ball, and got paid nicely while we were doing it.

 And also we never forgot that we were doing the fundamental thing that writers are supposed to do: providing pleasure and entertainment for readers who genuinely loved our work."

--Robert Silverberg, from his introduction to Gang Girl/Sex Bum, "Those Good Old Soft-core Days"

We're back again

...and just a week or so away from shipping Peter Rabe’s wonderful pair of previously unpublished novels, The Silent Wall and The Return of Marvin Palaver.  About The Silent Wall, Keir Graff of Booklist said that “It’s a claustrophobic noir, at times almost unbearably tense, and would certainly have a following if it had already been published.”

Cullen Gallagher’s bolg, Pulp Serenade, has been revisiting some already classic Rabe books, and regarding The Return of Marvin Palaver, he says:  “Funny and inventive, The Return of Marvin Palaver shows us a new side to Rabe. His hardboiled novels were always a shade witty, but here he fleshes out the humor and runs with it. A really enjoyable, quick read.”

And with the bonus of the rare Rabe short, “Hard Case Redhead,” this volume offers not only the trademark Rabe style but different shades of this wonderful talent.  It won’t disappoint.  To paraphrase Frank Sinatra, “If you don’t like these books, you don’t like ice cream.”

A question:  What kind of books were written by some of the paperback era’s most popular and prolific writers, that featured elements of crime, a (un)healthy dose of violence, and an even bigger dose of  larger-than-life fantasy women?  Here’s a hint:  Um, sometimes you wrap a Hemingway cover around them when you ride the train or take them to the doctor’s office.

Yes, they’re books that have come to be known as “sleaze” novels.  While that may or may not be a good label, there is some truly entertaining fiction hiding under that umbrella that deserves to be read.  The genre seems to be undergoing a bit of a resurgence lately, with books by Lawrence Block and Donald E. Westlake, and others, coming back into print.

We just sent off a pair of books by Don Elliott, the not-so-secret pseudonym of the one and only Robert Silverberg, author of such books as Dying Inside, Nightwings, Lord Valentine’s Castle, and many, many more.  Silverberg may be known primarily for his science fiction work, but he has written everything from history books to crime fiction to yes, sleaze.

The original books, Gang Girl and Sex Bum, have long been sought after by collectors and those avid few who have been working through the years to uncover and identify who wrote which of these books.  They’re being reprinted here, together, as they say, for the first time.

As entertaining as these books are, the introduction to the book by Silverberg himself is a brilliant evocation of the times and the circumstances that gave rise to this genre.  The intro itself will make you want to read these books, and even to look for more by other favorite writers of the time.  If you felt, what, silly?  possibly a bit uncomfortable?  picking up a sleaze title, Silverberg puts the books into a context that is both fascinating as a historical snapshot as well as gives the reader a non-apologetic enthusiasm to at least dip a toe in these once “forbidden” waters.

Exciting stuff, undiscovered Rabe and re-discovered Silverberg.  Er, make that Don Elliott.  We hope you give both a try.

And as always, you can receive these books and every new Stark House Press book fresh from the printer with our own Crime Club.  See our website ( for details (including info on a limited time discount special for new subscribers), or shoot an e-mail to  And to subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter, use the same address and just let us know.


Rick Ollerman
Associate Editor,
Stark House Press

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