Monday, February 25, 2008

Satan Takes the Helm by Calvin Clements

Satan Takes the Helm by Calvin Clements
Gold Medal 252, Copyright 1952

Ah, the life of a merchant marine looking for a ship. Everyone is scratching for a buck, along with some other action.

"Groups of jobless seamen were loitering along the foot of the piers, looking up at the freighters and tankers, studying the rat guards. Like at a wake, just standing around and looking..."

Mrs. Joyce Sloan is looking for a chief officer for her husband's ship, the Eastern Trader. Martin Lewandowski is offered the job and he jumps on it. One problem, Mr. Sloane likes to have his beautiful wife aboard when we sails. Mrs. Joyce Sloan quickly takes up with Lewandowski. She plants ideas in his head that, with her husband out of the way, he could have her and a ship of his own. Lewandowski realizes that when Mrs. Sloan hires a mate, it's for more than looking after a ship.

If you like a salty, dark adventure mystery, just hop on board this ship. Not many good people sail in this story. Mrs. Sloan is your femme fatale, Lewandowski is full of culpable behavior, and together they weave a devious scheme. Throw in the dark ship, exotic ports and the emotional games between the two characters, and we have a fine crime noir story.

"Her robe was open. I caught the neck of her pajamas and ripped down. Her hands dropped to cover herself and I slapped her again. I couldn't stop. I wanted to kill her."

On this voyage of deceit, dreams, contempt and murder.... you will feel the rust of the ship, smell the stink of the ports and sweat in your bunk.
This is the first of the three Calvin Clements paperbacks published by Gold Medal. All take place in dirty ports and at sea; with a scrappy skipper, vicious crewmen, and seductive women. They are also very good!


Ed Gorman said...

kyshwsdCalvin Clements went on to have a very long and prosperous run as a television writer and producer. He was for a time a mainstay of the early Gunsmoke.

Calvin Clements III said...

Calvin Clements wrote one more piece from the "pulp fiction" genre entitled Dark Night of Love. This was number 752 published by Popular Library in June 1956. Like his other novelettes, this too had a nautical theme, centering around wealthy yachtsman John Brennan and his "two unpredictable nieces." Great stuff.

Frank Loose said...

A noir novel that takes place at sea? You betcha. And it's a great one. I just finished this and really enjoyed it. The character of Joyce is quite memorable, and despite her "flaws," i found myself liking her at times. What's that say about me? If you like a book with fatale attraction, murder and mayhem, and a protagonist that isn't much better than the "temptress," than track down a copy of this book. And thanks, August, for writing about this book in your blog. I have already ordered Dark Night of Love, recommended in a posted commment by Calvin Clements III.
--- Frank

artistdanielg said...

I used to work at the Encino Tarzana Public library and he came in as a patron. We used to talk a lot when I would have my breaks outside. he told of being in the Navy and how they had come to use Festus as a regular character on Gunsmoke One day both he and Frank Dugan came in. (Both were regulars at the library) What a treat for a fan of westerns.I had made a working model of a pepperbox derringer and gave it to Clements. He was a great guy and a great writer. If I ever finish the artwork on my graphic novel I'm dedicating it to him. I was sorry to hear he passed away.