Tuesday, March 06, 2012

12. All I Can Get by William Ard

This was another exciting old paperback find at an outdoor book fair in the Laurentians last summer.  I really should have bought more.  There was some great stuff there. 

While this turned out to be an enjoyable read, the cover does not reflect the interior of the book at all well.  Yes, that scene takes place and yes there is a girl who plays for fun and yes I guess the protagonist, Lou Largo P.I. does play for keeps.  But this book is not some intense, torrid, hard-boiled tale of sexual conflict.  The tone is the biggest thing not well-represented by the cover.  It's actually kind of light and humorous, closer to Boston Blackie than Philip Marlow.  And the story is actually about a wealthy newspaper tycoon who invests in a morning paper in a small city across the bay from Tampa in an attempt to take over the market and the resistance he and his allies face from the mob (well mobs, as both the mafia and the Cubans are fighting over the turf). 

There is another story wrapping around the newspaper narrative.  At the beginning of the book, the newspaper tycoon hires Lou Largo to investigate a beautiful, young woman with whom he just fell in love and has proposed to marry after meeting her hours earlier (this is where the light tone starts off).  Of course, Lou, after discovering that she is a total party girl, gets with her.  Though it is "a Lou Largo novel", Lou leaves the story for the next half of the book, where we follow the tycoon as he goes to Tampa to sell the newspaper and take his star editor back with him to NYC.  He is also planning on marrying his fiancé as well, but gets caught up in the mob war and changes his mind on selling the paper.  The story then moves into main gear and we get lots of good (actually fairly hard-boiled) gang war stuff, beatings, stand-offs, gunfights, corrupt cops and so on. 

It really reminded me a lot of "The Fools in Town Are on our Side", though a bit neater in its wrap-up and a bit lighter in its overall tone.  It was kind of a fun book, but just not as heavy as what I was expecting.  Now I shall go and see if Lou Largo actually had a series.

3 comments:

Bill Crider said...

There was a series, all right. They weren't all written by Ard, though his name was on them.

OlmanFeelyus said...

Thanks, Bill! Who needs to do research with this kind of response. :) But I will look into it.

John said...

The second Lou Largo book is a huge leap from Ard's original idea of Largo. I read and reviewed LIKE ICE SHE WAS a few days ago and it's a sex and violence pulp novel with Largo as the central character surrounded by sex obsessed women and gambling thugs. The story is very thin, the emphasis on beatings and sex with a similar humor I suspect is on display in ALL I CAN GET. I later learned that all the Largo books after the second book were ghost written since Ard died of cancer in 1960. The ghost writers were Lawrence Block (BABE IN THE WOODS only) and John Jakes (all the other Lou Largo titles). Now that I know Largo is hardly in this book at all I'll be looking instead for the Timothy Dane books, his other series private eye.