Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Lady from L.U.S.T. #2 Lay Me Odds

Lay Me Odds is the second of Gardner Francis Fox’s Lady from L.U.S.T. sexy spy thrillers, written under the pseudonym Rod Gray. It was published in 1968.

Eve Drum, ace secret agent for L.U.S.T. (League of Underground Spies and Terrorists), has a problem. She’s on a mission in England and she was supposed to pick up a microfilm but she finds her contact man dead. There’s a possibility that he hadn’t picked up the microfilm before he was killed. It might still be in the hands of his own contact man, a man known as the Satyr. Or the Satyr might know the name of the person currently in possession of that microfilm. Finding the Satyr should be easy. He hangs around the strip clubs in Soho.

The best way to find him would obviously be for Eve to get a job as a stripper. That’s no problem. Eve has no inhibitions whatsoever about taking all her clothes off in front of an audience. Her strip act (as a bashful bride) proves to be a hit and she does find the Satyr. He’s prepared to give her the name she needs as long as she agrees to have sex with him. Eve also has no inhibitions whatsoever about having sex in the line of duty. Eve enjoys sex a great deal. And when she sees the Satyr naked she figures that this will be a very pleasant duty indeed.

She gets the name and the trail takes her to Hamburg. Naturally it takes her to Hamburg’s red light district. The trail will later take her to Innsbruck. This is 1960s spy fiction so some exotic locations are a must and Fox makes good use of them.

Eve has no doubt that the microfilm has fallen into the hands of L.U.S.T.’s deadly enemies, H.A.T.E. (Humanitarian Alliance for Total Espionage). It turns out to be more complicated than that. There’s an internal power struggle within H.A.T.E. and Eve is caught between two deadly factions.

Along the way she acquires a slave. He’s a handsome young German but he just wants to be Eve’s devoted slave. In fact she will discover that he has other more exotic sexual fetishes.

The plot includes enough twists and double-crosses to keep things interesting.

This is refreshingly non-ideological spy fiction. H.A.T.E. is like SPECTRE, it’s just a vast criminal organisation that sees espionage and terrorism as purely business propositions. Fox doesn’t indulge in any political messaging. I’ve now read four of his books and I haven’t got a clue what his political beliefs were. I like that. He just wants to entertain us.

The secret to making a sexy spy thriller work is to strike the right balance between the sleaze and the secret agent action. And Fox, in both his Lady from L.U.S.T. and Cherry Delight thrillers, got that balance right. There’s an enormous amount of sleaze in this book but there’s also non-stop action and mayhem. With an impressively high body count. At one point Eve kills four men within the space of about fifteen seconds. The action scenes are executed with energy and a certain amount of style.

Even is well equipped for her mission. She never goes on an assignment without her explosive panties. Yes, her panties are a deadly weapon.

Eve is highly trained in the normal secret agent skills such as unarmed combat and firearms but she’s equally highly trained in the art of love-making. There’s no sexual activity between a man and a woman that Eve hasn’t tried and in which she isn’t highly proficient. Her controller, David, approves of this. He knows that a lady spy has to have advanced sexual skills. He’s even prepared to assist her in her training in this area.

In 1968 the Sexual Revolution was in full swing and that’s reflected in the book. Eve takes a normal healthy interest in sex. She likes sex and she feels no shame or guilt about it and it’s assumed that the reader will feel the same way.

The sex is moderately graphic with some detailed descriptions of the more interesting parts of both the male and female anatomy (Eve is an expert in both subjects) and the fun you can have when those parts of the respective anatomies come together so to speak. The sex gets decidedly kinky at times. Eve’s slave is a good boy but he craves discipline and Eve is happy to oblige. She’s not really into that sort of thing but it’s the only way to get him excited enough to satisfy her so she’s willing to put some effort into it.

Eve also has no interest in sex with girls but in the line of duty she’s willing to give it a go. Lady spies have to be flexible.

Lay Me Odds works extremely well as sleaze fiction and it works pretty well as a fast-paced action-packed spy thriller as well. Despite the high body count it’s a fun lighthearted romp. Highly recommended.

I’ve also reviewed the first of the Lady from L.U.S.T. books, Lust, Be a Lady Tonight, and the first of Fox’s fairy similar Cherry Delight thrillers, The Italian Connection. Both are also great fun.

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