Saturday, September 16, 2023

Clyde Allison's Have Nude, Will Travel

The sleaze fiction of the 50s and 60s embraced everything from grim noirish tales to romance to comedy. Of those who wrote comic sleaze fiction the best by far was William Knoles (1926-1970).

Have Nude, Will Travel, published in 1962 under the pseudonym Clyde Allison, is typical of his crazy sexy comic romps.

Jake O’Day is a pilot with a knack for getting himself into absurd and embarrassing predicaments. The most embarrassing was the time he thought he was transporting forty-eight harem girls belonging to an important shiekh. The girls turned out not to be girls at all but soldiers employed by the sheikh to stage a coup. Since they were covered from head to foot poor Jake had no way of knowing these were not harem girls. Jake ended up making a forced landing in a neighbouring Middle Eastern country and spending three months behind bars.

As a result of this misadventure Jake earned a totally underserved reputation as a ruthless mercenary leader.

And that’s what led oil tycoon Mr Tamerlane to employ his services. Tamerlane has had his prospective new employee thoroughly investigated and he is well aware that Jake’s reputation as a glamorous soldier of fortune is totally phoney. It turns out that what Tamerlane wants is a phoney soldier of fortune. Tamerlane’s 18-year-old son Sam is neurotic and lives in a dream world. He has decided he wants to be a soldier of fortune. Tamerlane’s plan is to employ Jake to get Sam into some mercenary adventures but what Jake has to do is to make sure these adventures are entirely fake and entirely safe. Tamerlane Sr hopes that this will get all that soldier of fortune daydream nonsense out of Sam’s system and the young man will then be content to go into Daddy’s oil business.

Jake think it’s a crazy idea but Tamerlane offers him an enormous amount of money, so he accepts the offer.

The problem is that Jake knows nothing whatever about being a soldier of fortune and has no idea how to provide Sam with a safe fake adventure. Then Jake gets a brainwave. Why not hire a scriptwriter to come up with some ideas? He can easily persuade Tamerlane to pay the writer lots of money. His friend Barnaby was a writer on a TV series about mercenaries and he likes money so he agrees.

Jake and Sam then become in effect characters in Barnaby’s story. Barnaby sends them off to exotic places and hires actors to play the parts of the kinds of dangerous shady characters that soldiers of fortune would be likely to encounter. Sam is enjoying himself but Jake worries a little. He’s not keen on being shot at, even if he knows it’s only actors shooting at him.

The idea seems to be working but then the plot twists kick in.

There’s plenty of sleaze. Sam takes being a soldier of fortune very seriously and avoids smoking, liquor and sex but Jake is happy to entertain himself with the various women Barnaby provides to play the parts of ex-crazed femmes fatales. Jake has a lot of fun with the twins. They teach him quite a few new tricks.

Jake also has fun with Sugar. She’s a cute blonde girl whom Barnaby keeps as a sort of pet. She doesn’t speak but she giggles a lot and she proves to be very affectionate. So affectionate that she almost exhausts poor Jake.

The sex is moderately steamy by 1962 standards. There’s very little violence. There is a great deal of humour and the novel is genuinely funny.

The basic plot idea is clever and it’s developed with skill and wit.

Incidentally the cover suggests that this is going to be a private eye spoof but there are no private yes in the story at all.

Have Nude, Will Travel is lots of fun. Highly recommended.

I highly recommend all of William Knoles/Clyde Alison’s sleaze novels. They're all rather ingenious. I’ve reviewed a number of them including Shame Market (very funny), Sexperiment and one of his Agent 0008 spy sleaze/spy spoof books, Gamefinger (which is terrific).

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