Friday, May 17, 2024

Gardner Francis Fox's Silverfinger

Gardner Francis Fox (1911-1986) was a prolific author of pulp fiction in numerous genres as well as a hugely prolific writer of comics.

Silverfinger, published in 1973, was the third of his Cherry Delight sexy crime thrillers written under the pseudonym Glen Chase. These novels were sometimes marketed as the Sexecutioner series and they have some vague affinity with the Mafia thrillers that were popular at the time.

Cherise Dellissio, better known as Cherry Delight, is an ace agent for the top-secret agency N.Y.M.P.H.O. (New York Mafia Prosecution and Harassment Organisation). She’s part of the elite Femme Fatale squad, highly trained in both combat and bedroom skills (both of which are equally useful in her line of work).

The Mafia is trying to take over the Italian shipping empire of the della Fanzio family. There are three della Fanzios, two brothers and a sister. Their father built the business and he was a hard man but his three children are not so tough. They’re frightened and they’re inclined to cave in to all the Mafia demands. Cherry has been sent to Calabria to put some backbone into the della Fanzios and to foil the Mafia’s plans.

Her first task is the keep the della Fanzios alive.

She also needs to infiltrate the Mafia operation, and specifically to get close to the local Mafia kingpin, a man known as Silverfinger. His mane of silver hair earned him his nickname but he likes it and he drives a silver-plated Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.

Somewhat to her surprise Cherry also finds herself dealing with devil-worshippers. In this part of Italy the old pagan beliefs and superstitions have survived and gradually morphed into Satanism. Cherry has to attend a Black Mass and while she’s horrified she’s also rather excited the sight of so many naked bodies. Sex is something that is never far from Cherry’s mind.

There’s plenty of action and plenty of sleaze, Cherry has some narrow escapes, she has an epic cat-fight with Silverfinger’s now discarded mistress, there’s a very high body count. It has to be said that Cherry does most of the killing, quite a bit of it with her bare hands.

Cherry is a ruthless and efficient agent although there are times when perhaps she should concentrate more on the job in hand and less on satisfying her sexual urges. She’s a feisty likeable heroine.

Fox’s prose style is pure pulp but with plenty of energy.

The plot is pretty straightforward. It’s mostly an excuse for the action scenes (which are very good) and the sex scenes (which are quite explicit). But that’s the sort of book this is. It’s a violent sleazy sexy action thriller and it’s not trying to be the least bit literary or the least bit subtle. There’s no message and the characterisations are basic. We don’t get any profound insights into Cherry’s personality or motivations. We know that she’s tough and resourceful and dedicated and she likes to get laid as often as possible. We really don’t need to know any more about her than that.

If this is your thing then Silverfinger delivers the goods. I enjoyed it. Recommended.

I’ve reviewed a lot of Gardner Francis Fox’s books including the first two Cherry Delight thrillers (the excellent The Italian Connection and Tong in Cheek), several of his Lady from L.U.S.T. sexy spy thrillers (Lay Me Odds, To Russia With Lust and Lust, Be a Lady Tonight) and one of the Coxeman sleazy spy thrillers, The Best Laid Plans. And I’ve reviewed his superb sword and sorcery/occult thriller The Druid Stone which shows what he could do when he tried to be a bit more ambitious. He’s always entertaining.

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