James Caterino's Reviews > In the Shadows

In the Shadows by Joan Ellis
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"She Couldn't Keep Her Hands Off Her Brother's Wife"

The above back cover blurb says it all.

"In The Shadows" is "Mad Men" meets "Pulp Fiction". It is from the paperback genre often referred to as the "sleazy pulps", but really they were just noir-ish melodramas peppered with some racy sex scenes.

I have a huge addiction to these vintage paperback pulps. Originally I began collecting them for the knockout, colorful, sexy cover art. But many of these books are just as enticing between the covers. They were often expertly crafted, engaging stories penned by authors well versed in the mechanics of how to tell a good story. Due to the social constraints of the time, the writers were forced to be quite creative in their phrasing of sex scenes and even sexual thoughts. The results were often hilarious and always entertaining.

This particular book was part of the "Lesbian Pulp" sub genre of the sleazy pulps, paperbacks that were marketed to titillate heterosexual males but were also secretly read by gay women at the time.
In The Shadows was written by the superbly talented and prolific Joan Ellis (Julie Ellis today), one of the best vintage pulp writers. A solid story with a well developed tormented main character, it is a fast entertaining read, but not one of Joan Ellis's best. Ellis always seemed to do her best writing when working in another pulp sub-genre, the teenage dramas.

Still, there is a great "Mad Men" type feel to this story. Like many of the Midwood pulps, it takes place in NYC in the 1960's and the main character Elaine is a high powered advertising executive competing in a chauvinistic world where she is hiding a forbidden secret as her world begins to crumbles around her.

Thanks to Digital Vintage Pulps this book has been restored and made available on Kindle, which is great news since tracking down readable (and affordable) copies of these treasures can be challenging.

Just by the style, I believe the sensational cover art is by legendary cover artist Robert Maguire(less)

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