Finished: The Peddler by Richard S. Prather, 2006, 9780843955989.
Excellent. Another Hard Case Crime reprint. Originally published in 1952. I should think of signing up for Hard Case's standing order for home.
Main character Tony Romero is a young (twenty years old) and up and coming pimp. He works his way into the whore house business after running into an old neighborhood gal, Maria, who becomes his girlfriend. Maria is a whore and Tony has her get him an invite to a private party with her boss. It is a fortuitous invite because a guy Tony used to do odd job crimes for is there.
Tony is well written and the story is told from his viewpoint. He is impatient, ruthless, overconfident, plotting and is concerned only for his advancement and income. After he shoots a crooked cop running a competing house he leaves San Francisco until someone else can get pinched for the crime. His boss has him recruiting girls and Tony falls for a local girl in the process. He cannot understand his hesitancy and lack of confidence in dealing with her and cannot understand her intense dislike for his work.
I have not read many dime novels written in this period but was surprised by the sex in this one. There is nothing graphic but Tony Romero bangs his boss's swinging wife at a party, reminisces about gang banging neighborhood girl Maria when she was 13, Maria says she could screw a horse and Tony would not care, Tony procuring girls for whore houses when on the lam, banging a sixteen year old and keeping her in his hotel room until he gets sick of her and sticks her on a bus to San Francisco.
According to Crider, Prather was extremely popular in his time; the book cover proclaims he sold 40 million books.