The PopCult Bookshelf

Mad For Kicks
A Tokey Wedge Swinger
by Jack Lynn
published by Grizzly Pulp

Tokey Wedge, that dynamic little (5 ft 6 and 3/4in) private eye goes undercover as “Al White, hitman from Detroit” to insinuate himself into a gang of rapists and murderers. Once again, he’s a few steps ahead of police lieutenant Ordway, but outnumbered several gangsters to one. Law-abiding Tokey has to prove himself to the thugs by making a couple of killings. After all, that’s what hitmen do, right?” How can he possibly do what’s expected of him without becoming a murderer himself?

This is Grizzly Pulp #2, the long-awaited follow-up to Nympho Lodge, which I reviewed last year. It’s another classic pulp adventure starring Tokey Wedge.

Tokey Wedge was the star of about 20 cheap pulp novels that were originally published back in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Cranked out by proflic “Men’s Adventure” writer Max van derVeer under his “Jack Lynn” psuedonym, these were originally put out by Novel Books of Chicago and they are now being resurrected by the folks at Grizzly Pulp, featuring terrific new covers by Jim Silke, just in time to warp the minds of a new generation of readers. As with their first release, the book comes with a tasteful dust cover to protect the book from prying eyes.

As I said last year, essentially, these books were “grindhouse” for folks with no access to a grindhouse theater.

The Tokey Wedge adventures are genuine pulp material of the period, following the adventures of a diminutive “citizen cop,” tooling around the city in his Triumph, who has an enormous anatomical advantage over the other dicks on the beat. These books are loaded with sexual innuendo, fast-paced action and amourous and lusty diversions. Seriously for a little guy, Mr. Wedge makes James Bond seem like a eunuch by comparison.

In Mad For Kicks, it’s like the book’s original editor said, “We loved the first book, but for the second one, can you make it way more rapey?”

As with Nympho Lodge I have to provide a trigger warning: The Tokey Wedge adventures are more than a little rapey, and they’re jokey about it. They do not treat women as much more than sex objects. There is also plenty of racism and homophobia on display. If you are bothered by violence toward women, you probably don’t want to read these books.  In Mad For Kicks, Tokey Wedge finds himself helping the police hunt down a gang of brutal Beatnik rapists.

Seriously, the pull quote for the book is this:

“Simple rape would have been child’s play compared to what these kick-crazy Beatniks planned!”

The publisher’s blurb goes into more detail…

It starts off simply enough for Tokey Wedge, “citizen cop.” He’s hired by rich Walter Fisher to find and kill the men who raped his daughter. The horror later leads to a criminal operation too big for one guy to take on—unless the guy is Tokey Wedge!

This almost insurmountable challenge is further complicated by all the ample-chested dames who yearn for Tokey’s prodigious affection …..will our hero be able to take out the gangland boss first, or will he end up in the morgue under John Doe?

The prologue is a detailed description of the abduction of a woman and beginning of a rape that sets the tone for the book. While this book can be hilarious and entertaining to people who enjoy the sheer absurdity of mid-century, pre-hardcore days of mysogynistic pseudo-porn, it could also be very traumatic if your personal experiences outweigh your interest in this type of fiction.

Warnings aside, Mad For Kicks is a quick read, intentionally and unintentionally funny, and it’s a wild artifact of its time. We’ve seen this genre watered down and done as homage for so long, it’s fascinating to experience the genuine article.

Aside from the controversial subject matter, the books are well-crafted “crime noir.” Aside from the prologue, the book is written in the first person, as Tokey. The dialogue is crisp and clever, and the characterization of Tokey is very solid. Since we meet everyone else through his perceptions, it makes for a very consistent narrative.

Just as last time, Grizzly Pulp has done an amazing job here, recreating the look and feel of a cheap pulp novel, with thin cover stock and grayish pulp paper. The book is in the traditional cheap “pocket book” size around 4″ by 7″. Jim Silke provides another exquisite cover, which is hidden behind a plain black dust cover, so you aren’t seen reading such scandalous material in public.  You can order Mad For Kicks starting today at their website. You can also pick up the first volume in this series, Nympho Lodge.

Mad For Kicks is $9.95 plus shipping, and when the books will likely come loaded with extras like stickers, coasters and stuff that plug other pulp novel reprints. It’s a guilty pleasure, to be sure, but it’s good sleazy fun, the kind men like. 

Leave a Reply