Monte Carlo Mission [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Vivian Connell
eBook Category: Mystery/Crime
eBook Description: Vivian Connell, master of the sophisticated suspense novel, brings you his finest in Monte Carlo Mission. Meet Corinna Lang, a goddess of the movies, who was bored with mammoth swimming pools, small MGs, fat directors, and slim leading men. Bored with the whole great golden illusion of Hollywood, this smart cookie decides a mere vacation in Monte Carlo would be just too tame. She's looking for adventure, and has the right amount of moxie and courage to take advantage of it when she finds it! Take a journey with this enchanting heroine to the wicked, extravagant Riviera where the golden Corinna, undertaker of a top secret mission, lives in the shadow of international intrigue, and matches her quick wit with the most dangerous men in Europe.
About Vintage Paperback Pulp Fiction
A new revolution was underway at the start of the 1940s in America--a paperback revolution that would change the way publishers would produce and distribute books and the reading public would consume them. In 1939 a new publishing company--Pocket Books--stormed onto the scene with the publication of its first paperbound book. Unlike hardback books, these pulp paperbacks were available in drugstores, newsstands, bus and train stations, and cigar shops. The American public could not get enough of them. The popular pulp genres reflected the tastes of Americans during World War II--mysteries, "sleaze", thrillers, and "hardboiled detective" stories were all the rage.
In the early 1950s new pulp fiction sub-genres emerged--science fiction, lesbian fiction, juvenile delinquent and "sleaze", for instance--that would tantalize readers with gritty, realistic and lurid stories never seen before. Publishers had come to realize that sex sells. In a competitive frenzy for readers, they tossed away their staid and straightforward cover images for alluring covers that frequently featured a sexy woman in some form of undress, along with a suggestive tag line that promised stories of sex and violence within the covers. Before long, vintage pulps with sensational covers had completely taken over the paperback racks and cash registers. To this day, the pulp cover art of these vintage paperback books are just as sought after as the books themselves were sixty years ago.
We are excited to make these wonderful pulp fiction stories available in ebook format to new generations of readers, as a new revolution--the ebook revolution--is in full swing. We hope you will enjoy this nostalgic look back at a period in American history when dames were dangerous, tough-guys were deadly and dolls were downright delicious.
eBook Publisher: SRS Internet Publishing/Digital Vintage Pulps, Published: 2010
Fictionwise Release Date: January 2011
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Corinna was lying in the green cushions by the pool of green Italian marble. The sun of California burned into her golden skin and shone in her smoke-blonde hair. She was reading the pink pages of a script through green-tinted sunglasses but her eyes stung in the light. She dipped her ankle into the pool and found it warm. She laid down the script and pressed the button on the promenade of the pool and heard the bell ring in the house. The butler came out looking cool and English in his formal black.
"A highball, Windsor." She kicked her ankle in the water. "You could boil an egg in this pool."
"Yes, madame. Mr. Spiel telephoned to say that he was on his way."
Corinna took off her green glasses and her eyes were green. She wore a bikini that would never get by the Breen Office and a bandeau that would not get by at Biarritz. But she was not cool and she felt her heart throbbing in the heat. She curled herself up and knew that she was ready to meet Spiel.
Spiel came a moment after the highball. He looked old and swarthy in his red shirt and he paused a couple of yards away and looked at her with, eyes that asked what kind of mood she was in today.
"Hello, Corinna." She said nothing and her green eyes were blank as the pool. "Like it, honey?"
She got up in a noiseless spring on bare feet and picked up the script. Then she walked very slowly around" the promenade and dropped the pink pages one by one into the pool. They lay still on the water and Spiel pressed the button and Windsor came out with highballs and did not look at the pool. Corinna came back and lay on the cushions and lit a cigarette. Spiel gulped his highball and his dark Magyar eyes looked troubled in the sunlight.
"You don't like it, honey?"
"I want a nice long holiday, Manny."
"Now, honey, just what's wrong with that story? It's a spy story, and it's got color and background and . . ."
"And me, Manny?"
"Well, sure, that's the idea, and . . ."
"And all the action cutting across me while I stooge about in Vienna and Rome and every little burg in Europe playing a woman who's like a Mata Hari from Bryn Mawr."
"Honey, she's an Austrian, and . . ." Manny looked at the pages floating in the green pool. "What's wrong with the story?"
"I've seen that movie twenty times, Manny, and I'm not going to play it once."
"Listen, you can't miss in this Austrian dame."
"I'm not Austrian, I'm American. Why can't we have a picture with an American woman spy?"
"Corinna, have sense. We don't have American women spies. Women spies are always on the other side. If you want to play an American woman spy, then you'll have to go to Moscow. Look, you can't miss in this part. It's a setup for anybody."
"That's the trouble, Manny. I don't want a setup. I don't want to be a Viennese puppet in a spy story. I want to play somebody I know. What do I know about being a spy? In this story I'd be in Vienna and Rome and Budapest and Athens. I haven't been in Vienna, and I haven't been--"
"Well, it opens in Washington."
"I haven't even been to Washington."
"Nobody goes to Washington. What is it, honey? Give."
"Manny, I want to feel something. I can't feel a damn thing. If I could feel this gal in the story, then maybe . . ." The green eyes brooded over the glass.
"Corinna, you just can't go on drinking highballs in this sun."
She tossed the glass into the pool and now her eyes flashed in anger. She leaped up and all her golden body seemed to burn in anger in the hot light.
"Manny, I want to play somebody I know. I want to play me. Maybe I'll get to know myself that way. I'm tired of playing somebody. I want to be somebody. I want to go into politics or something."
"I want to go to Washington, Manny. Women are doing things there."
"Look, if you feel that way, just go and spend a week in Washington, and if you still feel political after that, then I'll tear up your contract."
"Is that a deal?"
Mantuano Spiel suddenly looked old and crafty, as had his peasant grandfather on his Hortobagy farm in the old days. "Honey, I was only talking."
"I'm serious, Manny. I'm tired of being just a glamour girl."
Corinna pressed the button and Windsor came with more highballs.
"Windsor, tell Barbara to put me on the first plane to Washington. And tell Janie to pack me for a week."
Mantuano Spiel, one-time gypsy horse trader on the plains of Hungary, now chief of the mighty Golden Lion Pictures, Inc., of Hollywood, looked around at the Italian pool, the grave English butler moving inside the window, the girl from the candy shop who was the golden star of Golden Lion. He sighed.
"Sometimes I wish I was back on the Hortobagy, where the horses are, instead of being in the new bluestocking age, with Claire Booth Luce in Rome and Edith Sitwell in Beverly Hills. And your Armand with his chansons and his poodle. All right, honey, have your week in Washington. But when you get back we shoot this picture."
Corinna went in by the window and found Armand sitting on a cushion reading a poem to his white French poodle. She scowled.
"I come just this moment . . . Look, I bring you my heart."
Corinna saw the sweat on his pale face, the opal gleam in his cat eyes. He handed her the album scented with lavender. She read, "Chanson pour Corinne."
"It's Corinna, not Corinne."
"Darleeng, in France . . ."
Corinna blinked at the elegant script. "The hell with France. Let Manny look at it."
She ran upstairs and left Armand on the cushion.
When she had changed into a travel suit she saw Armand sitting by the pool reading his chanson to Manny. The poodle was lapping up the highball.
Then she was packed and ready. She looked out again to call goodby to Manny. The poodle staggered on the promenade and fell into the pool. He was too drunk to swim and rolled down in the water.
With a soprano yell, Armand dived into the pool to rescue his darling. Corinna laughed and then snapped at Janie, who was locking the last suitcase.
"Get me the hell out of here, Janie, before I go nuts."
In Washington, Corinna knew, she must stay at the Abraham Lincoln. She had learned from an article in Harper's Bazaar that it was known as the Home of the Ambassadors. The ambassadors always stayed there while their wives were moving into their official homes. Besides, Jacquard Wyle, who was once Jake Weil at Golden Lion, before he took up residence as Hollywood ambassador to Washington, lived at the Abraham Lincoln. Variety called the hotel the Hollywood Embassy.
Corinna descended from her taxi and saw the light from the porch shining on the green lawn. The porters looked like men who once had fought at Gettysburg. They lifted out her cases and did not look at the name Corinna Lang emblazoned on the leather. She said to the elder from Gettysburg, "Pay the taxi."
The young man at the-desk had a slight French accent, which he had learned when a clerk in the French Embassy.
"I want a room. A suite, I think."
He opened a book. "The name, madame?"
"Lang. Corinna Lang."
He did not seem to know the name and opened the book to L.
"I don't think . . ."
"I haven't a reservation."
"Oh. I'm afraid we can't help you, then, madame." He never once looked at her. "We are quite full, as always."
Corinna scowled and looked at the baronial lounge and the writing tables lit with candles.
"Jake Weil stays here?"
''I do not know the name, madame."
"I mean, Mr. Jacquard Wyle."
"Ah, Mr. Wyle. Yes, madame, he has just gone up."
Corinna walked straight over to the elevator and spoke to the man with epaulets on his livery.
"Mr. Jacquard Wyle's suite. And send up my suitcases."
The man in livery escorted her to Suite 140 and pressed the bell and went back to the elevator. The door was opened by a valet in a short black coat.
"Mr. Wyle in?"
"The name, madame?"
Corinna walked past him and found Jake reading the Washington Post and looking like an aging prime minister from Europe in his formal black.
Jake put down the Washington Post with all the care he once used when arranging a close shot in the studio. "I was afraid of this. And the name is Jacquard." Then he forgot it all and gave her a hug. "It's great to see you, honey."
Wodehouse, the valet, looked so shocked that Jake remembered he was Jacquard and became all Washington again and made a gesture to bring the drinks. Corinna sat down and admired the Bond Street style of hair grooming on Mr. Wyle.
"You must have a make-up man working on you all morning, Jake. What kind of a hotel is this? They don't have a room, and I told them my name."
"That was a mistake. Film stars are persona non grata in the Abraham Lincoln."
"Film stars are what?"
"A little drink, Corinna?"
"A lotta drink, Jake."
"If you had called me, I'd have found you a place to stay, but at this time of
day . . ."
"But I'm staying here, Jake." The green eyes burned. "What the hell do you think?"
"But, my dear . . ."
The bell rang and the valet opened the door and admitted the five suitcases marked Corinna Lang.
"Honey, you can't!" Jake frowned at his valet. '"Wodehouse, lay out my clothes."
Wodehouse went into the bedroom and closed the door.
"Now, Corinna, listen to me. You're in Washington. You're not in Hollywood. You're not even in America. You're in--"
Jake backed away and lit a cigarette. "Honey, you can't stay in this suite. Damn it, do you think I can have a woman staying in my suite in the Abraham Lincoln?"
"Sleep where you like, Jake. I'm staying here. Any trouble and I call up Manny Spiel."
Jake brushed the Bond Street locks away with an angry hand. Then he snapped up the telephone.
"Put me in the Lodge tonight. Miss Lang is staying . . . I don't give a damn. Gimme a room." He slammed down the telephone. "I could murder you for this. Wodehouse will take out some of my things, and Janie can settle you in."
"I didn't bring Janie. I'm traveling incognito." Corinna's lip trembled. "Jake, don't ride me. I came up to Washington because--because . . ."
Jake swung on her and threw her an evening paper.
"Are you telling me why you came to Washington? Do you think I can't read? Haven't you seen the evening papers? Incognito!"
Corinna felt her skin prickle as she read Miss Hilda Hooper's little story about Corinna Lang's flight to Washington from her broken romance with the French poet Armand. Tears of anger blinded her as she read Armand's hurt denial that the romance was over. Armand, fondling his poodle while being questioned in his lilac pajamas by Miss Hooper, could only explain Corinna's Washington trip in the cutest Gallic American.
"I don't know. I think, perhaps, the President, he make a call to her and . . . Maybe she go into the politique."
Corinna stamped on the paper. Jake was stern.
"And who the hell is this Armand?"
"He's a phony French poet. He's been around just three times, for just long enough for him to read a poem. Damn him, I hardly know him. I . . ."
Jake lent her his handkerchief and spoke grimly. "Well, we ought to hire him as publicity man. He certainly has queered you in Washington."
"Call up Manny! Tell him to sue that creep. Kick him out of Hollywood! Tell him?"
"Honey, relax. You can't do anything now. We'll get Wally or somebody to wipe the story and get something on this Armand. That's all we can do. Who the hell can do anything about Hilda Hooper?"
Corinna trembled and the ice shook in her glass. "Oh, Jake, I feel--sick. Maybe I'm hungry. Take me out to dinner."
"I can't. I've got an important date."
"Who is she?"
Jake smiled and looked a hundred years old. "Honey. Have sense. This is Washington. I've got a date with Colbrook."
"And who the hell is Colbrook?"
"Colbrook! Why, he's the assistant secretary in--"
"Corinna, you may be number one at the box office, but you're only a country lass in Washington. Anywhere ten miles away from the White House is back country. You'd better get hep to who's who in Washington. You gotta be seen with the right people, eat in the right places . . ."
"Where do I eat?"
"There's only one right place, and that's the Trianon. But you've got to be with somebody who's known."
Corinna swore. "I don't suppose anybody in Washington has heard of Corinna Lang?"
Jake got up and smiled. "Honey, I've got to change. Take the second bedroom in there. Wodehouse will move me out and unpack your things." He put his hands on her shoulders. "You gotta reorientate yourself here."
Jake went in to change and Corinna went into the unused bedroom and reburnished her eyes. She felt she wanted to cry in anger and then she laughed in the mirror.
"So I've got to be with somebody who's known to go to the Trianon."
Then her smile died. Who did she know in Washington, anyway? It looked like a chicken sandwich and a drink in Jake's suite. She brushed the ringlet over her ear and went out and poured herself a stiff one. When Jake came out she hardly knew him. He wore a tuxedo and an ivory silk waistcoat with a gold watch chain. A monocle hung from his lapel. Corinna giggled.
"O.K., I'll call you Jacquard if you hang that monocle on your eye." Jake winked at her with his bare eye. She stared at him. "Do you know what Manny said about you, Jake? He said you didn't do a damn thing in Washington and that you were worth a million dollars a year. I've just realized what he meant . . . And what do I do, sit in all evening and read the paper?"
"I don't know. You can always go to a movie." The bell rang and Jake picked up the telephone. "It's for you, honey."
He listened to her on the telephone and his face dropped in gloom. When she had hung up, he asked, "Who was that?"
"Mickey Adams, the polo player. A ten-goal man. I'm having dinner with him."
"A polo player! I could have found you an attache' at least."
He glanced at his watch, kissed her coolly, and went out of the room.