MysteryPeople Review: PINE BOX FOR A PIN-UP by Frank DeBlase

pine box for a pinup

Sometimes (okay, many times) we read crime fiction simply for the lurid thrill. We love getting into the immoral muck while staying nice and clean in our reading chair. Nothing catered to this readership better the crime and detective paperbacks of the nineteen fifties. They were sleaze with style. Frank DeBlase taps into that subversive era of entertainment in Pine Box For A Pin-Up.

Frankie Valentine has both his job and passion connected to the camera. he takes pictures of the dead as a police photographer while snapping cheese cake shots of lovely ladies for fun and sometime profit. Sometimes he gets involved with his subjects, like his latest, Vickie Hayes. Both of Valentine’s lives collide when a call to a murder scene reveals Vickie to be the victim. Soon, Valentine is running through a dark paperback maze of crooked cops, corrupt powers brokers, strippers, and blackmail with himself as suspect numero uno.

DeBlase immerses us into vintage sin. His writing seems to be as inspired by the sensational covers of those paperbacks as by the books themselves. Valentine is almost as lurid as the story he stars in; his sincerity and lack of hypocrisy are his only saving graces. He narrates his story with hard boiled alliteration that stops just short of parody. We get a tour through fifties underground culture, as Frankie grooves on jazzy rockabilly, hits burlesque houses, and tosses off his pin-up knowledge.

Pine Box For A Pin-Up is everything that made the Eisenhower era less square tossed together. DeBlase gives us a hot rod ride down the lost highway of vice and vixens. Much like Valentine, it celebrates guilty pleasures with no guilt involved.

You can find copies of Pine Box For A Pin-Up on our shelves and via

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