Reviews > Published on May 4th, 2015

Bookshots: 'Thieves Fall Out' by Gore Vidal (writing as Cameron Kay)

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Thieves Fall Out

Who wrote it?

This is genuine pulp fiction, not a clever parody. It’s got a great, delightfully lurid story:

Gore Vidal, under the pseudonym Cameron Kay.

Plot in a Box:

In the 1950s, a hot drifter gets involved in a jewel heist in Egypt and falls in love with a Nazi’s daughter.

Invent a new title for this book:

Rats Sphinx

Read this if you like:

Pulp fiction (the genre, not the film)

Meet the book’s lead:

Studly Pete Wells, a broad shouldered WWII vet who wakes up in a Cairo whorehouse with nothing but his passport.

Said lead would be portrayed in a movie by:

Classic: Glenn Ford

Contemporary: Channing Tatum

Setting: would you want to live there?

Not on your life.

What was your favorite sentence?

None in particular – the prose wasn’t written to be noticed.

The Verdict :

Gore Vidal wrote this pulp novel in 1953 to make some money after the scandalous The City and the Pillar temporarily beached his career. He doesn’t wink at you from behind his pseudonym, Cameron Kay; this is genuine pulp fiction, not a clever parody.

It’s got a great, delightfully lurid story: muscular Pete Wells gets rolled in a filthy Cairo brothel and agrees to earn some money by acting as courier for a gang of friendly, deadly antiquities thieves. In addition to a mysterious French femme fatale and an untrustworthy alcoholic Brit, manly Pete meets the beautiful daughter of the late commandant at Dachau. (If you’re going to get your protagonist laid, you may as well go for broke as far as the gal's background is concerned.) There are riots in Cairo, a mysterious hunchback, a priceless ruby, and tubby King Farouk, who, as Vidal puts it, looks like a dentist. There's even a near castration in the desert. Thieves Fall Out is a hell of a lot of fun.

About the author

Ed Sikov is the author of 7 books about films and filmmakers, including On Sunset Boulevard:; The Life and Times of Billy Wilder; Mr. Strangelove: A Biography of Peter Sellers; and Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis.

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