Carnal Greed by Pauline C. Smith. Newsstand Library (1960), 192 pp.
On a hot and smoggy afternoon in the San Fernando Valley, Blanchard Engineering, a small firm always teetering on the brink of collapse, has completed the test of the sub-zero environmental chamber. Only one problem has arisen: Someone remained inside and froze to death. At the start of the day a completely different issue vexed T. L. Blanchard, whether to sell his business to the company’s two real engineers or try to hang on without them. Remarkably, he’s allowed his employees to vote on the question. Some of their careers will be affected, of course, but their primary concerns lie elsewhere -- especially in their marriages and sexual relationships.
The book has a frozen corpse, several descriptions of sexual activity, an enticing title, and a semi-clothed woman on the cover. It must be another piece of paperback sleaze. But it’s not. What readers will get instead is a thinly disguised example of middle-class realism. The author aims to present the lives of ordinary people at a crucial moment in the operation of a typical small business. The employees of Blanchard Engineering endure not so much quiet desperation as nagging discontent. Smith offers no solutions. Her writing style is lively, and her descriptions suggest real-life familiarity with the sort of business and workers she depicts. Readers with the appropriate expectations are likely to enjoy the book.