Tony Romero rises from being a poor unwanted Italian kid to being a big player in the rackets, specifically, pimping. Tony kills and schemes his way up the ranks until he meets the one woman he doesn't want to put to work. Will he leave pimping behind for her or is he already too deep in his life's work as a Peddler
Richard S. Prather has a rare talent, one that's seldom seen outside of Richard Stark and Max Allan Collins: he made me care about a lowlife douche like Tony Romero. Romero's a liar, a user, and a woman-beater, in addition to being a pimp, but I still wanted him to rise to the top of the rackets. Not that I wasn't happy with the ending...
There's a good amount of action and a fair amount of titillation in The Peddler, enough to keep anyone interested. "What about the three rating? What kept it from being ranked higher?"
you ask. I'll tell you. Nearly all of the female characters were exactly the same apart from physical descriptions. I didn't buy Tony falling for Betty, considering she didn't have much in the way of personality to distinguish her from the others. Other than that, I may have subtracted a half star or so because the dialogue is a bit outdated. Tony says God and Jesus in the same sentence and people are acting like he's the Demon God of Vulgar Language.
All things considered, The Peddler is worth a read. It's quick and, as part of the Hard Case Crime Series, is quite affordable.