Bibliographies, Lists & Checklists


THE BACKWARD REVIEWER
William F. Deeck


AUSTIN LEE – Miss Hogg and the Missing Sisters. Jonathan Cape, UK, hardcover, 1961. No US edition.

AUSTIN LEE Miss Hogg

   The elderly ladies who live next door to Alan Johnston, middle-aged author of historical novels, have written a book about the old days in Ireland and are worried about parts of it perhaps being libelous. Thus they seek Johnston’s advice. Before he can read much of the book, his neighbors disappear and the manuscript is the only item taken from his house during a burglary.

   In addition, in the same neighborhood a death, possibly murder, with seemingly no connection to the disappearance or the burglary, has taken place. Johnston consults Miss Hogg, B.A., Private Investigator, and he, she, and Miss Hogg’s friend, Millie, travel to the elderly ladies’ childhood home, with both good and bad results.

   This novel takes place near the end of Miss Hogg’s career as a private investigator — it is the penultimate; the final one is fittingly titled Miss Hogg’s Last Case — and contains little about her as an individual. Her first name is an aberration on her mother’s part, she says, and she prefers to be known as ‘Hogg, tout conn. ” Her given name is revealed, though not by her, as Flora, about which someone remarks, I must say that Miss Hogg did not immediately suggest to one the goddess of the spring.”

   Whether Miss Hogg can be placed in the little-old-lady-detective category, I cannot say since her age is not provided. She is a former schoolteacher, but not as far as I could tell a retired one. Johnston, whose views are more elderly than he, makes for a somewhat amusing narrator.

   On the other hand, Miss Hogg really doesn’t come alive, the plot is minimal, and the murderer and the motive are patent. Nonetheless, while Austin Lee’s name is not going on my list of authors to look for, should I come across another of his Miss Hogg novels serendipitously, I would not hesitate to read it.

   Since Hubin’s bibliography does not mention it and there might be those who would like to know, I’ll note that Austin Lee was a clergyman.

– From The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 13, No. 2, Spring 1991.


      The Miss Flora Hogg series

Sheep’s Clothing. Cape, 1955.
Call in Miss Hogg. Cape, 1956.
Miss Hogg and the Bronte Murders. Cape, 1956.

AUSTIN LEE Miss Hogg

Miss Hogg and the Squash Club Murder. Cape, 1957.
Miss Hogg and the Dead Dean. Cape, 1958.
Miss Hogg Flies High. Cape, 1958.
Miss Hogg and the Covent Garden Murders. Cape, 1960.

AUSTIN LEE Miss Hogg

Miss Hogg and the Missing Sisters. Cape, 1961.
Miss Hogg’s Last Case. Cape, 1963.

REVIEWED BY WALTER ALBERT:         


MARIANE MACDONALD

MARIANNE MACDONALD – Die Once. St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, May 2003. No US paperback edition. Published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton, hardcover, 2002.

   Antiquarian book dealer Dido Hoare loses a recent but good customer in an apparent suicide. Of course, things are never what they seem, so when the suicide is investigated, Dido finds herself involved as she inventories his collection for the firm of lawyers that’s handling the estate and gets increasingly drawn into the maze the case turns into.

   The book dealing is nicely integrated, as usual. The plot is somewhat too intricate (and perhaps too drawn out) to be completely involving, but this is certainly a recommended bibliomystery.

       The Dido Hoare series –

1. Death’s Autograph (1996)

MARIANE MACDONALD

2. Ghost Walk (1997)
3. Smoke Screen (1999)
4. Road Kill (2000)
5. Blood Lies (2001)

MARIANE MACDONALD

6. Die Once (2002)
7. Three Monkeys (2005)
8. Faking It (2006)

JONATHON KING – A Visible Darkness. Signet paperback reprint; 1st printing, April 2004. Hardcover edition: Dutton, 2003.

JONATHON KING A Visible Darkness

   The first book in this series was The Blue Edge of Midnight, and in 2003 that was the book that won the MWA’s Edgar award for the Best First Mystery Novel (American). Unfortunately I’ve not had the pleasure of reading that earlier book, so before starting this one, the Signet reprint, all I had to rely upon were the several pages of quotes inside the front cover, from all kinds of sources. King has been compared most often, it appears, with Michael Connelly and James Lee Burke.

   This is embarrassing. I’ve not read Connelly, and the one Burke I began, I stopped after a chapter or so. This is rather disgraceful on my part, and now that I am much older, I fully intend to move both authors a notch higher on the To-Be-Read pile really soon now.

   But I digress. King’s leading character is Max Freeman, an ex-Philadelphia cop who had enough of the dirty Philly streets, and he now lives in seclusion in a former hunting lodge on the edges of the Everglades. There is a back story behind this, it goes without saying, and apparently not all of it was not told in the earlier volume, as it continues to be revealed in short, incisive bits and pieces in this one.

   Max has two friends. One is Billy Manchester, a black attorney – one of the few success stories to emerge from the Philadelphia ghetto – who calls Max out of his private sanctuary to help him on a case of serial murders he believes he has uncovered in the established black community. The other is a very sharp police detective named Sherry Richards, with whom he is also on good terms, most of the time.

   Unfortunately – from my point of view, and maybe not yours – we know who the killer is in Chapter One. It is an insurance racket, however, and who is pulling the strings is kept a secret by the author until page 160, when the case is all but solved. That there are still well over a hundred pages to go should tell you that an old-fashioned detective investigation is not one of King’s primary points of focus.

   On the other hand, characterization, dialogue and a sharp eye for locale are definitely among his strong points. Whether it’s the smell of the mangroves and the flooded cypress forests of the Everglades – about which perhaps there should have been more – or the tangy, edgy sense of awareness of being in the wrong section of town, on the other side of the tracks, or doing the police beat in West Palm Beach – King’s been there, and he’s able to tell us what it’s like.

   No wonder. He’s also been a long-time journalist and an award-winning news feature writer for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. While the book may be deficient as a novel of finely-tuned detective fiction, from the level of the streets, it’s as bold as brass and almost as striking.

– April 2004

       The Max Freeman series —

1. The Blue Edge of Midnight (2002)
2. A Visible Darkness (2003)
3. Shadow Men (2004)
4. A Killing Night (2005)
5. Acts of Nature (2007)
6. Midnight Guardians (2010)

[UPDATE] 03-02-14. Another series I’ve lost track of, but I have an excuse, of sorts. The last couple of the books have been published by a small independent press and (I believe) only in hardcover. Even though my comments at the time I wrote this review could only be called mixed, it’s good to see that the series continued on in spite of my lack of participation.

W. C. TUTTLE – Straws in the Wind. Hillman #26, paperback, no date stated [1949?]. Hardcover edition: Houghton Mifflin, February 1948. First published as a 38 page story in Short Stories, July 10, 1938.

W. C. TUTTLE Straws in the Wind

   I remember reading a lot of Tuttle’s work back when I first started reading paperback westerns in the late 1950s: Luke Short, Max Brand and so on, the early Gold Medal’s, westerns published by Popular Library and lots and lots of Dell’s by authors no one but me would me would remember, and me only barely.

   I also remember listening to the Hashknife Hartley and Sleepy Stevens radio show on Mutual, two of Tuttle’s most famous characters — a pair of cattlemen’s detectives, as I recall, whose adventures took them all over the Old West.

   Not too many collectors of old time radio shows know about the program, by the way, and as far as I know, only two of the programs still exist, both badly trimmed to fit into the Armed Forces redistribution format. I remember the program distinctly, however, surprisingly so, given my extreme youth at the time. As a matter of fact, it was Tuttle himself who appeared and introduced each episode on the air – but I digress.

   In any case, when I started Straws in the Wind, it had been a long time since I’d read anything at all by Tuttle, so I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect — you can’t always go back to old favorites and expect them to be new favorites all over again — but as soon as I started reading it – see if this makes sense – it was exactly as I expected.

   That’s from the very first paragraph on. See what you think:

   No one seemed to know the exact age of Granny Miles. Over a hundred, they said. She was a small, antiquated morsel of humanity, her little face etched with a million fine lines which seemed multiplied around her eyes, which were clear and still very blue. She carried a gnarled stick in lieu of a cane, and thumped herself around with an alacrity seldom seen in one of her age.

   Granny, as it happens, is an oracle of sorts, forecasting to Donna Weir as soon as the book begins that trouble is coming. If Tuttle is not exactly a teller of tall tales, he comes awfully close – a yarn spinner of some magnitude. The usual kind of opening that almost every western begins with comes at the start of Chapter Two:

   Jack Dean drew rein at the top of the grade and looked back at the long slope, where the dirt road twisted over the hills out of the haze of the distance. The old road looked like broken bits of dirty-yellow ribbon, stretched over the hills out of the haze.

   Ahead of him the road ran through a natural cut in the hills, after which it sloped sharply into Council Valley.

   At the age of 22, Dean is returning to the valley after an absence of twelve years. His father, Wolf Dean, had ruled Council Valley for 25 years, and Jack assumes that the reason the telegram had requested his return was that his father was dead. Which is true. The older man had been murdered, shot through a window in his home, and the killer has not been found.

   Confronting one of the residents of Lost Horse, a moonshiners’ settlement in the other end of the valley, here’s Jack Dean in action (pages 26-27 of the Hillman edition):

   Jack’s left hand flashed out, his fingers hooking into the collar of Sol Feeney’s shirt. Then he fairly lifted Feeney off his feet and pulled him so close that their noses almost touched. Feeney struggled for a moment, but realized he was no match for this hard-muscled young man.

   “You and your dirty gang of murderers killed my father,” said Jack quietly, “and you’ve got the gall to threaten me. Feeney, I’m not afraid of you and your killers, and you can pack that word to them. You’ll find that Wolf Pup can cut and slash as hard as the Old Wolf. You killed him, hoping that I wouldn’t come back. Well, I’m back – so make the most of it.”

W. C. TUTTLE Straws in the Wind

   I would imagine that those paragraphs would constitute a review in themselves, if the purpose of a review is allow you to decide whether a given book is one that you’d care to read, or not.

   There is a girl, of course, if you’ll allow me to keep on talking anyway. We met Donna in Chapter One, and of course she lives in the wrong end of the valley. She favors Jack, however, and she is willing to risk the wrath of her father by giving Jack a heads-up warning when she knows he is about to get into trouble. In return, her father is determined to marry her off to someone else, and she is made a prisoner in her own home, all the way up to her wedding day.

   Jack is asked to take his father’s place on the local ruling Council – Lost Horse having no representation, to their continuing and growing irritation – but he is not sure that the Council really wants anything to do with his new ideas, most of which would mean their giving up some of the power they are used to having.

   With an open seat at stake, the whole valley is about to explode. It’s about as stable as – a straw in the wind, you might say – and Jack Dean is at the center of it. Another straw is Donna’s grandmother, who just might be able to say who her granddaughter should be marrying, and that does not mean the intellectually challenged Len McFee, the fellow chosen by her father.

   There is more than a modicum of gunfire in this book, as you can tell from the cover, but I don’t imagine that I am giving anything away when I say that in spite of the obstacles in their way, good hearts do prevail. It all turns out well, in other words, especially when you consider how much (or how little) of the valley is left standing when everything is over. Whatever anyone might say, they certainly don’t write them very much like this any more.

   And all seriousness aside — keeping in mind that I mentioned Tuttle as very much a teller of tall tales, didn’t I? — there are also parts of Straws in the Wind that tickled my funny bone considerably, this way and the other, and the book just might affect you that way, too.

— Reprinted from Durn Tootin’ #7 , July
    2005 (considerably shortened and revised).


[UPDATE] 02-28-14. A chunk of the earlier version of this review contained a checklist of all of Tuttle’s fiction that ever appeared in paperback, along with some comments and other discussion of his overall body of work by me. I’ll not include the commentary here, as much of it is out of date, but I see no reason why the checklist should not be included here.

   I have made no attempt to expand or update this list, so please take this as a work in progress. Whitledge-Clark refers to a mimeographed checklist of all of Tuttle’s western fiction, not just that which appeared in paperback. Said I at the time:

    “… someone offered for sale on eBay [and I won] a complete checklist of Tuttle’s works – a fanzine titled The Hitching Rail, published by Fred C. Whitledge and William J. Clark.
    “This issue, done in mimeo, is Volume 2, #1, and it came out ‘Sometime in 1975.’”

     ● Indicates a title not listed in Whitledge-Clark.
     ●● Indicates a title listed in Twentieth-Century Western Writers, Second Edition, but for which no further confirmation of its existence has been discovered.

● The Devil’s Payday. Garden City, dime novel format, 1920s. A pulp story with this title appeared in Short Stories, October 10, 1922.
● The Law of the Range. Garden City, dime novel format, 1920s. A pulp story with this title appeared in Short Stories, — ? Found on ABE only in a hardcover four-in-one edition with three other authors.
● Powder Law. Garden City, dime novel format, 1920s. A pulp story with this title appeared in Short Stories, — ? No copies found on ABE or in WorldCat.
●● Sad Sontag Plays His Hunch. Garden City, dime novel format, 1920s. A pulp story with this title appeared in Short Stories, —? No copies found on ABE or in WorldCat.
● Sontag of Sundown. Garden City, dime novel format, 1920s. A pulp story with this title appeared in Short Stories, July 10, 1922.
● Spawn of the Desert. Garden City, dime novel format, 1920s. A pulp story with this title appeared in Short Stories, May 10, 1922.
● Straight Shooting. Garden City, dime novel format, 1920s. A pulp story with this title appeared in Short Stories, August 10, 1924. No copies found on ABE.
● Tramps of the Range. Garden City, dime novel format, 1920s. A pulp story with this title appeared in Short Stories, — ? No copies found on ABE or in WorldCat.
The Mystery of the Red Triangle, Avon #53, 1944.
● Blind Trail at Sunrise, Royce Quick Reader #148, small-sized (approx. 3″ x 5″), 1945. NOTE: A pulp story with this title appeared in Short Stories, April 10, 1933.
Bluffer’s Luck, Western Novel of the Month #27, digest-sized, 1945; Hillman #5, 1948
Tumbling River Range, Western Novel of the Month ##33, digest-sized, 1945; Hillman #2, 1948.
The Keeper of Red Horse Pass, Western Novel of the Month #41, digest-sized, 1945.
The Tin God of Twisted River, Western Novel of the Month #46, digest-sized, 1945.
The Dead-Line, Western Novel of the Month #50, digest-sized, 1945.
Hashknife of the Double Bar 8. Western Novel of the Month #55, digest-sized, 1945.
Singing River, Popular Library #96, 1946.
● The Vultures of Vacaville, Western Novel of the Month #108, digest-sized, 1946. No prior appearance of a Tuttle story by this name is known.
Hidden Blood, Popular Library #149, 1948.
Valley of Vanishing Herds, Popular Library #165, 1948.
Straws in the Wind, Hillman #26, 1949.
The Redhead from Sun Dog, Hillman #28, 1949.
Trouble at the JHC, Hillman #40, 1949. Original title: The Mystery at the JHC Ranch.
Wild Horse Valley, Popular Library #203, 1949.
Twisted Trails, Popular Library #249, 1950. Original title: The Santa Dolores Stage (Houghton Mifflin, 1934). NOTE: There is some confusion about this attribution. According to some sources, the hardcover edition of this book was The Valley of the Twisted Trails (Houghton Mifflin, 1931), but this assertion does not appear to be substantiated.
Hashknife of Stormy River, Hillman #37, 1950.
Shotgun Gold, Popular Library #297, Dec 1950.
The Trouble Trailer, Popular Library #330, Apr 1951.
Gun Feud, Popular Library #354, July 1951. Abridged edition. Original title: Wandering Dogies.
Thunderbird Range, Pyramid #370, 1958.
● The Redhead of Aztec Wells [+] Trouble at War Eagle, Tor Western Double #14, Jan 1991. Book #1 appeared in West, August 1946. Book #2 has a 1950 copyright date, but where it first appeared, no one seems to know.

THE SERIES CHARACTERS FROM
DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY
by Monte Herridge


        #17. OLD CALAMITY, by Joseph Fulling Fishman.

   Joseph Fulling Fishman created the prison series (ran 1928-1939) for Detective Fiction Weekly about the jailer Old Calamity, making use of his knowledge of crime and prisons. In fact, Fishman wrote more nonfiction articles on these subjects from 1925-1942 for Detective Fiction Weekly than stories in the fiction series.

   He also wrote articles for other magazines such as Reader’s Digest and The Saturday Evening Post, and books about crime and prisons. Fishman was a 1931 choice for a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was awarded a grant for being chosen. According to Wikipedia, the Fellowships “have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those ‘who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.’ ”

   The name Old Calamity is what the three thousand inmates of the state prison at Cosmopolis call him. The guards and other personnel call him Ole Dep Fletch out of his hearing. His real name is Deputy Warden Fletcher, and even though there is a warden who is a political appointee, Fletcher is really the one running the prison.

   The wardens of the prison were all political appointees, but Fletcher was a professional jailer. The wardens were appointed by the state governor, but the governor on one occasion said: “You know, Fletcher. You’re really the one I should appoint warden, but of course there’s politics . . .” (Old Calamity’s Stick-up)

   “Thirty years of combating the plots and counterplots and the intrigues and chicanery of thousands of inmates of every degree of criminality and cunning and viciousness . . . had sharpened the perceptions of the Deputy Warden.” (Old Calamity Starts a Fight)

   This long experience gave Old Calamity an advantage when dealing with the many problems that he came across in his job. He knew just about every trick the convicts tried, and how to deal with them. He enjoys his work, and at one point turns down a job offer from a rich businessman with the comment “I’m afraid not, thank you,” Old Calamity replied. “I’m doing the kind of work I like and that’s worth more than money.” (Old Calamity Sniffs a Clue)

OLD CALAMITY

   He usually went to work in the prison at seven in the morning, and had a regular routine except when emergencies or problems interrupted. His usual morning routine was “supervising the count, reading his mail, making assignments of new prisoners, and so on, . . .” (By a Nose)

   He doesn’t let the routine of everyday work get himself in a rut where he overlooks things; he notices the smallest detail of what may turn out to be very important to him and the prison. Probably why he has lasted so long in his job.

   The stories are basically all about Old Calamity, with very few appearances by a regular cast of characters. One regular is Croaker Engle, the “brusque old prison doctor.” His appearances in the stories are usually very short. Before him, a Doctor Cosgrove made a single appearance in the story “Fine Feathers.”

   The prison warden is mentioned in the stories, but plays very little part in the stories. An exception to this are the stories “Old Calamity Starts a Fight,” and “Between the Lines,” where part of the story takes place around the warden. The warden of the prison is replaced at one point in the series. The warden and Old Calamity both have homes right next to the prison grounds.

   The stories usually involve murder in the prison by inmates murdering other inmates, for various motives. Prison breaks and conspiracies aimed at escaping prison are also elements in the stories. Fletcher has to break up the escapes, which sometimes are very cleverly planned.

   In the story “Old Calamity Scores Twice,” he not only has to foil a planned escape, but solve a clever locked cell murder made to look like suicide. In “Between the Lines,” he literally has to read between the lines of a prisoner’s book reading material to discover a plot to escape using explosives.

OLD CALAMITY

   The earliest story in the series, “By a Nose,” involves uncovering a murder by bomb and finding the culprit. His investigations of various kinds involve him acting more as a detail-oriented detective than as a deputy warden.

   Another concern of prison authorities is the use of illegal drugs by the inmates. The story “Fine Feathers” relates the attempt of Old Calamity to stop the flow of drugs into the prison, and in a later story, “Old Calamity Starts a Fight,” the problem of drug usage is also the main theme. This is certainly based on situations in real prisons at the time. Morphine is the drug mentioned in these stories.

   “Fine Feathers” relates some of the problems that drug usage by inmates causes – aggressiveness and fighting by prisoners, and other irrational behavior. One prisoner high on drugs even set his cell on fire.

   One story showed Old Calamity on vacation, enjoying relaxing fishing. However, the local law enforcement find out he is there and enlist his aid in solving a series of inexplicable burglaries. (Old Calamity Sniffs a Clue)

   This use of Old Calamity’s talents outside his own prison was not the only time this occurred. It appears that he was available for aid at other prisons having problems. In the story “The Suicides in Cell 32,” he travels to Milford State Prison to help investigate a series of murders made to look like suicides.

OLD CALAMITY

   Warden Olmstead of the prison knew of his reputation and had requested his help. In less than twelve hours Old Calamity has solved the mystery and was on his way back to his own prison. He noted: “I guess that some of the birds up at my place will be sorry it didn’t take me several weeks. I’m afraid they won’t be any too glad to see me back in the morning.”

   In “Old Calamity Lays the Ghost,” he travels to another prison in Springdale in response to another request for help. Warden Armitage of the prison has a mystery for him to solve: twice men in their cells have been stabbed and nearly killed. In both instances knives were found in the cells, but no evidence was found as to how the men could have been stabbed inside of locked cells.

   Old Calamity finds an ingenious method has been employed in the stabbings. It took him a few days to resolve this one, but he had developed the patience to wait for the right time. “He had often waited weeks and sometimes months for the development of a prison plot. He knew it was something that could not be hurried, . . .”

   The series is very good in its story telling and relation of the various mysteries Old Calamity is involved in. Altogether, Fishman’s descriptions of prison life and the psychological aspects of the stories seem to be very convincing, and made the stories more than mere sensationalistic prison stories such as other pulp writers wrote.

       The “Old Calamity” series by Joseph Fulling Fishman:

By a Nose October 27, 1928
Fine Feathers February 2, 1929
The Yawn March 2, 1929
Old Calamity Stages an Act April 6, 1929
Old Calamity Lays the Ghost April 9, 1932
Old Calamity Holds the Wire July 23, 1932
Old Calamity Starts a Fight September 17, 1932
Old Calamity Scores Twice February 11, 1933
The Suicides in Cell Thirty-Two June 17, 1933
Between the Lines September 9, 1933
Old Calamity Sniffs a Clue April 7, 1934
Old Calamity Cleans Up May 19, 1934
Old Calamity’s Stick-up June 23, 1934
Old Calamity Stops a Leak June 5, 1937
Honor of Thieves March 18, 1939

    Previously in this series:

1. SHAMUS MAGUIRE, by Stanley Day.
2. HAPPY McGONIGLE, by Paul Allenby.
3. ARTY BEELE, by Ruth & Alexander Wilson.
4. COLIN HAIG, by H. Bedford-Jones.
5. SECRET AGENT GEORGE DEVRITE, by Tom Curry.
6. BATTLE McKIM, by Edward Parrish Ware.
7. TUG NORTON by Edward Parrish Ware.
8. CANDID JONES by Richard Sale.
9. THE PATENT LEATHER KID, by Erle Stanley Gardner.
10. OSCAR VAN DUYVEN & PIERRE LEMASSE, by Robert Brennan.
11. INSPECTOR FRAYNE, by Harold de Polo.
12. INDIAN JOHN SEATTLE, by Charles Alexander.
13. HUGO OAKES, LAWYER-DETECTIVE, by J. Lane Linklater.
14. HANIGAN & IRVING, by Roger Torrey.
15. SENOR ARNAZ DE LOBO, by Erle Stanley Gardner.
16. DETECTIVE X. CROOK, by J. Jefferson Farjeon.

DAVID HILTBRAND – Killer Solo. Avon, paperback original. First printing, January 2004.

DAVID HILTBRAND - Killer Solo

   I was going to start this review by stating that this is the best rock music detective novel I have ever read. It then occurred to me that this may be the only rock music detective novel I have ever read. I know there are others. Unless there are some that aren’t coming to mind right now, though, I just haven’t read them.

   Forgive me if you’re not a rock music fan. I’m going to quote the entire first page. You can skip this and go on the rest of review, if you want to. In fact, you can even go on to the next review, if you want to. I can’t stop you.

   The house lights dimmed and the crowd erupted, a scalding howl of bloodlust and anticipation. The PA system began pumping out strange Sufi snake-charming music that became more insistent and penetrating as it gradually grew louder and faster. The audience, already stoked, got swept up by this swirling, modal sound – hypnotic music that seemed to climb and coil around your brain stem.

   Roadies were leading band members out onto the dark stage, focusing hooded flashlights down at their feet. The people at the front of the arena were the first to notice the eerie processional and their cries of delight swept like a paper fire past where I stood behind the mixing board to the back of the floor and up into the tiers of balconies.

   All the time, the crowd and the music continued to feed off one another. At the precise moment that the tension inside the arena crested, flash bombs exploded, clusters of spotlights began raking the hall and the wild dervish music segued ingeniously into the thunderous opening chords of “Blood Money.” And Shirley Slaughterhouse was there. In fact, he was everywhere.

   Wow. David Hiltbrand nails it, as far as I’m concerned. And it’s no wonder. The brief bio on the inside back cover points out that among other things, he’s been a rock journalist for a number of well known magazines and newspapers. (He’s currently a consulting editor for TV Guide.)

   Working out of Winsted CT as an insurance investigator is Jim McNamara, á la old time radio’s Johnny Dollar, who in his many years on the air may have checked out a mysterious death on a rock band’s tour, but if he did, I haven’t listened to it yet.

   Dead is Shirley’s good buddy, Jake Karn, and one of the crew. He fell off a catwalk after a show late at night, and Jim is asked to see if foul play could have been involved.

   Back to Shirley, who is male, and who is described on page 7 as “the one who looks like Johnny Depp with dysentery.” It takes some time, but Jim, at one time also heavily involved in the world of rock music, eventually gets on his good side, following along with the tour from city to city, a brutally honest behind-the-scenes inside look. Quoting again, this time from page 136:

   … I marveled that Shirley could be miserable when most people under the age of thirty would give anything in the world to trade places with him. … If someone like Shirley can’t be happy, what chance do us sad-sack civilians have?

   Musicians, groupies, roadies, managers, PR people and more, they’re all represented, and they’re all among the suspects. Jim works alone, but since he needs someone to bounce ideas off, he has his AA sponsor to talk to by telephone, not to mention the girl friend he picks up along the way.

   So how’s the mystery, someone asks. More than tolerable, is my reply, with enough suspects and opportunity and motive to accommodate two books, and by the way, if there’s a second one coming in the series, it would be OK by me.

   The ending of this one is rather over the top, I hasten to caution you, including the killer (yes, it was murder) giving a long ten-page explanation of everything that went on prior to then, when the realistic course of action is to simply do away with one nosy insurance investigator.

   My first sentence still holds, though.

– April 2004

        The Jim McNamara series –

1. Killer Solo (2003)
2. Deader Than Disco (2005)
3. Dying to Be Famous (2006)

MASTERPIECES OF MYSTERY

A Bibliographical Account
Presented by Victor A. Berch


   There seems to have been a few compilations of mystery stories under this title, but presented below is the earliest I could find. The stories appeared in the Sunday Constitution Magazine of the Atlanta Constitution and what makes them unusual is that they were condensations of the original tales by Arthur B(enjamin) Reeve of Craig Kennedy fame.

   Some of the readers of Mystery*File may have online access to the Atlanta Constitution, but for those who do not, your local library should be able to borrow the microfilms of the issues involved.

   The list is arranged by story number, story title and date of publication. So here goes:

1. The Murders in the Rue Morgue, by Edgar Allan Poe [not noted as a
Masterpiece of Mystery]-June 10, 1928
2. File No. One-Thirteen, by Emile Gaboriau [also not noted as a Masterpiece
of Mystery] June 17, 1928
3. The Sign of the Four, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. June 24, 1928
4. The Outcasts of Paris, by Eugene Francois Vidocq. July 1, 1928
5. Zadig, by Voltaire. July 8, 1928
6. The Adventure of the Hansom Cab, by Robert Louis Stevenson. July 15, 1928
7. Inspector Bucket, by Charles Dickens. July 22, 1928
8. Sergeant Cuff, by Wilkie Collins. July 29, 1928
9. The Story of the Three Burglars, by Frank R. Stockton. Aug. 5, 1928
10. The Horla, by Guy de Maupassant. Aug. 12, 1928
11. The Biter Bit, by Wilkie Collins. Aug. 19, 1928
12. The Doomdorf Mystery, by Melville Davison Post.. Aug. 26, 1928
13. A Scandal in Bohemia, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sep. 2, 1928
14. The Purloined Letter, by Edgar Allen Poe. Sep. 9, 1928
15. The Safety Match, by Anton Chekhov. Sep. 16, 1928
16. Some Scotland Yard Cases, by Sir Robert Anderson,. Sep. 23, 1928
17. Gentlemen and Players, by E. W. Horning. Sep. 30, 1928
18. The Riddle of the Rope of Fear, by Mary E. and Thomas W. Hanshew,
Oct. 7, 1928.
19. The Sign of the Shadow, by Maurice Le Blanc. Oct. 14, 1928
20. The Murder at the Jex Farm, by Oswald Crawford. Oct. 21, 1928
21. The Border, by Henry C. Rowland. Oct. 28, 1928
22. The Man Who Was Lost, by Jacques Futrelle. Nov. 4, 1928
23. The Mystery of the Steel Door, by Broughton Brandenberg. Nov. 11, 1928
24. The Mystery of the Seven Minutes, by Louis Joseph Vance. Nov. 18, 1928
25. The Lost Room, by Fitz-James O’Brien. Nov. 25,1928
26. The Woman in the Case, by Arthur Train. Dec. 2, 1928
27. The Yellow Cat, by Wilbur Daniel Steele. Dec. 9, 1928
28. The Oblong Box, by Edgar Allan Poe. Dec. 16, 1928
29. A Suspicious Character, by William Hamilton Osborne. Dec. 23, 1928
30 The Mystery of the Steel Room, by Thomas W. Hanshew. Dec. 30, 1928
31. The Great K & A Train Robbery, by Paul Leicester Ford. Jan. 6, 1929
32. The Mystery at 89—-St., New York, by George S. McWatters. Jan. 13, 1929
33. The Adventure of the Toadstools, by Sax Rohmer. Jan. 20, 1929
34. The Fenchurch Street Mystery, by Baroness Orczy. Jan. 27, 1929
35. The Case of Mrs. Magnus, by Burton. F. Stevenson. Feb. 3, 1929
36. Cowardice Court, by George B. McCutcheon. Feb. 10, 1929
37. Cheap, by Marjorie. L. C. Pickthall. Feb. 17, 1929
38. The Great Valdez Sapphire, by Anonymous. Feb. 24, 1929
39. The Episode of the Black Casquette, by Joseph Ernest. Mar. 3, 1929
40. The Listener, by Algernon Blackwood. Mar. 10, 1929
41. The Mysterious card, by Cleveland Moffett. Mar. 17, 1929
42. A Study in Scarlet, by A. Conan Doyle. Mar. 24, 1929
43 [not used]
44. The Lost Duchess, by Anonymous. Mar. 31, 1929
45. The Pipe, by Anonymous. Apr. 7, 1929
46. The Hand on the Latch, by Mary Cholmondely. Apr. 14, 1929
47. [not used}
48. The Beast with Five Fingers, by William F. Harvey. Apr. 21, 1929
49. The Mystery of Marie Roget, by Edgar Allan Poe. Apr. 28, 1929
50. The Risen Dead, by Max Pemberton. May 5, 1929

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