Bibliographies, Lists & Checklists


REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:


ROB KANTNER – The Quick and the Dead. Ben Perkins #7. Harper, paperback original, 1992.

   Thanks to Leonard, Estleman, Jackson, and Kantner, Detroit has become one of the better-known cities on the hardboiled map. The city, its makeup and its history, are an important part of each author’s approach to his story, though the focus of each of course varies. Kantner’s for the seventh Ben Perkins is the world of Detroit Catholicism.

    Perkins, the sometime private eye, full time maintenance head of a large apartment complex, is currently enjoying the benefits of an interesting life. His boss would like to fire him, a mafia don wants some incriminating material Perkins has, and an ex-lover is about to have their child.

   Now a local judge who is in a position to both help and harm him wants him to take on a job for St. Angela’s parish — for no pay. The ex-priest of the church is being considered for canonization during an upcoming visit by the Pope. The problem is that when his body was dug up to be examined, it wasn’t there; the coffin was filled with bricks. Perkins’ job: find it, and find out why it is missing.

   I’ve generally enjoyed Kantner’s novels. Perkins, and ex-factory worker and ex-union enforcer, is a well-realized bluecollar type of PI, and Kantner tells a good story in very good prose. The books don’t make me want to start babbling about “transcending the genre,” but then again they rarely bring on one of my tirades about foolish people and foolish plots. This one is no exception. It won’t make you forget Chandler, but it’s a solid example of the hardboiled type.

— Reprinted from Fireman, Fireman, Save My Books #5, January 1993.


       The Ben Perkins series —

1. The Back-Door Man (1986)

2. The Harder They Hit (1987)
3. Dirty Work (1988)
4. Hell’s Only Half Full (1989)
5. Made in Detroit (1990)
6. The Thousand Yard Stare (1991)

7. The Quick and the Dead (1992)
8. The Red, White and Blues (1993)
9. Concrete Hero (1994)
10. Trouble is What I Do (story collection; 2005)
11. Final Fling (2007)     ADDED LATER (see comments)

REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:


WALTER SATTERTHWAIT – A Flower in the Desert. Joshua Croft #3. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1992. Worldwide Library, paperback, 1993. University of New Mexico Press, trade paperback, 2003.

   Besides the three Joshua Croft books, Satterthwait has also written a historical mystery featuring Oscar Wilde, Wilde West. It received mixed reviews, but I liked it considerably, as I have the previous two Croft books.

   Croft and his partner, the crippled Rita Mondragon, are hired to find the (divorced) wife and child of a well-known TV actor. The case is complicated by the fact that the actor was charged with child abuse, though cleared of the charges.

   The missing wife had worked in LA for a group aiding Salvadorian refugees; her sister living in LA has just been murdered. Connections? There is an ongoing subplot concerning Croft’s so far unrequited passion for his partner.

   Croft, wisecracking but caring, is a member in good standing of the PI fraternity and represents it well. It really isn’t a regional mystery, as much of the book takes place in LA, but still gives a nice feel for Santa Fe. I think Satterthwait one of the better of the new PI writers, and look forward to his books. This one is good, but not great.

— Reprinted from Fireman, Fireman, Save My Books #5, January 1993.


       The Joshua Croft series —

Wall of Glass (1987)

At Ease With the Dead (1990)
A Flower in the Desert (1992)
The Hanged Man (1993)

Accustomed to the Dark (1996).

THE BACKWARD REVIEWER
William F. Deeck


RICHARD STARNES – Another Mug for the Bier. Lippincott, hardcover, 1950. Pocket #858, paperback, 1952.

   While Senator Philander Chance is on the Senate floor trying to get a natural gas pipeline bill enacted, Courtney Mandrel, gossip columnist and TV and radio newscaster, is at the U.S. Capitol preparing to unleash scandal about the bill. Someone on the Hill then puts an end to Mandrel’s muckraking.

   Barney Forge, reporter for a wire service, finds Madrel’s body and moves it so a good guy won’t be accused. Forge then hies himself to Alexandria, Va., to consult Dr. St. George Peachy, elderly pathologist. In a complicated case with several other deaths occurring, one right in front of him that he was supposed to prevent, Peachy clears things up. Well, except for one or two details that I am still puzzling about.

   I don’t know how good a reporter Forge is, but he is a delightful character, as are his wife; Haggis the Airedale; and Ewe-All the goat.

— Reprinted from MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL, Vol. 6, No. 3, Fall 1990, “Political Mysteries.”


      The Barney Forge & Dr. St. George Peachy series

And When She Was Bad She Was Murdered. Lippincott, 1950.
Another Mug for the Bier. Lippincott, 1950.
The Other Body in Grant’s Tomb. Lippincott, 1951.

FIRST YOU READ, THEN YOU WRITE
by Francis M. Nevins


   Shortly before he created the immortal Maigret, and while he earned his vin rouge and calvados cranking out pulp novels at the rate of one every few days, Georges Simenon (1903-1989) wrote three series of short stories, thirteen tales apiece, which first appeared, under the pseudonym Georges Sim, in the weekly magazine Détective, each in two parts, with the problem laid out in one issue and the solution, along with a new problem, two weeks later.

   In 1932, with the hugely successful Maigrets being published by the house of Arthéme Fayard at the rate of one a month, Fayard offered the three series from Détective in book form: LES 13 MYSTÉRES, LES 13 ENIGMES, and LES 13 COUPABLES. Thanks to some meticulously detailed French websites, exact data as to all 39 stories are not far to seek.

         LES 13 MYSTÉRES

L’affaire Lefrançois 21 Mar & 4 Apr 1929
Le coffre-fort de la SSS 28 Mar & 11 Apr
Le dossier no. 16 4 Apr & 11 Apr
Le mort invraisemblable 11 Apr & 25 Apr
Le vol du lycée du B… 18 Apr & 2 May
Le dénommé Popaul 25 Apr & 9 May
Le pavillon de la Croix-Rousse 2 May & 16 May
La cheminée du Lorraine 9 May & 23 May
Les trois Rembrandt 16 May & 30 May
L’ écluse no. 14 23 May & 6 Jun
Les deux ingénieurs 30 May & 13 Jun
La bombe de l’Astoria 6 Jun & 20 Jun
Le tabatiére en or 13 Jun & 27 Jun

   The protagonist of these thirteen was Joseph Leborgne, a relatively colorless character who solves cases solely by reading newspaper clippings. Those of us who aren’t fluent in French can judge the series only by the three tales that were translated by Anthony Boucher and published in early issues of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine: “The Three Rembrandts” (September 1943), “The Safe of the S.S.S.” (October 1946), and “The Little House at Croix-Rousse” (November 1947).

   After a summer hiatus of about two and a half months, Détective launched a second 13-story series, this one featuring a Paris police official known only as G.7, who apparently has jurisdiction over crime puzzles anywhere in France.

         LES 13 ENIGMES

G.7 12 Sep & 26 Sep 1929
Le naufrage de Catherine 19 Sep & 3 Oct
L’esprit démenageur 26 Sep & 10 Oct
L’homme tatoué 3 Oct & 17 Oct
Le corps disparu 10 Oct & 24 Oct
Hans Peter 17 Oct & 31 Oct
Le chien jaune 24 Oct & 7 Nov
L’incendie du parc Monceau 31 Oct & 14 Nov
Le mas Costefigues 7 Nov & 21 Nov
Le ch teau des disparus 14 Nov & 28 Nov
Le secret de fort Bayard 21 Nov 7 5 Dec
Le drame du Dunkerque 28 Nov & 12 Dec
L’inconnue de l’Étretat 5 Dec & 19 Dec

   This collection too can be judged by Frenchless readers only on the basis of the three stories from it that Boucher translated and Fred Dannay published in EQMM: “The Secret of Fort Bayard” (November 1943), “The Tracy Enigma” (May 1947), and “The Chateau of Missing Men” (August 1948).

   The original French titles of two of these three are easy to figure out but “The Tracy Enigma” is impossible — unless you read Boucher’s version, as I did recently, and discover that it’s about the body of a drowned girl that disappears from the shed where it was being kept; in French, a corps disparu.

   The third and final series began running in Détective after a break of almost three months.

         LES 13 COUPABLES

Ziliouk 13 Mar & 27 Mar 1930
Monsieur Rodrigues 20 Mar & 3 Apr
Madame Smitt 27 Mar & 10 Apr
Les “Flamands” 3 Apr & 17 Apr
Nouchi 10 Apr & 24 Apr
Arnold Schuttringer 17 Apr & 1 May
Waldemar Strvecki 24 Apr & 8 May
Philippe 1 May & 15 May
Nicolas 8 May & 22 May
Les Timmermans 15 May & 29 May
Le Pacha 22 May & 5 Jun
Otto Müller 29 May & 12 Jun
Bus 5 Jun & 19 Jun

   This one introduces M. Froget, a Paris juge d’instruction, or examining magistrate, who questions a prisoner before him in each tale. Boucher translated and Fred published four of the stories: “The Case of Arnold Schuttringer” (November 1942), “Affaire Ziliouk” (May 1944), “The Case of the Three Bicyclists” (July 1946), and “Nouchi” (December 1948). In French the third tale is “Les Timmermans”; the original titles of the others are obvious.

   With COUPABLES we are not dependent on ancient issues of EQMM. In 2002 the entire collection was published by Crippen & Landru, in a translation by Peter Schulman, as THE 13 CULPRITS. Schulman describes Boucher’s translations as “very creative, but sometimes [they] took liberties with Simenon’s writing. I have stuck quite loyally to the text, and tried to preserve Simenon’s elegant, sometimes labyrinthine, formal sentence structures….”

   After reading this comment I was struck with the urge to compare Schulman’s translations with Boucher’s. The first thing I found could certainly be classified as taking a liberty with Simenon’s prose. Boucher’s version of the Arnold Schuttringer story begins with a description of Froget supposedly penned by Simenon himself. “I have been a guest in his home on the Champ du Mars, and I should like to attempt a personal impression. No man has ever more thoroughly crushed me, more completely undermined my opinion of myself, than M. Froget.”

   Turning to the Crippen & Landru book, we find that there is no such passage in “Arnold Schuttringer.” Did Boucher have the chutzpah to write it himself? No, he simply borrowed it from the first story in the book, “Ziliouk,” which he translated for EQMM a little later. Since “Schuttringer” was the first Simenon short story to appear anywhere in English, Boucher obviously felt that its protagonist should be introduced by this passage from the first story to appear in French.

   In most respects the translations differ only slightly. Boucher: “Arnold Schuttringer never took his large bulging eyes off the magistrate. They inspired dislike, those eyes, even a strange revulsion.” Schulman: “Arnold Schuttringer did not take his big goggle eyes off him. His eyes inspired a certain amount of ill will, even a strange kind of revulsion.”

   One could spend many hours and pages comparing translations this way if the game were worth the candle. But at the very end of the story there’s one difference too intriguing to pass over. Simenon or whoever the narrator is supposed to be tells us, in Boucher’s translation: “Across these lines [in Froget’s case file] I have read a note written later in red ink: ‘Died at Salpetri re Hospital of general paresis, a year after acquittal for lack of criminal responsibility.’”

   In Schulman’s: “I have read a little note that was later inserted between the lines in red ink: ‘Death at the Salpetri re old age home, of a general paralysis a year after having been acquitted for lack of criminal responsibility.’” This makes no sense. Schuttringer is not an old man; in fact we’re told early in the story that he’s thirty. Even worse, Schulman inserts a footnote that the Salpetri re “housed aged women, and also served as a mental institution for women.” Certainly Arnold Schuttringer was not a woman! Could the subject of Froget’s jotting have been Schuttringer’s female accomplice? But why would monsieur le juge put a sentence about her in a file concerning Schuttringer?

   This dilemma forced me to turn for help to mon vieux ami Jean-Pierre Google. The Salpêtriére hospital — named for saltpeter, an ingredient of gunpowder—was founded in 1656 by King Louis XIV on the site of an old gunpowder factory. It served mainly as a prison for prostitutes and a holding place for the mentally disabled, the criminally insane, and epileptics.

   By the time of the French Revolution it had become the world’s largest hospital. Its original inmates were exclusively women, but during the 20th century Prince Rainier of Monaco was treated there and philosopher Michel Foucault died there. Among the women who died there are singer Josephine Baker, who was one of Simenon’s legion of lovers, and Princess Diana. Exactly when the hospital opened its doors to men I haven’t been able to determine.

   The first of the 13 coupables to appear before M. Froget is Ziliouk, who in Schulman’s translation is described as “a Hungarian (or Polish, or Lithuanian, or Latvian, nobody knew exactly) Jew who…had already been expelled from five or six countries in Europe.”

   No doubt this is a close translation of what Simenon had written. But if we look at Boucher’s rendition from the May 1944 EQMM, we find that a single word has been omitted. “He was a Hungarian…or Polish, or Lithuanian, or Latvian. No one knew precisely;…he had already been deported from five or six countries.”

   Another liberty with Simenon’s text? Yes indeed. But, knowing that Boucher detested and despised anti-Semitism, and that he was translating the story at a time when Jews were being slaughtered by the millions in the Holocaust, wasn’t the liberty justified? In his shoes, what would you have done?

JANET DAWSON – Kindred Crimes. St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, 1990. Fawcett Crest, paperback, May 1992.

   This is the first of fifteen recorded cases tackled and solved by Oakland-based PI Jeri Howard, including four novellas, and it’s a good one. I’m not alone in holding that opinion. Kindred Crimes won the St. Martin’s Press/PWA contest for best first private eye novel. It was also nominated in the best first novel category for the Shamus, the Macavity and the Anthony.

   In this novel Jeri is hired by a forlorn husband whose wife left their baby son with his grandparents, cleaned out their joint checking account and completely disappeared. Using nothing more than feet and wheels on the ground, Jeri discovers that the missing woman had married him under a phony name, and that her brother had been convicted of killing their parents when they were still children.

   This is a tough-minded detective story. Hints of child abuse immediately come to Jeri’s mind. If you don’t care for detective stories in which the detective gets too emotionally involved with the case she is working on, this may not be the book for you.

   Dawson is a smooth but not overly slick writer, and the puzzle aspect is as well done as the characters. If you decide that this is the kind of book you’d like to read, I think you’ll see why Jeri Howard has managed to hang around for quite a while now.

       The Jeri Howard series —

1. Kindred Crimes (1990)
2. Till the Old Men Die (1993)

3. Take a Number (1993)
4. Don’t Turn Your Back On the Ocean (1994)
5. Nobody’s Child (1995)

6. A Credible Threat (1996)
7. Witness to Evil (1997)
8. Where the Bodies Are Buried (1998)
9. A Killing at the Track (2000)

10. Bit Player (2011)
11. Jeri Howard Casebook: 4 Stories (2011)
12. Cold Trail (2015)

REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:


SARAH DUNANT – Birth Marks. Hannah Wolfe #1. Doubleday, hardcover, 1992. First published in the UK: Michael Joseph, hardcover, 1991.

   This is Sarah Dunant’s second mystery, but the first (I believe) featuring London-based private detective Hannah Wolfe.’ I believe we have a winner here.

   Hannah accepts a job that’s basically a missing persons case — young ballet dancer hasn’t send her more-or-less adopted mother a card when she should have, and the woman is concerned. Though Hannah first believes that the young woman simply wanted not to be found, she takes the case because she needs the money. After the investigation has begun, but before anything substantive has been learned, the missing dancer is fished out of the Thames, dead, an apparent suicide, eight months pregnant.

   Based on what she’s learned, Hannah doesn’t believe it,`nor does someone else: she is retained by an anonymous client to investigate further. The` trail leads to Paris, and leads Hannah into an ever-deepening questioning of her own feelings about motherhood.

   Hannah Wolfe was not only believable, but appealing, and altogether the best feminine PI I’ve met in a long while. The character was beautifully developed, as were those of her sister, her ex-boss and “mentor,” and several others. Dunant’s prose style is literate and understated, and the narrative flow was very good.

   This was an excellent book. There were no unbelievable characters, the plot made sense, the writing was fine, and it didn’t end in an orgy of violence. I don’t want to go overboard, but I liked this better than any first book (for me) I’ve read in a while. You need to give this lady a try.

— Reprinted from Fireman, Fireman, Save My Books #5, January 1993.


       The Hannah Wolfe series —

Birth Marks. Joseph, 1991.
Fatlands. H. Hamilton, 1993.
Under My Skin. H. Hamilton, 1995.

ANDREW BERGMAN – The Big Kiss-Off of 1944. Holt Rinehart & Winston, hardcover, 1974. Ballantine, paperback, March 1975. Perennial Library P673, paperback, 1983.

   Andrew Bergman’s novels about Manhattan-based private eye Jack LeVine are very much in the Raymond Chandler vein, which is not a bad vein to be in at all.

   From page 15:

   I really wanted to soak up the box scores, to follow the exploits of wartime baseball’s one-armed outfielders, and blind, deaf and dumb infielders, but I was trying to figure how I had wandered into a murder in a space of two hours. World wars were all very interesting, but the stiff in 805 had me staring into my coffee long before I could drink it. The feeling was unmistakable. I have it one one case a year, maybe every year and a half. I was getting in over my head.

   Jack is a big guy, bald, Jewish, once married but no longer, smokes Luckies, drinks Blatz, and is a very good guy for a Broadway chorus girl being blackmailed for making the wrong kind of movie to have on her side. What Jack doesn’t count on is that the case will end up with him deeply involved in the Roosevelt-Dewey election campaign of 1944.

   Mr. Dewey, in fact, makes a major appearance. Mr. Roosevelt does not. Mr. Bergman, who later on became a well-known scriptwriter and director, knew his way around a typewriter even at this early date, and the story goes down nice and easy. Very enjoyable.

Bibliographic Note:   There was one immediate followup novel, Hollywood and LeVine (Holt, 1975), then nothing was heard from Mr. LeVine for over 25 years, when Tender Is LeVine came out from St. Martin’s in 2001.

CHARLES KNIEF – Emerald Flash. St. Martin’s, hardcover, April, 1999; paperback, May 2000.

   Opening paragraph:

   The first time I saw Margo Halliday she was stark naked, running for all she was worth down a Honolulu alley in the middle of the night.

   Telling the story is ex-SEAL and now Hawaii-based private eye John Caine. Emerald Flash is the third of four recorded adventures.

   Chasing Margo Halliday is her ex-husband:

   The big man jogged past and I dropped him with a flying kick, He went down easy but refused to let go of the pistol, so I broke his wrist and he gave it up. All the fight went out of him. He deflated like an octopus brought up on a lure and dropped into the bottom of a canoe, when it knew it was going to die.

   Caine doesn’t see Margo again until seven months later, when she is accused of killing her ex-husband. Not only that, but hard on her trail is a gang of Colombian thugs, and for good reason. They think she is somehow in possession of a fortune in stolen emeralds. She remembers Caine, and she calls on him for help.

   He does, but it isn’t easy. I was reminded of John D. MacDonald in a couple of ways, not only the obvious one, but Caine also has a philosophy of life very similar to that of a certain Travis McGee. But there is a difference: no matter how close he and Margo get as man and woman, they sleep in separate beds, and none of the McGee books had the same amount of firepower that is called upon in this one: rifles, grenades, Glocks, even an elephant gun.

   Somewhat toward the end of the book:

   It had been a year of extremes. I felt good and fit. My wounds all had healed. I had gone up against powerful enemies and had vanquished them all, including the one who had ordered my destruction.

   And now it was over.

   It’s not a perfect book. Too much of the story depends on things that happened in earlier ones, for example, and a long, lengthy portion of the book consists of Caine and Margo on the run, which with all of the aforementioned firepower is exciting enough for two or three books, but crammed into just this one, it somehow managed to slow the pace down rather than enhance it.

   On the other hand, when things are going a little slower, Caine manages to get along with a brain as well as brawn, and is as quick with a quip as Jon Stewart on a good night, and that’s very good indeed.

       The John Caine series —

Diamond Head (1996)
Sand Dollars (1998)
Emerald Flash (1999)
Silversword (2001)

JACK LYNCH – Seattle. Warner, paperback original, October 1985. Reprinted under the author’s original title Yesterday is Dead, Brash Books, softcover, May 2015.

   Jack Lynch, who died in 2008, was a long time newspaper reporter who began his career in Seattle before moving to San Francisco and the Chronicle, then quitting to write eight PI Pete Bragg novels, all but the last paperback originals in the 1980s. Of these one won a Edgar and two received Shamus nominations.

   The books came out during a time in my life when I was buying paperbacks like crazy but reading almost none of them. This is the first of the Bragg books that I’ve read, and I have to knock myself on the side of head and wonder why.

   The information that the original title for this, the seventh in the series and the last until 17 years later, came from the Thrilling Detective website, and as is often the case in situations like this, the original title, Yesterday Is Dead, is better. In this book Bragg, who is based in San Francisco, makes a return trip to his home town of Seattle to help a friend who’s in trouble, and along the way he finds that going home is almost never as easy as it sounds.

   The friend is Benny Bartlett, a mild-mannered photographer and freelance writer whose life has been threatened. If he doesn’t get out of town, he’s been warned, he’s going to be killed. Bragg drops everything at once and heads northward to Seattle, where he hasn’t been in five years.

   In the course of helping Benny with his problem, Bragg’s path crosses those of several distinctive women, one of them his ex-wife Lorna. Sparks fly with at least two of them, including Lorna. It also shouldn’t come as any surprise that several seemingly unconnected threads of the story are connected, in a fairly prosaic fashion.

   But it is Bragg as a character, who tells his own story, that’s the fascination here. Over the years he’s changed a lot, Lorna says, he’s tougher now, and in the course of his stay in Seattle, he takes an graphically described beating with perhaps an even more painful recovery. He learns even more about himself in Seattle, and for me it’s a bit of a shame that this last novel turns out to me to be the first one I read. Worse, though, I’m sure, for fans of the series at the time, as it took longer and longer for a next book to occur, it left them wondering if there would ever be another one.

      The PI Peter Bragg series —

Bragg’s Hunch. Gold Medal, 1981.

The Missing and the Dead. Gold Medal, 1982.
Pieces of Death. Gold Medal, 1982.
Sausalito. Warner, 1984.
San Quentin. Warner, 1984.

Monterey. Warner, 1985.
Seattle. Warner, 1985.
Wolf House. iUniverse, 2002.

REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:


MICHAEL BOWEN – Faithfully Executed. Richard Michaelson #2, St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1992. No paperback edition.

   I enjoyed both this and the first Michaelson novel, Washington Deceased. Michaelson is a retired foreign service officer, now with the Brookings Institution. He is somewhat of a Washington insider, and is shamelessly angling for a high ranking post with the`next administration.

   The Michaelson novels remind me somewhat of Ross Thomas in their plots and general outlook on the world of politics, though Bowen isn’t the writer that Thomas is. He’s more than adequate, though, and writes entertainingly. He’s also written two baseball mysteries that I haven’t had the opportunity to read, and one other non-series mystery.

   The current book deals with the murder of a man about to be executed, plots to rig computerized elections results, and various other kinds of skullduggery. Recommended for those who enjoy political goings on mixed with mayhem.

— Reprinted from Fireman, Fireman, Save My Books #4, November 1992.


      The Richard Michaelson series —

1. Washington Deceased (1990)

2. Faithfully Executed (1992)
3. Corruptly Procured (1994)
4. Worst Case Scenario (1996)
5. Collateral Damage (1999)

Other Bibliographic Notes:   Bowen has written three books in his Thomas & Sandrine Cadette Curry series, taking place in New York in the 1960s, but only the second, Fielder’s Choice, appears to have baseball as part of its plot. Since the year 2000, Bowen has also written five books in a series featuring Rep & Melissa Pennyworth. Rep is an attorney who keeps running across cases of murder.

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