by Francis M. Nevins

   Perhaps the first few items in this month’s column should have gone into the one for last month, which dealt with Georges Simenon, but that one was getting longish and I decided to save a few bits and pieces for a while. First I was going to say a few words about the careless proofreading, most unusual for a Crippen & Landru book, that I discovered in the recent Simenon collection The 13 Culprits. The funniest typo I found is when the name of the juge d’instruction Monsieur Froget is rendered as M. Forget.


   If you’re familiar with the original French titles of various Maigret novels, you probably noticed the similarity between a few of those titles and a few of the short stories about other characters that I discussed last month, and may have wondered whether the novels were expanded versions of those short stories.

   In one case I can answer with a definite No (or should I say Non?) because the short story in question has been translated into English. “Les Flamands” from Les 13 Coupables has no relation to the Maigret novel Chez Les Flamands (1932; first translated as The Flemish Shop) beyond the fact that they both deal with Flemish characters.

   The other title similarities come from collections not translated into English. Are there any connections beyond the titles between “L’écluse no. 14″ from Les 13 Mystéres and the novel L’écluse No. 1 (1933; first translated as The Lock at Charenton), or between “Le chien jaune” (“The Yellow Dog”) from Les 13 Enigmes and the Maigret novel of the same title (1931; first translated as A Face for a Clue)? It’s anyone’s guess but I suspect the answers here are also Non and Non. If any Simenonophile out there knows for sure, please say something.


   I had read A Face for a Clue years ago but happened to pick it up again recently and found that among other things it offers us a credibility sandwich (or should I say a credibility croissant?) that would daunt a Dagwood. The yellow dog of the original title belongs to a Frenchman who was tricked into smuggling dope into the U.S. on his boat and then betrayed to the authorities by his companions in crime and sentenced to a long term in Sing Sing. Would you believe that he got to keep the mutt throughout his time in the slammer? The dog is still with him when he’s released and comes back to France for revenge on his former partners. Yeah, right.


   And yet another “yeah, right” to, of all people, Fred Dannay. In an introduction to the Simenon story he ran in the August 1948 EQMM he tells us that Georges Simenon is a pseudonym and that the author’s real name is Georges Sim! How did Fred come to make this mistake?

   I suspect it dates back to his first meeting with Simenon, which took place in late 1945 or early ‘46, soon after the creator of Maigret left Europe for Montreal and later for the U.S., and is described briefly in the intro to another Simenon story (July 1946). Since Fred spoke very little French and Simenon very little English, the meeting was moderated, as it were, by Simenon’s then agent, who was apparently bilingual. “Your editor’s head swung back and forth between M. Simenon and the interpreter as if we were watching a tennis match at Forest Hills.” Under these conditions any kind of misunderstanding can happen. Remember the telephone game?


   During the years when Fred was first publishing Simenon in translation, he was also running a number of stories by Gerald Kersh (1911-1968), who claimed to have been born in Russia although his actual birthplace was Teddington-on-Thames.

   The protagonist of all the tales Fred ran during the Forties was Karmesin, a huge old East European with a thick Nietzsche mustache who, as Kersh never tires of telling us, is either the world’s greatest criminal or its greatest liar. In each story Karmesin tells Kersh about a super-masterful crime he brought off years before.

   Recently I re-read some of these for the first time in years and discovered that Karmesin often drops various contemptuous East European epithets. One of these is “Ptoo!” Another, which interested me more, is “Pfui!” That of course is also a favorite word of crime fiction’s premier character of East European descent: Nero Wolfe.

   I began wondering which of these two was first with the word and, checking my back issues of EQMM, discovered that Karmesin began using the P word in his very first exploit, published simply as “Karmesin” in the London Evening Standard for May 19, 1936 and reprinted in EQMM for April 1948 as “Karmesin, Bank Robber.”

   Did Nero Wolfe use the word earlier than 1936? Rex Stout wrote only two Wolfe novels that preceded Karmesin’s debut: Fer-de-Lance (1934) and The League of Frightened Men (1935). If anyone cares to go through those titles on a Pfui hunt, please let us know. Either way it’s most likely that neither author knew of the other at the time the Pfuis began pflying, but I’m still curious.


   Veteran readers of this column will remember my long-standing interest in that useful and sweet-singing little amphibian known to biologists as bufo bufo and to the rest of us as the toad. For no rational reason, the toad has long been the most hated animal in literature, and mystery writers have not been immune to anti-bufonism.

   In five separate and distinct novels written fairly close together, Robert B. Parker had his PI Spenser describe someone as looking like a — yeah, you guessed it. Re-reading Gerald Kersh’s Karmesin stories, I discovered that in one of them, first published as “Karmesin and the Big Flea” (Courier, Winter 1938-39) and reprinted in EQMM for July 1949 as “Karmesin, Blackmailer,” our master criminal’s adversary is a certain Captain Crapaud. Anyone know what crapaud means in English? You guessed it again. Pfui!

   In Chapter 14 of Raymond Chandler’s The Little Sister (1949) Philip Marlowe encounters a character named Joseph P. Toad, who looks like Sydney Greenstreet but converses in toughguyspeak. Parker may hold the prize for insulting toads most often but Kersh and Chandler seem to be the only crime writers who actually gave that name to a character. Double Pfui! And a hearty Ptoo! for good measure.


ALEX GORDON – The Cipher. Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 1961. Pyramid X1483, paperback, 1966. Film: Arabesque, 1966 (with Gregory Peck & Sophia Loren).

   Some hero: a nervous, clumsy, asthmatic college history professor, unable to hold his own family`together, unable to finish his life-long dream of cracking the cuneiform hieroglyphics of the ancient civilization of a country unnamed. That country still survives today, with a newly-formed government now friendly to the United States. What connection is there with the business code that Philip Hoag is asked to decipher by the uncle of one of his students?

   There are undiscovered gems to be found in stacks of out-of-print mystery fiction, but this isn’t one of them. Still, in a strangely naive way, it generates enough excitement peripherally related to the field of espionage, plus the slightest amount of detection, to warrant not being forgotten completely.

Rating: C plus.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 2, No. 4, July 1978.

Comment: When I wrote this review, long before IMDb came along, I do not believe I knew that this book was the basis for the movie Arabesque, a movie that I found extremely enjoyable, to say the least. Wouldn’t I have said something if I had? For more (much more) on both the book and the movie, read Dan Stumpf’s excellent review of both, found here.

Bibliographic Notes: This is the only novel in Al Hubin’s Crime Fiction IV that author Gordon Cotler (1923-2012) wrote as Alex Gordon. Under his own name he has five additional titles in CFIV, but he may be better remembered for his work in television, including (mystery genre-wise) being the co-screenwriter of three episodes of McMillan and Wife with Don Mankiewicz.

PATRICIA PONDER – Murder for Charity. Manor 15281, paperback original, 1977.

   Contradicting the ultra-macho image projected by the front cover, which shows the Cajun detective Louis Breaux being very protective of the cuddlesome Diana, this is in fact a detective story most reminiscent of the old-fashioned golden age of mystery fiction, complete with a country club overflowing with clues and suspects.

   When Diana Parnell’s aunt is murdered while she’s running an antique show for charity, it’s Diana who’s suspected. The mysterious behavior of a friend caused her to be alone at the very moment for which an alibi is needed, but to her rescue comes Louis Breaux, convinced of her innocence even though they’ve only just met, and together they set off on the killer’s trail.

   It must be remembered that most of the books of the golden age have been forgotten, with good reason. Only the Christie’s and the Queen’s still survive, and they’re the models that other writers of pure detective fiction must strive to equal. Here’s another that doesn’t measure up. When the clues are as falsely represented or slighted over as they are here, it may be playing fair with the reader in a technical sense, but the edges of an otherwise pleasing performance are curdled.

   Nevertheless, flaws and all, it was a nice surprise to find this. Mildly recommended for those who are nostalgic for this sort of thing.

Rating: C.

[Note to bibliographers: Besides the haphazard proofreading system employed by Manor throughout the book, on the title page the author’s name is given as Patricia Maxwell.]

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 2, No. 4, July 1978.

[UPDATE] Additional bibliographic notes: Patrica Ponder was indeed a pen name of Patricia Maxwell (1942- ). Under that name she also wrote Haven of Fear for Manor, 1977, but it is doubtful that Louis Breaux ever made another appearance.

   Under her own name, Patricia Maxwell has seven entries in Al Hubin’s Crime Fiction IV, all apparently gothics or novels of romantic suspense. (The line between them is often blurry.) There is also one entry for her there as Elizabeth Trehearne, another gothic. She is best known to readers of romance fiction, however, as Jennifer Blake, with 50 or 60 titles in that genre, and still counting.

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?

William F. Deeck

EDWIN LANHAM – Politics Is Murder. Harcourt Brace & Co., hardcover, 1947. Bantam #746, paperback, 1950.

   Since he would rather be playing chess, Jeff Stover is unhappy with his unsought appointment to the New York City Council. Still, it does give him a chance to set the cat — one Sachem McKeever. presently stuffed — among the pigeons by proposing a law to change the name of McKeever Place to Niebach Square, Niebach being his deceased predecessor.

   A mild new law, one would think. but it makes some people unhappy. so unhappy, in fact, that someone inserts a samurai sword into Stover while he is sitting at his desk in City Hall.

   George Wright, City Hall reporter, catches Stover’s former fiancee at the scene with blood on her hands. Since he is smitten with her, she must be not guilty. She also isn’t innocent, for while he lies for her, she tells untruths about him.

   A good reporter but a dimbulb is Wright. Luckily there’s an intelligent and incorruptible cop with a long memory to do the real investigating in a good fair-play novel.

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

Bibliographic Notes:   The cop that Bill referred to in his last paragraph must be Lt. Madigan, who first appeared in print in Slug it Slay (1946), and whose third recorded case was One Murder Too Many (1952). Between 1946 and 1963 Lanham was the author of a total of 12 crime novels listed in Hubin. Throughout his career, he was also a prolific author of serials and short fiction for the slick magazines such as Collier’s and The Saturday Evening Post. Lanham was also well enough known as a writer of literary fiction to have a page on Wikipedia.


H. BEDFORD-JONES writing as ALLAN HAWKWOOD – The Gate of Farewell. Originally serialized in Argosy January-February 1914, as by H. Bedford-Jones. Hardcover edition: Hurst and Blackett Ltd., UK, 1928.

   Out east of Suez, in mysterious and sinister locales like Port Said and points East, West, North, and South, that’s where you will find the offices of John Solomon, Ships Stores, the canny deceptively gentle looking Cockney ship’s chandler who, with his greasy little red accounts book and stubby pencil, is a one man private secret service: “… if the Intelligence Department knew half as much about this part of the world as he does, the Foreign Office’d go crazy.”

   John Solomon is a mover and shaker, friend to native and kings, manipulator, schemer, adventurer, and the most dangerous man in dangerous waters, “… he has a finger in every pie from Jaffa to Zanzibar.” Underestimate the “… little plump man who wore a tarboosh jauntily cocked over one ear … and puffed a short clay pipe,” whose calm blue eyes “… spoke large of hidden secrets and unwritten lore …” at your own risk.

   The Gates of Farewell is the first novel in the John Solomon series, which would include eleven novels serialized in the pulps for the most part and many short stories and extend into the 1930‘s, all penned in book form as by Allan Hawkwood from the prolific ‘King of the Pulps’ Canadian writer H. Bedford-Jones, whose output includes 50 novels and over 1400 novels, stories, serials, and articles published in virtually every major and some minor pulps, including Blue Book, Argosy, Adventure, Weird Tales … and across all boundaries of pulp fiction; adventure, sea stories (The Second Mate), historical (The Wilderness Trail, Nuala O’Malley, Firehair Skald of the Haradee …), lost worlds (The Temple of Ten with W. S. Robertson), swashbuckler (tales of d’Artagnan, Cyrano, Denis Burke, and various others), mystery (The Mardi Gras Mystery), Holmes pastiche (one of his was so good that for years it was considered a lost Conan Doyle story until Bedford-Jones ‘fessed up), horror, gentleman crook (the excellent Riley Dillon series), Western (Arizona Argonauts, The Mesa Trail, The Sheriff of Pecos, Bowie’s Gold etc.), and more. Bedford-Jones listed Alexandre Dumas as his chief influence and it shows in his wide output and rich knowledge of so many different eras and places.

   This one sets the model for the later books and stories about John Solomon, where a good dependable professional man is drawn into mysteries involving Solomon in various ports of call and used by Solomon as a stalking horse until Solomon closes in at the end of the book on the problem at hand. You don’t write 1400 novels and stories without a respect for formula.

   The Gates of Farewell opens in pre-WWI Liverpool where Allan Tredgar, a young American importer (or “grocer” as he calls himself), is in a dive with his friend Lt. Krogness R.N., to hire a none to reputable, but honest tough little fighting cock of a Scots captain, one Hugh Cairn, to command his yacht the Spendthrift and sail to Port Said in search of his brother Bob, who disappeared and supposedly died five years earlier in Aden. Recently a ring of Bob’s showed up and Tredgar, believes his brother might still be alive.

   Complicating matters are the renegade American Colonel Lionel Parrish and his thug bodyguard Jerry Sloog who also want to hire Cairn to command their ship, and when Cairn turns them down Parrish threatens both Cairn and Tredgar by note to stay out of that part of the world. Cairn warns of Parrish, but Tredgar thinks it is all melodrama never having seen the man.

   Further complicating matters they rescue pretty Mary Grey, daughter of a missionary trying to reach her father in Berbera, when her ship goes down at sea East of Malta. She and Allan are attracted to each other and against Cairn’s wishes she decides to stay on at least to Port Said.

   It’s in Port Said that Tredgar is led by Cairn to the little store (“Solomon’s temple”) in the Arab quarter where Solomon keeps to himself “ Old friend of mine … gun runner and all that, but the best man to go to for what you want.”

   Solomon takes an instant liking to the young American and gives him an engraved silver ring to wear as a sort of passport should he need it (and it saves his life and plays a role . He also, aside from confirming Bob might be alive, confirms the fantastic stories Cairn has been telling of Parrish, a renegade soldier turned radical Moslem who is Mokkhadem of prefect of the Bab al Wida’s or El Woda, the gate of farewell of the title, named for one of the gates leading out of Mecca, a “.. strip of coast inside the Twelve Apostles across from Eritrea — so desolate not even a Bedouin lives there.”

   That is where he will find news of Bob, but it is also where the Senusiyeh, a radical secret society of Moslem extremist who are working to throw the Sultan of Turkey, the Padishah, and his rule out of Africa and Arabia, are building a fortress it is rumored, under the command of Parrish. Ironically the British are fighting to help the ‘Sick Man of Europe” the Turkish Sultan to hold on to Arabia, where from August of 1914 (this was serialized in January of that year) they would be desperate to drive the Turks out with the help of Allenby, Lawrence, and what is now the Saudi Royal family. It’s an irony Solomon himself would enjoy.

   After a great storm nearly wrecks the Spendrift (beautifully described by Bedford-Jones at his best), Tredgar and the rest end up captured by Hadji Abu Talib, a cruel and arrogant sort and member of the Senusiyeh, and taken to El Woda where they find hundred of slaves building a massive heavily armed fortress under the direction of Talib, none other than Parrish. There Tredgard also learns what role he and his brother play as he finds out Bob had learned from a dying Englishman in the states of the lost Abyssinian treasure of the Queen of Sheba, Solomon’s fabulous gift to her, which Parrish covets for the Senusiyeh to finance the campaign to throw the Padishah off the Arabian continent. Captured, forced into slavery, tortured along with his brother for the location of the treasure, watching as Parrish plans to take Mary Grey as his own, it all seems hopeless.

   But of course, that kindly spider John Solomon has been weaving his web, and the Tredgar brothers, Parrish, the brutish Sloog, and everyone else are only flies ensnared and waiting for the right time to strike, which this being adventure fiction is at the very moment when all is at its most desperate.

   This is an old-fashioned adventure story, though you can see the plot elements would not be too out of place in the latest Clive Cussler or James Rollins thriller with a bit of updating. It is somehow reassuring that the same secret societies and mad fanatics were at work then as now — in fact and fiction. There are flaws of course. There is absolutely no real reason for Mary Grey in much of the book, and she is barely characterized, though her ‘consent’ to the marriage to Parrish is key to the big finale and Solomon’s plans, and the scenes with Tredgar are well enough written and not overly mushy.

   And, there is some politically incorrect language, though not as much as you might expect. At worst it is the way people of the time actually spoke and thought, however disturbing to modern readers eyes and ears. Actually most of the Moslem characters, even some of the Senuisyeh, are portrayed as honorable and faithful, far from some of the extremes in popular fiction today, and Solomon is nowhere near as ruthless as most of today’s adventure heroes.

   The pulp origins show some in structure and story, but in a positive light it is much more stylishly and straightforwardly written for all that. The book is very cinematic as well, in a positive sense and it isn’t hard to cast the main characters in your minds eye, Gary Cooper and Olivia de Haviland for Tredgar and Mary; Tully Marshall or J. Farrell MacDonald for the tough little Cairn; Henry Daniell or C. Henry Gordon for the renegade Parrish; Lon Chaney Jr. or Mike Mazurki as Sloog; and a Cockney accented Edmond Gwynne, Charles Winniger, or Cecil Kellaway for Solomon.

   Considering, too, Bedford-Jones penchant for reproducing Solomon’s accent it is just as well he isn’t on stage for long in most of the books: “Paradise is werry nice no doubt; but I says as ’ow earth ’as its good points likewise.” A little of that goes a long way, but it is a small complaint about a splendid adventure series worthy to stand with Rider Haggard and Talbot Mundy, and dare I say it, John Buchan.

William F. Deeck

LENORE GLEN OFFORD – Clues to Burn. Duell Sloane & Pearce, hardcover, 1942. Mercury Mystery #186, digest paperback, abridged, 1953.

   After the Electrical Dealers’ Convention, at which Bill Hastings discussed Priorities and Coco was an Electrical Widow, the two of them were looking forward to a quiet time on Sally Dudley’s rustic island — coal-oil lamps and outdoor plumbing — in a remote part of Idaho. Little did they know that others would show up to strain the food supply and the festivities and commit murder.

   Having investigated an earlier murder, Coco is eager, for the most part, to find out who killed the woman no one seemed to know. But, as the book’s title states, there are clues to burn — a bloody fingerprint, footprints, cigarette papers, etc. Is the murderer playing games with Coco, or is the shrewd killer planting, if such a thing can be done, red herrings?

   A fine husband-and-wife team in an amusing and richly clued — but which are real? — mystery.

— Reprinted from MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL, Vol. 6, No. 2, Summer 1990, “Vacation for Murder.”

Bio-Bibliographic Notes:   There was one earlier adventure of Bill and Coco Hastings, that being Murder on Russian Hill (Macrae-Smith, 1938). Besides writing six other mysteries, four of them with mystery writer turned amateur detective Todd McKinnon, Lenore Glen Offord was the mystery book critic for the San Francisco Chronicle for over 30 years.

by Francis M. Nevins

   If I had gone to New York for this year’s Edgars dinner, I would have known a few weeks sooner. As it was, I read the news in the program booklet, which reached me in the mail a few days ago. Among the MWA members who died in 2015 was one I knew. His name was Charles Runyon. To friends he was Chuck.

   He was born in rural Missouri in 1928 and died last June, a few hours short of his 87th birthday. He was well-known in the science-fiction field and also as a writer of paperback crime-suspense novels like THE PRETTIEST GIRL I EVER KILLED (1965) and the Edgar-nominated POWER KILL (1972). My first contact with him was more than three decades ago, probably in the year that will be forever linked with George Orwell. His first story for Manhunt had been adapted into an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and I wanted to include it in my anthology HITCHCOCK IN PRIME TIME (1985), which brought together twenty tales that had served as episodes for that long-running series, with each author who was alive and willing being offered a bonus if he or she would write an afterword for the book. (For those who were unwilling or dead I did the honors.) Chuck was both alive and willing and contributed by far the longest afterword of the twenty.

   A few years later, on my way back from a gig somewhere west of St. Louis, Chuck invited my late wife and me to stop off in the small Missouri town where he was then living and visit with him. We did. I remember it was a Sunday morning. While I was using the facilities, Patty started asking Chuck about his work, and when I came back to the conversation she told me excitedly that Chuck had just told her he’d ghosted three of the paperback originals published in the Sixties as by Ellery Queen.

   For me this was tremendous news. I had been trying to track down the authors of all those faux-EQ paperbacks but was still missing some. Suddenly out of the blue, three more pieces of the puzzle had fallen into place. Patty: Thank you, thank you, thank you.


   The Queen paperback originals had come about during the years when Manny Lee, whose function in the partnership had been to expand his cousin Fred Dannay’s lengthy synopses into novels, was suffering from writer’s block. At the same time the literary agency representing the cousins was looking for ways to expand the Queen readership beyond the confines of formal detective fiction. The result was an arrangement whereby other clients of the agency would be paid a flat fee per book to write paperback novels — standalones, without Ellery or the other Queen series characters — to be edited by Manny and published as by Queen.

   It was a terrible idea, which Fred Dannay strongly opposed, but in view of Manny’s situation and the large family he had to support, there seemed no alternative but to agree. Between 1961 and 1972 a total of 28 books ghosted by nine authors were published under this arrangement. In order of their assumption of the Queen byline, the authors were Stephen Marlowe (1), Richard Deming (9), Talmage Powell (6), Henry Kane (1), Fletcher Flora (3), Jack Vance (3), Chuck Runyon (3), Walt Sheldon (1), and Edward D. Hoch (1). Jack Vance (1916-2014) was the longest-lived of the nine but Runyon was the last man standing.


   He had authored a few paperback original crime novels for Fawcett Gold Medal and some hardboiled stories for Manhunt when he took on the Queen mantle, debuting with THE LAST SCORE (Pocket Books pb #50486, 1964), which Anthony Boucher in the Times Book Review (January 24, 1965) rightly called “a straight-out adventure thriller.” Tough tourist guide Reid Rance is hired to chaperon a wealthy teen-age sexpot on a journey through Mexico, a country with which Runyon was intimately acquainted. When the girl is kidnapped and held for ransom, our macho protagonist doesn’t bother to notify the authorities but launches a one-man war against the abductors. The background is vividly evoked, the descriptions of a marijuana “high” ring true, and despite some implausibilities in the slender storyline this is a model of men’s-magazine adventure fiction. “Good violent excitement,” said Boucher, “tightly told.” But — an Ellery Queen novel???

   Runyon brought another macho action yarn under the EQ umbrella in THE KILLER TOUCH (Pocket Books pb #50494, 1965). A tough Florida cop, tormented by a wound and his guilt at killing a teen-ager in line of duty, comes to a tropical island resort where a gang of thieves headed by a doom-haunted sadistic intellectual has just moved in after pulling off a diamond robbery.

   The writing is vivid, the incidents lurid, the climax rushed, and Runyon crams in enough torture scenes, sex teasing and carnage to satisfy the most rabid. Was Boucher turned off by all the bloodletting? For whatever reason he chose not to review this one.

   Roughly four years passed before Runyon sailed under the EQ flag for the last time. KISS AND KILL (Dell pb #4567, 1969) is a tornado-paced novel of pursuit and menace complete with sex, sadism, machismo and a psychopathic creep. When a young Chicago housewife vanishes after returning from a tour of — here we go again! — Mexico, her distraught husband and a local PI take up the trail and soon discover that everyone else on that tour has either disappeared or suffered a violent death.

   About halfway through the book the action shifts to south of the border and the two urban male protagonists, joined by a woman photographer from St. Louis, become instant experts at guerrilla warfare against professional killers. But neither this implausible development nor the recycling of tough-guy fiction’s most overused climactic “surprise” diminishes the pure headlong storytelling drive that makes Runyon’s ultimate men’s-mag adventure unputdownable. Boucher didn’t review this one either but not by choice: he had died the year before it came out.


   From the Runyon file in one of my cabinets I discovered something that thanks to old age I had totally forgotten: Chuck and his wife had actually stayed with Patty and me around Christmastime one year, and we had hosted a little party to introduce him to some other St. Louis-area mystery writers. Several of his novels are on my shelves, a few of them inscribed to me, probably during his visit. If those who are interested in the books he wrote under his own name follow this link to Steve’s primary Mystery*File website for an interview conducted several years ago by Ed Gorman. I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about Chuck’s life and work. I only wish I had known him better.

by Francis M. Nevins

   I can’t claim to have read all 70-odd Maigret novels, but I’ve been reading them off-and-on since my teens and I still find many of them fascinating, especially the ones from the Thirties. Unfortunately my French isn’t good enough to allow me to read them as Simenon wrote them, but over the years I’ve sometimes wound up with two different translations of the same book, and a number of them are now being translated yet a third time. Reading two translations side by side is a heady experience, especially if you put on your detective cap and try to figure out what is and what isn’t in the original.

   There were characters a bit like Maigret and characters actually going by that name in a few of the more than 200 pulp novels Simenon wrote under a dozen or so pseudonyms in the 1920s, but the first genuine Maigret was PIETR-LE-LETTON, which was written in 1929 and published by A. Fayard et cie two years later as either the third or the fifth in the monthly Maigret series. In the States, as THE STRANGE CASE OF PETER THE LETT (1933), it was the fourth of six early Maigrets published by the Covici Friede firm.

   I am lucky enough to have a copy of that edition. No translator is credited but various sources in print and online claim that Simenon’s French was first rendered into English by Anthony Abbot. As all lovers of detection know, Abbot was the name under which best-selling novelist Fulton Oursler (1893-1952), following the lead of S. S. Van Dine, both signed and narrated the cases of New York City police commissioner Thatcher Colt, published originally by Covici Friede.

   Many decades ago I read all the Abbot novels and wrote an essay about them which in its final form can be found in my CORNUCOPIA OF CRIME (2010). I had heard the rumor that Oursler had translated the early Maigrets but, since he had died when I was a child, I couldn’t ask him. I did however write his son Will Oursler (1913-1985), who was also a part-time mystery writer both under his own name and as Gale Gallagher and Nick Marino.

   In a letter dated January 4, 1970 — My God! More than 46 years ago! — he replied as follows: “[M]y father did not make the actual translation as he simply was not that fluent in French. It is more probable that most of his effort was in the area of editing and polishing after the translation was done. It is certain that he would not have been capable of translating six Maigret novels.”

   The second translation of PIETR-LE-LETTON, retitled MAIGRET AND THE ENIGMATIC LETT, was by Daphne Woodward, published in 1963 as a Penguin paperback and sold in the U.S. for 65 cents. According to Steve Trussel’s priceless Maigret website, the Woodward version “is much closer to Simenon’s French text, the first being wayward at times.”

   Even without the French text at hand, I’ve found indications that Trussel is right. The novel features an American millionaire staying in the posh Hotel Majestic who is strangely connected with Pietr. The 1933 translation gives his name as Mortimer Livingston, which seems perfectly proper for the character. Daphne Woodward renders the name as Mortimer-Levingston, which is silly but consistent with the young Simenon’s ignorance of all things American.

   This character has a secretary, staying in London but never seen or spoken to. His name in the 1933 translation is Stone, which sounds fine. In Woodward’s rendition he’s called Stones, which is dreadful but again consistent with Simenon’s ignorance. It seems clear that the anonymous original translator went out of his or her way to Americanize various details in the novel that Simenon flubbed. Or was that part of the polishing job by Fulton Oursler?

   Written before Maigret and his world had crystallized in Simenon’s creative mind, PIETR-LE-LETTON is significantly different from almost all the later novels in the series. For one thing, it’s much more violent, with a total of four murders (the work of three different murderers) plus a suicide, committed in Maigret’s presence and with his gun.

   There’s also a great deal more physical action, with Maigret racing from Paris to the Normandy fishing port of F camp and out over the rocks along the muddy seacoast after his chief adversary despite being half-frozen and having been shot in the chest! But there’s a genuine battle of nerves between Maigret and his quarry, more intense and existential than their counterparts in many later books in the series, and the evocation of atmosphere which was Simenon’s trademark is as powerful as in the finest films noir. In either translation this debut novel is a gem.


   In 2014 Penguin Classics released yet another translation, this one by David Bellos and bearing the title PETER THE LATVIAN. Did some political correctness guru decide that Lett was a demeaning term like Polack? And what did Bellos make of passages like the beginning of Chapter 13? In Woodward’s version: “Every race has its own smell, loathed by other races…. In Anna Gorskin’s room you could cut it with a knife…. Flaccid sausages of a repulsive shade of pink, thickly speckled with garlic. A plate with some fried fish floating in a sour liquid.”

   There’s nothing like that first sentence in the 1933 rendition, perhaps because Fulton Oursler cut it out, but we do get to see and smell the “horrible pink sausages, flabby to the touch and filled with garlic” and “a platter containing the remains of a fried fish swimming in a sour-smelling sauce….” Need I mention that this scene takes place in the rue du Roi-de-Sicile, in Paris’s Jewish ghetto?


   While fine-tuning this month’s column I discovered that there really was, or at least might have been, a Latvian criminal named Pietr. He was known as Peter the Painter and his real name may have been Pietr Piatkow, or perhaps Gederts Eliass or Janis Zhaklis. He seems to have emigrated from East Europe to London where he joined an ethnic gang that stole in order to fund their radical political activities.

   He is believed to have taken part in the infamous Siege of Sidney Street which inspired the climax of Hitchcock’s THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1934), although a brief sketch in England’s Dictionary of National Biography warns us that “None of the … biographical ‘facts’ about him … is altogether reliable.”

   Whether Simenon had ever heard of this man remains unknown, but in any event the fictional Pietr the Lett is not a leftist radical, does not commit crimes of violence and turns out not even to be Latvian. Which raises another mystery: Why did Simenon call the guy Pietr the Lett? Pietr the Estonian — or the Esty? — would have sounded ridiculous even in French, but there’s absolutely no reason in the novel why he couldn’t have been a genuine Latvian. Ah well, c’est la vie.


   Train murders were something of a Simenon specialty. Of course, when such a crime takes place in a Maigret, it’s bound to lose intensity and vividness simply because we can’t be there to witness it. This is certainly true of the first murder in PIETR-LE-LETTON, and it’s also true of a Maigret short story dating from about seven years later.

   We learn from Steve Trussel’s website that “Jeumont, 51 minutes d’arrêt!” was written in October 1936 and, along with more than a dozen other shorts from the same period, was first collected in France as LES NOUVELLES ENQU TES DE MAIGRET (1944). It was never included in any collection of Maigret shorts published in English but did appear in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, November 1966, as “Inspector Maigret Deduces,” with no translator credit and with an unaccountable 1961 copyright date.

   (The FictionMags Index explains the date — the story’s first appearance in English was in the UK edition of Argosy for October 1961—and identifies the translator as one J.E. Malcolm.)

   As in PIETR-LE-LETTON, Maigret tackles a murder on a train, this one bound from Warsaw to Berlin to Liège in Belgium (Simenon’s birthplace) to Erquelinnes (on the Belgian side of the border with France) to Jeumont (just across the line on the French side) and on to Paris, except that one of the six passengers in a particular compartment is found dead in his seat at Jeumont. The dead man is a wealthy German banker named Otto Bauer.

   Called in by his railroad-detective nephew, Maigret gets in touch with his Berlin counterparts and learns that Bauer was forced out of the banking business “after the National Socialist revolution, but gave an undertaking of loyalty to the Government, and has never been disturbed….” and also that he’s “[c]ontributed one million marks to party funds.”

   Clearly, despite his name, Bauer was a Jew, and was desperately trying to escape Nazi Germany with whatever money he could salvage. That element is what makes this tale unique among the Maigret stories of the late Thirties. At least in translation there’s not a word of sympathy for the victim, not a word of disgust for the regime he was fleeing. For Maigret, and for Simenon I fear, it’s just another factor in another case. The murder weapon, by the way, turns out to be a needle, which was also one of the murder weapons in PIETR-LE-LETTON although not the one used in the train killing.


   I wouldn’t venture to guess how many train murders can be found in Simenon’s stand-alone novels, but the most vivid and intense that I can recall takes place in Chapter 2 of LE LOCATAIRE (1934; translated by Stuart Gilbert as THE LODGER in the two-in-one volume ESCAPE IN VAIN, 1943). Elie Nagear, a desperate young Turkish Jew, bludgeons to death a wealthy Dutch entrepreneur with whom he’s sharing a couchette on the night train from Brussels to Paris after it crosses the French border. (In European trains of the Thirties a couchette was a small chamber used as sleeping quarters by two and sometimes four total strangers.) On the run from the police, he takes a train back to Belgium and holes up in a boarding house for foreign students in the city of Charleroi.

   In Chapter 9 there’s a brief conversation between Elie and a fellow roomer. “They were talking in the papers of the difference between French and Belgian law. Well, suppose someone who’s being proceeded against in Belgium by the French police commits a crime in Brussels, or some other Belgian town…. What I mean is, that a man who’s liable to the death penalty in France might happen to commit a crime in Belgium. In that case, it seems to follow that he should first be tried in Belgium, if it’s in that country he’s arrested. And it also follows, doesn’t it, that he should serve his sentence in that country?”

   What Simenon assumes his readers know is that France at this time still had the death penalty while Belgium had abolished it. On May 10, 1933, in Boullay-les-Trous, a village south of Paris, an obese pornographer named Hyacinthe Danse, who was known to Simenon, murdered both his mother and his mistress. Fearing that he’d be caught and guillotined, Danse took the train to Liège in Belgium, where on May 12 he murdered his childhood confessor (and also Simenon’s), a Jesuit priest named Hault, and then turned himself in.

   This case was apparently still pending in Belgium when Simenon wrote LE LOCATAIRE. Sure enough, in December 1934 Danse was convicted of Hault’s murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, meaning that he couldn’t be extradited to France and stand trial for the other murders until he was dead. Less than two years later, Simenon turned the Danse story into a short Maigret, included as “Death Penalty” in the collection MAIGRET’S PIPE (1977) and discussed in my column for September 2015.

   Which is enough journey to France for one month. Or, as they say on the left bank of the Seine: basta.

by Francis M. Nevins

   If this column doesn’t appeal to you, don’t blame me. Steve Lewis thought some readers might be interested in my latest book, even though it has nothing to do with our genre. So I’ll start off this month recycling the book’s introduction, which I believe conveys what it’s about, and reveals an aspect of your columnist that may surprise many who think of me as just a mystery wonk.


   If you leave out the accident of my birth, the origin of They Called the Shots dates back to 1952. The Korean war was raging overseas, HUAC and Senator Joe McCarthy were raging on the home front, the blacklist was on full tilt, and I was nine years young, living in Roselle Park, New Jersey.

   One night my parents, taking me along, went out to an appliance store to buy their first television set. It was, if memory serves, an Admiral with a 12 -inch screen. The price was around $225 or $250. For the next several years that set drew me to it like a magnet.

   In the early Fifties the major movie studios considered TV the enemy, offering for nothing the same product that theaters charged admission for. They wouldn’t allow their old films to be shown on the small screen, and in their current pictures they often wouldn’t allow a set amid the furniture of a living-room scene.

   Growing up in the New York City area, I had access to seven channels: the CBS, NBC and ABC flagship stations (Channels 2,4 and 7 respectively), the short-lived DuMont network, plus three local independents. With the majors boycotting the medium and the number of made-for-TV series rather small, TV programmers starved for material on film had to fall back on the smaller fry among movie-making companies, mainly Republic, Monogram and PRC.

   During the Thirties and Forties those companies had put out an endless stream of B pictures, primarily but not exclusively Westerns, and Republic had also offered dozens of cliffhanger serials. This was the product, interspersed with Hopalong Cassidy movies (out of which William Boyd, the only actor to play Hoppy, made megamillions by buying the rights to those flicks and licensing them to stations across the country) and early made-for-TV series like The Lone Ranger and The Cisco Kid, that kept me glued in front of the set for hours every evening. I became a certified telefreak.

   On that tiny screen I watched movies featuring the exploits of various Western stars of previous decades over and over. Some were trio pictures with groups like The Three Mesquiteers and The Range Busters and The Rough Riders. Most starred a single hero: Gene Autry, Eddie Dean, Buck Jones, Ken Maynard, Kermit Maynard (Ken s less successful but perhaps more talented brother), Tim McCoy, Jack Randall, Tex Ritter, Roy Rogers and of course the young John Wayne.

   I got to the point where I could identify at sight dozens of the actors in B Westerns who usually fell to the heroes bullets or fists — Roy Barcroft, Tristram Coffin, Kenne Duncan, I. Stanford Jolley, Charles King, John Merton, Marshall Reed, Hal Taliaferro, Harry Woods, just to name a few at random. Eventually I caught on that the person usually named in a picture s final credit must be important, but what a director did and how he did it I hadn’t the foggiest.

   As I grew older I lost interest in shoot-em-ups and cliffhangers, considering them beneath the notice of a young intellectual such as I fancied myself to be.

   Years slid by. I completed college and law school, passed the bar, and eventually uprooted myself from the east coast to St. Louis where I was invited to become a law professor. And then, slowly but surely, a strange thing happened. I became interested in those old movies again. I had the pleasure of meeting in their golden years some of the actors whose younger incarnations I had watched for hours on end, magnetized by that 12 -inch screen.

   Most important of all, I began to meet and become friends with some of the men whose names were familiar to me from the final credits of those pictures. The ones who called the shots. The directors. I got to watch their films again, sometimes sitting beside them. I got to listen to their stories. Eventually I began to write about them.

   This book is the culmination of that process. It s taken me thousands of hours of viewing time and hundreds of hours of writing time but in my twilight years I still consider the time well spent. I hope I ve communicated what I’ve gotten from all those films, and from the people who made them, in the following pages.

   But perhaps I can spell out here what I’ve looked for, and often found, in pictures of this sort. Reduced to two words, what the first-rate films contain and what the first-rate directors infuse into their films is visual imagination or, in two more words, visual excitement. This quality is the alpha and omega of the kind of movies discussed here.

   Each chapter is self-contained and can be read separately. But many also throw light on other chapters, and to help readers navigate among them, the first time in any chapter the name of a director is mentioned who is the subject of an earlier or later chapter, that name is highlighted.

   For example, in the chapter on William Witney you can see highlighted names like John English or Alan James or Ray Taylor from Bill s point of view, and later you can turn to the chapters on those men and see Bill from their perspective.

   The directors I knew best tend to get the longest and most quote-filled chapters but, because they contributed so much to this book, I want to single them out for mention: in the order of their births, Spencer Gordon Bennet (1893-1987), Joseph H. Lewis (1907-2000), Thomas Carr (1907-1997), and my closest Hollywood friend, Bill Witney (1915-2002). A few others covered here, like Oliver Drake (1903-1991) and R.G. Springsteen (1904-1989), I knew but not all that well. Others, who died too soon, I never had the pleasure of meeting.

   Every director covered here is dead, and most of them died before the beginning of this century. In a sense this book is an assortment of flowers on their graves. In another sense it brings them back, I hope, to life.


   While we’re on the subject of shoot-em-ups, a reader of my last month’s column asked if any of John Creasey’s contributions to that branch of literature got published in the USofA. The answer is Yes. War on the Lazy-K, as by William K. Reilly — one of three bylines under which Creasey turned out (if I’ve counted right) 29 smokeroos for low-on-the-totem-pole English houses like Wright & Brown and Stanley Paul — first appeared in London in 1941, amid the carnage of World War II, and came out over here five years later under the imprint of Phoenix Press.

   Yes, the same Phoenix Press that at the same time was presenting to an indifferent world the novels of that incomparable wackadoodle Harry Stephen Keeler. I am the proud owner of a copy of the Reilly opus, picked up for 50 cents at a YMCA book fair in St. Louis twenty or more years ago. Another copy wound up in the hands of Bill Pronzini, who devotes a couple of pages to it in his tribute to badly written Westerns, Six-Gun in Cheek (1997).

   When I was in Wales back in pre-euro days I pungled up 50 pence apiece for each of several Creasey cactus epics published only in England, but that’s another story. Let’s stick to the one that made it across the pond.

   This one actually has a plot of sorts, but what I find most amazing is that a writer who had never yet visited the U.S. and knew next to nothing about the old West could hammer out so many books of this type in a few days apiece. The narrative passages of Lazy-K are readable enough, although pockmarked with exclamation points and lacking the urgency of the Inspector West and Dr. Palfrey novels Creasey wrote during the same war years.

   But Gad, the dialogue! Just about every one of the horde of characters in this book speaks in dialect—the same wacky dialect for the whole passel of ‘em! “Why’n hell can’t yuh old-timers stop arguin’ among yourselves?” “C’n yuh use a drink?” “Yuh ain’t got a touch of whiskey with yuh, by any chance?” “Yuh’ve heerd me.” The only characters who are spared this form of discourse are the Mexicans. “Thees ees a surprise, Kennedy. I was told that you wair dead.”

   “He wanted to be kept hidden until after Deegby was gone. But undair cover he negotiated with the other outfits.” There’s also one character who’s a Kiowa — or, as Creasey spells it, Kiawa — but him no speakum much. Can you imagine having to remember to misspell so often while pumping out ten or fifteen thousand words a day? What a delight to encounter the occasional rare moment when Creasey blinks and actually spells you y-o-u!


   At least one other among Creasey’s posse of pistol-smokers was published over here, but not in book form. Hidden Range (1946), published in England as by Tex Riley, takes up virtually the entire February 1950 issue of Real Western Stories, one of the Columbia chain of ultra-low-budget pulps edited by Robert A. W. Lowndes. I tripped over a copy of this one in a secondhand bookstore somewhere in Ohio and snagged it for another 50 cents.

   A quick look at the invaluable FictionMags Index website revealed a curious fact I hadn’t been aware of before. A year after Lowndes used Hidden Range in Real Western Stories, he used the exact same novel, this time retitled Forgotten Range, in the February 1951 issue of Western Action, another Columbia pulp. He must have been desperate for material that month!

   But could the Index be wrong here? According to other Creasey bibliographies in print and online, Forgotten Range is a different book, published in England as by Tex Riley in 1947. It strikes me as more credible that this is the title Lowndes ran early in 1951. In any event, he had earlier run another Creasey shoot-em-up, this time under the William K. Reilly byline, Brand Him for Boothill! (Western Action, July 1949), but what title and pen name this one sported in England remains a mystery.

   A word which brings us back to what this column is supposed to be about.


   Hundreds of Creasey’s crime novels were published in the U.S. from the early 1950s until well after his death in 1973, but only nine appeared here before he became a top name in the genre. Eight of these, chronicling the earliest exploits of Raffles-like John Mannering, a.k.a. The Baron, appeared under Creasey’s Anthony Morton byline between 1937 and 1940, although for some obscure reason the character’s nom de thief on this side of the pond was Blue Mask.

   The ninth, and the only book to bear Creasey’s own name on its spine until he became established over here years later, was Legion of the Lost (1944), one of the early espionage adventures of Dr. Palfrey and his colleagues, offered by a publishing house called Stephen Daye, Inc., which seems to have vanished into the mists a few seconds after it was born.

   At a time when I had little or no idea who Creasey was, I found a nice copy of this rarity in an old used bookstore in Elizabeth, N.J. that was a favorite hangout of mine in my formative years. What did the book set me back? One quarter. A wise investment, yes?

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