Authors


NOTE: This review from the past was first posted on this blog on August 11, 2009. I’ve been prompted to reprint it because the previous review, also a repost, was of the movie Murder on the Campus, which was based on another book by Whitman Chambers, also a locked room mystery.

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WHITMAN CHAMBERS – Dead Men Leave No Fingerprints. Stanton Lake #1 (and only appearance). Doubleday, hardcover, 1935. Hardcover reprint: Caxton House, 1939. Paperback reprint: Detective Novel Classic #28, circa 1943.

WHITMAN CHAMBERS Dead Men Leave No Fingerprints.

   Late last year I made a major purchase of over 200 of old mystery digest paperbacks like this, most of them being published in the 1940s. Most of them also are abridged, cut “to speed the story,” and if so they’re not very desirable from a reading standpoint, but the often lurid covers can still make them very much collectible. This one, with no indication otherwise, is the full, uncondensed version.

   And it provides a relatively inexpensive way to read a mystery writer about whom I know nothing more than a list of the books he wrote. With no characters ever appearing more than one book, Chambers never made a name for himself the easy way. His first mystery appeared in 1928, and he seemed to hit his stride with nine books from Doubleday (not all under the Crime Club imprint, as I recall) between 1934 and 1941.

   A few more novels appeared through the war years, then one paperback original from Pyramid after the war ended, followed by two more paperback originals from the relatively schlocky Monarch line in 1959 and 1960.

   I mentioned the lack of a continuing series character. If Chambers would have decided to go with one, you’d think it would have to be the leading player in this book, a private detective named Stanton Lake. Most of the action takes place at a beach hideaway near Dipsea, 16 miles north of San Francisco, as Lake tries to help a beautiful Danish movie star stay out of trouble with the moral-turpitude clause of her contract.

   Hilda Haan — that’s her name — had a stand-in leave the country under her name while she went for a quiet sojourn in the country with one Theodore Raybourne. It was intended to be a love nest for two, but now that she wants out, Theodore’s family has moved in, and she needs Lake’s help.

   In he goes as well, and soon after, murder follows, in a house with all of the entrances locked from the inside. It was not a fool-proof job of locking, but it is still almost assuredly an inside job.

WHITMAN CHAMBERS Dead Men Leave No Fingerprints.

   The biggest obstacle to cracking the case is not the locked room aspect, however. It’s the fact that the only fingerprints on the murder weapon are those of a dead man, a convict who died in prison without ever being released.

   A second murder is even more puzzling, occurring in a totally sealed room. An immediate solution presents itself, but to add to the growing bewilderment, it also does not hold up to close inspection. Chambers had fun with this one, I think, even though this is not a major entry in the list of Locked Room Mysteries:

   Here’s a quote to show you what I mean about the fun part. From page 89:

    “I know what you’re thinking,” Lake said quickly. “If Dr. Pageot killed this woman, he must have also killed [name omitted]. It would be too much of a coincidence to have two murderers strike at this one family within twelve hours. And if Pageot is guilty, that leaves John Royal [the dead convict] out — the fingerprints, the unlocked side door, the empty grave, and all the rest notwithstanding.”

    “I was,” the sheriff admitted, “thinkin’ something like that.”

    “Let it pass,” Lake advised. “Keep your mind open until all the evidence is in. It is not impossible that John Royal killed [..] and that Pageot killed [..], however incredible it appears on the surface. Just remember that we are still on the surface. We may have a long way to go before we are on the bottom, and” — he smiled calmly — “we may already be there and don’t know it….”

   While the murder method may be a bit far-fetched (and Chambers makes it sound as though it just might work, maybe), the motive(s) is/are — well, let’s just say “interesting” is the key word, without saying how likely it (or they) may be.

   I apologize for deliberately trying to be vague here. Lake sweats this one out, doggedly serving his client’s interests all the way through, and being rewarded mightily in the end for his efforts.

   Is this one worth reprinting? It’s a minor find, not a major one, pulpishly told, a little bit goofy, in all honesty, and flawed no doubt by investigative practices no longer found acceptable today (page 91) and by the stereotypical representation of a Chinese servant who not so incidentally has an important role to play in the tale.

   Is it worth reading, though? Assuming that you’ve read (and understood and/or let pass by) all of the qualifying statements made in the preceding paragraph, a definite “yes” to this one.

— January 2004

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

   

   A few weeks ago I received an email from bookseller Lynn Munroe, asking me a question about the uncollected short stories of Cornell Woolrich. The result was that I got interested in how many uncollected stories there were and how many might be worth collecting. It will take more than one column to explore these questions but let’s start here.

***

   For the first two years in which Woolrich published crime-suspense stories, the number of uncollected tales is zero. Why? Because I brought together all three of the tales that first came out in 1934 and all ten of those that appeared in ‘35 in the collection DARKNESS AT DAWN (1985). Woolrich’s output grew exponentially in 1936: a total of 26 crime stories, earning him a total of $4,300, which was a respectable annual salary back then.

   Some of them—for example “The Night Reveals” (Story, April 1936), “Johnny on the Spot” (Detective Fiction Weekly, May 2, 1936), “The Night I Died” (from the same magazine’s August 8 issue) and “You Pays Your Nickel” (Argosy, August 22, 1936), which is usually reprinted as “Subway”—rank among his most powerful short stories. Others from that year—including, I fear, most of the dozen that remain uncollected—are pretty terrible.

   The year kicked off with one of the worst tales he ever perpetrated; perhaps the worst of his career. The mild success of the Popular Publications pulp chain with weird-menace magazines like Dime Mystery inspired rival entrepreneur Ned Pines of Thrilling Publications to launch a competing monthly called Thrilling Mystery, which debuted in October 1935 under editorial director Leo Margulies (1900-1975).

   During its 50 issues the magazine offered a parade of strange cults, diabolic rituals, gruesome murders, sadistic villains, slavering beasts and (of course) beautiful young women shivering in peril. Woolrich dipped his toes into these weird waters just once. Like the 1935 classic “Dark Melody of Madness” (better known as “Papa Benjamin”) and the 1937 classic “Graves for the Living,” “Baal’s Daughter” (Thrilling Mystery, January 1936) is about hapless innocents falling into the clutches of repulsive religions.

   But this version of the story is so sloppily and luridly written, so overloaded with stupid inconsistencies and grotesque twaddle, that to claw one’s way through its pages is an act of masochism. Narrator Bob Collins visits his psychiatrist friend Dr. Dessaw to ask for help in freeing his fiancée Gloria’s dotty aunt from a Westchester cult.

   As Woolrich Coincidence would have it, the head of the cult is Dessaw, who drugs Bob and spirits him to the religion’s headquarters mansion on the banks of the Hudson, where in rapid order our hero is stripped to his shorts, flogged by a tongueless black giant, menaced by a man-eating panther, tortured with boiling oil injected into his veins, forced to kneel before a woman calling herself the reincarnated goddess Ishtar, forced to help lure Gloria to the mansion for ritual sex with with the god Baal who of course is Dr. Dessaw, and so on and on long past our endurance.

   The narrative throbs with clunkers like “The fiend on the throne stood up and turned to me as I quivered there, ashen-faced” and “I was prone there, at the mercy of the he-devil and the she-devil….” How desperate must Woolrich have been to have cranked out this garbage?

***

   Of the dozen uncollected Woolrich stories from 1936, Detective Fiction Weekly was the original home of seven, including two that might well deserve collection. Not, though, the first pair we consider here. “Blood in Your Eye” from the March 21 issue is an insanely bad cop story set in an anonymous city on which Woolrich sticks the label Los Angeles.

   Mitchell, a rambunctious young homicide dick, is the only one who sees the truth when a murder victim is found in a rooming house with the image of his killer apparently imprinted on his eyes. Instead of sharing his insight, Mitchell throws down his badge in disgust at his colleagues’ willingness to believe medieval superstition and goes out to solve the crime lone-wolf style.

   The hunt takes him to two venues that Woolrich was to use over and over, a manicurist’s booth and a dance hall. For this one you have to accept that neither a roomful of cops nor the medical examiner can tell the difference between genuine and glass eyes, but the climax is violent and the central gimmick Guignol-gruesome.

   Just two weeks later, in the magazine’s April 4 issue, came “The Mystery of the Blue Spot,” which Woolrich submitted as “Death in Three-Quarter Time.” In a lifetime of reading whodunits I’ve never come across an alibi gimmick as wacko as this one. Homicide cop Dennis Small happens to be in the Curfew Club on the night when the specialty dancer Emilio is shot to death in his dressing room just a few minutes after he and his partner Lolita have finished performing a bizarre new number.

   All the evidence points to chorus line dancer Mary Jackson, for whom Emilio was about to dump Lolita. This tale too is never likely to be reprinted or collected so I might as well give away the solution: Lolita herself killed Emilio before the dance, then rigged herself in a crazy costume and went out into the spotlight and convinced a clubful of people that she was both herself and her partner! The story becomes interesting only in the final scenes when Woolrich makes us empathize with her for two crucial noir reasons: she had lost her love and she’s about to die.

   For the next uncollected story we jump into the summer months. “Nine Lives” from the June 20 number is set in the waterfront district around New York’s South Street. Demon newshawk Wheeler stumbles onto the story of an old bum who’s been treated by three sinister strangers to booze, food, clothes, and to an insurance policy on his life. The best scene finds Wheeler bound, gagged and left for dead at the bottom of an old-fashioned bathtub filling with water, but even in this serial-like incident there’s nothing terribly urgent.

   Later that summer, in the August 15 issue, came “Murder on My Mind,” the earliest appearance in Woolrich and perhaps the earliest in crime fiction of a plotline which was a staple of film noir classics like SO DARK THE NIGHT (1946, directed by Joseph H. Lewis) but ultimately goes back to the Greek tragedy OEDIPUS TYRANNUS.

   Marquis, the detective narrator, is assigned with his partner Beecher to the brutal murder of a harmless cigar-store clerk, but as the investigation goes forward, countless tiny details push Marquis and the reader closer and closer to becoming convinced that the murderer is Marquis himself.

   This tale has never been reprinted or collected as it first appeared but a heavily revised and less crudely written version was included as “Morning After Murder” in the paperback collection BLUEBEARD’S SEVENTH WIFE (Popular Library pb #473, 1952, as by William Irish).

   The trademark Woolrich combination of breathless urgency and plot flubs permeates the long story which he submitted as “Right in the Middle of New York,” but it’s so packed with action and tension that one barely notices that nothing in it makes sense, not even the published title, since no murder is committed at all in “Murder in the Middle of New York” from the September 26 issue.

   Tony Shugrue, a relatively honest protégé of mobster Chuck Morgan, is set up by his mentor with phony references and gets hired by wealthy Cole Harrison as chauffeur for his beautiful and spoiled daughter Evelyn. Unaware that he’s married, Evelyn makes several passes at her driver, and for a while we’re reminded of the romance between another flighty heiress and her chauffeur in Woolrich’s 1927 pre-crime novel CHILDREN OF THE RITZ.

   Finally Tony realizes that Morgan plans to kidnap Evelyn, hold her for ransom, kill her and leave him to take the fall. From this point on the story morphs into a wild roller-coaster ride crammed with thrills, anguish and suspense as Tony fights to save himself and his wife and Evelyn from the gang. Some of the dialogue creaks—“‘Rats!” he hissed viciously through his teeth. ‘Lower than rats, even!’”—and the crucial scene requires Tony literally not to recognize his wife at close quarters.

   But the irresistible Woolrich urgency sweeps away all nitpicking into the ash heap and suggests that this one of the uncollected dozen may deserve being revived.

   I feel the same way about “Afternoon of a Phony” from the November 14 issue—so much so that it was reprinted in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine (June 2012) at my recommendation and with a new introduction by me.

   The story is something of a departure for Woolrich, a charming, clever and bizarre whodunit where the detective role is played by a con man. Clip Rogers steps off the train at the Jersey seaside resort of Wildmore and is instantly mistaken by the brainless local cops for Griswold, the supersleuth from Trenton, whom they’d sent for to help solve the bludgeon murder of a woman in one of the town’s vacation hotels.

   What complicates the case beyond the local yokels’ power to unravel is that the woman’s eight-year-old son, who witnessed the crime in the middle of the night but is too young to understand its meaning, has identified as the murderer a man with a perfect alibi. Rogers exposes the real killer rather neatly, but the story becomes distinctively a Woolrich tale only afterward when, as in “The Mystery of the Blue Spot,” a criminal motivated by lost love takes center stage and, for a page or two, becomes a deeply sympathetic character. His comment that the impostor Rogers is more humane than any cop he’d ever met is evidence that when Woolrich drew genuine cops as brutal thugs he wasn’t doing it inadvertently.

   His final 1936 appearance in Detective Fiction Weekly was one of his weakest, but for anyone with a little knowledge of law, it’s a coffee-out-the-nose classic. The year’s last issue, dated December 26, included “The Two Deaths of Barney Slabaugh,” in which Woolrich dusted off his favorite James M. Cain plot twist, backdated it forty years, and threw in so much of the tinny insult humor and gangster stereotypes from the current James Cagney movies that the illusion we’re in the New York of the 1890s isn’t sustained for a microsecond.

   Manhattan racket boss Emerald Eddie Danberry is persuaded by his shyster lawyer Horace Lipscomb that the proper way to kill rival mobster Barney Slabaugh is to take the man prisoner, frame himself for Barney’s murder beforehand, and get himself acquitted in court. Then, Lipscomb explains—foreshadowing an infamous recent comment by Donald Trump?—even if Danberry were to murder him in full view of a thousand people he could never be prosecuted for it.

   Danberry asks for the name of this marvelous rule of law. Lipscomb replies: Why, it’s the Statute of Limitations! (Cue the coffee.) Fighting DA Barry McCoy, one of the city’s few uncorrupt officials, tries to snooker the plot, and fate works another Cain trick to help him out in this super-pulpy tale, which is full of police brutality, casual racism and enough Woolrich-style wisecracks to sink an aircraft carrier.

***

   So much for eight out of the dozen, and quite enough for one column. I’ll finish the tabulation next month. With perhaps a bonus thrown in to boot.

BASIL COPPER – The Curse of the Fleers. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1977. No US paperback edition. Published previously in the UK by Harwood-Smart, hardcover, 1976. Reprinted by PS Publishing , UK. hardcover, 2012.

   There are mysterious things happening in an old manor house located in a remote corner of Dorsett, and a wounded army officer oon leave is called upon to investigate. The ancestral home of the Fleers comes intact with all the required trappings: decaying towers and battlements, endless passageways, underground catacombs and unexplored caverns, and of course, an ancient curse on the family living within.

   Copper tries hard, casting suspicions far and wide, but he can’t add any life to this tale, many times told. Not my cup of tea. Maybe yours?

–Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 2, No. 3, May 1978.


Bibliographic Update:   Basil Copper was a prolific British author of both crime and supernatural fiction. He is best known for a long series of stories about Solar Pons, a Sherlock Holmes read-alike first created by August Derleth. Unknown to most readers in the US, he also wrote over 50 novels chronicling the adventures of American PI Mike Faraday.

ROBERT TWOHY “McKevitt–100 Proof.” Short story. Albin McKevitt 1. First published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, October 1968. Probably never reprinted.

   Albin McKevitt opened he door, swayed there, and beamed at the roomful of faces turned toward him. “Greetings and salu … greetings and felic .. greetings and all that,” he said “Hic.”

   Detective Lieutenant Throop, nearest the door, was the first to break the silence in the room. “Sweet mother of us all,” he whispered.

   Thus begins this tale, an absolute gem of a throwback to the pulp magazines of the 30s and 40s, in which detective heroes could be as drunk as a hoot owl and still be able to solve the cases they somehow stumble into.

   Albin McKevitt is not a PI, but he might as well be. Instead, however, he’s a reporter with a nose for news, and in the room, besides the members of the local police force, are one man and two women. And a dead man, a bullet hole squarely in the middle of his forehead.

   They claim it was a matter of self-defense, one of the women having shot and killed her husband, with the other woman there as a bona fide witness. McKeviit asks a few questions, wanders around, then called his editor, telling him, to the astonishment of the good lieutenant, it’s murder all right. Premeditated murder.

   Besides its obvious comic overtones, this is also a bona fide detective story. One could only wish that there had been many more adventures of Albin McKevitt that Robert Twohy could have told us about, but alas, this is a one and done.

   As an author of detective mysteries and short stories, Robert Twohy wrote almost 80 of them between 1957 and 1994, all for either Ellery Queen’s or Alfred Hitchcock’s magazines. Someone named Jim Quark was in four of the; otherwise all of his other work were standalones like this one.

MARY (THERESA ELEANOR) HIGGINS CLARK, author of some 50 plus crime and suspense novels died yesterday, January 31, 2020, at the age of 92. Her sales, in the millions of copies, must rank her as being among the greatest of any recent or current writer in the field.

   Theatrical films have been made of the following novels: A Stranger Is Watching (1982), Where Are the Children? (1986), Lucky Day (2002) , and All Around the Town (2002), and dozens more have been adapted into made-for-TV films.


   The following bibliography has been taken from the Fantastic Fiction website:

      The Alvirah and Willy series —

   [A lottery winner and her husband use their winnings to solve crimes.]

1. Weep No More, My Lady (1987)

2. The Lottery Winner (1994)
3. All Through The Night (1998)
4. Deck the Halls (2000) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
5. The Christmas Thief (2004) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
6. Santa Cruise (2006) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
7. Dashing Through the Snow (2008) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
8. I’ll Walk Alone (2011)
9. The Lost Years (2012)
10. As Time Goes By (2016)
11. All By Myself Alone (2017)

      The Regan Reilly series (with Carol Higgins Clark)

   [Regan Reilly is a private investigator based in Los Angeles.]

Deck the Halls (2000)

The Christmas Collection (2006)
Santa Cruise (2006)
Dashing Through the Snow (2008)

      The “Under Suspicion” series

   [Laurie Moran is a producer on the television series ‘Under Suspicion’, a documentary program which investigates unsolved cold cases.]

1. I’ve Got You Under My Skin (2014)

2. The Cinderella Murder (2013) (with Alafair Burke)
3. All Dressed in White (2015) (with Alafair Burke)
4. The Sleeping Beauty Killer (2016) (with Alafair Burke)
5. Every Breath you Take (2017) (with Alafair Burke)
6. You Don’t Own Me (2018) (with Alafair Burke)

       Other Novels —

Aspire to the Heavens (1960) aka Mount Vernon Love Story (non-criminous)
Where Are the Children? (1975)

A Stranger Is Watching (1978)
The Cradle Will Fall (1980)
A Cry in the Night (1982)
Stillwatch (1984)
While My Pretty One Sleeps (1989)
Loves Music, Loves to Dance (1991)
All Around the Town (1992)
I’ll Be Seeing You (1993)
Remember Me (1994)
Pretend You Don’t See Her (1995)
Let Me Call You Sweetheart (1995)
Silent Night (1995)
Moonlight Becomes You (1996)
You Belong to Me (1998)
We’ll Meet Again (1998)
Before I Say Good-Bye (2000)
On the Street Where You Live (2000)
He Sees You When You’re Sleeping (2001) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
Daddy’s Little Girl (2002)
The Second Time Around (2003)
Nighttime Is My Time (2004)
No Place Like Home (2005)
Two Little Girls in Blue (2006)
I Heard That Song Before (2007)
Where Are You Now? (2008)
Just Take My Heart (2009)
The Shadow of Your Smile (2010)
Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (2013)
Inherit the Dead (2013) (with C J Box, Lee Child, John Connolly, Charlaine Harris, Jonathan Santlofer and Lisa Unger)
The Melody Lingers on (2015)
I’ve Got My Eyes on You (2018)
Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry (2019)


   Seven issues of Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine were published sporadically between 1996 and 2000.

ALLEN K. YOUNG “Reflection on Murder.” Short story. Professor Posenby #2. First published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, October 1968. Presumably never reprinted.

   The tenth rule of Ronald Knox’s Ten Commandments of Detective Fiction says that “twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.” This second of several stories Alan K. Young wrote about retired poetry and code expert Professor Ponsby (no first name known) takes this rule head on and makes an excellent story out of it.

   It doesn’t in any way break the rule, since the fact that Tom and Barnaby Varden are twins is stated up front with no denying it. There is also no denying that one of them murdered their uncle, but which one? Almost no one can tell them apart, so eye witnesses to the fact that one was seen leaving the house at the time of murder are of no value.

   What’s more, the other brother was seen at a boxing match the next town over at the time of the murder, gives one of the two an unshakeable alibi. But which one was which?

   Totally sure that no jury would ever convict either one “beyond a shadow of a doubt,” they boastfully send the following poem to the harried police chief, who comes to Ponsby with it. I hope you can read it:

      

   I believe I have read another story with exactly the premise, but without the poem, and yet, if so, I do not remember where I read it or who wrote it. You may be able to figure it out — all the clues are there — but I am chagrined to say I didn’t. This is a puzzle story only, with only a cursory attempt at characterization, but as such it’s exceedingly well done. It’s like admiring a solidly constructed crossword puzzle at the end of the week in the New York Times. I enjoyed it immensely.

   It probably won’t ever happen, but Young wrote enough Ponsby stories to put together a very decent collection. I’d buy it!

NOTE: Alan K. Young’s papers regarding his short story writing are stored at Columbia University. A short desription of the collection says that the author “is a former junior-college English instructor, with a B. A. in English from Harvard and an M. A. in the same subject from the University of California.”


       The Professor Ponsonby series —

Letter from Mindoro (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Mar 1968
Reflection on Murder (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Oct 1968
The Secret of the Golden Tile (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Jun 1969
Ponsonby and the Shakespeare Sonnet (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Oct 1969
Ponsonby and the Dying Words (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Aug 1970
Ponsonby and the Classic Cipher (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Dec 1971
Child’s Play (vi) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Jan 1972
Ponsonby and the Ransom Note (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Jun 1972
To See Death Coming (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Apr 1973
Truth Will Out (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Jun 1974
Incident on a Bus (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine Feb 1975

     —

PostScript:   Since most you are not likely to ever read this story, I will give you a big hint as to the solution in Comment 1. Don’t read it until you’ve either given up or you want to know if the answer you’ve come up with is correct or not.

Added later: A full explanation is given in Comment #2.

CHARLES ALVERSON, who died several days ago (January 19th), had a relatively minor career in the world of crime fiction, but his two books about San Francisco-based PI Joe Goodey struck me as being very done, both solidly in the Raymond Chandler tradition. After reading the two of them, I was constantly on the lookout for the third, but alas, it never turned out to be.

   Quoting from his first book (*), here’s the first paragraph:

   I was stretching a tall gin and tonic at Aldo’s, the only bar I knew that hadn’t yet torn up my tab, when I looked up and discovered that my elbow room to the west had been annexed by an elderly gentleman in a three-piece suit.

   And from the second:

   “Don’t mistake me for a moralist, Rachel.You know better. I’m just an ex-cop scuffling after enough money to stay alive and operating. If some justice gets done in the process, that’s fine. It makes the client feel better about paying.”

   According to Wikipedia, after deciding perhaps that mystery writing wasn’t going to pay the bills, Alverson Alverson was managing editor of the British environmentalist magazine Vole, financed by Terry Jones of Monty Python, and was co-screenwriter of Terry Gilliam’s film Jabberwocky, and was co-developer of the story and co-writer (uncredited) of the first draft of the screenplay that became Brazil (1985).

(*) This quote and the one following are included in Dick Lochte’s long essay on Joe Goodey you can find on the Thrilling Detective website.


        The Joe Goodey series —

Goodey’s Last Stand. Houghton Mifflin, 1975

Not Sleeping, Just Dead. Houghton Mifflin, 1977


    Plus one crime-related standalone novel:

Fighting Back. Bobbs Merrill, 1973

   Noted TV journalist and news anchor JIM LEHRER died today at the age of 85. Of his many other accomplishments, which will most assuredly be included in the many obituaries appearing now online and again in tomorrow’s newspapers, he also wrote a good many works of crime fiction, most of which I seem to have missed knowing about for all these years.

   The first series of note are the light-hearted adventures of One-Eyed Mack, Oklahoma’s lieutenant governor, who solves mysteries in his spare time. Lehrer also wrote two books about Charles Avenue Henderson, a former CIA agent who wants nothing more to do but retire in peace and quiet, , but who finds that actually doing so is not as easy as he thought.


      The One-Eyed Mack series —

Kick the Can. Putnam 1988

Crown Oklahoma. Putnam 1989
The Sooner Spy. Putnam 1990
Lost and Found. Putnam 1991
Fine Lines. Random House 1994
Mack to the Rescue. University of Oklahoma Press, 2008.


    The Charlie Henderson series —

Blue Hearts. Random House 1993. ISBN 0-679-42216-1.

Purple Dots. Random House, 1998.


      Crime-related standalone novels include —

The Special Prisoner. Random House, 2000.
The Franklin Affair. Random House, 2003.
Top Down: A Novel of the Kennedy Assassination. Random Houose, 2013.

   W. GLENN DUNCAN passed away on May 7th of last year. He was the author of six books about a PI named Rafferty (no first name known). Rafferty, whose home base was Dallas TX, was definitely in the Spenser tradition, but with a Gold Medal sensibility. if that makes sense. (All of his books were paperback originals published by Fawcett Gold Medal. )

   Rafferty is also known for the set of Rules he lives by, and many of them are quoted throughout his adventures. (See below.)


        The Rafferty series —

Rafferty’s Rules (1987). Film: Cinepix, 1992, as Snake Eater III: His Law.
Last Seen Alive (1987)
Poor Dead Cricket (1988)
Wrong Place, Wrong Time (1989)

Cannon’s Mouth (1990)
Fatal Sisters (1990)

W. GLENN DUNCAN Rafferty


   — By W. Glenn Duncan, Jr.

False Gods (2018)


        Rafferty’s Rules, as compiled by Kevin Burton Smith

2) Be lucky. (Wrong Place, Wrong Time)

3) If you’re going to be stupid, see rule number two. (Wrong Place, Wrong Time)

3) When all else fails, sit on your duff and await good news…

5) If a client can afford it, he — or she — pays top dollar.

6) Don’t forget the money.

7) Anxious clients who smile too much are usually trouble.

8) The client has to say out loud what he wants me to do. (Rafferty’s Rules)

8) When in doubt, raise hell and see who complains about the noise. (Last Seen Alive)

9) Dull won’t balance the checkbook.

11) Don’t worry about what’s right, worry about what’s possible.

11) To feel really dumb, be a smart ass once too often. (Wrong Place, Wrong Time)

12) Selling people is antisocial.

13) Get the money up front.

16) When you can’t tell the bad guys from the good guys, it’s time to get the hell out. (Wrong Place, Wrong Time)

17) Never take a client at face value.

18) Ribs should be eaten naked.

19) When you can’t tell the bad guys from the good guys, it’s time to get the hell out. (Wrong Place, Wrong Time)

20) Any hunch so strong that it hurts just has to be right. (Cannon’s Mouth)

21) Grow up and grow old.

22) Don’t skulk. You can get away with anything if you act like you’re supposed to be doing it.

23) You show me a man who always “fights fair” and I’ll show you a man who loses too often.

27) In one way or another, every client lies. (Even Rafferty isn’t sure if this is #27 or not.)

28) Hot coffee and nudity don’t mix. If you spill, it hurts.

33) Always obey your friend, the police man.

34) Sometimes good luck accomplishes more than hard work. (Rafferty’s Rules)

34) When in doubt, dodge. (Wrong Place, Wrong Time)

34) Clients always hold back something back. (Last Seen Alive)

35) If a client appears to be telling you everything, see rule #34. (Last Seen Alive)

39) Smiting the wicked sounds biblical, but mostly it’s good clean fun.

41) When someone mentions how good something “could” be, they’re really telling me how lousy that something is.

47) Wear steel-toed boots when kicking people on their bony parts.

   Sarah Andrews, her husband Damon and son Duncan died in a plane crash that occurred last July 24th. She was the author of eleven mystery novels featuring forensic geologist Em Hansen. Andrews herself had a BA in geology and an MS in Earth Resources from Colorado State University.


       The Em Hansen series —

1. Tensleep (1994)

2. A Fall in Denver (1995)
3. Mother Nature (1997)
4. Only Flesh and Bones (1998)

5. Bone Hunter (1999)
6. An Eye for Gold (2000)
7. Fault Line (2002)

8. Killer Dust (2003)
9. Earth Colors (2004)
10. Dead Dry (2005)

11. Rock Bottom (2012)

   Plus one additional book in what may have been intended to be the start of another series, this one featuring Val Walker, a master’s student in geology:

In Cold Pursuit (2007)

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