1001 Midnights


A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Marvin Lachman


ELISABETH SANXAY HOLDING – Net of Cobwebs. Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 1945. Bantam #26, paperback, 1946 (copies with jackets exist). Detective Book Club, hardcover, 3-in-1 edition. Ace Double G-530, paperback; published back-to-back with Unfinished Crime. Stark House Press, trade paperback, 2004; published with The Death Wish.

   The psychological mystery, along with its first cousin, the film noir, became extremely popular during the mid-1940s. Elizabeth Sanxay Holding had been writing this type of book since the early 1930s, and Anthony Boucher, one of her biggest boosters, was quick to point out her preeminence in this subgenre. Raymond Chandler paid her extravagant praise indeed, saying, “For my money she’s the top suspense writer of them all.” Net of Cobwebs is one of her best books.

   Most of the Holding mysteries involve close family relationships. This is perhaps a carry-over from her early writing days, prior to 1930, when she primarily wrote romantic fiction. Critics Barzun and Taylor disliked the “family wrangling” in her books, but they are in a distinct minority; most fans and critics thought otherwise. In Net of Cobwebs it is his family that is an apparent refuge for Malcolm Drake, a merchant seaman who is recovering from the effects of having had his ship torpedoed.

   He carries the additional burden of guilt regarding the death of one -member. Plagued with nightmares and inability remember, he suffers the further trauma of being the primary murder suspect when a relative who made him her heir is murdered with his medication.

   Though women were generally her protagonists, Holding shows in this book that she has no difficulty in being equally convincing when writing from a male viewpoint, even that of a war veteran. We can accept and identify with Drake as easily as we can with the heroine of another Holding novel using World War II as its background. In The Blank Wall (1947), Lucia Holley seems to to be a typical middle-aged housewife, concerned with writing to her husband overseas and coping with wartime shortages. When a married man “takes up” with her teenage daughter and then is found murdered, Lucia’s life becomes a nightmare. The book, one of her most popular. was filmed in 1949 by Max Ophuls, with Joan Bennett and James Mason, as The Reckless Moment.

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   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bill Pronzini


EDWARD D. HOCH – The Thefts of Nick Velvet. Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1978. A limited edition of 250 copies was also published in slipcase, numbered and signed by the author, adding the story “The Theft of the Persian Slipper.”

   The best of Edward D. Hoch’s short stories are divided more or less equally among five outstanding series characters: Police Captain Leopold, whose cases are generally of the procedural variety; Rand, the retired spy, who is an expert at solving difficult codes and ciphers; Dr. Sam Hawthorne, a New England country doctor who solves “impossible” rural mysteries in the 1920s and 1930s; Simon Ark, a shadowy figure who claims to be a 2000 year-old Coptic priest and whose detections are tinged with elements of the occult; and Nick Velvet (born Velvetta, but he dropped the last two letters because the name sounded too much like a popular cheese), a master thief with a peculiar code of honor — he will risk his life and freedom to steal any object, no matter how impossible the challenge, so long as the item has no monetary value.

   This quirk alone makes Nick Velvet unique among crime-fiction protagonists, and also makes for some highly unusual, even bizarre, challenges to his professional expertise. “The Theft of the Clouded Tiger,” for instance, in which he is hired (he works by assignment only) to swipe a tiger from a zoo, Or “The Theft of the Silver Lake Serpent,” in which a hotel owner pays him to steal a sea serpent out of a small Canadian lake.

   Or “The Theft from the Empty Room,” in which Nick is evidently hired to steal nothing at all. Some of Nick’s adventures turn into fair-play whodunits in which he is forced to play detective; in others, it is the baffling motives behind the odd things he is asked to purloin that keep the reader guessing; and in still others it is the question “How in the world can Nick possibly accomplish that theft?”

   No matter what type of story it happens to be, it is certain to be wonderfully inventive and entertaining. Hoch’s mastery of the criminous short story is evident in every one of the thirteen entries in this collection.

   Nick Velvet shares one other collection (with Rand, the retired spy): The Spy and the Thief (1971), which has seven stories featuring each character. Simon Ark appears in three collections: The Judges of Hades and City of Brass, both published in 1971, and The Quests of Simon Ark (1985). Also published in 1985 was the first Captain Leopold collection, Leopold’s Way, which contains nineteen stories and a useful checklist.

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   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Thomas Baird


ERNEST BRAMAH – Max Carrados. Methuen, UK, hardcover, 1914. Hyperion Press, US, hardcover, 1975. Moran Press, softcover, December 2015. All 26 Max Carrados short stories are included in The Collected Max Carrados Investigations: The Cases of the Renowned Blind Edwardian Detective, Leonaur, hardcover/paperback, 2013.

   For some years it was thought that Ernest Bramah was the pseudonym of some other mystery writer who was doing double duty; or, alternatively, that the pen name represented a group trying its hands at a specialized type of story. Eventually, the author revealed himself (a little bit), and what he revealed was that the pseudonym stood for Ernest Bramah Smith.

   He was extremely self-effacing; however, details are plentiful about the life and adventures of his greatest creation, Max Carrados, the first and probably the best blind detective in fiction.

   Carrados was very much in the Great Detective mold. Even though blind, his personality dominates the stories. He is sophisticated, cynical, and whimsical, and he awes friends, clients, and enemies with feats of subtle brilliance, “seeing” what no blind man can see.

   Carrados lives at the Turrets in Richmond (just west of London), surrounded by his menage of secretary, young, brash Annesley Greatorex, and valet,the solemnly decorous Parkinson. He is interested in crimes of originality, and is called upon to solve cases of arson, madness, embezzlement, jewel burglary, a divorce murder, the theft of one of England’s greatest relics, a post-office robbery connected with Irish outrages, and to thwart German naval spies. A commentator has said that the setting of these stories is much closer to Raymond Chandler’s “mean streets” than to the unreal English country house of Agatha Christie.

   The Carrados stories are an Edwardian tour de force, and Ellery Queen called Max Carrados “one of the ten best volumes of detective shorts ever written.” The eight stories in this collection contain the inevitable meeting between Carrados and disbarred lawyer turned inquiry agent Louis Carlyle, who becomes his “Watson.”

   The tales range from a problem in numismatics (one of Bramah’s own little enthusiasms), to train-wrecking tinged with racism, to looting of safe deposits as a result of religious enthusiasm. The problems are logical, the characterizations are excellent, and the backgrounds are exceptional.

   In the much-anthologized “Tragedy at Brookbend Cottage,” a man proposes to remove his wife by the latest scientific methods. Of course, Carrados intervenes, using clues only a blind man can find, and brings the case to its ironic conclusion.

   Critics have praised the stories highly, and the two other collections — The Eyes of Max Carrados (1923) and Max Carrados Mysteries (1927) — are also well worth attention, although the later stories tend to get ponderous and are uneven in quality. The only Max Carrados novel, The Bravo of London (1934), proves conclusively that Bramah was a good short-story writer.

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   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bill Pronzini


EDWARD D. HOCH – The Shattered Raven. Lancer 74-525, paperback original; 1st printing, 1969. Dale Books, paperback, 1978.

   Edward D. Hoch is crime fiction’s premier short-story writer. (He is also that rara avis, a writer who makes his living entirely from short fiction.) He has published more than 600 stories since his first professional sale in 1955, and has appeared in every issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine for the past dozen years.

   He also has to his credit well over anthology appearances, including a score of selections for the prestigious annuals Best Detective Stories of the Year and Year’s Best Mystery & Suspense Stories (which he now edits).

   The Shattered Raven is Hoch’s first novel and one of only four published under his own name. It is also his only contemporary mystery — the other three books are detective stories with futuristic settings — and is something of a cult novel among aficionados, owing to the fact that it deals with murder most foul at the annual MWA Edgar Awards banquet in New York and makes use of several real writers in cameo roles.

   When TV commentator Ross Craigthorn is murdered on the dais while accepting MWA’s Mystery Reader of the Year Award (no small honor, past recipients having included Eleanor Roosevelt and Joey Adams), it is a particularly ingenious and nasty crime: He was shot in the face by means of a slender tube attached to the microphone, “an electrified, radio-controlled zip gun.”

   The task of s finding out who killed Craigthorn falls on the unwilling shoulders of MWA’s executive vice-president, Barney Hamet (no relation, of course, to the great Dashiell), and magazine writer Susan Veldt. Their search leads them to a dark secret in Craigthorn’s past, one that has its origins in the little town of June, Nebraska.

   Unlike Barney and Susan, the reader knows the identity of the murderer from the outset — one Victor Jones. But what the reader doesn’t know is just who Victor Jones is, for he is no longer using that name. Which of the suspects is really the deadly Mr. Jones should come as no surprise to most detective-story veterans, but that won’t spoil anyone’s enjoyment of this solid, well-clued, “insider’s” mystery.

   Hoch’s other three novels all feature the “Computer Cops,” a team of twenty-first century government investigators led by Carl Crader and Earl Jazine. The first, The Transvection Machine (1971), is probably the best — an expert blend of mystery, science fiction, and social commentary. The other two titles in the series are The Fellowship of the Hand (1973) and The Frankenstein Factory (1975).

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   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.


[UPDATE]   At the time of Edward Hoch’s death at the age of 77 in 2008, the total count of short stories he had written had increased to well over 900, and his string of over 34 years’ worth of consecutive appearances in EQMM continued for several months after his passing, both records that will never be surpassed.

A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Ed Gorman


MALCOLM BRALY – Shake Him Till He Rattles. Gold Medal k1311, paperback original; 1st printing, 1963. Pocket, paperback, 1976. Stark House Press, trade paperback 2006 (a two-in-one edition with It’s Cold Out There).

   When On the Yard, the novel Malcolm Braly based on his ears in prison, appeared in 1967, everyone said he was major. But for a major writer, Braly, who was killed in an automobile accident at age fifty-five, is virtually forgotten today.

   By any standard, however, Yard and the three novels he wrote for Gold Medal in the early Sixties are books worth reading, books in many respects as frenetic and confessional ional as the more literary novels of the era.

    Shake Him Till He Rattles concerns Lee Cabiness, a sax player whose only goal is to stay out of prison. Lieutenant Carver of the San Francisco narc squad has other ideas. Braly obviously based Carver on both personal experience and his reading of Dostoevski, for the cop here is almost mythic in his malice and darkness, his repudiation of all human values.

   Braly posits the jazz musicians of his book, however, as magic revelers in the human song: “Furg was a child, a vagabond child, a fey and travel-torn minstrel barely suffered in the halls of the minor barons. But, whether they knew it or not, Furg was necessary to them, to breathe into their lives the vital stuff of myth.”

   Later Braly describes the same world Jack Kerouac earlier set down as “beat.” Only Braly saw it differently: “People were coming in. Pink, clean examples of college and social Bohemia, mostly young, roughly thirty per cent gay. He saw Clair moving around. In her white dress with her pale hair she looked chilly. He caught her smile coming and going, like distant sunlight on ice.”

   The conflict between Cabiness and Carver grows, of course, as the narc makes frustrated moves on his prey, trying to demean and unman him as he closes in. The battle, again, is out of Dostoevski — the perversion of a legal system and its victim. The details, interestingly, remain “beat.”

   Braly’s fiction testifies to the indomitable human spirit of the intelligent loser. There is a wealth of sadness and humor alike in his pages and a kind of quirky defiance. His was the ultimate loneliness, it seemed, belonging as he did to neither world, criminal nor straight. He charted a type of experience seldom seen in crime fiction –the real world of the criminal.

   A rediscovery of this and Braly’s other fine novels Felony Tank (1961), It’s Cold Out There (1966), and The Protector (1979) — is long past due.

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   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

UPDATE:   The good news is that of the books Ed Gorman mentioned in this review, I believe that all but The Protector is currently in print. Stark House Press has reprinted this, It’s Cold Out There and in a separate edition, Felony Tank, while The New York Review of Books has recently published On the Yard.

A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by George Kelley


WILLIAM HJORTSBERG – Falling Angel. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, hardcover, 1978. Fawcett, paperback, 1982; Warner Books, paperback, 1986; St. Martin’s, paperback, 1996. Millipede Press, trade paperback, 2006. Film: Tri-Star, 1987, as Angel Heart (with Mickey Rourke as Harry Angel).

   William Hjortsberg is a highly unconventional writer who delights in mixing genres and breaking molds. His first novel, Alp (1969), blends pornography and mountain climbng; his science-fiction novel, Gray Matters (1971) features a Utopia run by incredible cybernetic machines dedicated to human transcendence while humans rebel against the perfect society. Other experimental works include Symbiography (1973) and Toro! Toro! Toro! (1975).

   In Falling Angel, Hjortsberg combines 1940s private-eye fiction with the occult. PI Harry Angel, a specialist in finding missing persons, is hired to track down a famous Forties singer, Johnny Favorite. The trail leads to Central Park, voodoo ceremonies, a black mass in an abandoned subway station, Coney Island fortune-tellers, and bizarre murders. Harry Angel finds he’s involved in a satanic plot, and he might not be able to escape alive.

   Fallen Angel is William Hjortsberg’s most successful book; descriptions of New York City in the post-World War II era are clever and accurate. A condensed version of Falling Angel was published in Playboy and proved very popular. In trying to describe Falling Angel, Stephen King said, “I’ve never read anything remotely like it. Trying to imagine what might have happened if Raymond Chandler had written The Exorcist is as close as I can come.”

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   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.


WILLIAM HJORTSBERG, R. I. P.   Quoting from The Rap Sheet earlier this week:

    “The New York City-born Montana novelist who gave us private investigator Harry Angel (in 1978’s Falling Angel), the lively detective pairing of Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini (in 1994’s Nevermore), and a drug-fueled nightmare excursion through 1960s Mexico (in 2015’s Mañana) passed away this last Saturday night of pancreatic cancer. Author William Hjortsberg, who was known to friends simply as ‘Gatz,’ was 76 years old.”

A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bill Pronzini


  LEIGH BRACKETT – The Tiger Among Us. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1957. Also published as 13 West Street: Bantam J2323, paperback, 1962. Reprinted in the UK as Fear No Evil (Corgi, paperback, 1960).

   This is Leigh Brackett’s best crime novel — a simple, straightforward, consistently gripping, and powerful story of one man’s nightmare encounter with random teenage violence. Walter Sherris, an average family man and a white-collar employee of a company in an Ohio mill town, takes a walk along a dark road one night and is brutally beaten by five young “tigers” out looking for thrills.

   But that is only the beginning of his ordeal. When Sherris is finally released from the hospital, he sets out to do what the police haven’t been able to: learn the identities of his attackers and see justice done. It isn’t long, however, before he is again the hunted — and his family along with him. For the five boys, continuing their random attacks, have gone too far with another of their victims: They are already murderers and stand ready to kill again. Even if Sherris learns to wear the stripes of the tiger himself, even if he survives this second assault, he knows his life will never be the same.

   Fine writing and some genuinely harrowing scenes make The Tiger Among Us one of the best of the spate of Fifties novels dealing with juvenile delinquency. In the forcefulness of its message, in fact, it is second only to Evan Hunter’s mainstream novel The Blackboard Jungle. An effective screen version appeared under the title 13 West Street in 1962, starring Alan Ladd and Rod Steiger.

   Brackett’s other crime novels are An Eye for an Eye (1957) and Silent Partner (1969). She also ghosted a mystery for actor George Sanders, Stranger at Home (1946).

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   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Francis M. Nevins, Jr. & Marvin Lachman


EDGAR BOX
       Death in the Fifth Position, E. P. Dutton, hardcover, 1952. Signet #1036, paperback, 1953.
       Death Before Bedtime. E. P. Dutton, hardcover, 1953. Signet #1093, paperback, 1954.
       Death Likes it Hot. E. P. Dutton, hardcover, 1954. Signet #1217, paperback, 1955.
     – All three books have been reprinted several times, including one hardcover omnibus edition: Boxed In (Mystery Guild, 2011).

   Gore Vidal a mystery writer? Yes indeed, although the mystery in his three detective novels is much inferior to the writing. In the early 1950s, at the end of his first period as a mainstream novelist and the beginning of his career as a writer of live TV drama, Vidal took up the pseudonym of Edgar Box and spent about three weeks turning out a whodunit trilogy whose amateur sleuth is Peter Cutler Sargeant II, a thirtyish, pleasantly pig-faced public-relations consultant and (exclusively hetero) sexual gymnast. Although they’re not noteworthy as detective novels. Vidal’s guided tours through the worlds of art, politics, and high society entertain royally with countless gleefully sardonic jabs at every target in sight.

   The series opens with Death in the Fifth Position, in which Peter is retained to provide good PR for the Grand St. Petersburg Ballet. The dance group is feeling the pinch of McCarthyism, courtesy of a right-wing veterans’ organization (Motto: “In a true democracy there is no place for a difference of opinion on great issues”) incensed at the group’s having hired a “Communist” choreographer, Jed Wilbur.

   At the climax of Wilbur’s new ballet, its star is supposed to ascend into the wings in triumph. But on opening night, the wire cable snaps and the prima ballerina falls to her death before the eyes of thousands. Vidal then treats us to many pages of satire about professional dancers and their hangers-on and tedious speculation about homicidal motives, interspersed with two more gruesome deaths, before Peter unveils his surprising but unfair solution.

    Death Before Bedtime finds Peter in Washington as advisor to ultraconservative Senator Leander Rhodes and bedmate to Rhodes’s nymphomaniac daughter. Rhodes’ ambitions to be his party’s next presidential candidate come to an abrupt end when he’s blown to bits by a gunpowder charge in his fireplace. The investigation, long on speculation and short on substance, is interrupted in its stately progress toward nowhere by (surprise!) another murder, after which Peter uses a mix of guesswork and bluff to expose the guilty party.Once again a lackluster plot is saved by Vidal’s mocking gibes at politics, journalism sex, and society.

   In his third and last case, Death Likes It Hot, Peter is invited to a weekend house party at a Long Island – beachfront mansion and encounters tangled emotions and murder among a cast of ludicrous plutocrats and talentless pseudoartists. Its fairly complex plot, a few deft clues, and a dramatic climax make this the best mystery of the trio, but again it’s the pungent satire that brings the book to life.

   Clever deductions, fair play with the reader, and the Christie-Queen bag of tricks are not Vidal’s strong points. But his mastery of the language permeates even these mysteries that he himself shrugs off as potboilers cranked out for money, and his tone of cynical, good-humored tolerance toward an America populated exclusively by crooks, opportunists, and buffoons is as close to the true spirit of H. L. Mencken as mystery fiction is ever likely to see.

   It appears that Vidal had a good time with mysteries, and his pleasure is conveyed to the reader. He must have especially enjoyed himself when he got to write the following, surprisingly accurate, blurb which appeared on the covers of the paperback editions of his three mysteries. “The work that Dr. Kinsey began with statistics, Edgar Box has completed with wit in the mystery novel.”

   Though Spillane and others had already broken down the barriers against writing about sex in the detective story, Vidal went further than anyone else, but he also did it with more humor.

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   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bill Pronzini


DOLORES HITCHENS – Sleep with Slander. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1960. Permabook M-4243, paperback, 1962; Berkley, paperback, 1969.

   Many people seem to feel that the best hard-boiled male private-eye novel written by a woman is Leigh Brackett’s No Good from a Corpse (reviewed here ). But that may because many people haven’t read Sleep with Slander. For the undersigned reviewer’s money, this is the best hard-boiled private-eye novel written by a woman — and one of the best written by anybody.

   Its protagonist, Long Beach-based Jim Sader, is a multidimensional character, much more realistic than the stereotypical tough detective; Sader uses his intelligence to accomplish his purposes. The plot, reminiscent in its complexity of both Chandler and Ross Macdonald, is better crafted, more compelling, and ultimately more satisfying than the Brackett.

   Sader is hired by a rich old man, Hale Gibbings, whose daughter gave birth to an illegitimate child five years earlier. The child, Ricky, was given away for adoption, not through a recognized agency but to a private couple, and Gibbings has heard nothing about the boy until recently, when an anonymous letter writer tells him the child is being mentally and physically abused.

   Sader undertakes the search for Ricky, following a trail that leads him to a conniving friend of Tina Champlain, the adoptive (and now presumed dead) mother; to a violent builder of boats and his drunken father; to murder, extortion, double-dealing, madness; and finally to the truth. The surprises Hitchens springs along the way are not at all easy to anticipate. A first-rate novel recommended not just to fans s of the hard-boiled school but for anyone who appreciates a quality mystery.

   Hitchens wrote one other novel featuring Sader: Sleep with Strangers (1957). This is also good reading, but marred by sentimentality and a shaky ending that reveals the wrong choice of murderer.

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   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bill Pronzini


LEIGH BRACKETT – No Good from a Corpse. Coward McCann, hardcover, 1944. Dennis McMillan, hardcover, 1998 [includes eight detective pulp stories plus title novel]. Reprint paperbacks: Handi-Book #32, 1944; Collier, 1964.

LEIGH BRACKETT No Good from a Corpse

   Leigh Brackett is perhaps best known for her science fiction and for her script work on the classic private-eye film The Big Sleep (1946); but she also wrote excellent crime fiction (and one very good historical western). Her mysteries tend to be tough-minded and realistic. No Good from a Corpse, in fact, can accurately be termed “hard-boiled” — and indeed has been called, by some critics and aficionados, the best traditional private-eye novel written by a woman.

   Los Angeles detective Edmond Clive embarks on an angry, vengeful hunt when an old girlfriend, nightclub singer Laurel Dane, is murdered. His quest leads him from Beverly Hills mansions to cheap night spots along the Sunset Strip; from rich playboys (and playgirls) to denizens of the underworld; from threatening telephone calls to a knock on the head to attempts on his fife; and from blackmail to several more murders before he finally uncovers the not altogether surprising identity of Laurel’s murderer and the truth behind a web of lies and half truths.

LEIGH BRACKETT No Good from a Corpse

   Critic Anthony Boucher stated in an introduction to a reissue of this novel in 1964 that Bracken was the one woman who “most successfully captured the authentic Chandleresque male tone.” True enough; the tone is very Chandleresque, to the point of pastiche. It is as if Miss Brackett deliberately set out to out-Chandler Chandler.

   About the novel itself, Boucher wrote, “Its ingredients are not startlingly new: it even includes the obligatory night clubs, in which detective-story characters spend so much more time than any other class of people. But the familiar ingredients take on fresh life, partly because Miss Brackett looks at and writes about Los Angeles itself and not its conventionalized fiction image.”

   Also true, pro and con. There is nothing really new in the novel; Brackett covers old ground- and covers it well, even expertly, but the fact remains that Chandler did it first and did it better. Clive is the only memorable character,and he pales alongside Philip Marlowe. With all due respect to Boucher and the book’s other boosters, No Good from a Corpse is not the best traditional male private-eye novel written by a woman. That distinction belongs to Dolores Hitchens’s Sleep with Slander (reviewed here ).

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   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

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