Books Noted


THE BEST OF MANHUNT 2. Edited by Jeff Vorzimmer. Stark House, trade paperback, August 2020.

   Well, this was a nice surprise. It was a typical gray and gloomy sky here in Connecticut all day, drizzling on and off, or at least it was until I discovered what Rose my mail carrier dropped off for me this afternoon, and all of sudden everything got a whole lot cheerier.

   I’ve not begun to read it, but you can bet the farm I will be over the next few months until August when it officially comes out and you’ll be able to as well. I’ve listed the contents below. You may be struck as quickly that as I was that some of the authors don’t seem to have the same “name value” that the first collection did. I think that that’s all to the good and am willing to wager that the stories were chosen on how good they are, and not so much who wrote them.

   If there are any errors in the Table of Contents below, they’re mine. I didn’t type them in by hand, but OCR scanning is still often only an approximate art.

Forward: For The Love of Manhunt … Peter Enfantino. .. 7
Introduction … Jon L. Breen … 11
On the Passing of Manhunt … Jon.L. Breen … 15
Life and Death of a Magazine … Robert Turner … 17
A Stabbing in the Street … Elezazer Lipsky … 23
As I Lie Dead … Fletcher Flora … .36
So Dark for April … Howard Browne … 49
Shakedown … Roy Carroll … 66
The Choice … Richard Deming … 73
Confession … John M. Sitan … 85
The.Empty Fort … Basil Heatter … 92
You Can’t Trust a Man … Helen Nielsen … 127
Sylvia … Ira Levin … 136
Protection … Erle Stanley Gardner … 15
Blonde at tl1e Wheel Stephen Marlowe 154
Vanishing Act … W. . Burnett … 166
One More Mile to Go … F. J. Smith … 186
Key Witness … Frank Kane … 192
Puddin’ nd Pie … De. Forbes … 229
Blood and Moonlight … William R. Cox … 234
Shadowed … Richard Wormser … 244
Deatl1 of a Big Wheel … William Campbell Gault … 248
The Geniuses … Max Franklin … 271
Kitchen Kill … Jonathan Craig … 285
The Crying Target … James McKimmey … 299
The Girl Friend … Mark Mallory … 320
Midnight Caller … Wade Miller … 326
Arrest … Donald E Westlake … 329
Time to Kill … Bryce Walton … 333
Absinthe for Superman … Robert Edmond Alter … 356
Wharf Rat … Robert Page Jones … 333
The Safe Kill … Kenneth Moore … 374
A Question of Values … C. L. Sweeney, Jr … 378
Shatter Proof … ]ack Ritchie … 381
The Old Pro … H. A. DeRosso … 385
Retribution … Michael Zuroy … 395
In Memoriam … Charles Boeckman … 398
Bugged … Bruno Fischer … 402
Interference … Glenn Canary … 412

DANIEL BOYD – The Devil & Streak Wilson. Montag Press, trade paperback original, March 2020. Also available in ebook format.

   Let me say the outset that this is not really a review. I know the author personally, and there is no way I could be unbiased. You may know him, too, if you are a regular reader of this blog, since under his real name, his book and movie reviews that are posted here are even better than mine, if that were at all possible. But since he wrote this book under a false name, perhaps he does not want his own name associated with it, and I will honor his intentions until such time that he allows me to reveal it.

   Let me also say that this is the best book I have read over the period of the last two months. That this is the only book I have read over the period of the last two months does not, I hope, lessen the truth and impact of that statement. (I do not think that I am the only one who has been suffering from a reader’s block over the last two months, but I digress.)

   What is the book about, you may ask. I’m going to guess as to the year that it takes place in, but perhaps the 1880s; and as for the setting, it may suffice to say that it’s The West. Streak Wilson is our hero, a young lad with no roots that he knows of, but who is the best shot with a rifle in the entire county. The other major protagonist is, well, read the title of the book again. On the earth he appears as a gent who suggests he be called Harvey. Harvey Rideout, a friendly 50ish gent who seems to be able to light his tobacco with only his finger.

   By means of a small subterfuge, not a lie, exactly, but hedging on the details, he makes a small deal with Streak, who ends up not being able to see his reflection in mirrors, while at the same time a vicious doppelganger is released upon on the world. I could continue, and very easily, but I would like to leave some of the story for you to read for yourself.

   Besides being a riproarer of a tall tale in and of itself, The Devil and Streak Wilson is also a story of life, death, and growing up in between, filled with as much home spun philosophy as you can find in the total work of Spinoza, John Locke, and my Uncle Ezra combined. And I don’t even have an Uncle Ezra. If from reading this you get the sense that you might enjoy this book, I will suggest that you are miscalculating. You will love this book.

   Rupert Heath, publisher of Dean Street Press’s line of reprinted vintage mystery fiction, recently sent me an email flyer outlining what’s in store for us from them this March. I asked if I could reprint it here, and he has most graciously agreed:


Vintage Mysteries from DSP
in March 2020
by Rupert Heath


   We are delighted to be adding new Golden Age mysteries to our range of publications on 2 March 2020. This time we are featuring authors Moray Dalton, E. & M. A. Radford, Henrietta Clandon and Roy Horniman, including the classic black crime-comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets.

   Further to our successes last year, we are publishing five further titles from Moray Dalton: The Belfry Murder, The Belgrave Manor Crime, The Condamine Case, The Case of Alan Copeland, and The Art School Murders.

   We have three more titles from E. & M.A. Radford, the married Golden Age crime-writing couple: The Heel of Achilles, Death of a Frightened Editor, and Death and the Professor.

   A new author for DSP, we are very pleased to add four classic Golden Age mysteries from Henrietta Clandon: Good by Stealth, Inquest, Power on the Scent, and This Delicate Murder.

   And finally we are excited to bring out a new edition of Kind Hearts and Coronets (aka Israel Rank) by Roy Horniman – the basis for the famous Ealing Comedy, and every bit as fresh, funny and relevant as when it was first published in 1907.

   All best wishes

       Rupert Heath

           Publisher

KAREN A. ROMANKO – Women of Science Fiction and Fantasy Television: An Encyclopedia of 400 Characters and 200 Shows, 1950-2016. McFarland, softcover, October 2019.

   Karen A. Romanko’s previous book, Television’s Female Spies and Crimefighters (McFarland, 2016) was noted here soon after it was published. As was the case for that book, the title should tell everyone at once what this one’s about, and I imagine the subject matter is of at least some interest to you all.

   As before, both the characters and the shows they were on are listed alphabetically, but interspersed one with the other. For example, the first profile entry is for Devon Adair, who appeared on the TV series Earth-2, followed by Bo Adams (of Believe), then by The Addams Family, with a lengthy overview of the series itself, which ran for two seasons on ABC, 1964-1966.

   The final two entries are for Young Blades, a series which ran for 13 episodes in 2005, and for Zaan, the blue-skinned alien priestess on Farscape.

   Following the main portion of the book is a listing of all the series which did not make the cut, but for which I for one could often make strong cases for inclusion. On the other hand, I did not write the book! An example of just one, however, is The Dead Zone, which lasted for five seasons, but since I do not recall any women in leading roles, I will concede the point.

   One character and series that is included, but which I question is Cinnamon Carter of Mission: Impossible fame. Many of team’s exploits were far-fetched, but that does not mean they were fantasy, either.

   Of special note is the historical overview at the front of book, putting into context many of the more important female heroes included in the book, beginning with Tonga and Carol Carlisle (of Space Patrol) and concluding with Peggy Carter, the starring character of her very own series, Agent Carter.

   And since the cutoff for inclusion this time around was 2016, perhaps it is not too early to ask for a revised and expanded edition in a few years or so. I’d buy it!

ERLE STANLEY GARDNER -The Case of the Stuttering Bishop. Perry Mason. William Morrow, hardcover, 1936. Pocket #201, paperback, January 1943. Reprinted many more times. Film: First National / Warner Brothers, 1937 (Donald Woods, Ann Dvorak, Joseph Crehan). TV adaptation: Season 2 Episode 20 of Perry Mason ( 14 March 1959.

   This isn’t a review. I never finished the book. I got only so far and I stopped. Thinking I might try again where I let off, I realized that I didn’t really remember what was going on, so I stated skimmed through from the beginning, and taking notes as I went. Herewith, the players, with appropriate page numbers:

1. Perry Mason — the kind of attorney you’d want fighting for your interests if you ever get into a legal jam, except if you’re a rich father with an wastrel son, in which case he’ll turn you down flat, no matter much fee he could charge.

1. Bishop William Mallory — a visitor from Australia who comes to Mason as a client, wishing to know about the statute of limitations in a manslaughter case; the problem is, he stutters — is he a real bishop?

5. Della Street — Mason’s highly trusted personal secretary; they go out together for the occasional meal and dancing, but any closer on a personal basis, they never get.

7. Paul Drake — head of a private detective agency with seemingly unlimited manpower at his beck and call; Mason hires him to check out the bishop as well as any manslaughter cases still open from 22 years before.

10. a cab driver — the one who brought the bishop to Mason’s building; he was asked to wait, but the bishop seems to have gone out a back way without paying the fare.

11. Jackson — Mason’s law clerk, a quite capable individual, but a non-factor in this story.

12. Jim Pauley — house detective at the hotel where the bishop is checked in; he has a sharp eye: he noticed someone following the bishop when he went out, and a redheaded dame who was waiting for him when he returned; when she leaves, he goes up to the bishop’s room and discovers a fight has taken place in the bishop’s room and the bishop concussed (and sent to the hospital).

17. Charlie Downes — one of Drake’s operatives who was following the bishop, then the redhead.

19. Janice Seaton — the aforementioned redhead; she claims she’s a trained nurse who answered an ad placed in a newspaper by the bishop; she found the bishop injured, treated him and left him in bed.

27. Renwold C.Brownley, Oscar Brownley (son), and Julia Branner, who married Oscar 22 years before [as reported by Paul Drake] — but while the latter was driving their car after getting married, she hit and killed a man; hence the (trumped up) manslaughter charges. Oscar is now dead, but the girl thought to be his daughter is living with Renwold; the girl’s mother is still a fugitive from justice.

32. Philip Brownley — [as Perry tells Della] a grandson of Renwold also living with him.

33. Janice Alma Brownley — [as Della tells Perry] Renwold’s granddaughter, who was on the same ship as the bishop as he traveled from Australia to the US; did the bishop suspect she was an imposter?

44. Julia Branner — in person, in Mason’s office; on the advice of the bishop, she is hoping to hire him as her attorney. The bishop has told her that the girl claiming to be her daughter (and Renwold’s granddaughter) is a fraud.

   From here, it gets complicated. When Renwold Brownley is supposedly shot and killed, no body can be found, in spite of eyewitnesses to the shooting. And what’s worse, the story that Mason’s client tells gets sounds fishier and fishier.



   I’ve asked Greg Shepard, publisher and editor-in-chief at Stark House Press, to tell us what’s come out from them recently or what will be showing up soon. He has most graciously agreed:


News from STARK HOUSE PRESS
by Greg Shepard


   This year Stark House Press will celebrate being in business for 20 years. Our first book was a hardback collection of fantasy stories by Storm Constantine. We followed that with a few more Constantine projects, then jumped into Algernon Blackwood territory, a supernatural sidestep on our way to crime.

   Twenty years in the publishing business has brought us full circle; in January, 2019, we published the definitive biography of Algernon Blackwood by Mike Ashley — The Starlight Man. This is not only the first paperback edition, but also the most complete version, since Ashley added back in all the bits his UK hardback publisher asked him to take out back in 2001, with lots of new pictures as well.

   Although our primary focus has mainly been “men’s” hardboiled, noir fiction of the 40s to the 60s — our lead title for January was Lead With Your Left and The Best That Ever Did It by Ed Lacy, two gritty, New York cop mysteries — we recently began adding more of the women’s suspense authors from that era, too. In November of 2018 we issued End of the Line by Bert & Dolores Hitchens as part of our Black Gat series. This is one of five railroad mysteries that Dolores wrote with her rail-detective husband, Bert. But Dolores also wrote a lot of fine standalone mysteries during the 1950s, and we will be bring six of those back over the next couple years, starting with Stairway to an Empty Room and Terror Lurks in the Darkness next fall.

   In February, we will be proudly publishing two novels by the incomparable Jean Potts. She won the Edgar Award for one them, Go, Lovely Rose, and was nominated for the other one, The Evil Wish. Both are excellent novels of psychological suspense, the first story dealing with the murder of a woman whom everyone in town hates, the second concerning a murder that is planned but not executed, leaving distrust and suspicion in its wake. Booklist has already labeled these “two masterpieces” and we’re excited to be bringing them back, with more to come.

   Stark House will also be reprinting the works of Bernice Carey and Helen Nielsen. Back in November of 2016 we reprinted Woman on the Roof by Nielsen, and in May we have two more of her clever Southern California mysteries to offer: Borrow the Night and The Fifth Caller. Also in May we will be publishing (for the first time in paperback) Carey’s The Man Who Got Away With It and The Three Widows. Carey set her novels in small town California where she lived, often peppering them with her own brand of social justice. As Curtis Evans says in his introduction, “the most significant contribution of Bernice Carey to mid-century crime fiction was her commitment to exploring realistic social conditions in her novels.” She also created some very interesting characters.

   Over in the noir camp is one of my personal favorites, Gil Brewer. We published two of his noir thrillers, The Red Scarf and A Killer is Loose, back in October. Brewer was the master of momentum. He’d create a desperate situation for this protagonist—usually involving lots of cash and a young, willing woman — and turn him loose to frantically pursue each with equal amounts of sweat and lust.

   This year, we are reprinting Redheads Die Quickly, the definitive collection of Brewer stories edited by David Rachels back in 2012, with five new ones added. And later this year we will be complementing this volume with two new Brewer collections: Death is a Private Eye, set for August, and Die Once — Die Twice, tentatively scheduled for early 2020; each volume edited and introduced by David Rachels.

   In March, Stark House is following up its Carter Brown program with three more Al Wheeler mysteries: No Law Against Angels, Doll for the Big House and Chorine Makes a Killing. If you don’t recognize these titles, that’s because No Law was published here as The Body (the very first Brown book to be published in the U.S.) and Doll as The Bombshell.

   Back in the late 1950s, when Brown’s Australian publisher started to populate the world with his books, the feeling was that they needed Americanizing. So these first few Wheeler stories were revised for the U.S. audience. I thought it’d be more fun to reprint the original Australian versions, so that’s what we’re doing. In fact, Chorine has never been published in the U.S. at all, so that’s a first for most American readers.

   Those are just a few of the highlights. There’s more: Jeff Vorzimmer has edited the mammoth The Best of Manhunt and will be discussing it in a separate post. That’s our big summer title, set for July. I am also working on a second trio of Lion Book noirs, another two-fer of Barry N. Malzberg satires (The Spread and The Social Worker), our final Peter Rabe volume (New Man in the House and Her High School Lover), plus lots of odds and ends over at Black Gat Books, including authors like Noël Calef, Ovid Demaris, Fredric Brown and Louis Malley.


   Lee Goldberg left this bit of good news as a comment following Richard Moore’s previously posted essay on author Ralph Dennis. Thinking the news deserves to be spread as much as possible, I’m reposting it here:

Lee Goldberg on the RALPH DENNIS Novels.


   I’m excited to announce that I’ve acquired the rights to all of Ralph Dennis’s work — his published and unpublished novels. Brash Books will be re-releasing his 12 Hardman novels, starting with the first four in December, and the rest through 2019. The Hardman books include a terrific introduction by Joe R. Lansdale … and subsequent books include afterwords by Richard A. Moore, Ben Jones and Paul Bishop. The first two titles in the series, Atlanta Deathwatch and The Charleston Knife is Back in Town are already available for preorder in paperback and ebook on Amazon, iBook, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

   We’ll also be re-releasing in 2019 a substantially revised version Ralph’s WWII thriller MacTaggart’s War, which we’ve retitled The War Heist. It was his last published title and didn’t do as well as he, or the publisher hoped. I believe i know why… I’ve gone back to his original manuscript, rearranged chapters, deleted chapters, and made other revisions to heighten suspense, sharpen characters, etc… cutting the book by about 35,000 words along the way (it still clocks in at 100K words).

   And we’re also going to be releasing many of Ralph’s unpublished novels … which, if they need revision, I will be doing myself. One of the manuscripts is going to be slightly reworked as a sequel to his previous published novel Atlanta (which we are likely to retitle before re-publishing).

   This has been a passion project for me ever since Bill Crider and Paul Bishop introduced me to the Hardman novels five years ago. I immediately decided I had to get them back into print, so I sought out the advice of my good friend Joel Goldman … and as a result of those discussions, a partnership and a publishing company were born. Now, after the publishing nearly 100 titles together, we are finally putting out the novels that we’d hoped would be our first releases.

   I can’t thank Richard Moore enough for all of his help making this deal finally happen.

   I can’t wait to hear what you think of the books as they roll out… and I hope you will spread the word. We want Ralph Dennis to get the recognition and readership he’s long deserved.

JONATHAN E. LEWIS, Editor – Strange Island Stories. Stark House Press, trade paperback. Published today!

              CONTENTS:

Introduction

          GHOSTS AND SHAPE SHIFTERS

“Monos and Daimonos” by Edward Bulwer (New Monthly Magazine, May 1830; The Student: A Series of Papers, 1835)

“Hugenin’s Wife” by M.P. Shiel (The Pale Ape and Other Pulses, 1911)

“The Far Islands” by John Buchan (Blackwood’s Magazine, November 1899; The Watcher by the Threshold and Other Tales, 1902)

“The Ship That Saw a Ghost” by Frank Norris (A Deal in Wheat and Other Tales of the New and Old West, 1903)

“The Gray Wolf” by George MacDonald (Works of Fantasy and Imagination, 1871)

“The Camp of the Dog” by Algernon Blackwood (John Silence: Physician Extraordinary, 1908)

“Island of Ghosts” by Julian Hawthorne (All Story Weekly, April 13, 1918)

          BIZARRE CREATURES AND FANTASTIC REALMS

“The Fiend of the Cooperage” by Arthur Conan Doyle (The Manchester Weekly Times, October 1st 1897; Round the Fire Stories, 1908)

“Spirit Island” by Henry Toke Munn (Chambers Journal, November 1922)

“The Purple Terror” by Fred M. White (The Strand Magazine, September 1899)

“Friend Island” by Francis Stevens (All-Story Weekly, September 7, 1918; Fantastic Novels Magazine, September 1950)

“In the Land of Tomorrow” by Epes Winthrop Sargent (The Ocean, December 1907 and January 1908)

“The Isle of Voices” by Robert Louis Stevenson (Island Night’s Entertainment, 1893)

“Dagon” by H. P. Lovecraft (The Vagrant, November 1919; The Outsider and Others, 1939)

“The People of Pan” by Henry S. Whitehead (Weird Tales, March 1929; West India Lights, 1946)

          HUMAN HORRORS

“The Sixth Gargoyle” by David Eynon (Weird Tales, January 1951)

“Three Skeleton Key” by George G. Toudouze (Esquire, January 1937)

“Good-by Jack” by Jack London (The House of Pride and Other Tales of Hawaii, 1912)

“The Isle of Doom” by James Francis Dwyer (The Popular Magazine, April 15 1910)

“An Adriatic Awakening” by Jonathan E. Lewis

Notes for Further Reading

   I’ve asked Matthew R. Bradley, author of the following book, to tell us more about it. He’s most graciously agreed:

MATTHEW R. BRADLEY — Richard Matheson on Screen: A History of the Filmed Works. McFarland Press, softcover and eBook, illustrated, 2010.

   I’ve long called Richard Matheson (1926-2013) “the most famous writer you’ve never heard of.” The man in the street reacts blankly to his name, yet snaps to attention at his screen credits: The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Twilight Zone (“the one with the gremlin on the wing”), Roger Corman’s Poe films, Duel (“the one with the truck chasing the guy”), The Night Stalker, Trilogy of Terror (“the one with the Zuni doll”), Somewhere in Time … The late George A. Romero also acknowledged that his oft-filmed novel I Am Legend inspired Night of the Living Dead — and thus, by extension, the entire modern-day zombie phenomenon — but since several Matheson-related posts have graced this blog, I presume he needs no further introduction here.

   By the time I decided to attempt a book on Matheson, I’d already written about him for various publications and websites, and Richard had invited me to contribute introductions to limited editions of his novels. I knew a traditional biography was beyond me, so I set out to cover every feature, telefilm or — insofar as possible, records and memories being incomplete — television episode written by him and/or based on his work, placing them in the context of his overall career. Having interviewed Richard and his friends, colleagues, and collaborators among the “California Sorcerers” (Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, George Clayton Johnson, William F. Nolan, Jerry Sohl), I had extensive first-hand accounts and correspondence on which to draw.

   Then, a funny thing happened on the way to the publisher: while writing Richard Matheson on Screen, I ended up editing Richard’s own Duel & The Distributor and co-editing, with Stanley Wiater and Paul Stuve, The Richard Matheson Companion (revised and updated as The Twilight and Other Zones: The Dark Worlds of Richard Matheson).

   Between those, helping my wife raise our Matheson-loving daughter, and the pesky need to earn a living, it took me 13 years to finish this book, yet the cross-pollination greatly benefited them all. The increasing ubiquity of the Internet also enabled me to track down — with the help of inestimable friends — information and materials I’d never have had if it were finished sooner, although a few of his more obscure episodes elude me to this day.

   I’m proud to say that through our research, I think I assembled the most comprehensive information to date on Matheson’s many unproduced scripts, to which a separate section of this book is devoted. I was thrilled that after reading the manuscript, Richard wrote a characteristically gracious foreword, and most satisfying of all, he saw and responded enthusiastically to the finished book less than three years before his death:

   “You just cost me a whole day of writing. They delivered your book today, and I’ve been spending the whole day looking through it. It’s fascinating. You really did a great job on it. It’s beautifully done, extremely complete. I haven’t finished it yet, but I wanted to call and thank you for sending it, and tell you how impressed I am with the work you did on it. A beautiful job.”

   As I said at the time, that’s the only review that really matters.

RICHARD S. PRATHER – Kill Me Tomorrow. Shell Scott #34. Pocket, paperback original; 1st printing, October 1969; 2nd printing, 1972.

   Richard Prather and his once extremely well-known PI creation Shell Scott changed publishers in the middle of 1964, but I was off to grad school at the time, and I barely noticed. Back when Gold Medal was responsible for putting them out, I gobbled them down as soon as they reached the spinner rack at the supermarket where I stopped every day on my way home from school.

   I don’t know for sure, but this may be the first of the Pocket editions I ever picked up to actually read. I don’t know whether it was me, or the book itself, but I was sadly disappointed. I tried and I tried but I could not finish it.

   And even I though I didn’t, I’ll tell you about it anyway, and maybe you can tell me what you think. Part of the problem may be that Scott is a long way from his usual Hollywood stomping grounds. He’s off on vacation in Arizona in this one, helping the senior citizens in a retirement community fend off a horde of gangsters who have infiltrated their midst, some of them as geriatric as they are. Strike one?

   With a word count of well over 200 pages of small print, Prather is awfully lead-footed and wordy in this one. Padded, I’d say. Strike two. The only time the prose perks up is when Scott is describing the bountiful charms of one of the female characters, at which point he goes positively lyrical. Problem is, there are only two such characters, the first being a luscious movie star whose father is a member of said retirement community, and for far too many pages, all they do is shake hands. Strike three.

   Nothing else was remotely interesting. Dull as dishwater. Nothing like those light-hearted if not out-and-out wacky old Gold Medal adventures I grew up with. Or perhaps, is it me? Should I not go back and read one of those either?

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