Books Noted

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:

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!




“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)


“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)


“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?

   I’ve asked Ian Dickerson, the editor of the following book to tell us more about it. Once again he’s most graciously agreed:

IAN DICKERSON, Editor – Sherlock Holmes: The Lost Radio Scripts, by Leslie Charteris & Denis Green. Purview Press, softcover, November 2017.

   I find the effect of television on the young quite interesting. Bear with me, this isn’t as off-topic as you think…

   I was nine years old when I first watched Return of the Saint. I think it’s fair to say that show corrupted me and changed my life. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t just the show that did that, but the books by Leslie Charteris as well. I spent years making sure I collected every possible Saint adventure, joined The Saint Club and was privileged to know Leslie and Audrey Charteris. I’ve also written a number of books about the Saint and Leslie Charteris and yes, there’s more to come.

   I wasn’t much older when, thanks to the BBC, I watched The Falcon on TV and I’ve written a book about that character as well (more here: )

   Around the same time I discovered The Falcon, the BBC were kind enough to show many of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes films. Now that wasn’t my introduction to Holmes and Watson for I’d already read the works of Conan Doyle, but for many, many years after to me Rathbone and Bruce were Holmes and Watson.

   Then one day, whilst having a post-prandial coffee with a certain Mr Charteris, worlds collided for he mentioned that he wrote some Sherlock Holmes scripts with his friend Denis Green.. Over the course of our subsequent lunches (in a pre-internet age) he graciously answered my questions about them but since it was almost fifty years ago that he worked on the, his memory was not replete with the details I wanted.

   As the internet matured I managed to find out more details about the shows but no recordings or scripts from them.

   After Leslie died I got to know Audrey fairly well and we talked at length about many things. Occasionally she dropped hints that she thought some of Leslie’s Holmes scripts had survived and might be in their Dublin flat, but that was as far as I could get.

   After Audrey died in 2014 Leslie’s family asked me to go through their flat in Dublin. There indeed I found a stack of Leslie’s Sherlock Holmes scripts alongside many other gems. I was, needless to say, rather delighted. More so when his family gave me permission to get them into print.

   So thanks to television, here’s the first volume of a missing chapter in the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson…

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

IAN DICKERSON – Who Is The Falcon?: The Detective In Print, Movies, Radio and TV. Purview Press. softcover, December 2016.

   Back in the dim and distant past, when I was just a lad, I discovered the adventures of the Saint. (I know, I know, I’ve kept that quiet….) In those heady days I was a sucker for any new Saint-like adventure so when the BBC ran out of old black and white Saint films to show and moved onto something called ‘The Falcon.’ my place in front of the television was assured for a few more weeks.

   Those early Falcon films were remarkably Saintly, and although the later ones got a little more creative — The Falcon and the Co-Eds anyone? — they were still firmly in the gentleman detective genre and my teen -aged self was happy.

   Fast forward a few years — well, okay, quite a few years — and I discovered old time radio shows. But I soon had a problem, I had all the episodes of The Saint on tape and being greedy I wanted more. Then I discovered the Falcon had also appeared on radio! Aha, problem solved I thought! But when I listened to the tapes I discovered the Falcon — that radio Falcon — was a hard boiled 1940s PI and bore virtually no resemblance to the gentleman detective of the George Sanders and Tom Conway films. At a time when the Internet was only really just booting up, I had no way of establishing what had happened, but I rather enjoyed those hard-boiled PI adventures so quickly ordered some more.

   Fast forward a few more years and with the help of the now mature Internet, I discovered that not only had the Falcon also appeared in books, magazines and on TV, but that the radio show had run for over a decade and there had been over four hundred and eighty episodes.

   I wanted to learn things; to find out why there were two different characters and how they’d come to be changed, to find out more about the Falcon’s TV adventures and see if I could find copies of them, I also wanted to know more about his stint on radio — who played him? Who wrote the stories? What were they about? And for the geek in me … had I listened to all the ones that were available? (I certainly have now!)

   And I wanted to celebrate a character that had survived sixteen films, a handful of books, thirty-nine episodes of television and that long run on radio.

   So I wrote a book.

   Who is the Falcon? tells the story of all the Falcon’s adventures in print, on radio, in film and television. And there’s even a Falcon short story from the 1940s thrown in for good measure.

   Scheduled for publication from Stark House Press in March of next year:

   The strange island story utilizes island locations to examine human society and human nature, taking the reader on a journey into the weird, the bizarre, and the unsettling. Nineteen classic tales from Arthur Conan Doyle, Julian Hawthorne, Jack London, H. P. Lovecraft, M. P. Shiel, John Buchan and more; plus one new story from the editor himself!

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