K    There are events in the real world that you, I am sure, would find hard to believe if someone would take them simply as they happened and write them up as part of a work of fiction. Noted comic book writer Arnold Drake died in mid-March at the age of 83. Spy fiction author Leslie Waller died on March 29th, four days before his 84th birthday.

   The connection? In 1950 as “Drake Waller” the two men collaborated as the author of It Rhymes with Lust, considered to be the first graphic novel, a digest-sized work in comic book form. Of marginal interest as a crime novel, it nonetheless was recently added as a marginal entry to Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin. See the online Addenda, Part 12.

   Two men, born within a year of each other, worked on one key book together in their 20s, went their own professional ways, and then died within weeks of each other. Destiny sometimes moves in mysterious ways.


   Not all of Mr. Waller’s bibliography consists of crime-related fiction, but a large portion of it is, with espionage, crooked bankers and Mafia elements predominant.

   He was in fact a Gold Medal writer, as a book simply titled “K” (Gold Medal, 1963) was a plot to assassinate Khrushchev during a visit to the US.

   His final work of fiction was Target Diana, a trade paperback with low distribution in which Princess Diana was murdered by a rogue agent, with the secret approval of the Royal Family.

   Excluding It Rhymes with Lust, but expanded to included Target Diana, Leslie Waller’s output as recorded in CFIV looks like this:

WALLER, LESLIE (1923-2007); see pseudonyms C. S. Cody & Patrick Mann.
      * “K” (n.) Gold Medal, pbo, 1963 [Chicago, IL]
      * A Change in the Wind (n.) Geis 1969
      * The American (n.) Putnam 1970 [Europe]
      * The Coast of Fear (n.) Doubleday 1974 [Italy; WWII]
      * The Swiss Account (n.) Doubleday 1976 [Switzerland]

Leslie Waller

      * Trocadero (n.) Delacorte 1978 [Paris]
      * Gameplan (n.) Bantam 1984
      * Embassy (n.) McGraw 1987 [London]
      * Amazing Faith (n.) McGraw 1988 [Europe]
      * Deadly Sins (n.) Heinemann. UK, 1992
      * Mafia Wars (n.) Onyx 1993
      * Tango Havana (n.) Heinemann, UK, 1993 [Havana, Cuba]
      * Manhattan Transfer (n.) Heinemann. UK, 1994 [New York City, NY]
      * Eden (n.) Severn, UK, 1997
      * Target Diana (n.) Transatlantic Publishers, pb, 2001.

CODY, C(harles) S.; pseudonym of Leslie Waller.
      * The Witching Night (n.) World 1952 [Indiana]
      * Lie Like a Lady (n.) Ace, pbo, 1955 [Chicago, IL]


MANN, PATRICK; pseudonym of Leslie Waller.
      * Dog Day Afternoon (n.) Delacorte 1973 [New York City, NY]
      * -The Vacancy (n.) Putnam 1973
      * Steal Big (n.) St. Martin’s 1981 [England]

   I haven’t happened to have found a cover image for Tango Havana (1993), but I did come across a description of the plot. Hoping to provide an idea of the kind of stories Mr. Waller wrote, I’ll include it here:

    “Cuba in the days when Meyer Lansky called the shots and General Batista ruled. An island where no man was what he seemed. A Mafia boss, a missile crisis, and a mess that went all the way to the White House. But while history turns on its axis, a conspiracy threatens to blow the Caribbean apart. It takes two to tango. Victor Sanchez and Midge Boardman just have to decide who leads.”

   And taken from the same book, here’s a short “About the Author” biography:

    “Born in Chicago, IL, Waller attended the University of Chicago and earned his M.A. from Columbia University. A crime reporter, he joined the United States Army Air Force intelligence in World War II. He published his first novel [Three Day Pass] in 1944, followed by some 50 more over the years.

    “From his first marriage he has two daughters and four granddaughters. He married Patricia Mahen in 1967, moving to Italy and eventually England. After 15 years abroad they now live in Naples, Florida where he writes, lectures and contributes to Florida’s leading cultural magazine, the Naples Review.”


   Although some sources say Mr. Waller wrote several screenplays, IMDB mentions only his work as a writer for the TV show Falcon Crest, and that a non-fiction book he wrote, Hide in Plain Sight was made into a 1980 film starring James Caan. Not stated on IMDB, as Patrick Mann he also wrote the book which novelized the film Dog Day Afternoon. Either of these may be where the confusion arises.

   Even though it’s not included in CFIV, some of the behavior displayed on Falcon Crest was definitely criminous in behavior. Below you’ll find a image of the cover of the book, a novelization of the TV series written by Patrick Mann, a.k.a. Leslie Waller, once again the man behind the pen name.

[UPDATE] 12-02-08.   Based on a suggestion included in an email I received from Dan Bara today, Al Hubin agrees that the following two titles by Leslie Waller are crime-related and should appear in CFIV. The brief descriptions of each were found by me and helped Al make the call:

At 01:44 AM 12/2/2008, you wrote:

 Mr Lewis,

   I believe books that have crime/mystery tones that are not listed in your blog post are: The Banker (1963) and The Family (1968).

   Hope that helps!

        Good Day, Dan

Descriptions from various sources:


The Family.

FROM THE FRONT COVER: Slashes deeper than the Godfather, “sex, sadism, violence, money, power, evil.”

“An explosive story that bares the link between the big-time bankers and big-time crime.”

The Banker.

The money man: He owned villas in France, Italy, Switzerland, England, Germany & the Caribbean–each outfitted with emperor-sized round beds …. He was a juggler of power & people, keeping an uneasy balance between the broads he bought, the men he bled, the Swiss bankers & mafia musclemen he did business with. He was one step ahead of the SEC, the IRS, & the Justice Department. He was the wheeler-dealer king of international finance.

Woods Palmer moves into the field of intrigue and counter-intrigue in the big business world of banking in America.