ROBERT LESLIE BELLEM “Suicide Scenario.” Novelette. Nick Ransom #6 (*). First published in Thrilling Detective, February 1948. Collected in Nick Ransom, Confidential Investigator (UPDproductions, Kindle edition, 2018).

   If you thought this was going to be a review of one of Bellem’s “Dan Turner” stories, I can hardly blame you. After all, one source I found says that he wrote over 300 of them. But that’s only a small percentage of Bellem’s output, estimated by that same source to be in the 3000 range, almost all of it in the form of short fiction.

   After appearing in a run of five stories in the early 40s, Nick Ransom took up shop in the pages of Thrilling Detective in 1948 for a run of nine more tales, beginning with “Suicide Scenario” in the February 1948 issue. Previously a Hollywood stunt man with is own business called “Risks Incorporated,” Ransom has decided that business wasn’t good enough and has changed the sign on he door to “Nick Ransom, Investigations.” Hollywood being the town it is, not only have bit players come calling, but so have producers, directors, stars, and “assorted geniuses of every size and gender.

   He doesn’t have a client in this tale, however. While driving back to his office through the streets of Los Angeles, he stopped by a frantic woman who needs him to stop her husband from committing suicide. Which he does, cleanly and efficiently. It turns out (not surprisingly) that there’s more to the story. The man whom he stopped from shooting himself turns out to have been hired to play the part, and then the real husband is found, his face blown away.

   This is not all. There are more twists and turns ahead. This is a real detective story, with lots of clues and red herrings to follow and be sorted out. Plus Bellem’s usual skill with the English language, somewhat toned down from the Dan Turner stories, and no emphasis at all on various parts of the female anatomy which took up a lot of space to describe back in Turner’s Spicy Detective days.

   Well, not completely. Quoting from the first page:

   She came running through the rain, a tall and shapely muffin whose soaked dress plastered itself to her bountiful curves like Scotch tape. Her hair was long and unpent, a black cascade streaming back over her shoulders as she pelted up to me, and the frantic urgency on her mush was enough to give a man the fantods. If ever a tomato was in trouble, this one obviously was.


       The Nick Ransom series —

Peril for Sale (ss) Detective Dime Novels Apr 1940
Danger’s Delegate (ss) Red Star Detective Jun 1940
Hazard’s Harvest (ss) Red Star Detective Aug 1940
Jeopardy’s Jackpot (ss) Red Star Detective Oct 1940
Risks Redoubled (nv) Double Detective Aug 1941
Suicide Scenario (nv) Thrilling Detective Feb 1948
Mahatma of Mayhem (nv) Thrilling Detective Apr 1948
The 9th Doll (nv) Thrilling Detective Aug 1948
Serenade with Slugs (nv) Thrilling Detective Dec 1948
Homicide Shaft (nv) Thrilling Detective Apr 1949
Preview of Murder (nv) Thrilling Detective Jun 1949
Puzzle in Peril (nv) Thrilling Detective Oct 1949
Blind Man’s Fluff (nv) Thrilling Detective Feb 1950
Murder Steals the Scene (nv) Thrilling Detective Aug 1950

(*) There is a Nick Ransom in the story “Short Cut to Vengeance” in the December 1939 issue of Variety Detective as by John Gregory, but the latter is known to be a house name and no one seems to have connected it up with Bellem.