FRANCIS K. ALLAN “The Lost Hours of Murder.” Published in Dime Mystery Magazine, August 1948. Probably never reprinted.

   The final story in this issue, “The Lost Hours of Murder,” by Francis K. Allan, is the second of two full “novels” contained therein, and as such runs to all of nineteen and a half (pulp-size) pages.

   Allan, by the way, was an extremely prolific writer for the detective pulps. During the years right after the war you could hardly pick one up and not read one of bis stories. In 1945 and 1947 he had a couple of hardcover novels published, but then none from then on until 1976, when he wrote Death in Gentle Grove, which I’m sure nobody else but me remembers. I do because it was one of the first books I did when I started writing reviews for the Hartford Courant.

   (I might be wrong, but it’s my impression that Allan went on to law school and better things, thus explaining the 30 year gap in his writing career.)

   “The Lost Hours of Murder” concerns a guy who wakes up on what he thinks is Thursday but discovers when he gets to  work that it is really Friday, and his partner, with whom he apparently quarreled in the interim, has mysteriously disappeared. It’s a classic situation, but even in full “novel” length, Alla’s tale is crowded, without all the space he needs to do anything with it.

   Cornell Woolrich, say, might have done better with the premise, which is a good one, but as it is, only the first half of this one holds any interest at all. There’s no hint of any supernatural influences at work, which was common in stories published in Dime Mystery Magazine, just a straight-forward mystery story, interesting for the moment but also instantly forgettable.


Final Thought: Unfortunately, maybe that last phrase would apply just as well to pulp magazines in general. It would make a great epitaph, wouldn’t it? “Throwaway literature at its finest!”

– Slightly revised from Mystery*File #30, April 1991.