Search Results for '"howard browne"'


A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bill Pronzini


HOWARD BROWNE – The Taste of Ashes. Paul Pine #4. Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 1957. Dennis McMillan, trade paperback, 1988. TV adaptatation: Pilot episode of Bourbon Street Beat (ABC, 5 October 1959).

   An early contributor to the Ziff-Davis line of pulps in the 1940s, Howard Browne later became managing editor of several of that Chicago-based publisher’s science-fiction and fantasy magazines. He also wrote extensively for radio and early TV, scripting more than 700 dramatic shows for the two media.

   In 1946 he published his first mystery novel, Halo in Blood, under the pseudonym John Evans, and followed it with two more, Halo for Satan (1948) and Halo in Brass (1949); all three feature Chicago private detective Paul Pine, one of the best of the plethora of tough-guy heroes from that era. Although the Pine novels are solidly in the tradition of Raymond Chandler, they have a complexity and character all their own and are too well crafted to be mere imitations.

   The Taste of Ashes is the fourth and (at least as of this writing) final Paul Pine adventure. Browne evidently chose to publish this one under his own name because it is longer, more tightly plotted, and more ambitious than the “Halo” books. Offbeat, violent, exciting, it is the story of Pine’s involvement with the lethal Delastone clan:

    “… the Colonel, who wore his hair like the late William Jennings Bryan and was more afraid of scandal than of sudden death; Martha, a member of the sensible-shoe set; the lovely Karen, who owned a temper and a burglar tool; Edwin, who had gone to Heaven, or some place, leaving a monument of horror behind; and Deborah Ellen Frances Thronetree, age seven, an authority on the Bible and Captain Midnight, who was plagued by nightmares.”

   A hood with the wonderful name of Arnie Algebra, a reporter called Ira Groat, and the haunted widow of another private eye are just three of the rich array of other characters Pine encounters on his violent professional (and personal) odyssey.

   All three of the John Evans titles are also first-rate. Both Halo in Blood and Halo for Satan have highly unusual opening situations: In the former, Pine joins twelve other persons in the burial of a nameless bum; and in the latter, a Chicago bishop is offered a chance to buy a manuscript purportedly in the handwriting of Christ for the staggering sum of $25 million.

   Browne is also the author, under his own name, of a nonseries novel, Thin Air (1954); the sudden, inexplicable disappearance of advertising executive Ames Coryell’s wife and his utilization of his ad agency and its methods to track her down form the basis for this tale of suspense. Thin Air has received considerable praise, but this reviewer finds it somewhat farfetched and Coryell a less than likable protagonist. Paul Pine is a much better character, and the private-eye novel the true showcase for Browne’s talents.

         ———
   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

Bibliographic Update:   Published in 1985 by Dennis McMillan was the collection of Peter Pine stories entitled The Paper Gun, which included the unfinished and never before published title novel, plus the novelette “So Dark for April,” which previously appeared in Manhunt, February 1953, as by John Evans

HOWARD BROWNE as JOHN EVANS – Halo for Satan. Quill, paperback, circa 1984. First published as by John Evans: Bobbs-Merrill, hardcover, 1948. Bantam #800, paperback, 1950; Bantam 1729, paperback, 1958.

JOHN EVANS Halo for Satan

   Over the years there have been mysteries written with the basic premise and understanding that the English language can be used to enhance the pure, unadulterated fun of reading. This is one of them.

   Paul Pine is a private eye, and even his client is an eye-opener and an eyebrow-raiser. And what Bishop McManus wants him to do is to track down a man who has offered to sell him a manuscript written, so he says, by Jesus Christ himself. The story goes on from there.

   Just before Pine finds the first body, he meets a girl. Page 38:

    I listened to the sound of high heels click into silence on the uncarpeted stairs. When there was nothing left but quiet, I lighted a cigarette and thought about Lola North. A slip of a girl who could put a flat-footed cop into his place, and who was probably proud of doing so. Maybe not, though. Maybe she was worrying a little over how easy the victory has been. And then again, maybe my sheriff’s star badge had been about as impressive as a grapefruit.

    A lovely girl, Lola North. Enough figure and not too many years and a face that could come back and haunt you and maybe stir your baser emotions. A girl who could turn out to be as pure as an Easter lily or steeped in sin and fail to surprise you either way.

   Later, going back into his office, Pine is given a good solid knock on the head. As he comes to, pages 63-64, he finds that there is another woman involved:

JOHN EVANS Halo for Satan

    I got a shoulder under my eyelids and heaved hard and they slid about halfway before they stuck again. It was like opening cottage windows after a rain. Pain gnawed at the back of head like rats in a granary.

    The hunk of ribbon and the smooth red hair were back again, with a face under them I hadn’t noticed before.

    It was a face to bring hermits down out of the hills, to fill divorce courts, to make old men read upon hormones. A face that could sell perfume or black lace undies and make kitchen aprons a drug on the market. Good skin under expert make-up to make it look even better. Brown eyes, with a silken sheen to them. Eyes with a careful, still look as though never just sure what the brain behind them was up to. A nose you never quite saw because her full lips kept pulling you away from it. Hair smooth on top and a medium bob in back that was pushed up here and there to make it casually terrific.

    And my aching head was supported pleasantly on a cloth-covered length of firm warm flesh that was one of the lady’s thighs.

    I said, “I laughed at a scene like this not more than an hour ago. I thought the usher was going to throw me out.”

    Her expression said she thought I was out of my head. I would have liked to be, after what had been done to it.

    “Are you all right?” It was the kind of voice the rest of her deserved: husky, full-throated, yet subdued.

    I said, “How do I know if I’m all right? I think I’ll kind of stand up.”

JOHN EVANS Halo for Satan

   Later on Lola North begins to tell Pine some of her story. Page 102:

    She turned her head to give me a long level stare. “In one way or another,” she said tightly, “I feel it’s largely my fault that my husband’s in trouble. I’m trying to make amends by getting him out of it. That’s why I followed him to Chicago.”

    I pushed what was left of my cigarette through the air vent and stretched as much of my frame as the limited space would allow. “Go ahead,” I said wearily, “and tell me. Pour out the words. My spirits are low and my ears are numb, but I’ll listen. Other people read books or go to the fights or walk in the sun or make love. But not poor old Pine. He just sits and listens.”

    She said stiffly, “This was your idea. You wanted to know these things,”

    “Yeah. Go ahead and tell them to me.”

   The next morning, Pine gets back to his office. Page 118:

    Nine-thirty was early for me to be at the office, any morning. But I had wakened about eight o’clock, dull-eyed and unhappy, and filled with a vast restlessness that had no answer.

    It was a dreary, rain-swept day, raining the kind of rain that comes out of a sky the color and texture of a flophouse sheet and goes on and on. I opened the inner-office window behind its glass ventilator, put my hat and trench coat on the customer’s chair and poked my shoe at the windrows of office junk left on the floor by yesterday’s prowler. The cleaning lady must have taken one look at the wreckage and gone downstairs to quit.

JOHN EVANS Halo for Satan

   On pages 130-131, Pine is at the home of the second woman:

    “Damn you,” she said. And then she laughed. “I’m not through with you yet, mister!”

    “What about Myles? Is he as broad-minded as he is rich?”

    She shrugged and she wasn’t laughing any more. “The hell with him,” she said recklessly. “I need young men — men with the sap of life in their veins and a good strong back. Myles is too old for me.”

    I said, “Another woman said almost the same thing to me last night. What’s the matter with you dames? You make a guy afraid of reaching his forties.”

   Later, after sitting around in his office with nothing happening for several hours, Pine starts to leave. Page 139:

    By eight-thirty I had all I could take. I had gone through everything in the paper except the want ads, there was a mound of cigarette butts in the ashtray, and my tongue tasted like something rejected by a scavenger. I glowered at my wrist watch, growled “Up the creek, brother!” for no reason at all and put on my trench coat and hat.

    The fat little dentist in the next office was locking his door for the day as I came out into the corridor. He nodded to me. “Good evening, Mr. Pine. You’re later than usual.”

    “And all for nothing,” I said. “I nearly came in to have you drill one of my teeth. Just for something to do.”

    His smile was a little sad in a dignified way. “I could have used the business, sir.”

Back in his office a little while later, on page 169:

    I dug out the McGivern mystery novel it finished it over half a pack of cigarettes. The women in it were beautiful and the private eye was brilliant. I would have like to be brilliant, too. I would even have liked to be reasonably intelligent. I put the book away.

   There is twist upon twist in the story that surrounds all these quotes, not all of them believable in the cold, clear eye of dawn, but they will make you sit up and take notice. Guaranteed.

— September 2003


Note:   The cover of the first Bantam paperback was “covered” earlier here on this blog.

IT’S ABOUT CRIME
by Marvin Lachman

HOWARD BROWNE Halo in Brass

HOWARD BROWNE – Halo in Brass. Dennis McMillan, trade paperback, 1988. Originally published as by John Evans: Bobbs-Merrill, hardcover, 1949; paperback reprint: Pocket #709, July 1950.

Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 10, No. 4, Fall 1988
         (slightly revised).

   Another Eastern writer besides Steve Fisher who hit it big in the movie and television industry of Hollywood was Howard Browne, whose movie credits included The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and who wrote television shows like Mission Impossible and The Rockford Files.

HOWARD BROWNE Halo in Brass

   Dennis McMillan Publications has recently reprinted one of Browne’s best books, Halo in Brass, which he originally published in 1949 as by John Evans.

   As Evans, Browne wrote a small series of books about Chicago private eye Paul Pine, and each is memorable. Brass concerns Pine’s efforts to find a young woman who disappeared after she left Nebraska to live in Chicago.

   It explores themes not generally written of in the mysteries of its era, but don’t read Browne-Evans just because he was ahead of his time. Read him because he was a remarkable story teller, one who was imaginative and who created one of the best first-person narrators in the long history of the private detective novel.

Reviewed by GLORIA MAXWELL:         


HOWARD BROWNE – Thin Air. Carroll & Graf, reprint paperback, 1983. Originally published by Simon & Schuster, hc, 1954; Dell #894, pb, 1956.

   Ames Coryell, successful advertising executive, is bringing his wife, Leona, and their three year old daughter home from a peaceful, happy summer vacation. They arrive home at 3:00 a.m. Leona opens the front door and goes into their home. In the time it takes her husband to carry their daughter upstairs and come back down, she has disappeared — into thin air.

   No signs of a struggle, purse left behind, and no goodbye note. What happened to Leona? And why does their daughter tell the police “Why didn’t Mommy come home with us?”

   Ames attempts to locate Leona himself, after feeling frustrated by the apparent unconcern of the police. On the other hand, the police consider it a strong possibility that Ames killed his wife.

   When a woman resembling Leona is found murdered (discovered by Ames, no less!), the action and intrigue quicken.

   This is a tautly written tale, with strong characterization and a compelling style. Thin Air is not likely to disappoint any mystery fan.

— Reprinted from The Poisoned Pen, Vol. 6, No. 4, Fall 1986.
A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Bill Pronzini


RAYMOND CHANDLER – The Big Sleep. Philip Marlowe #1. Alfred A. Knopf, hardcover, 1939. Avon Murder Mystery Monthly #7, digest paperback, 1942; New Avon Library [#38], paperback, 1943. Movie photoplay edition: World, hardcover, 1946. Reprinted many times since. Film: Warner Bros., 1946 (screenwriters William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, Jules Furthman; director Howard Hawks; Humphrey Bogart as Marlowe). Also: United Artists, 1978 (screenwriter-director: Michael Winner; Robert Mitchum as Marlowe).

   It is difficult to imagine what the modern private eye story would be like if a forty-five-old ex-oil company executive named Raymond Chandler had not begun writing fiction for Black Mask in 1933. In his short stories and definitely in his novels, Chandler took the hardboiled prototype established by Dashiell Hammett, reshaped it to fit his own particular vision and the exigencies of life in southern California, smoothed off its rough edges, and made of it something more than a tale of realism and violence; he broadened it into a vehicle for social commentary, refined it with prose at once cynical and poetic, and elevated the character of the private eye to a mythical status — “down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.”

   Chandler’s lean, tough, wisecracking style set the tone for all subsequent private-eye fiction, good and bad. He is certainly the most imitated writer in the genre, and next to Hemingway, perhaps the most imitated writer in the English language. (Howard Browne, the creator of PI Paul Pine, once made Chandler laugh at a New York publishing party by introducing himself and saying, “It’s an honor to meet you, Mr. Chandler. I’ve been making a living off your work for years.”

   Even Ross Macdonald, for all his literary intentions, was at the core a Chandler imitator: Lew Archer would not be Lew Archer, indeed might not have been born at all, if Chandler had not created Philip Marlowe.

   The Big Sleep , Chandler’s first novel, is a blending and expansion of two of his Black Mask novelettes, “Killer in the Rain” (January 1935) and “The Curtain” (September 1936) — a process Chandler used twice more, in creating Farewell, My Lovely and The Lady in the Lake, and which he candidly referred to as “cannibalizing.”

   It is Philip Marlowe’s first bow. Marlowe does not appear in any of Chandler’s pulp stories, at least not by name: the first person narrators of “Killer in the Rain” (unnamed) and “The Curtain” (Carmody) are embryonic Marlowes, with many of his attributes. The Big Sleep is also Chandler’s best-known title, by virtue of the well-made 1944 film version directed by Howard Hawks and starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Elisha Cook, Jr.

   On one level, this is a complex murder mystery with its fair share of clues and corpses. On another level, it is a serious novel concerned (as is much of Chandler’s work) with the corrupting influences of money and power. Marlowe is hired by General Sternwood, an old paralyzed ex-soldier who made a fortune in oil, to find out why a rare-book dealer named Arthur Gwynn Giger is holding his IOU signed by Sternwood’s youngest daughter, the wild and immoral Carmen, and where a blackmailing abler named Joe Brody fits into the picture.

   Marlowe’s investigation embroils him with Sternwood’s other daughter, Vivian, and her strangely missing husband, Rusty, a former bootlegger; a thriving pornography racket; a gaggle of gangsters, not the least of which is a nasty piece of work named Eddie Mars; hidden vices and family scandals; and several murders. The novel’s climax is more ambiguous and satisfying than the film’s rather pat one.

    The Big Sleep is not Chandler’s best work; its plot is convoluted and tends to be confusing, and there are loose ends that are never explained or tied off. Nevertheless, it is still a powerful and riveting novel, packed with fascinating characters and evocatively told. Just one small sample of Chandler’s marvelous prose:

   The air was thick, wet, steamy and larded with the cloying smell of tropical orchids in bloom. The glass walls and roof were heavily misted and big drops of moisture splashed down on the plants. The light had a unreal greenish color, like light filtered through an aquarium. The plants filled the place, a forest of them, with nasty meaty leaves and stalks like the newly washed fingers of dead men. They smelled as overpowering as boiling alcohol under a blanket.

   That passage is quintessential Chandler; if it doesn’t stir your blood and make you crave more, as it always does for this reviewer, he probably isn’t your cup of bourbon.

         ———
   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

Reviewed by MIKE TOONEY:


(Give Me That) OLD-TIME DETECTION. Issue #49. Autumn 2018. Editor: Arthur Vidro. 36 pages. On the cover: Jack Ritchie.

   As always, the latest edition of OLD-TIME DETECTION brings to mind fond memories of works of mystery and detection of yesteryear, stories and authors that don’t deserve to be forgotten. Case in point: the few hardboiled private eye novels by Howard Browne that have just seen republication in an omnibus after seventy years, HALO FOR HIRE: THE COMPLETE PAUL PINE MYSTERIES. In his review, Michael Dirda applauds Browne’s style, “quite consciously written in the wise-cracking, tough-guy mode of Chandler’s fiction and 1940s Humphrey Bogart films. Yet even with their faint tongue-in-cheek air (and an astonishing amount of cigarette smoking), they make for heavenly reading.”

   When it comes to obscure detective fiction, Charles Shibuk has turned up titles that you’ve probably never encountered: H. C. Branson’s LAST YEAR’S BLOOD, Moray Dalton’s THE LONGBRIDGE MURDERS, and J. F. Hutton’s TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, books published more or less at the same time as Howard Browne’s.

   Francis M. Nevins biobibliographically spotlights Jack Ritchie, creator of the unforgettable Detective Sergeant Henry Turnbuckle; Ritchie, says Nevins, “figured out how to have endless fun tweaking the noses of the hoary old whodunit cliches while staying squarely within the great tradition’s confines.” For that reason, Arthur Vidro nominates Ritchie as one of his all-time favorites.

   Then Edgar Wallace gets spotlighted by J. Randolph Cox, as he chronicles in detail the ups and downs in the British author’s life and literary career. “He was not a great writer,” writes Cox, “for all of his flashes of genius and inspiration. He never claimed to be, and he did not need to be.”

   The fiction piece in this issue is Charles Shibuk’s teleplay version of Cornell Woolrich’s 1941 short story, “The Fingernail.” Memorable line: “Robert, are you sure that was all rabbit?”

   Nevins returns with notes on three motion pictures derived from Woolrich’s stories: DEADLINE AT DAWN (1946), which wasn’t received with any great enthusiasm at the time; BLACK ANGEL (1946), which, even though “every frame of this magnificent film noir is permeated with the Woolrich spirit,” the author himself regarded as “a disaster”; and THE CHASE (1946), which, writes Nevins, “is the one most likely to provoke an argument among noir aficionados” of Cornell Woolrich’s movies.

   Dr. John Curran, foremost expert on all things Christie, reports on the good and bad things that have been going on in Christiedom, particularly stage, film, and TV plays as well as upcoming books. Regarding the recent John Malkovich-BBC production of THE A.B.C. MURDERS, he writes, “Once again, I fear, the signs are not good.”

   Then we have in-depth reviews of three books: Jack Ritchie’s collection, THE ADVENTURES OF HENRY TURNBUCKLE, about which Arthur Vidro says, “If you want to laugh aloud while enjoying true detection, read this book”; Ellery Queen, Jr.’s THE BROWN FOX MYSTERY, “far,” writes Trudi Harrov, “from his best entry”; and S. John Preskett’s satirical MURDERS AT TURBOT TOWERS, which, says Amnon Kabatchnik, “pokes outrageous fun at the holy cows of our beloved genre.”

   In “My First Great Detectives,” Jon L. Breen waxes nostalgic about his initial encounters with the world of mystery, crime, and detective fiction; the characters whose exploits he followed from an early age were, not surprisingly, on the radio, but it wasn’t long before he delved into the written word, including Paul French’s Lucky Starr science fiction mysteries. (A trip to Patagonia if you can supply the real name of “Paul French” without looking it up. Of course, you pay for the ticket.)

   Charles Shibuk’s 1970 list of crime and mystery authors whose classic books were enjoying paperback reprintings at the time reads like a WHO’s WHO of detective fiction: Marjorie Allingham, John Dickson Carr, Agatha Christie, Michael Collins, Dick Francis, Andrew Garve, Adam Hall, Ross Macdonald, Ngaio Marsh, Judson Philips (Hugh Pentecost), Maurice Procter, Ellery Queen, Joel Townsley Rogers, C. P. Snow, Rex Stout, Robert van Gulik, and Cornell Woolrich.

   Finally, in addition to a puzzle are the comments from the readers, one of which deals with a much-discussed topic: “What’s wrong with modern mysteries? How about the obvious fact that they contain every aberration known to man . . . and some of the writing is by devout enemies of the English language?”


*** OLD-TIME DETECTION is published three times a year: Spring, Summer, and Autumn. Sample copy: $6.00 in the U.S.; $10.00 anywhere else. For a subscription to Old-Time Detection, contact the editor at: Arthur Vidro, Old-Time Detection, 2 Ellery Street, Claremont, New Hampshire 03743 or oldtimedetection@netzero.net.

WINDY CITY PULP CONVENTION 2018 REPORT
by Walker Martin


   The older I get, the longer this drive gets! Five of us drove from New Jersey to Chicago in the usual 15 seat white rental van. We take out the last two rows of seats to make the cargo area bigger. We need the space for all the books, pulps, and artwork that we will buy during the convention. During the long drive I pondered the age old question of which is worse: to forget your want list or to forget your medication. I know of two collectors who had to deal with these mistakes. I think forgetting your want list is worse. How can you collect without your lists?

   First stop was the Thursday pulp brunch at the house of Doug Ellis and Deb Fulton, otherwise known as the Windy City Pulp Art Museum. Doug had recently added an addition to the large house because he needed more wall space for the hundreds of cover paintings and illustrations. After three hours of eating, drinking, and gawking at the art, we drove to the Westin Hotel, home of the convention for the last several years.

   This year dealers were allowed to set up Thursday evening and I believe everyone was happy with this arrangement. Friday morning the convention officially began and there were approximately 150 dealer tables and somewhere around 400 to 500 attendees. This made for a busy three days of hunting for pulps, paperbacks, books, digests, slicks, DVDs, and artwork.



   But if you were not into collecting or short of money, then there were other things to do, such as the enormous art show showing scores of pulp and paperback paintings and the film festival which ran mainly during the day on Friday and Saturday. The evenings consisted mainly of John Locke discussing “The Secret Origins of Weird Tales” and GOH F. Paul Wilson being interviewed.

   Then of course there was the auction, which is one of the main attractions of the convention. It was held on Friday and Saturday evening and lasted about 4 hours each night. Friday night consisted of over 250 lots from the estate of Glenn Lord, who was the literary executor for the Robert Howard estate for many decades. Robert Howard collectors had the opportunity to bid on many magazines that contained Howard stories, such as WEIRD TALES, FIGHT STORIES, SPICY ADVENTURE, SPORT STORY, ACTION STORIES, GOLDEN FLEECE, ORIENTAL STORIES, MAGIC CARPET, STRANGE TALES, and ARGOSY.

   Many of these pulps went for hundreds of dollars and two of the highest amounts were for the rare fanzine, THE PHANTAGRAPH. $1400 and $1000 for two issues that I noted, but a friend bought down some beer from his room and I had several bottles which resulted it me not noting the prices for the rest of the issues.

   Saturday night I avoided the beer for awhile and noted some good prices for pulps from the Ron Killian estate. This auction also had material consigned by the attendees at the show. It’s good to see pulps come up for auction but sad to realize that they are from the estates of collectors that you will never see again. At the break I went up to hospitality room for a beer and somehow never did make it back down to the last of the auction. Is it possible that I’ve reached the stage in my collecting life that I would rather have a cold beer? Could be! I’ve been at this game for a long time now.

   I bought my usual amount of books but I don’t need many pulps according to my want lists. However I did manage to find some excellent and bizarre art. I bought as Emsh interior from IF in the fifties, a very large drawing by one of the decadent artists, Beresford Egan, and a stunning Lee Brown Coye interior from FANTASTIC, February 1963. It illustrates the Mythos story “The Titan in the Crypt”. Some of my friends don’t like Lee Brown Coye but I find his art to be perfect for bizarre horror stories. There are presently three books published about his art recently and this indicates that people are realizing his greatness.

   Another paperback cover I bought was one of the strange paintings that show two novels. In the early fifties there were a few fat paperbacks that had two novels and the cover shows two paintings, one upper and one lower. I remember buying PRIME SUCKER and THE HUSSY. Looks like the work of Walter Popp. I always wanted one of these strange paintings. Finally after decades of hunting!

   But the biggest sale of the show was a copy of ALL STORY for October 1912. That’s right the Tarzan issue! The Holy Grail of pulps! It went for $30,000 and sold right away soon after the doors opened. I’ve never seen a complete copy at a pulp convention. I once was high bidder on a copy at an early Pulpcon but it lacked the covers and the Tarzan novel was excerpted. That’s right, some crazy Breaker had cut out the Tarzan novel reducing a $30,000 to $50,000 magazine to a $400 curiosity piece.

   Another high priced item was a sexy cover painting from PRIVATE DETECTIVE by Parkhurst. It was priced at $18,000 but I believe sold for $16,000. One piece of art that did not sell was a Kelly Freas cover painting from ASTOUNDING, February 1955, showing a tough guy dressed as a woman. Price was $30,000 and I guess the owner did not want to sell it but just to exhibit it.

   Each year, I swear that I’m not going to buy any more art because I’ve run out of wall space. I have paintings stacked up against bookcases, etc. But being a collector is a hard job and someone has to do it…

   The program book, titled WINDY CITY PULP STORIES #18 is the usual excellent book edited by Tom Roberts. 136 pages mainly dealing with the air war pulps and Harold Hersey. I noticed three books making debuts at the show:

1–ART OF THE PULPS. This is a must buy and the title says it all. Several essays by well known collectors discuss all the genres including those often forgotten such as the love and sport pulps.

2–HALO FOR HIRE by Howard Browne. This is the complete Paul Pine mysteries and published by Haffner Press.

3–BLACK MASK, Spring 2018 is the fourth issue of the revived BLACK MASK. Published by Altus Press.

   Over the years, after writing one of these convention reports, I’ll hear from fellow collectors who regret not attending the show. Windy City may be over for another year but coming up is the next big pulp convention on July 26 through July 29. It’s in Pittsburgh and the details are at pulpfest.com. I highly recommend this show, and I ought to know what I’m talking about since I’ve been to almost all of them since 1972 when the first Pulpcon was held in St Louis. Almost all my pals who attended are gone now except for a handful such as Caz, Randy Cox, maybe Jack Irwin attended also, I forget. But of the hundred or so who eagerly went in 1972, we are getting down to the last man standing. Or the last Collector standing!

   Don’t miss out on Pulpfest. It’s a must for collectors. We have to support Windy City, Pulpfest, Pulpadventurecon and the other one day shows or one day we won’t have any conventions and then we will be like the dime novel collectors.

   I know one collector who says the two conventions are the same. No, they are not. Windy City is different and the emphasis is on art, films, and the auction. Pulpfest is also different with the emphasis on the dealer’s room and an evening full of panels and discussions.

   The hotel is great and I recommend that you stay there. Sure you can get a cheaper rate down the road somewhere but the convention hotel is where all the action is.

   I hope to see you there!

PS. Thanks to Sai Shankar once again for the use of his photos. All of the larger ones are ones he took. To see many more of the photos he took at Windy City, check out his Pulpflakes blog here.

ROARING LIONS: A Chronological Bibliography of All Crime Fiction Titles in LION BOOKS and LION LIBRARY
by Josef Hoffmann


   Lion Books were published by Martin Goodman. This paperback line lasted from 1949 until 1955 and was edited by the legendary Arnold Hano, an author of western and crime novels and of a classic baseball book.

   He promoted Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Robert Bloch, David Karp, Richard Matheson and other very good crime writers by publishing their work as paperback originals. He also promoted a rising star novelist named Kenneth Millar (Ross Macdonald) and other important authors – Stanley Ellin and Gerald Kersh, for example – in paperback reprints.

   Although not all crime novelists of Lion Books are in this class Lion Books usually stand for a certain level of writing. Most of the Lion Books are collectible paperbacks with good cover art by Rudolph Belarski, Harry Schaare, Robert Maguire, Robert Stanley, Mort Kunstler and others. Some books are now very pricey.

   The publisher established a similar paperback line called Lion Library when Hano left in 1954. It lasted from 1954 until 1957 and published in part the same writers. Finally New American Library purchased Lion Books, Inc.

   As I do not own many Lion Books I obtained the information about this paperback line from Jon Warren: The Official Price Guide Paperbacks, House of Collectibles, N. Y. 1991; Gary Lovisi: Antique Trader Collectible Paperback Price Guide, Krause Publications, Iola, WI, 2008.

   Which of the Lion Books were crime titles and which were reprints of first editions, I learned from Allen J. Hubin: Crime Fiction IV. A Comprehensive Bibliography, 1749-2000, 2010 Revised Edition, Locus Press.

    Warning: If you read too many Lion Books in a short time the simplicity and vulgarity of their vernacular will get on your nerves. There are just too many words like hell, swell, kill, hate, lust, sin, skin, sweat, blood, babe, blonde, dope, jungle etc.

   And the emotions of the protagonists are too direct and primitive. You will long for the reflected, differentiated and elegant prose of authors like Chandler, Woolrich or Highsmith. So after a typical Lion Book it is better to read something very different like a humorous detective novel or a historical mystery to be able to enjoy another Lion Book once in a while.

         LION BOOKS:     (PBO = paperback original)

Morgan, Michael (C. E. Carle/Dean M. Dorn): The Blonde Body (LB 11), 1949; cover art Len Oehman. First edition: Nine More Lives, Random House 1947

LION BOOKS

Jackson, Shirley: The Lottery (LB 14), 1950; cover art Herman Bischoff. First edition: Farrar 1949 (short stories)

Marsh, Peter: The Devil’s Daughter (LB 16), 1949; cover art William Shoyer. First edition: Swift 1942

Ross, Sam: He Ran All the Way (LB 19), 1950; cover art Harry Schaare. First edition: Farrar 1947

Tucker, Wilson: To Keep or Kill (LB 21), 1950; cover art Herman Bischoff. First edition: Rinehart 1947

LION BOOKS

Lynch, William: The Intimate Stranger (LB 25), 1950; cover art Woodi. PBO.

Balchin, Nigel: The Small Back Room (LB 31), 1950; cover art Wesley Snyder. First edition: Collins 1943

Jackson, Shirley: The Road Through the Wall (LB 36), 1950; cover art Harvey Kidder. First edition: Farrar 1949

Gray, Russell (Bruno Fischer): The Lustful Ape (LB 38), 1950; cover art Julian Paul. PBO.

Appel, Benjamin: Brain Guy (LB 39), 1950. First edition: Knopf 1934

Ellin, Stanley: The Big Night (LB 41), 1950. First edition: Dreadful Summit, Simon 1948

LION BOOKS

Eastman, Elizabeth: His Dead Wife (LB 44), 1950. First edition: The Mouse with Red Eyes, Farrar 1948

Tracy, Don: How Sleeps the Beast (LB 45), 1950. First edition: Constable 1937

Millar, Kenneth: Trouble Follows Me (LB 47), 1950. First edition: Dodd 1946

LION BOOKS

Millar, Kenneth: The Dark Tunnel (LB 48), 1950. First edition: Dodd 1944

Jaediker, Kermit: Tall, Dark and Dead (LB 51), 1951. First edition: Mystery House 1947

Wilhelm, Gale: No Letters for the Dead (LB 52), 1951; cover art Pease. First edition: Random House 1936; reprint: No Nice Girl, Pyramid G-440, 1959

Bordages, Asa: The Glass Lady (LB 56), 1951. First edition: Godwin 1932

Teagle, Mike: Murders in Silk (LB 60), 1951. First edition: Hillman-Curl 1938

Trimble, Louis: Blondes Are Skin Deep (LB 62), 1951. PBO

LION BOOKS

Keene, Day: My Flesh Is Sweet (LB 68), 1951. PBO

Tracy, Don: The Cheat (LB 69), 1951; cover art Harry Schaare. First edition: Criss-Cross, Vanguard 1934

Bogar, Jeff (Ronald Wills Thomas): The Tigress (LB 72), 1951. First edition: Payoff for Paula, Hamilton & Co. 1951

Durst, Paul: Die, Damn You! (LB 75), 1952. PBO. (Classified as a western by Lovisi.)

Gordon, James: The Lust of Private Cooper (LB 77), 1952. First edition: Of Our Time, Dobson 1946; reprint: Collision, Farrar 1947

Bogar, Jeff (Ronald Wills Thomas): My Gun, Her Body (LB 79), 1952. First edition: Dinah for Danger, Hamilton & Co. 1952

LION BOOKS

Butler, Gerald: The Lurking Man (LB 81), 1952. First edition: Mad with Much Heart, Jarrolds 1945

Wolfson, P. J.: Bodies Are Dust (LB 83), 1952. First edition: Vanguard 1931

Prather, Richard S.: Lie Down, Killer (LB 85), 1952. PBO

LION BOOKS

Wills, Thomas (William Ard): You’ll Get Yours (LB 87), 1952. PBO

Lucas, Curtis (William Francis Urell): So Low, So Lonely (LB 91), 1952. PBO

Karp, David: The Big Feeling (LB 93), 1952. PBO

Evans, John (Howard Browne): Lona (LB 94), 1952; cover art Earle Bergey. First edition: If You Have Tears, Mystery House 1947; reprint: The Blonde Dies First, Horwitz 1956

LION BOOKS

Appel, Benjamin: Hell’s Kitchen (LB 95), 1952. PBO

Kersh, Gerald: Prelude to a Certain Midnight (LB 98), 1952; cover art Rudolph Belarski. First edition: Heinemann 1947

Thompson, Jim: The Killer Inside Me (LB 99), 1952. PBO

LION BOOKS

Elliott, Bruce: One Is a Lonely Number (LB 100), 1952; cover art Earle Bergey. PBO

Paul, Gene (Paul Conant): Little Killer (LB 104), 1952; cover art Prezio. PBO

Karp, David: The Brotherhood of Velvet (LB 105), 1952. pBO

Thompson, Jim: Cropper’s Cabin (LB 108), 1952. PBO

LION BOOKS

Eisner, Simon (Cyril M. Kornbluth): The Naked Storm (LB 109), 1952; cover art Robert Skemp. PBO

Ring, Douglas (Richard S. Prather): The Peddler (LB 110), 1952. PBO

Walker, Shel (Walter J. Sheldon): The Man I Killed (LB 112), 1952. PBO

Karp, David: Hardman (LB 119), 1953; cover art Prezio. PBO

Thompson, Jim: Recoil (LB 120), 1953. PBO

Francis, William (William Francis Urell): Don’t Dig Deeper (LB 123), 1953. PBO

Goodis, David: The Burglar (LB 124), 1953. PBO

LION BOOKS

Thompson, Jim: The Alcoholics (LB 127), 1953. PBO

Otis, G. H.: Bourbon Street (LB 131), 1953. PBO

Karp, David: Cry, Flesh (LB 132), 1953. PBO

Goodis, David: The Dark Chase (LB 133), 1953; cover art Julian Paul. First edition: Nightfall, Messner 1947

Matheson, Richard: Someone Is Bleeding (LB 137), 1953. PBO

LION BOOKS

Untermeyer, Jr., Walter: Dark the Summer Dies (LB 138), 1953. PBO

Scott, Warwick (Elleston Trevor): Cockpit (LB 140), 1953. First edition: Image in the Dust, Davies 1951

Roueche, Berton: Rooming House (LB 141), 1953. First edition: Black Weather, Reynal 1945

Scott, Warwick (Elleston Trevor): Doomsday (LB 148), 1953. First edition: The Domesday Story, Davies 1952

Thompson, Jim: Bad Boy (LB 149), 1953; cover art Mort Kunstler. PBO

Falstein, Louis: Slaughter Street (LB 151), 1953; cover art Lou Marchetti. PBO

Lorenz, Frederick (Lorenz Heller): A Rage at Sea (LB 152), 1953; cover art Maguire. PBO

Bezzerides, A. I.: Tough Guy (LB 153), 1953. First edition: Long Haul, Carrick 1938; reprint: They Drive by Night, Dell Book 416, 1950

LION BOOKS

Paul, Gene (Paul Conant): Naked in the Dark (LB 154), 1953. PBO

Thompson, Jim: Savage Night (LB 155), 1953. PBO

Jaediker, Kermit: Hero’s Lust (LB 156), 1953; cover art Lou Marchetti. PBO

Lipsky, Eleazar: The Hoodlum (LB 161), 1953. First edition: The Kiss of Death, Penguin 1947

Curtis, Lucas (William Francis Urell): Angel (LB 162), 1953. PBO

Manners, William: The Big Lure (LB 165), 1953. PBO

Appel, Benjamin: Dock Walloper (LB 166), 1953. PBO

Heatter, Basil: Sailor’s Luck (LB 170), 1953. PBO

Otis, G. H.: Hot Cargo (LB 171), 1953. PBO

LION BOOKS

Francis, William (William Francis Urell): The Corrupters (LB 174), 1953. PBO

Leiber, Fritz: Conjure Wife (LB 179), 1953; cover art Robert Maguire. First edition: Twayne 1953. (Classified as SF by Lovisi.)

Matheson, Richard: Fury on Sunday (LB 180), 1953. PBO

LION BOOKS

Thompson, Jim: The Criminal (LB 184), 1953. PBO

Bloch, Robert: The Kidnaper (LB 185), 1954. PBO

Goodis, David: The Blonde on the Street Corner (LB 186), 1954. PBO

Fairman, Paul W.: The Joy Wheel (LB 190), 1954. PBO

Thompson, Jim: The Golden Gizmo (LB 192), 1954. PBO

Lorenz, Frederick (Lorenz Heller): Night Never Ends (LB 193), 1954; cover art Clark Hulings. PBO

Meskil, Paul S.: Sin Pit (LB 198), 1954; PBO

Rosmanith, Olga (Ferney Wood): The Long Thrill (LB 200), 1954. PBO

Thompson, Jim: Roughneck (LB 201), 1954. PBO

Keene, Day: Sleep with the Devil (LB 204), 1954. PBO

LION BOOKS

Craig, Jonathan: Alley Girl (LB 206), 1954. PBO. Reprint: Renegade Cop, Berkley 1959

Trevor, Elleston: Tiger Street (LB 207), 1954. First edition: Boardman 1951

Keene, Day: Joy House (LB 210), 1954. PBO

Sparkia, Roy Benard: Boss Man (LB 211), 1954. PBO

Thompson, Jim: A Swell-Looking Babe (LB 212), 1954. PBO

LION BOOKS

Fessier, Michael: Fully Dressed and in His Right Mind (LB 214), 1954. First edition: Knopf 1935

Flora, Fletcher: Strange Sisters (LB 215), 1954. PBO

Cassill, R. V.: Dormitory Women (LB 216), 1954. PBO

Thompson, Jim: A Hell of a Woman (LB 218), 1954. PBO

Manners, William: Wharf Girl (LB 219), 1954. PBO

Davis, Jr., Franklin M., The Naked and the Lost (LB 221), 1954. PBO

Untermeyer, Jr., Walter: Evil Roots (LB 222), 1954. PBO

Lorenz, Frederick (Lorenz Heller): The Savage Chase (LB 223), 1954; cover art Al Rossi. PBO

Goodis, David: Black Friday (LB 224), 1954. PBO

Baldwin, Linton: Sinners’ Game (LB 227), 1954. PBO

Heatter, Basil: Act of Violence (LB 228), 1954; cover art John Leone. PBO

Lipman, Clayre & Michel: House of Evil (LB 231), 1954. PBO

         LION LIBRARY:

Frazee, Steve: The Sky Block (LL-3), 1954; cover art Robert Maguire. First edition: Rinehart 1953

Wolfson, P. J.: The Flesh Baron (LL-4), 1955. First edition: Is My Flesh of Brass?, Vanguard 1934

LION BOOKS

Kennedy, Stetson: Passage to Violence (LL-9), 1954; cover art Al Rossi. PBO

Karp, David: Escape to Nowhere (LL-10), 1955. First edition: One, Vanguard 1953

Rosen, Victor: Dark Plunder (LL-11), 1955; cover art Al Rossi. PBO

Clark, Christopher: The Unleashed Will (LL-15), 1955. First edition: Little 1947

Greene, Graham: Nineteen Stories (LL-31), 1955; cover art Arthur Shilstone. First edition: Heinemann 1947

Walker, David: The Storm and the Silence (LL-33), 1955; cover art George Erickson. First edition: Houghton 1949

Millar, Kenneth: Night Train (LL-40), 1955; cover art Samson Pollen. Reprints LB 47 with new title.

Gordon, James: Collision (LL-41), 1955; cover art Gilbert Fullington. Reprints LB 77 with new title.

Coates, Robert M.: The Night Before Dying (LL-45), 1955; cover art Al Brule. First edition: Wisteria Cottage, Harcourt 1948

Millar, Kenneth: I Die Slowly (LL-52), 1955. Reprints LB 48 with new title

Ross, Sam: He Ran All the Way (LL-59), 1955; cover art George Gross. Reprints LB 19.

Lorenz, Frederick (Lorenz Heller): A Party Every Night (LL-63), 1956; cover art Robert Schultz. PBO

Kauffman, Lane: Kill the Beloved (LL-64), 1956; cover art Charles Copeland. First edition: The Perfectionist, Lippincott 1954

Garland, Rodney (Adam Hegedus): The Heart in Exile (LL-76), 1956; cover art Arthur Shilstone. First edition: Allen 1953

Tucker, Wilson: To Keep or Kill (LL-84), 1956; cover art Robert Maguire. Reprints LB 21.

Karp, David: The Girl on Crown Street (LL-86), 1956. Reprints LB 132 with new title.

Flora, Fletcher: The Brass Bed (LL-87), 1956. PBO

Kent, David: A Knife Is Silent (LL-91), 1956; cover art Mort Kunstler. First edition: Random House 1947

Miller, Wade: Kiss Her Goodbye (LL-96), 1956; cover art Charles Copeland. PBO

LION BOOKS

Park, Jordan (Cyril M. Kornbluth): Sorority House (LL-97), 1956; cover art Clark Hulings. PBO

Lorenz, Frederick (Lorenz Heller): Ruby (LL-104), 1956; cover art Samson Pollen. PBO

Wilhelm, Gale: Paula (LL-115), 1956; cover art Morgan Kane. Reprints LB 52 with new title.

Appel, Benjamin: Alley Kids (LL-116), 1956; cover art Samson Pollen/Carlos De Mema. Reprints LB 95 with new title.

Tracy, Don: The Cheat (LL-118), 1956; cover art Charles Copeland. Reprints LB 69.

Thompson, Jim: Recoil (LL-124), 1956; cover art Robert Maguire. Reprints LB 120.

Eisner, Simon (Cyril M. Kornbluth): The Naked Storm (LL-125), 1956; cover art Robert Stanley. Reprints LB 109.

Garland, Rodney (Adam Hegedus)
: The Troubled Midnight (LL-128), 1956; cover art Charles Copeland. First edition: Allen 1954

Wills, Thomas (William Ard): You’ll Get Yours (LL-129), 1956; cover art Harry Schaare. Reprints LB 87.

Goodis, David: Nightfall (LL-131), 1956. Reprints LB 133 with new title.

LION BOOKS

Roueche, Berton: Rooming House (LL-133), 1957; cover art Arthur Sarnoff. Reprints LB 141.

Williams, Ben Ames: Leave Her to Heaven (LL-136), 1956; cover art Clark Hulings. First edition: Houghton 1944

Hudiburg, Edward: Killer’s Game (LL-137), 1956; cover art Harry Schaare. PBO

Thompson, Jim: A Hell of a Woman (LL-138), 1956; cover art Morgan Kane. Reprints LB 215.

Thompson, Jim: The Kill-Off (LL-142), 1957; cover art William Rose. PBO

Jackson, Charles: Thread of Evil (LL-143), 1957; cover art Lou Marchetti. First edition: The Outer Edges, Rinehart 1948

Lorenz, Frederick (Lorenz Heller): Hot (LL-144), 1956; cover art Rudy Nappi. PBO

Friedman, Stuart: The Bedside Corpse (LL-148), 1957; cover art Robert Stanley. First edition: The Gray Eyes, Abelard 1955

Williams, Ben Ames: A Killer Among Us (LL-149), 1957; cover art Harry Schaare. First edition: The Silver Forest, Dutton 1926

Appel, Benjamin: Brain Guy (LL-151), 1957; cover art Mort Kunstler. Reprints LB 39.

Masur, Harold (ed.): Dolls Are Murder (LL-152), 1957; cover art Mort Kunstler. PBO

Paul, Gene: The Big Make (LL-158), 1957; cover art Robert Maguire. Reprints LB 104 with new title.

Lorenz, Frederick (Lorenz Heller): A Rage at Sea (LL-165), 1957; cover art James Bama. Reprints LB 152.

Roth, Holly: The Sleeper (LL-171), 1957; cover art Rudy Nappi. First edition: Simon 1955

Falstein, Louis: Slaughter Street (LL-172), 1957; cover art Robert Maguire. Reprints LB-151.

Editorial Comment:   I wish I had the space to show more of the covers here, but there are many, many more where these came from. Check out Bruce Black’s BookScans website, starting here.

IT’S ABOUT CRIME, by Marvin Lachman

BLACK LIZARD

   Black Lizard’s first mystery anthology included the [Harlan] Ellison Edgar winner, “Soft Monkey.” The Second Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction, edited by Ed Gorman (trade paperback, 1988), is 664 pages long with thirty-eight short stories and a full-length novel, Murder Me for Nickels, by Peter Rabe.

   Most of the stories are reprints, but the list of authors reads like a Who’s Who of hardboiled detective fiction for the last thirty-five years, including Avallone, Max Allan Cdllins, Estleman, Gault, Hensley, Lutz, McBain, Pronzini, Spillane, Willeford, et al.

   Of the book’s three new stories, I especially liked Jon Breen’s baseball mystery about a streaker (remember them?).

   There is also a Hall of Fame quality to The Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories, edited by Bill Pronzini and Martin H. Greenberg (Carroll & Graf, trade paperback, 1988), which in its 592 pages offers stories about almost every important private eye, including Philip Marlowe in “Wrong Pigeon,” the last story Chandler wrote.

   Only Hammett (readily available elsewhere) seems to be missing among the authors who include current masters like Hansen, both Collinses (Michael and Max Allan), Lutz, Pronzini, Muller, Estleman, and Grafton. The editors also dug out early work by Carroll John Daly, Robert Leslie Bellem, Fredrick Brown, Gault, McBain, and Prather, as well as rarities: a Paul Pine story by Howard Browne and a private eye story by Ed Hoch, who doesn’t usually write in that genre.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier,
Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter 1989.


Editorial Notes:   A complete list of authors for the Black Lizard anthology is as follows: Stories by Michael Avallone, Timothy Banse, Robert Bloch, Lawrence Block, Ray Bradbury, Jon Breen, Max Allan Collins, William R. Cox, John Coyne, Wayne D. Dundee, Harlan Ellison, Loren D. Estleman, Fletcher Flora, Brian Garfield, William C. Gault, Barry Gifford, Joe Gores, Ed Gorman, Joe L. Hensley, Joe R. Lansdale, Richard Laymon, John Lutz, Ed McBain, Steve Mertz, Arthur Moore, Marcia Muller, William F. Nolan, Bill Pronzini, Ray Puechner, Peter Rabe, Robert Randisi, Daniel Ransom, Mickey Spillane, Donald Westlake, Harry Willeford, Will Wyckoff, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro.

   Contents for the “Mammoth” collection:  

MAMMOTH PRIVATE EYE

Raymond Chandler, ‘Wrong Pigeon’ [aka ‘The Pencil’] (1971: Philip Marlowe)
Carrol John Daly, ‘Not My Corpse’ (Race Williams)
Robert Leslie Bellem, ‘Diamonds of Death’ (Dan Turner)
Fredric Brown, ‘Before She Kills’ (1961: Ed and Am Hunter)
Howard Browne, ‘So Dark For April’ (1953: Paul Pine)
William Campbell Gault, ‘Stolen Star’ (1957: Joe Puma)
Ross Macdonald, ‘Guilt-Edged Blonde’ (1953: Lew Archer)
Henry Kane, ‘Suicide is Scandalous’ (1947: Peter Chambers)
Richard S. Prather, ‘Dead Giveaway’ (1957: Shell Scott)
Joseph Hansen, ‘Surf’ (1976: Dave Brandsetter)
Michael Collins, ‘A Reason To Die’ (1985: Dan Fortune)
Ed McBain, ‘Death Flight’ (1954: Milt Davis)
Stephen Marlowe, ‘Wanted — Dead and Alive’ (1963: Chester Drum)
Edward D. Hoch, ‘The Other Eye’ (1981: Al Darlan)
Stuart M. Kaminsky, ‘Busted Blossoms’ (1986: Toby Peters)
Lawrence Block, ‘Out of the Window’ (1977: Matt Scudder)
John Lutz, ‘Ride The Lightning’ (1985: Alo Nudger)
Sue Grafton, ‘She Didn’t Come Home’ (1986: Kinsey Millhone)
Edward Gorman, ‘The Reason Why’ (1988: Jack Dwyer)
Stephen Greenleaf, ‘Iris’ (1984: John Marshall Tanner)
Bill Pronzini, ‘Skeleton Rattle Your Mouldy Leg’ (1985: Nameless Detective)
Marcia Muller, ‘The Broken Men’ (1985: Sharon McCone)
Arthur Lyons, ‘Trouble in Paradise’ (1985: Jacob Asch)
Max Allan Collins, ‘The Strawberry Teardrop’ (1984: Nate Heller)
Robert J. Randisi, ‘The Nickel Derby’ (1987: Henry Po)
Loren D. Estleman Greektown’ (1983: Amos Walker)

WE ARE ALL SENTIMENTALISTS NOW:
Leonard Cassuto’s Hard-Boiled Sentimentality:
The Secret History of American Crime Stories

by Curt J. Evans


   Over the last twenty years feminist literary scholars have leaped into the field of mystery criticism with great energy and enthusiasm; and they have had a remarkable impact on it. In Great Britain, such academic authorities as Gill Plain, Susan Rowland and Merja Makinen have written perceptive revisionist studies on British Golden Age “Crime Queens” (Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh), defending them from the traditional (usually male) criticism, dating back to Raymond Chandler and Edmund Wilson in the 1940s and prevalent through the early Marxist-influenced academic monographs of the 1970s, that their work is insipid, reactionary drivel, in contrast with the admirable, socially progressive and genre transcending American hard-boiled fiction most famously associated with Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler himself.

CASSUTO Hard-Boiled Sentimentality

   This scholarly feminist emphasis on the Crime Queens, while important in revising earlier masculinist views of these authors, has led to the elevation of an increasingly commonplace view within academia, namely that the mystery genre in Britain during the Golden Age was essentially feminine, representing a purportedly distinct and uniquely female set of values, such as the privileging of feelings and intuitions over material detail (i.e., psychology over footprints and timetables), a preference for cerebration over fisticuffs as the way of reaching solutions to problems and an emphasis on domestic detail and the inter-connectedness of individuals. “All in all,” emphatically concludes Susan Rowland in a representative statement from a recent essay, “the golden age form is a feminized one.”

[Susan Rowland, “The ‘Classical’ Model of the Golden Age,” in Lee Horsley and Charles A. Rzepka, eds., A Companion to Crime Fiction (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 122.]

   Thus portrayed, “feminine” English Golden Age detective fiction starkly contrasts with the “masculine” hardboiled form that frequently has been taken to represent American detective fiction during this period (roughly 1920 to 1939) — though the critical estimation of English Golden Age detective fiction (or, to be more precise, the four women authors often portrayed as nearly entirely representing it) has been considerably raised.

   However, another feminist literary scholar — this time an American, Catherine Ross Nickerson — has pointed out in an important 1998 study, The Web of Iniquity: Early Detective Fiction by American Women, that detective fiction in the United States was not actually a strictly masculine preserve, a playground for the tough guys. Rather, Nickerson has shown, an indigenous American tradition of female-authored crime fiction existed well back into the nineteenth century.

   One of the writers she discusses, Mary Roberts Rinehart, was active and extremely popular in the United States all though the Golden Age (indeed, she was much more significant at this time than Raymond Chandler, who only published his first novel in 1939, at the very tail-end of the Golden Age, confining himself before that to pulp short stories).

   But although Professor Nickerson helped remind her academic colleagues that women mystery writers with their own narrative style and literary concerns not only existed but were much read in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s, it remained for Professor Leonard Cassuto to do something that no other academic had yet done: perceive the American hardboiled detective novel itself as feminized.

[Academic scholars continue to mostly overlook detective novelists in both the United States and Great Britain who did not write in the hardboiled style and were not women, but that is the subject for another essay!]

   Leonard Cassuto’s Hard-Boiled Sentimentality: The Secret History of American Crime Stories (Columbia University Press, 2008) is one of the most highly praised academic crime literature monographs of the last decade. “Superb…fresh insights on every page,” declares Alan Trachtenberg of Yale University.

   Not to be outdone is crime writer Julia Spencer-Fleming, who provides a blurb that is surely one to die for: “Hard-Boiled Sentimentality is a nonfiction epic that reads like the best genre fiction, tracing the bloodlines of crime fiction from Sam Spade to Hannibal Lecter. Cassuto’s scholarship is impeccable; his narrative voice magnetic. A must-read for every student of genre fiction and the go-to source for the evolutionary history of the genre.”

   Whew! Is it really as good as all that? In my view, not quite; though Cassuto makes an interesting (if not invariably persuasive) argument and his writing is comprehensible and refreshingly jargon-light, not something that can be said for many of the academic monographs in this field. Hard-Boiled Sentimentality often is quite insightful and for those interested in hardboiled fiction it should make rewarding reading.

[Despite the zealous claim that Hard-Boiled Sentimentality reads as grippingly as the best crime novels, sentences like “this refusal to speculate aligns Spade with some of the reformist political positions of the Progressive era” do not trip off the tongue. To be fair to Cassuto, however, I cannot recall any academic monograph that reads just like a crime novel.]

   Leonard Cassuto contends that rather than being “masculinist” tales of unfeeling lone tigers prowling in the asphalt jungle, hard-boiled novels in reality are closely related to women’s sentimental domestic fiction of the nineteenth century, which “celebrates the reliable and nourishing social ties that result when people extend their sympathy to others around them.”

   In Cassuto’s view, hard-boiled tales “engage with a domestic sentimentalism born of a specific historical period” and it is this “engagement with the nineteenth-century sentimental” that “shapes the history and evolution of the hard-boiled from its inception to the present day.” “Inside every crime story is a sentimental narrative that’s trying to come out,” declares Cassuto provocatively. “Sentimentalism invented the American crime novel.”

   Over the course of his study, which extends from the 1920s to the present day, Cassuto explicates the key role he sees sentimentalism as having played in the shaping of the American crime tale. Chapter One deals with the influence exercised on the hard-boiled school of crime writing by mainstream novelists Theodore Dreiser and Ernest Hemingway.

   Chapter Two looks at Dashiell Hammett. Relying on his reading of The Maltese Falcon (and to a lesser extent Red Harvest and The Dain Curse), Cassuto argues that Hammett portrays “sentimentalism in ruins: a world of self-interested individuals cut loose from family ties and family obligations, who have abandoned sympathy to chase the dollar.”

   However he emphasizes that in The Maltese Falcon tough-as-nails detective Sam Spade struggles between “self-interest and sympathy” and that in The Dain Curse the Continental Op “shows genuine concern for his young charge [Gabrielle Leggett].”

   Chapter Three sees Cassuto taking on “Depression Domesticity,” primarily through James M. Cain’s Mildred Pierce and Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep and The High Window.

   With its family saga of a deluded mother and her deceiving daughter, writes Cassuto, Mildred Pierce allows James M. Cain to bring “the sentimental and the hard-boiled into the same house.” It offers readers “the key to the hard-boiled engine-room.”

   Chandler’s detective Philip Marlowe, for his part, is in Cassuto’s view driven primarily by a need to put broken houses back together, restoring families to that portion of harmony still possible in 1930s America. As an author, asserts Cassuto, Chandler was “in quixotic pursuit of a family ideal that was being threatened during the Depression, when financial hardship broke many families apart.”

   Chapter Four, which takes us past World War Two and into the 1950s and the Cold War, sees Cassuto considerably expanding his analytical net, taking in a wider range of novels, including those by Chandler, Mickey Spillane, David Goodis, John D. MacDonald, William P. McGivern, Wade Miller, “John Evans” (Howard Browne), Gil Brewer and Cornell Woolrich.

   “Working from the model provided by Raymond Chandler,” explains Cassuto, “postwar crimefighters become passionate and involved defenders of home and hearth.” Cold War paranoia and the desire to restore traditional gender roles after global conflagration had menaced world order combined to create the fetching but fearsome femme fatale, a creature in Cassuto’s view that is most notable for her refusal to accept what was seen as her natural role in the social order, that of domesticated wife and mother.

   “A veritable army of unpredictable femmes fatales, armed and dangerous and set to destroy home and community, swarms out of the crime stories of the 1950s,” Cassuto writes colorfully. He is especially interesting here on the hard-boiled novel’s treatment of lesbians and transsexuals, who represented the ultimate in “female” transgression.

   Even Cassuto’s creativity at finding sentimentality in every hard-boiled cavity he searches is stymied by those deviant and demented darlings of modern critics, Patricia Highsmith and Jim Thompson, however; and in Chapter Five, “Sentimental Perversion,” he shows how these compellingly idiosyncratic authors subversively undermined sentimentalism at every opportunity.

   To be sure, sentimentality makes a considerable comeback in Chapter Six, where Cassuto looks at the work of Ross Macdonald, John D. MacDonald and (to a much lesser extent) Robert B. Parker. Anyone familiar with Ross Macdonald’s novels knows they changed over time, as Macdonald shook off the influence of Chandler (who was quite cutting in his appraisal of the younger man’s work) and allowed his own personal preoccupations to take hold of his narratives.

   Making use of Tom Nolan’s fine biography of Macdonald, Cassuto is able to show how the author’s family problems meshed with the therapeutic culture of the 1960s to lead Macdonald to produce book after book on household dysfunction and the generation gap, with Macdonald’s series detective, Lew Archer, acting as a sort of family therapist (or as Cassuto writes, “a kind of walking vessel for collective guilt” and “an everyman of sympathy”).

   For Cassuto Ross Macdonald “stands as perhaps the most sentimental of all hard-boiled novelists because he understands family ties in the same way the sentimental writers did a century before him.” Similarly, Cassuto believes the robust if offbeat home life (aboard a Fort Lauderdale houseboat called the Busted Flush) of John D. MacDonald’s detective Travis McGee firmly affiliates this author’s work with the sentimental side of life, since his detective is not office-centered like Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe.

   Dealing with, respectively, female private eyes and race in the hard-boiled novel, Chapter Seven and Eight feel somewhat tacked on, but Cassuto returns in full force with a discussion of the serial killer and the crime novel in his monograph’s final chapter. Contrary to what we might think, serial killer novels also reflect sentimentalist hegemony, according to Cassuto. The serial killer should be understood as “an anti-family man,” Cassuto declares. “He is purely anti-sympathy, anti-domesticity, anti-sentimentality.” And opposing him is the increasingly sensitive and domesticated detective.

   At one point in his book, Cassuto forcefully criticizes scholars’ “static and stereotyped conception of hard-boiled masculinity.” He rightly notes that this conception has arisen to a great extent from ingenuous readings of Raymond Chandler’s polemical 1946 essay, “The Simple Art of Murder,” which stridently emphasizes the tough masculinity of hard-boiled heroes by “feminizing the genteel detective story tradition.”

   To be sure, other critics before Cassuto have discerned a certain amount of hollow chest-beating bravado in Chandler’s essay. The great centenarian scholar Jacques Barzun, for example, noted forty years ago in the introduction to his and Wendell Hertig Taylor’s A Catalogue of Crime (Harper & Row, 1971) that Chandler in notable ways was himself a “sentimental [emphasis added] tale spinner” (p.11), whatever claims he made to the contrary in “The Simple Art of Murder.”

   Still, in forcefully challenging the “static and stereotyped conception of hard-boiled masculinity” with his lengthy study Cassuto deserves our praise. Nevertheless, I think that his admirable zeal to revise error sometimes pushes Cassuto to overstate his case, rendering an over-sentimentalized (or overly-feminized) interpretation of the hard-boiled crime novel.

   Cassuto’s coverage of hard-boiled fiction in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s is sparser than I would have expected from an author advancing such an ambitious, overarching thesis. A number of significant tough crime writers of the period are short-shrifted (Raoul Whitfield) or ignored entirely (Jonathan Latimer).

   Despite his fine discussion of Mildred Pierce, never does Cassuto convince me that James M. Cain’s admired novel truly is “the key to the hard-boiled engine room” (on the other hand, it is the work that most strongly supports his thesis). Does Mildred Pierce unlock Jonathan’s Latimer scabrously humorous The Lady in the Morgue (its repertoire includes necrophilia jokes about the lady missing from the morgue), for example?

   While Cassuto provides some analysis of how James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity (as well as Horace McCoy’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?) fit into his thematic structure, he largely omits consideration of the short stories of Hammett and Chandler, as well as Hammett’s novels The Glass Key and The Thin Man and Chandler’s novels Farewell, My Lovely, The Lady in the Lake and The Little Sister. (Playback is not here either, but who can really complain about that.)

   These are significant omissions when one considers the small output of novels from the hard-boiled twin titans. In his entry on the novel in 1001 Midnights, Francis M. Nevins has written of The Glass Key that “its third-person narrative voice … is so objectively realistic and passionlessly impersonal that it seems to draw an impenetrable shield between character and reader.”

   Does Cassuto find sympathy in The Glass Key? In regard to Chandler, are his novels Farewell, My Lovely and The Lake in the Lake, published about the same time as The Big Sleep and The High Window, about Marlowe as a fixer of broken families? It would have been nice to see Cassuto’s thoughts on how these particular novels develop his themes.

[Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller, eds., 1001 Midnights: The Aficionado’s Guide to Mystery and Detective Fiction (Arbor House, 1986), 335.
   In Hard-Boiled Sentimentality, Chandler’s The Big Sleep is discussed on a dozen pages, The High Window on a half-dozen and The Long Goodbye on three, while Farewell, My Lovely is mentioned once (and this only in reference to its 1940s sales) and The Lady in the Lake and The Little Sister no times at all.
   While doubtlessly The High Window better illustrates Cassuto’s sentimental domesticity thesis than, say, Farewell, My Lovely (where in my reading the strongest sentimental feelings are directed at single men), The High Window certainly is not inherently a more “important” book in the Chandler canon than Farewell, My Lovely. (Indeed, most critics clearly deem Farewell, My Lovely to be markedly superior to The High Window as a piece of literature.)
   Similarly, Cassuto discusses Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon on nearly thirty pages, Red Harvest on seven and The Dain Curse on six, while failing to mention the highly-praised The Glass Key. Certainly The Glass Key is considered a richer work than The Dain Curse, which is almost universally regarded as Hammett’s poorest novel.]

   Further, Cassuto’s attribution of causality for the way the narratives develop in the Hammett and Chandler novels he does write about sometimes is debatable. For example, Hammett’s vivid fictional world of grasping, self-interested and self-regarding individuals may owe more to the author’s engagement with Karl Marx than with Harriet Beecher Stowe.

   Similarly, it seems to me that much of the thematic content in Chandler’s novels is derived from his marked resentment (personal, not ideological) of the idly wealthy and his deep sense of masculine honor. In my view, Marlowe’s sympathy in The Big Sleep is reserved for old General Sternwood, not his corrupted daughters.

   Any repairing of the General’s home necessarily involves driving the insanely murderous and nymphomaniacal Carmen Sternwood from its precincts. (It is important to recall here the famous image of the stained-glass window in the Sternwood home depicting the knight battling the dragon, i.e., serpent — the serpent in the Sternwood home is Carmen, who even hisses at one point.)
   As the critic Clive James has perceptively noted, “Carmen is the first in a long line of little witches that runs right through the [Chandler] novels, just as her big sister, Vivian, is the first in a long line of rich bitches who find that Marlowe is the only thing money can’t buy.”

[Clive James, “Raymond Chandler,” in As of this Writing: The Essential Essays, 1968-2002 (W. W. Norton, 2003), 204.]

   Marlowe (who assuredly represents his creator) does not expend a lot of sentiment or sympathy either on the little witches or the rich bitches, those fallen temptresses and potential destroyers of men.

   Certainly Chandler’s little witches are those les belle dames sans merci of hardboiled mystery, the femmes fatales (they appear — quite memorably — in Farewell, My Lovely and The Lady in the Lake as well, novels Cassuto does not discuss).

   This fact alone leads me to question Cassuto’s assessment of the femme fatale primarily as a 1950s phenomenon. Cassuto himself admits that The Maltese Falcon offers a prominent example of the femme fatale, but the willful creature also rears her lovely head, as indicated above, numerous times in the works of Raymond Chandler, not to mention forties film noir, as well as other hard-boiled tales by the many 1940s writers not discussed by Cassuto.

   Surely the explosion of the femme fatale phenomenon in this period was set off in part simply by the paperback revolution and the dramatic discovery that more explicit sexualization of women helped sell hardboiled books to male readers. In his book Hard-Boiled America, Geoffrey O’Brien perceptively highlights the impact of World War 2 in this context:

   Wars in America have generally led to a relaxation of sexual censorship; for instance, the public acceptance of Penthouse and Hustler can probably be traced to the Vietnam War. Likewise the returning GIs of the 1940s craved stronger stuff than Betty Grable pinups…. With all the energy of an industry undergoing rapid development, the paperbacks — free of the constraints that hampered movies and radio — resolutely pushed the limits…. Encouraged by rising sales figures, [paperbacks] were no longer playing by the same rules (An illustrator whose career began in the postwar period recalls, “The word went out — get sex into it somehow.”)

[Geoffrey O’Brien, Hard-Boiled America (Da Capo Press, 1997) (expanded edition; originally published 1981).]

   In short, sometimes hardboiled fiction surely engaged more directly with sexuality than sentimentality. (Certainly the lurid paperback covers did.) In Chandler’s case, the continual resort to the device of the femme fatale appears to have arisen more out of personal issues than national social and economic concerns (as does the distaste for homosexuals Chandler expresses though Marlowe in The Big Sleep), so once again Cassuto’s approach (e.g., traditional family rhetoric and the Cold War made them do it) seems overly mechanistic.

   It should be noted that where it supports his thesis that a given hardboiled author is sentimental (Ross Macdonald in this case), Cassuto does resort in part to personal biography for answers as to why the author wrote as he did. Doing so makes his argument more persuasive (indeed, the Ross Macdonald section is one of the strongest in the book).

   Sometimes Cassuto can be heavy-handed in his approach to causal factors. Could The Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep have come into existence without Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, which observed the role self-interest played in guiding human endeavor, or his The Theory of Moral Sentiments, which analyzed sympathy?

    Apparently they could not have, according to Cassuto. “Adam Smith may be considered the founding father of both sympathy and the hard-boiled attitude at the same time,” Cassuto rather breezily pronounces. “Smith published perhaps the foundational hard-boiled text, The Wealth of Nations, in 1776…. But Smith was already an expert on sympathy at the time he wrote his anatomy of capitalistic individualism; in 1759 he wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments.”

   Such speculation led me idly to wonder how it is that Adam Smith never wrote a hardboiled crime novel. Had he done so, it inevitably would have been called, one imagines, The Invisible Hand.

[If Adam Smith is the “founding father” of sympathy, where does Jesus Christ fit into the picture?]

   Despite these criticisms on my part, I think Cassuto has a valuable thesis overall. Academic analysts have tended to overly polarize male hard-boiled authors and female crime fiction writers (as well as traditional male detective novelists).

   Thus I would recommend the perusal of Hard-Boiled Sentimentality by those interested in better understanding crime fiction. Yet I must also add a few more criticisms of the book that are of a different nature, stemming from Professor Cassuto’s evident lack of familiarity with the history of the mystery genre on certain points. (He is by no means alone among academic scholars in this regard.)

   First, although he references Catherine Ross Nickerson’s The Web of Iniquity, rarely does Cassuto mention women crime writers before 1970 (Patricia Highsmith is the notable exception). In her review of Hard-Boiled Sentimentality, Sarah Weinman criticized Cassuto’s omission of Dorothy B. Hughes’ In a Lonely Place (1947) as “particularly startling” because “this novel seems to prove Cassuto’s thesis conclusively.”

[Sarah Weinman, “Sentimental Tough Guys,” Los Angeles Times, 17 October 2008. Since in a footnote Cassuto briefly refers to the author’s handling of a serial killer in In a Lonely Place, his failure to integrate the novel into the main body of his study clearly is deliberate, not inadvertent.]

   I understand that Cassuto presumably wanted to focus on male hard-boiled writers rather than female ones, because the response to the inclusion of such a writer as Dorothy B. Hughes might well have provoked the response, “of course she wrote with sympathy, she was a woman!”

   Yet the omission of so many women writers does leave a sort of vacuum on those occasions when the author makes rather sweeping statements. When Cassuto writes that the “male heroes of most fifties crime novels … assume the protective role that women played in sentimental fiction of the previous century,” I could not help wondering what was going on in the fifties crime novels written by women. (In the works of women writers of 1950s “psychological suspense,” for example, one cannot always be sure of those “male heroes.”)

   Second, Cassuto, like most academic literary scholars, perpetuates the myth that Raymond Chandler cared nothing for plotting. In doing so he ironically relies mostly on Chandler’s “The Simple Art of Murder” essay, though elsewhere, as noted above, he chastises other scholars for unquestioningly accepting it. (He also digs up the old chestnut about Chandler not knowing who killed the chauffeur in The Big Sleep when questioned by Howard Hawks and William Faulkner, who were adapting the book to film).

   Chandler “rejects the puzzle-whodunit because it’s unrealistic” and “turned away from the intricate plots of the likes of Ellery Queen and S. S. Van Dine because they’re too intellectual to activate the power of sympathy,” asserts Cassuto.

   In a 2006 article in the Wall Street Journal, Cassuto is even blunter on this matter. “Raymond Chandler was the rare mystery writer who didn’t care whodunit,” Cassuto peremptorily pronounces in the first sentence of the article. Near the end of it, he asserts that “Chandler’s artistic impulse turns on his rejection of the puzzle mystery.”

   Though Cassuto is hardly alone in diminishing Chandler’s interest in the puzzle mystery (indeed, both Chandler’s biographers do it), he is wrong in doing so. Chandler read and enjoyed the traditionalist British detective novelists R. Austin Freeman and Freeman Wills Crofts (though he hated the debonair gentleman sleuths of the British Crime Queens and thought Agatha Christie was unfair to the reader), envied the plotting skill of Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner and composed, in the same decade as he wrote “The Simple Art of Murder,” a set of rules for writing mystery fiction that in many respects is as orthodox as those famously devised by Englishman Ronald Knox.

   Further, for someone who purportedly “didn’t care whodunit” and rejected the puzzle mystery, Chandler perversely composed several well-plotted detective novels — praised by the orthodox critic Jacques Barzun — including Farewell, My Lovely, The High Window and The Lady in the Lake.

   To be sure, The Big Sleep, his first mystery novel, does have, as scholars so often note, its share of plotting problems (I have never been too sure about that pesky chauffeur’s demise either); but that does not take away from the fact that several of his other novels are impeccably plotted. Chandler found plotting hard to do and groused about doing it, but he never rejected it and he often performed it admirably.

[Leonard Cassuto, “The Hero is Hard-Boiled,” Wall Street Journal, 26 August 2006. In his critical study Raymond Chandler (Twyane, 1986), William Marling observes that Chandler’s novels after The Big Sleep reveal the author’s “increased attention to plot.”
   He notes that Chandler “often came close to the ‘whodunit’ style of English mystery….than he cared to admit” (p. 104). For more on this subject see my forthcoming essay, “‘The Amateur Detective Just Won’t Do’: The Straight Dope on Raymond Chandler and British Detective Fiction.”]

   Third, Cassuto misunderstands the economics of book publishing in the years before the consummation of the paperback revolution. In Hard-Boiled Sentimentality, Cassuto describes The Big Sleep‘s selling of 12,500 copies as a “rocky debut.” (In his Wall Street Journal article, he earlier characterized such a sale as “meager.”)

   Riffing off this point, he concludes that the novel did not “find an audience” until 1943, when it was published in paperback and sold nearly a half-million copies. But in actuality, hardcover sales of a mystery novel title totaling to 12,500 copies was quite impressive in that era, a time when frugal people mostly borrowed mystery fiction (as opposed to “serious literature”) from rental libraries.

   Since presumably libraries purchased a great many of those 12,500 books sold, many thousands more than that number would have read the book in the four years that elapsed before The Big Sleep was published in paperback.

   Finally, Cassuto’s references to the classical, puzzle-oriented detective novels of the Golden Age tend to be slighting and misinformed. Cassuto, who so forcefully critiques stereotype in the portrayal of hard-boiled fiction, tends himself to reach for stereotypes when using traditional detective fiction as a foil for the tough (yet tender) stuff.

   “Hammett’s detective novels departed from genre tradition by presenting a story — and a set of social problems — unenclosed by a drawing room, a country estate, or any other discrete space,” writes Cassuto, relying on the well-worn but overstated notion that the narratives in traditional detective novels of the Golden Age are invariably confined within what are essentially enclosed stable spaces, usually country houses or villages.

   Elsewhere, Cassuto passingly declares that hard-boiled novels “supplanted” puzzle-oriented Golden Age mysteries. While admittedly it is true that the rise of the hard-boiled school was one of the factors that helped break the puzzle’s hegemony over Golden Age crime literature, when (or even whether) hard-boiled tales “supplanted” puzzle mysteries is another question.

   To state the most obvious example, the puzzle mysteries of Agatha Christie retain immense global popularity even today. Further, as stated above, the plots of many hardboiled novels in fact feature complicated puzzles. Novels like Raymond Chandler’s The Lady in the Lake or Jonathan Latimer’s The Dead Don’t Care have at their hard-boiled hearts fiendishly clever puzzle plots that would have graced even the diabolically ingenious tales of Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen.

   All these matters aside, Cassuto has produced a worthwhile and interesting book. The splendid cover illustration of a steely gun and a beribboned red heart tells it all: the tough and the tender often manage to co-exist in the hardboiled novel.

   Although Cassuto at times over-tenderizes the tough crime tale and I am not convinced that his engagement-with-domestic-sentimentalism thesis is the master-key that unlocks the hardboiled engine room (however much it helps reveal to us Mildred Pierce), I personally found in Hard-Boiled Sentimentality many fascinating points to engage me.