CORNELL WOOLRICH – Rendezvous in Black. Rinehart/Murray Hill, hardcover, 1948. Reprinted several times, including Ace H-57, paperback, [1958]. TV play: Broadcast live on October 18, 1956, as part of the CBS television series, Playhouse 90.

   Johnny Marr’s girl had died before they could get married. Had died in fact while waiting for their usual eight o’clock date, Had died because of bottle carelessly tossed from an airplane. The list of passengers was small, only five names. And a loved one of each of those five men are about to die. Methodically and insanely. Camero, the detective finally assigned to the case, is unable to stop people from being themselves and thus unable to stop the murders.

   What Woolrich lacks in technical aspects of writing is made up for by the ability to tell an engrossing story. The minute details of someone’s actions, the broad delineation of character, almost a burlesque of personality, and the use of conversation to describe action are all overdone.

   The war years are described from a personal point of view, and seem unnatural today. It would be most surprising if this has not been made into a movie; it is standard enough fare.Perhaps Walter Matthau could play Camero, as if the part were written for him

Rating: ***

— May 1968.

INTRO. These are the third and fourth stories in the issue of February 1936 issue of Dime Detective that I covered in it entirety in my column “Speaking of Pulp” in the April/May/June, 1979 issue of The Not So Private Eye.

   The next couple of shorts can be disposed of rather quickly. “Postlude to Murder” by Donald S. Aitken features a private eye named Barker on the trail of a missing nephew who doesn’t know he’s suffering from hydrophobia. Once located, he’s immediately kidnapped. Somehow the story’s just too short for all these bizarre happenings to begin to become convincing.

   Next up, Robert Sidney Bowen is a pulp author probably more famous for his flying stories. He did all the science-fictional Dusty Ayres (and his Battle Birds) air war novels, for example, but he also did a couple of hardcover private eye novels in the late 1940s.

   In “The Flying Coffin” his hero is Kip Lacey, ace trouble-shooter for Central Airways, a nice combination of both writing worlds. A strange case; once again, not surprisingly, the emphasis is on the bizarre. A corpse traveling incognito as air cargo is kidnapped, then turns up later as the victim of a hit-and-run accident. There are some noticeable loose ends in the final wrap-up, but only because Lacey’s loyalty is to the airline, and not to the cops.

A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Art Scott


MALCOLM DOUGLAS – The Deadly Dames. Gold Medal #614, paperback, 1956.

   There were innumerable private-eye novels that saw print as paperback originals in the Fifties and Sixties. While many, perhaps most, were routine and forgettable, the intrepid reader will occasionally come across a real sleeper, like this book by the Canadian writer Douglas Sanderson, writing as Malcolm Douglas.

   Bill Yates. easygoing Montreal private eye, takes on what looks to be a simple case of spy-on-the-straying-spouse. But before he even starts work, the client’s rich aunt tries to buy him off, and she promptly goes down under the wheels of a streetcar. Not long after that. two emissaries from the local gambling czar stick him up in his office, looking for a missing will. One day and three or four corpses later, Yates is being pursued by the crooks, the cops, several double-crossing dames, and an Amazon Russian housemaid with romantic notions.

   The action is furious and headlong, culminating with a naked Yates being chased through the Canadian woods while being eaten alive by swarms of mosquitoes. Along the way. Yates sets the world record for the greatest number of people to get the drop on a private eye in the course of a Gold Medal paperback.

   Douglas’s style is classic don’t-take-it-seriously private-eye material: wry, observant. and a bit gaudy — and perhaps just on the edge of parody. Radio detective fans will find it reminiscent of the marvelous scripts Richard Breen used to write for tough guy Jack Webb in Pat Novak for Hire. Exceptionally entertaining.

   The other Malcolm Douglas Gold Medal originals — Rain of Terror (1956), Pure Sweet Hell (1957), and Murder Comes Calling (1958) — are less successful but still good reading. The best of Sanderson’s novels under his own name is probably Mark It for Murder (1959).

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: Technically this was the only book Sanderson wrote about Montreal-based PI Bill Yates, but on his Thrilling Detective website Kevin Burton Smith points out that Sanderson wrote three other novels about Yates as Martin Brett, except that in those books, Yates was called Mike Garfin. Here’s the tally:

      The Mike Garfin series —


Hot Freeze (1954)
The Darker Traffic (1954)
The Deadly Dames (1956; by Malcolm Douglas) Mike is called Bill Yates in this one, for contractual reasons.
A Dum-Dum for the President (1961)



THE LEOPARD MAN. RKO, 1943. Cast: Dennis O’Keefe, Margo, Jean Brooks, Isabell Jewell, Marguerite Silva, Abner Biberman, James Bell, Margaret Landry, Fely Franquelli, Ariel Heath, Tuulikki Paananen. Producer: Val Lewton. Writers: Ardel Wray and Edward Dein, based on the novel Black Alibi (1942) by Cornell Woolrich. Director: Jacques Tourneur.

   “You don’t get the idea, mister. These cops banging those pans, flashing those lights, they’re gonna scare that poor cat of mine. Cats are funny, mister. They don’t want to hurt you, but if you scare them they go crazy. These cops, they don’t know what they’re doing.”


   Despite what everybody says about The Leopard Man, it’s not really a horror film. Of course it looks and even sounds like one most of the time, and it’s true producer Val Lewton specialized in horror films (e.g., Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, etc.). Nevertheless, when you eliminate all the terror trappings, what’s left isn’t just a crime movie but an actual mystery film.

   It’s clear the intention was to ratchet up the suspense as much as possible — and then go beyond that. So it’s surprising to realize that just about every moment of violence is off screen; lighting and sound effects do the job of suggesting the horrors we don’t see.

   “Mamacita, let me in! Let me in! Let me in! If you love me, let me in!”


   When someone is attacked and murdered on one side of a door, we and another person on this side of it hear the violent scuffle but only see the victim’s blood oozing under the door.

   In a darkened cemetery dimly lit by a hazy moon, another victim is stalked by something unseen up in the trees. The camera focuses on the tree limbs as they creak downward and then spring up, with the attacker just out of visual range. All we hear is a muffled scream.

   The Leopard Man has many moments like that. The source material was Black Alibi, a 1942 novel by Cornell Woolrich.


   Numerous books and stories by Cornell Woolrich have been adapted for other media, such as these films: ‘Convicted’ (1938), ‘Street of Chance’ (1942), ‘Phantom Lady’ (1944), ‘The Mark of the Whistler’ (1944), ‘Deadline at Dawn’ (1946), ‘Black Angel’ (1946), ‘The Chase’ (1946), ‘Fall Guy’ (1947), ‘The Guilty’ (1947), ‘Fear in the Night’ (1947), ‘The Return of the Whistler’ (1948), ‘I Wouldn’t Be in Your Shoes’ (1948), ‘Night Has a Thousand Eyes’ (1948), ‘The Window (1949), ‘No Man of Her Own’ (1950), 6 episodes of the ‘Suspense’ TV series (1949-50), 3 segments of ‘Robert Montgomery Presents’ (1950-51), ‘Rear Window’ (1954), ‘Obsession’ (1954), ‘Nightmare’ (1956); 3 installments each of ‘Lux Video Theatre’ (1954-57), ‘The Ford Television Theatre’ (1955-57), ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ (1956-58), and ‘Thriller’ (1961); ‘The Bride Wore Black’ (1968), ‘You’ll Never See Me Again’ (1973, TVM), even ‘Mrs. Winterbourne’ (1996) — and this list of media adaptations is hardly exhaustive.

GALAXY SF – June 1967. Editor: Frederik Pohl. Cover artist: Gray Morrow. Overall rating: ***

POUL ANDERSON – To Outlive Eternity. Serial; part 1 of 2. See review following the July 1967 issue.       [NOTE: Expanded in 1970 and published as the novel Tau Zero.]

GARY WRIGHT “Mirror of Ice.” More a sports story than SF, but an exciting account of a new form of bobsledding. (4)

R. A. LAFFERTY “Polity and Customs of the Camiroi.” Further investigation of politics, religion, and life on Camiroi. (3)       [NOTE: This follows the story “Primary Education of the Camiroi” in the December 1966 issue.]

ROGER ZELAZNY “The Man Who Loved the Faioli.” The gravekeeper of the universe meets a comforter of those who are about to die. Wish I understood. (3)        [NOTE: This story has been collected and anthologized many times.]

C. C. MACAPP “Spare That Tree.” Novelette. A detective tries to regain a stolen tree by disguising himself as a tree himself. Goes from bad to worse. (1)

JIM HARMON “Howling Day.” The advance publicity releases for an invasion of Earth are mistaken for scripts. (2)

LARRY NIVEN “The Adults.” Novella. An alien in search for a lost colony brings Earth the roots and seeds for the tree-of-life, but the discovery is no longer needed or wanted by mankind. The alien’s culture is brought out piecewise and sympathetically, and its death, while necessary, is also regrettable. However, the story is clumsily written, and even worse, poorly edited. Much too long [at 70 pages]; the ending is best. ***        [NOTE: This story was expanded in 1973 and published as the novel The Protectors.]

CHARLES V. DeVET “Alien’s Bequest.” An alien invader was sent with the best wishes of another intelligent race. (3)

— April-May 1968.

MONTE NASH “The Long Ride.” Syndicated / Four Star Productions. September 17, 1971 (Season One, Episode One). Harry Guardino (Monty Nash). Guest stars: Don Gordon, Lew Gallo. Based on the character and books by Richard Telfair. Director: Nicholas Colasanto. Currently streaming on YouTube (see below).

   Monty Nash is a government agent who, in this short-lived syndicated series (it lasted only 14 episodes), is assigned the task of getting a government witness safely from a jail in South Bend, Indiana, to a courtroom in Chicago. The plan is to use a decoy while Nash and the witness drive by car.

   Things don’t go well. There must have been a leak. Somebody on the inside must be on the take.

   Problem is, as far as any enjoyment there may have been in watching this really really disappointing misfire, is that the Bad Guys are Utterly Inept. Even shooting at Nash’s car from a helicopter, wouldn’t you think that would be enough to get the job done? No, sir. Not this time around. It turns out they turn tail and skedaddle as soon as Nash opens fire on them with only a handgun.

   As an actor, tough and gruff Harry Guardino fits the part the screenwriter and director wanted him to play. The direction is OK. The story, though, collapses under its own triteness into something not worth watching. Luckily the show is only 22 minutes long, streaming as it does without space for commercials.

   And oh yes. The music is too jazzy and too loud. I think they were trying to make believe something interesting was going on.

A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Ellen Nehr


DORIS MILES DISNEY – Who Rides the Tiger. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1945. Ace, paperback, 1965. Zebra, paperback, 1989.

   Unlike so many other authors, Doris Miles Disney never wrote the same book twice, even though she frequently used Connecticut as a background and always included a romantic element. In this novel, flashbacks that sometimes catch the reader unaware create a tangled, two-layer story of a great-aunt’s will, an old house filled with a lifetime accumulation of furniture and memories, and fourteen diaries that intrigue (as well as confound) the modem-day heroine, Susan.

   Her search for the motive behind her impoverished father’s exclusion from Great-Aunt Harriet’s will is aided by a recently returned Army Intelligence officer, Philip, who has a stake in the past, as well as a deep interest in Susan’s future. This story could justifiably be called a Gothic, since it involves tangled family relationships. an old house, and all the other trappings; but its mounting feeling of suspense and terror transcends the form and makes Who Rides the Tiger a startling tale of malevolence.

   Disney’s skill at creating dialogue and atmosphere is also evident in her other non series books, including Testimony by Silence (1948), No Next of Kin (1959), Voice from the Grave (1968), and Cry for Help (1975). In addition, she created three series characters: insurance investigator Jeff DiMarco, who is featured in such titles as Dark Road ( 1946), Method in Madness (1957), and The Chandler Policy ( 1971 ); postal inspector David Madden, who appears in Unappointed Rounds (1956), Black Mail (1958), and Mrs. Meeker’s Money (1961); and small-town Connecticut policeman Jim O’Neill, who is the hero of such early novels as A Compound of Death (1943) and The Last Straw (1954).

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.

WILLIAM E. BARRETT “The Tattooed Cop.”  Novelette. Needle Mike. First published in Dime Detective Magazine, February 1936. Collected in The Complete Cases of Needle Mike, Volume 2 (Steeger Books, November 2022).

INTRO. This is the second story in this issue of Dime Detective that I covered in it entirety in my column “Speaking of Pulp” in the April/May/June, 1979 issue of The Not So Private Eye. To answer the question I brought up in the first paragraph, the answer is Yes.
   Let’s go on, I’ve never been sure if William E. Barrett, author of the “Needle Mike” stories is the same person who later wrote such bestsellers in the 50s as The Left Hand of God, but it could be. After all, if MacKinley Kantor could go on to better things from [beginning in]  the pulps, so perhaps could a few others.

   But who’s Needle Mike, you may be saying. He’s actually the son of a millionaire, and he relieves the monotony of his existence by posing as the disheveled operator of a run-down tattoo parlor on the wrong side of the St. Louis tracks. He appeared in a long series of stories in Dime Detective during the middle 30s, and this one’s about “The Tattooed Cop.”

   In it, the identification of a dead cop with a tattoo on his chest gets Mike (or Ken McNally) into deep trouble with a tough gang of marijuana peddlers who prey on gullible college boys and girls looking for a cheap thrill. It reads pretty well — an interesting premise, that you’ve got to admit —  up until the moment Mike gets a mammoth hunch about a doped-up weed addict he finds in an upstairs room in the gang’s hideout. He’s right, of course, and the story becomes little more than confused action from that point on.

SAMUEL HOLT – What I Tell You Three Times Is False. Sam Holt #3. Tor, hardcover, 1987; paperback, 1988. Felony & Mayhem, softcover, 2006, as by Donald E. Westlake writing as Samuel Holt.

   Former TV star Sam Holt and three other actors and actresses typecast in their roles of fictional detectives, along with assorted wives, lovers, and so on, are trapped on an isolated Caribbean island with a killer who seems intent on being the last one left alive.

   After a slow start, setting the scene, the mystery revs into high gear, with the killer and the detectives  squaring off in a long, complicated game of murder, somewhat reminiscent of Ellery Queen, but by a noticeable hair, not quite as clever as the master.

(*) Original footnote: If anyone know who Samuel Holt is, let me know. (And note that the similarity on plotting to EQ’s work is matched by the pseudonymous author-character relationship. It couldn’t be just a coincidence, could it?)

– Reprinted from Mystery.File.6, June 1988.

      The Sam Holt series –

1. One of Us Is Wrong (1986)
2. I Know a Trick Worth Two of That (1986)
3. What I Tell You Three Times Is False (1987)
4. The Fourth Dimension Is Death (1989)

THE ROCKFORD FILES. “The Countess.” NBC. 27 September 1974 (Season 1, Episode 4). James Garner, Gretchen Corbett, Joe Santos, Tom Atkins. Guest stars: Susan Strasberg, Art Lund, Dick Gautier, Harold J. Stone, Gloria Dixon. Teleplay by Stephen J. Cannell, based on a story by Roy Huggins (credited as John Thomas James). Director: Russ Mayberry. Currently streaming on the Roku Channel.

   Rockford is hired by a young woman (Susan Strasberg) who is being blackmailed by a man from her past (Dick Gautier, in a perfect role for him, just oozing oily sleaze) who knows a secret about her earlier life so destructive to her marriage to her second husband she won’t even tell Rockford what it is.

   Of course she does, eventually. And so I assume I can tell you, too. (If I’m wrong, please close your eyes now.) She grew up in a small town in Illinois, and life happened. After skipping bail in Chicago, she ended up in Europe and marrying a count she met there, thus referring to herself as a countess ever since. Now back in the US and happily married again, she wants to stay that way. Blackmailers being who there are, when this fellow is killed, Rockford’s client is high on the list of suspects.

   As well as a couple of syndicate hoodlums whom Rockford soon discovers following his every move. But of course the primary suspect is Rockford himself. He was there on the scene when the fellow was killed, with eyewitnesses, a fact that strains his usually friendly relations with Detective Becker (Joe Santos). Luckily Rockford has a good lawyer at hand, namely Beth Davenport (Gretchen Corbett), who does more lawyer work in this one than she has previously in the series (which largely consisted of wheedling Rockford to work for her pro bono).

   Although I have not reported on any of the earlier episodes, I have been watching the series in order, and this is the first time I can definitively say the people in charge have gotten their acts together. The case is simple but coherent, there are a lot fewer scenes of cars driving endlessly around in this one, and much less padding of the running time with the camera following people along as they’re quietly strolling from one place to another.

   But the big thing I noticed in this one is the comfortable feeling the regular players have reached in interacting with each other. Garner’s natural good-looking charm and his occasional sheepish grin are also in full force in this one.

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