Bibliographies, Lists & Checklists


REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:

   

PETER BOWEN – Wolf, No Wolf. Gabriel Du Pré #3. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1996; paperback, 1997.

   Bowen is also the author of the three-book Yellowstone Kelly series. Du Pré is a Metís breed, a descendant of the voyageurs, who works as a cattle inspector in Montana and lives with an Indian woman.

   Trouble has come to Gabriel Du Pré’s Montana, trouble in the form of eco-terrorists who want the cattle lands taken away from the ranchers, and wolves reintroduced to the country. When two of the terrorists are shot after cutting fences and killing cattle, the FBI is called in, and a tense situation gets tenser in a hurry.

   There are more killings, and Gabriel knows that the killers are almost certainly among his friends or acquaintances. And then the worst blizzard in memory sets in over the countryside, and survival becomes even more of a problem.

   This is the second book I read within a week that has the Western cattlegrower’s/bunny-hugger’s conflict as a plot hook. It’s a complex and emotionally charged issue, and I don’t believe you can read this without giving it some serious thought.

   I like this series a lot, but not for reasons that would necessarily translate into liking by anyone else. Bowen isn’t a tight, meticulous plotter, nor are his characters always strictly believable, nor will his idiosyncratic prose be to everyone’s taste. It’s to mine, however, and I like his sometimes larger-than-life characters, and I like his depiction of the people and culture of Montana cattle country.

   I could do with a little less of his Indian mystic, but that’s my only real cavil. I can’t see anyone being neutral about these; you’ll either like them considerably, as I do, or you won’t care for them at all.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #24, March 1996.

   

      The Gabriel Du Pré series

1. Coyote Wind (1994)
2. Specimen Song (1995)
3. Wolf, No Wolf (1996)
4. Notches (1997)
5. Thunder Horse (1998)
6. Long Son (1999)
7. The Stick Game (2000)
8. Cruzatte and Maria (2001)
9. Ash Child (2002)
10. Badlands (2003)
11. The Tumbler (2004)
12. Stewball (2005)
13. Nails (2006)
14. Bitter Creek (2015)
15. Solus (2018)

   Ron Goulart died this morning, the day after his 89th birthday. As I understand it, he’d been in an assisted living facility for the last month or so. Although he’d been in poor health and we hadn’t gotten together in several years, I’m happy to say that he was a friend of mine.

   Back in the 1970s through the early 90s (I’m guessing) I used to meet him every month or so at the local comic book show, where we discovered early on that we had a lot of interests in common: mysteries, science fiction, comic books and above all, pulp magazines.

   It was, in fact, his book The Hardboiled Dicks, a collection of stories from the detective pulps, that changed my life around, and for the better. What’s more I know I’m not the only one. Many other collectors of those old magazine have told me the very same thing.

   I’ve taken the list below from Wikipedia, and it’s not complete, but it’s a huge part of what I’ll remember him by. But the funny thing is most what I remember him by right now is the day I helped him use a metal hanger to help him get into his car he’d locked himself out of.

   Goodbye, Ron. I miss you.

Non-fiction

The Hardboiled Dicks: An Anthology and Study of Pulp Detective Fiction (1967)
Assault on Childhood (1970)
Cheap Thrills: An Informal History of the Pulp Magazines (1972)
The Adventurous Decade: Comic Strips In the Thirties (Crown Publishers, 1975) ISBN 9780870002526
Comic Book Culture: An Illustrated History (1980)
The Dime Detectives (1982)
The Great Comic Book Artists (St. Martin’s Press, 1986) ISBN 978-0312345570
Focus on Jack Cole (1986)
Ron Goulart’s Great History of Comic Books: the Definitive Illustrated History from the 1890s to the 1980s (Contemporary Books, 1986) ISBN 978-0809250455
(editor) The Encyclopedia of American Comics: From 1897 to the Present (Facts on File, 1991) ISBN 978-0816018529
The Comic Book Reader’s Companion: an A-Z Guide to Everyone’s Favorite Art Form (Harper Perennial, 1993) ISBN 9780062731173
Masked Marvels and Jungle Queens: Great Comic Book Covers of the ’40s (1993)
The Funnies: 100 Years of American Comic Strips (Adams Media Corp, 1995) ISBN 9781558505391
Comic Book Encyclopedia: The Ultimate Guide to Characters, Graphic Novels, Writers, and Artists in the Comic Book Universe (Harper Collins, 2004) ISBN 978-0060538163
Good Girl Art (2006)
Good Girl Art Around the World (2008)
Alex Raymond: An Artistic Journey: Adventure, Intrigue, and Romance (2016

Non-series novels

Clockwork Pirates (1971)
Ghost Breaker (1971)
Wildsmith (1972)
The Tin Angel (1973)
The Hellhound Project (1975)
When the Waker Sleeps (1975)
The Enormous Hourglass (1976)
The Emperor of the Last Days (1977)
Nemo (1977)
Challengers of the Unknown (1977)
The Island of Dr Moreau (1977) (writing as Joseph Silva)
Capricorn One (1978)
Cowboy Heaven (1979)
Holocaust for Hire (1979) (writing as Joseph Silva)
Skyrocket Steele (1980)
The Robot in the Closet (1981)
The Tremendous Adventures of Bernie Wine (1981)
Upside Downside (1981)
The Great British Detective (1982)
Hellquad (1984)
Suicide, Inc. (1985)
A Graveyard of My Own (1985)
The Tijuana Bible (1989)
Even the Butler Was Poor (1990)
Now He Thinks He’s Dead (1992)
Murder on the Aisle (1996)

Novel series

Flash Gordon (Alex Raymond’s original story)

The Lion Men of Mongo (1974)(‘adapted by’ Con Steffanson)
The Space Circus (1974)(‘adapted by’ Con Steffanson)
The Plague of Sound (1974)(‘adapted by’ Con Steffanson)
The Time Trap of Ming XIII (1974)(‘adapted by’ Con Steffanson)
The Witch Queen of Mongo (1974)(‘adapted by’ Carson Bingham)
The War of the Cybernauts (1975)(‘adapted by’ Carson Bingham)

The Phantom (writing as Frank S Shawn)

The Golden Circle (1973)
The Hydra Monster (1973)
The Mystery of the Sea Horse (1973)
The Veiled Lady (1973)
The Swamp Rats (1974)
The Goggle-Eyed Pirates (1974)

Vampirella

Bloodstalk (1975)
On Alien Wings (1975)
Deadwalk (1976)
Blood Wedding (1976)
Deathgame (1976)
Snakegod (1976)
Vampirella (1976)

Avenger

The Man from Atlantis (1974) (as Kenneth Robeson)
Red Moon (1974) (as Kenneth Robeson)
The Purple Zombie (1974) (as Kenneth Robeson)
Dr. Time (1974) (as Kenneth Robeson)
The Nightwitch Devil (1974) (as Kenneth Robeson)
Black Chariots (1974) (as Kenneth Robeson)
The Cartoon Crimes (1974) (as Kenneth Robeson)
The Death Machine (1975) (as Kenneth Robeson)
The Blood Countess (1975) (as Kenneth Robeson)
The Glass Man (1975) (as Kenneth Robeson)
The Iron Skull (1975) (as Kenneth Robeson)
Demon Island (1975) (as Kenneth Robeson)

Barnum System

The Fire-Eater (1970)
Clockwork Pirates (1971)
Shaggy Planet (1973)
Spacehawk, Inc. (1974)
The Wicked Cyborg (1978)
Dr. Scofflaw (1979)

Barnum System – Jack Summer

Death Cell (1971)
Plunder (1972)
A Whiff of Madness (1976)
Galaxy Jane (1986)

Barnum System – Ben Jolson

The Sword Swallower (1968)
Flux (1974)

Barnum System – Star Hawks

Empire 99 (1980)
The Cyborg King (1981)

Barnum System – The Exchameleon

Daredevils, LTD. (1987)
Starpirate’s Brain (1987)
Everybody Comes to Cosmo’s (1988)

Jack Conger

A Talent for the Invisible (1973)
The Panchronicon Plot (1977)
Hello, Lemuria, Hello (1979)

Odd Jobs, Inc.

Calling Dr. Patchwork (1978)
Hail Hibbler (1980)
Big Bang (1982)
Brainz, Inc. (1985)

Fragmented America

After Things Fell Apart (1970)
Gadget Man (1971)
Hawkshaw (1972)
When the Waker Sleeps (1975)
Crackpot (1977)
Brinkman (1981)

Gypsy

Quest of the Gypsy (1976)
Eye of the Vulture (1977)

Marvel Novel Series (as Joseph Silva; with Len Wein and Marv Wolfman)

Incredible Hulk: Stalker from the Stars (1977)
Captain America: Holocaust for Hire (1979)

Harry Challenge

The Prisoner of Blackwood Castle (1984)
The Curse of the Obelisk (1987)

Groucho Marx

Groucho Marx, Master Detective (1998)
Groucho Marx, Private Eye (1999)
Elementary, My Dear Groucho (1999)
Groucho Marx and the Broadway Murders (2001)
Groucho Marx, Secret Agent (2002)
Groucho Marx, King of the Jungle (2005)

Short fiction

Collections

Broke Down Engine: And Other Troubles with Machines (1971)
The Chameleon Corps: And Other Shape Changers (1972)
What’s Become of Screwloose?: And Other Inquiries (1972)
Odd Job 101: And Other Future Crimes And Intrigues (1974)
Nutzenbolts: And More Troubles with Machines (1975)
Skyrocket Steele Conquers the Universe: And Other Media Tales (1990)
Adam and Eve On a Raft: Mystery Stories (Crippen & Landru, 2001)[11]

Stories

“Ella Speed”, Fantastic, April 1960
“Subject to Change” Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1960
Harry Challenge Series
The Secret of the Black Chateau – Espionage Magazine, February 1985
Monster of the Maze – Espionage Magazine, February 1986
The Phantom Highwayman – The Ultimate Halloween, edited by Marvin Kaye (2001)
The Woman in the Mist – The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, December, 2002
The Incredible Steam Man – The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May, 2003
The Secret of the Scarab – The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April, 2005
The Problem of the Missing Werewolf – H. P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror #4, (Spring / Summer 2007)
The Mystery of the Missing Automaton – Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #1, (Winter 2008)
The Mystery of the Flying Man – Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #2, (Spring 2009)
The Secret of the City of Gold – The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January / February 2012
The Somerset Wonder –

REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:

   

SUSAN HOLTZER – Curly Smoke. Anneke Haagen #2. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1995; paperback, 1996.

   I thought Susan Holtzer’s first book. Something to Kill For, was surprisingly good. I say “surprisingly” because most first novel’s aren’t, and because it was a good bit cozier in type than I usually read.

   Anneke Haagen is moving into a rental cottage in Ann Arbor after a fire destroyed her home and all her belongings. The cottage is in .a small residential grouping located in the middle of commercial territory, and it’s in immediate danger of being demolished to make way for another development. The small group living there — which includes the prospective developer — are very much at odds over it all, and Anneke wonders what kind of people she’s landed among. Then on the night of a heavy snow a man is killed, and she knows — murderous.

   [Holtzer] still hasn’t written the kind of book I usually like, and she still does a pretty damned good job of it. She has an easy prose style, and a very deft hand at characterization. I like [Anneke Haagen}, her computer consultant sleuth, and her ex-pro football player cop lover (yes, one of those; I told you I didn’t usually like this kind), and with an exception or two the cast of suspects is well done also.

   The plot is fairly mundane and seemed the slightest bit contrived to me. I guess that very readable prose and very likable characters overcome a multitude of sins (not that there were that many), and I really liked the fact that Holtzer didn’t have her heroine charge into unnecessary danger and end the story with a burst of needless violence.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #22, November 1995

   
      The Anneke Haagen series —

1. Something to Kill for (1994)
2. Curly Smoke (1995)
3. Bleeding Maize and Blue (1996)
4. Black Diamond (1997)
5. The Silly Season (1999)
6. The Wedding Game (2000)
7. Better Than Sex (2001)

REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:

   

TERI HOLBROOK – A Far and Deadly Cry. Gale Grayson #1. Bantam, paperback original, 1995.

   This is a first novel by a lady who is a former journalist. Interesting — the publicity material refers to her several times as Teri Peitso.  She is an American, a Southerner.

   Gale Grayson, an American expatriate once married to an Englishman, and her 3-year old daughter Katie Pru live in a picturesque Hampshire village where now all seems well. It didn’t three years ago, when Gale’s husband was cornered in the local church by police seeking to arrest him for terrorism, and rather than be arrested blew his brains out.

   All will not be well again, either, as Gale’s baby-sitter, a young local woman, is found murdered. The policeman who led the charge that resulted in the church death is dispatched from Scotland Yard to investigate, and all the half-healed wounds are opened again.

   This was recommended to me by someone whose tastes I didn’t know that well, and it looked a bit thick (nearly 400 pages), but it was a village mystery, so I tried it-and it turned out pretty well. Quite well, actually. The Chief Inspector and his lady Sergeant were believable and likable characters, and the numerous villagers were generally well-drawn also. The viewpoints shifted frequently (with that of the police predominant), and the story occasionally slowed down a bit; not surprising in a book of this length.

   But considering how little actually happened, action-wise, it held up really well. It could have been 50 pages shorter, but as is it’s still one of the better village mysteries I’ve read this year.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #22, November 1995

      The Gale Grayson series

1. A Far and Deadly Cry (1995)
2. The Grass Widow (1996)
3. Sad Water (1998)
4. The Mother Tongue (2001)

Bibliographic Update: The author’s full name is now known to be Teri Peitso-Holbrook.

DAVID PETERS – Mind-Force Warrior. Psi-Man #1. Charter/Diamond, paperback original; 1st printing, October 1990. Ace, paperback, 2000, under the author’s real name, Peter David.

   Actually, [as far mystery fiction goes], this is a ringer, and maybe I shouldn’t be reviewing it here. You might find this book in the “action-adventure” section of your favorite chain bookstore. If that fails, you might want to check through the science fiction section before you find it, if you find it at all.

   Then again, the series that this is intended to be the first of might actually take off, like the endless series of Mack Bolan adventures or the Destroyer books that, now that my friend Will Murray is writing them, seem to be going as strong as ever.

   To get down to particulars, if you don’t expect a literary masterpiece, and are either a pulp or comic book fan, there is a better than even chance you even enjoy this. The year is 2021, a former high school teacher named Chuck Simon is the hero, and his trouble begin when the authorities learn that he has psychic powers that can kill. Telekinesis, mental telepathy, maybe even more.

   The problem is that Chuck is a Quaker, and he refuses the opportunity to become the government’s number one assassin, Things have downhill in the years from then to now. Constant air pollution, suspension of the Bill of Rights, a cashless society, cities infested with constant violence. (I think we can blame it on former President Quayle, whose statue is seen on page 104.)

   Not quite as bloody violent or militaristic as most of the men’s adventure series have become lately, this a book that can be read in a very short time. Since David Peters is in reality comic book writer Peter David — the Amazing Spider-Man, among other credits — you should not be surprised at the vivid, picturesque style of writing. You should also not be surprised at either the shallow characterization or the creaky turns of plot. Let me know: if I ever read another, do you want to hear about it?

– Slightly revised from Mystery*File 26, December 1990.

   
      The Psi-Man series —

1. Mind-Force Warrior (1990)
2. Deathscape (1991)
3. Main Street D.O.A. (1991)
4. The Chaos Kid (1991)
5. Stalker (1991)
6. Haven (1992)

REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:

   

STEPHEN SOLOMITA – Damaged Goods. Stanley Moodrow #6. Scribner, hardcover, 1996.

   Solomita writes New York City crime novels that are as down and dirty as you’re likely to find. His protagonist, Stanley Moodrow, was a Big Apple cop for the first few books, but is now a private eye of sorts. At nearly 60 he’s still a pretty bad dude, too.

   Jilly Sappone was one of the wiseguys who was a little too much of a mad dog for them, even, and they allowed him to be sent to prison. His wife testified against him, and he hasn’t forgiven them or her. Now he’s been paroled after 14 long ones, still crazy after all these years, and he starts off by putting his wife in the hospital with a beating and then kidnapping her child by another man.

   A woman’s organization comes to Moodrow for help in finding the child before Sappone kills her, and soon he’s tracking through his old East Side haunts in hot pursuit. Jilly’s just starting, though, and the dying’s about to begin.

   I keep reading these because I like Stanley Moodrow. He’s violent and profane — which is a pretty good description of the books — but still one of the good guys. Solomita does really good over-the-top psychos and hoods, and peoples his stories with characters that you wouldn’t want to know but are fun to read about These aren’t for the delicate of sensibilities or the faint of heart, but I like ’em. Sometimes, anyway.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #22, November 1995

   

      The Stanley Moodrow series

1. A Twist of the Knife (1988)
2. Force of Nature (1989)
3. Forced Entry (1990)
4. Bad to the Bone (1991)
5. A Piece of the Action (1992)
6. Damaged Goods (1996)

REVIEWED BY BARRY GARDNER:

   
GREGORY BEAN – No Comfort in Victory. Harry Starbranch #1. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1995; paperback, 1996.

   Well, if one of your old standbys lets you down [referring to Sue Grafton’s “L” Is for Lawless, reviewed here],  why not try a new character and a first novel? Bean was born and raised in Wyoming, currenty lives in New Jersey, and has been a newspaper reporter and editor for the last fifteen years. Excelsior …

   Harry Starbranch is an ex-Denver cop, police chief of a small town in Wyoming, acting as County Sheriff out of Laramie and running for the office. A brutal rape and murder at a nearby ranch with the raper murdered there also sets off a chain of events that involves cattle rustling, vigilantism, and a number of other bloody deaths.

   Well, this wasn’t bad. It was a little slow in spots, and I think the problem may have been that at 350 pages it was about 75 too long. Bean has a nice, easy prose style, and is good at both straight narrative and at describing the Wyoming countryside. His characters were well done, too, though a couple seemed a bit more unlikable than necessary.

   Starbranch himself has potential, I think, and it will be interesting to see what Bean does with him. This isn’t the kind of maiden voyage that calls for predictions of stardom, but assuming that he improves as he goes along, I think Bean will do well.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #21, August-September 1995

   

      The Harry Starbranch series

1. No Comfort in Victory (1995)
2. Long Shadows in Victory (1996)
3. A Death in Victory (1997)
4. Grave Victory (1998)

   
NOTE: I first read this book in 2006, and this review was first posted in June 2009. I’ve just read the book again, but instead of writing a new review, I’ve decided to re-post this old one.
   

DAVID DODGE – Shear the Black Sheep.   Popular Library 202, paperback reprint; no date stated, but circa 1949. Hardcover edition: The Macmillan Co., 1942. Magazine appearance: Cosmopolitan, July 1942.

   After I finished reading this, the second murder mystery adventure of accountant detective Jim “Whit” Whitney, I went researching as I usually do, and it didn’t come as any surprise to learn (from a website devoted to David Dodge) that Dodge was also a CPA by profession, and that he started writing mystery fiction only on a dare from his wife.

   Although Dodge went on to another series (one with private eye Al Colby) and after that several standalones, there were only four books in the Whit Whitney series, to wit:

Death and Taxes. Macmilllan, hc, 1941. Popular Library 168, pb, 1949.

DAVID DODGE

   
Shear the Black Sheep. Macmillan, hc, 1942. Popular Library 202, pb, 1949.

Bullets for the Bridegroom. Macmillan, hc, 1944. Popular Library 252, pb, 1950.

DAVID DODGE

   
It Ain’t Hay. Simon & Schuster, hc, 1946. Dell 270, pb, mapback edition, 1949.

DAVID DODGE

   
   You can find much more detailed entries for each of these books at the David Dodge website, which includes a complete bibliography of all of his other books, both fiction and non-fiction. Not to mention his plays, his magazine stories, the articles he wrote and all of the radio, TV and movie adaptations of his work, the most well-known of which is To Catch a Thief, the Cary Grant and Grace Kelly film from 1955. Comprehensive is an understatement, and it’s definitely worth looking into, just to see a bibliography done right.

   As for Whit Whitney, his home base is San Francisco, but in Shear the Black Sheep he is talked into taking a case in Los Angeles over the New Year’s Eve holiday weekend. Against his better judgment, he agrees to check into the activities of a client’s son, who seems to be spending too much of his father’s money in the business they’re in. They’re a wool brokerage firm — hence the title. The son has also left his wife and new-born baby. Is there another woman?

DAVID DODGE

   Assisting Whitney — or making her way down to LA on her own to spend the holiday with him, or as much of it as there is left after Whit’s investigative duties are over– is Kitty MacLeod, “the best-looking girl in San Francisco, and pretty clever as well,” as she’s described on page 12.

   I’ve not read the first book in the series, and make no doubt about it, I will, but in that book (according the short recap on just about the same page) Whit’s former partner was murdered and at the time, Kitty was his wife.

   It’s now six months later, and Whit and Kitty have become very close. Whit is beginning to worry that some of his colleagues are starting to talk. There had even been some talk at the time that Whit had had something to do with Kitty’s ex’s departure from life, and getting out of the jam at the time seems to be the gist of the story in Death and Taxes.

   But that was then, and this is now. There is indeed a woman involved, as suspected — getting back to the case that Whit was hired to do — and the woman leads to a hotel room, and in the hotel room are … gamblers. A crooked card game, and the black sheep is getting sheared.

   It is all sort of a light-hearted tale, in a way, but then a murder occurs, and a screwy case gets even screwier — in a hard-boiled kind of fashion. Let me quote from page 160. Whit is talking to his client, who speaks first:

    “I don’t think it’s wise to interfere with the police, Whitney.”

   “I won’t interfere with them. I’d cooperate with them except that they’ve told me to keep out of it. I want you to know how I feel, Mr. Clayton. You hired me to find out what Bob was doing with your money, and to stop it. I found out what was going on, but I thought the best way to stop it was to let these crooks get out on a limb, and then saw it off behind them. I thought I could protect your money and show Bob what was happening at the same time. I guessed wrong. I don’t know who killed […] or why he was killed, and I don’t think I’m responsible for his death, but I’m in a bad spot and I’d like to bail out of it by myself — for my own satisfaction. The police needn’t know what I’m doing. I don’t have to tell you that I don’t want to be paid for it, but if you haven’t any objection, I’ll try to find out who killed […] and get your money back.”

   
DAVID DODGE

   Here are a few lines from page 170, at which point things are not going so well:

    He got off the bed and prowled thoughtfully around the room in his stocking feet, still holding the beer glass. What would Sherlock Holmes do with a case like this? Probably give himself a needleful in the arm — Whit drained his beer glass — and deduce the hell out of the case.

   Whit tried deduction.

   
   Those were the days when mystery thrillers were also detective novels. After a long paragraph in which Whit tries out his best logic on the tangled threads of the plot, and who was where and when and why:

    It was a pretty wormy syllogism. As a deducer Whit knew he was a lemon when it came to logic, and he was an extra-sour lemon because he didn’t know enough about Bob Clayton to figure out what he might do in a given set of circumstances. Such as having a pair of football tickets to dispose of, for example. Ruth Martin might have known where they went, but didn’t, ditto Mrs. Clayton, ditto John Clayton. Jack Morgan was the next one to try.

   
   What’s interesting is that Kitty has more to do with solving the case than Whit does. Things happen rather quickly at the end, and if all of the loose ends are (or are not) all tied up, no one other than I seems to think it matters, as long as the killer is caught — who was not someone I suspected, or did I? I probably suspected everyone at one point or another.

   I also wonder if what happens on the last page has anything to do with the title of Whit Whitney’s next adventure in crime-solving. Read it, I must. And I will.

— March 2006.

   
[UPDATE #1] 06-24-09.   That’s a promise to myself that I haven’t kept yet, alas, and re-reading this review (and looking at those paperback covers) gives me all the resolve I need to follow through. You can count on that and take it to the bank. Non-negotiable.

[UPDATE #2] 06-29-21. Looks like I can’t keep promises very well, even those I make to myself. This is still the only book in the series I’ve read. I have just given myself a good talking to.

REVIEWED BY DOUG GREENE:

   
PAUL McGUIRE – Murder by the Law. Supt. Fillinger #2. Skeffington, UK, hardcover, 1932. No US edition.

TECH DAVIS

   Paul McGuire is known almost exclusively for his classic, A Funeral in Eden, taking place on an imaginary island. Many of his other novels, set in more prosaic locales, deserve better than the almost complete neglect which has been their fate.

   A case in point is Murder by the Law. The crime – -murder of a thoroughly detestable author – is standard, but the book is enlivened by the setting, the character of the detective, and McGuire’s sardonic writing style, The events take place at a meeting of The New Health and Eugenist Conference, and McGuire so thoroughly punctures the movement that even R. Austin Freeman, had he read the book, might have had second thoughts about Eugenics.

   The narrator, Richard Tibbetts, wonders whether a convinced Eugenist might have killed Harold Ambrose simply because the world would be a better place without him. There are, of course, additional suspects, as Ambrose was writing a novel which would embarrass every woman with whom be had an affair.

   The case is competently handled by Superintendent Fillinger, McGuire’s series detective who also appeared in at least two other books, Daylight Murder and The Tower Mystery (which Tibbetts calls “an odd, queer volume”). Fillinger, at more than 400 pounds, may put even Dr. Fell and Nero Wolfe almost literally in the shade. But he is not so eccentric as those worthies. The investigation is straightforward. And it is not until the final four lines that the murderer is revealed.

– Reprinted from The Poison Pen, Volume 6, Number 3 (Fall 1985). Permission granted by Doug Greene.

   
Bibliographic Update: As it so happens, there are now known to be seven recorded adventures in Fillinger’s case file, to wit:

Three Dead Men. Skeffington 1931.
Murder by the Law. Skeffington 1932.
The Tower Mystery. Skeffington 1932.
Death Fugue. Skeffington 1933.
There Sits Death. Skeffington 1933.
Daylight Murder. Skeffington 1934.
Murder in Haste. Skeffington 1934.

   
   As for Australian-born Paul McGuire (1903-1978), he has sixteen works of mystery and detection listed in Hubin, all between 1931-1940, including the seven above. Five of his novels have been published in the US, but as noted above, not this one.

   And, not surprisingly, while Al Hubin reviewed this one here earlier on this blog, there is not a single copy to be found offered for sale. But also by Paul McGuire and  previously reviewed here is Murder in Bostall (US: The Black Rose Murder), this time by Bill Deeck.

FIRST YOU READ, THEN YOU WRITE
by Francis M. Nevins

   

   In memory of Alex Trebek we begin with a Jeopardy!-style clue. This iconic suspense writer appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine 70-plus times, and now more than half a century after his death he’s in the magazine again. The question of course is: “Who is Cornell Woolrich?”

   Beginning with Volume 1 Number 1 (Fall 1941) he had a total of 75 stories in EQMM (or, depending on whether you count once or twice the tale published in two parts in two consecutive issues, 76). I will add a complete list of his originals and reprints in the magazine at the end of this column. Recently, with the publication of the January-February 2021 issue, the number has risen to 76 (or 77). There’s a story behind how this new story was unearthed, and it falls to me to tell it here.

   Woolrich was a native New Yorker, born in 1903, to parents whose marriage came apart soon after they moved to Mexico where his father lived. He grew up there with his father, Genaro Hopley-Woolrich (1878-1948), but after he reached high-school age and returned to Manhattan to live with his mother and maternal grandfather, he never saw Genaro again.

   His earliest novels and stories, beginning in 1926, were not in our genre but somewhat closer (well, maybe not all that close) to the work of the young literary idol of the 1920s, F. Scott Fitzgerald. In 1934 he began a 15-year period of white-hot creativity as the master of suspense, the Hitchcock of the written word. During the middle 1950s, with those years behind him, he set out to return to mainstream fiction with a series of stories about the birth, adolescence, maturity, old age and death of a New York hotel from its opening night in 1896 till the eve of its demolition in 1957.

   Before these tales were published in book form as Hotel Room (Random House, 1958), the editors decided that each chapter in the collection except the first and last, which constitute a framing story, should have some link with an historic event: the end of World War I, the St. Valentine’s Day massacre, the stock-market collapse.

   This decision required the removal of the tales without such a connection. One of these, “The Penny-a-Worder,” was bought by EQMM founding editor Fred Dannay and published in the magazine’s September 1958 issue, the first of a dozen Woolrich originals in the magazine between then and 1970, two years after Woolrich’s death. Were there other such stories? And if so, what happened to them?

   Woolrich’s will left all his literary rights in trust to Columbia University, where he had gone as an undergraduate in the Twenties (although he quit in his junior year when his first novel sold), and Columbia is also the repository of his papers. In March 2019 I was invited to come east and give a talk at the university’s second annual Dr. Saul and Dorothy Kit Film Noir Festival, which was devoted to the many movies based on Woolrich. (You can find my presentation below.)

      

   During the several days of the program, the Columbia library presented an exhibit of Woolrich papers, of which I was treated to a private viewing while I was in New York. Most of what was on display I had seen before, but two manuscripts were new to me.

   As chance would have it, however, I remembered something about one of them. Several years ago Otto Penzler told me that he’d been offered a heretofore unknown Woolrich story, apparently one intended for but excised from Hotel Room. He remembered its first words and quoted them to me: “She came to the hotel alone….” He had not bought the document and didn’t know what had happened to it. Now in 2019 I was staring at the typescript of a story with the exact same first words.

   After returning to St. Louis I asked the professor who had invited me to Columbia if he could possibly arrange for me to be sent a copy of that story. He did, and I liked it very much. And, thanks to the evolution of our genre “from the detective story to the crime novel” over the 60-odd years since Woolrich had written what I now held in my hands.

   I thought it might interest Janet Hutchings, the present editor of EQMM, and emailed her a copy made from mine. Learning that she too liked it very much, I put her in touch with the agent for the Woolrich estate and a deal was made. If you have the first issue of the magazine for this year, you have the story — not under Woolrich’s awkward original title, “The Fiancée Without a Future,” but as “The Dark Oblivion.” Quite an improvement, yes?

   A question may have crossed your mind as you were reading the last paragraph: What about that other Woolrich story in the exhibit? Well, I managed to obtain a copy of that one too, but it was hardly worth the effort. “The Fault-Finder” is not only a poor story — one of many such dating from Woolrich’s last years — but it isn’t crime fiction even in the broadest sense of that term.

   Since no one is ever likely to see this 13-page story, I have no qualms about describing it. The year is 1915, and a husband and wife are in the St. Anselm Hotel, preparing to set out on a vacation cruise across the Atlantic. (Woolrich doesn’t bother to mention that in fact all Europe was at war that year.)

   The woman keeps insulting and belittling her poor henpecked husband. Finally he goes out to a tavern across the street to drown his sorrows and stays there too long so that their ship has already left New York Harbor by the time he returns to the hotel. Furiously she orders him to call up the steamship line and demand their money back. Klutz to the last, the husband can’t remember the name of the ship they were to sail on.

   His wife berates him as an incompetent imbecile and tells him that they were booked on — have you guessed it? — the Lusitania. End of story. It’s perfectly consistent with the central insight of noir — in Hammett’s words, that we live while blind chance spares us — but that doesn’t qualify it as crime fiction or improve it as a story.

   Woolrich may have written these tales a little before the publication of Hotel Room or he may have written them a few years later, in the very early 1960s. What suggests this second possibility is that, along with copies of the stories themselves, Columbia had sent me a sort of cover sheet in Woolrich’s handwriting, the table of contents for a new and expanded version of Hotel Room, with the title of the book changed to Nine Nights in a New York Hotel and each story in the 1958 version re-titled also. The most fascinating aspect of this sheet of paper is at the top: Woolrich writes his own name as the author, just as it was in the 1958 version, then crosses it out and substitutes his well-known pseudonym William Irish! Why did he do that? I think I can explain.

   After the breakup of his marriage to Woolrich’s mother, Genaro Hopley-Woolrich had had liaisons with many women, the last and longest being with Esperanza Piñon Brangas. Their daughter Alma was born in Nogales, Sonora on 17 June 1938 and, as far as I know, is still alive.

   “I learned I had a brother who was a writer when I was fourteen,” Alma said in a telephone interview in Spanish with the Argentine author Juan José Delaney. In 1961 Alma came up from Oaxaca to New Jersey to visit her father’s half-nephew Carlos Burlingham (1925-2004) and his family, staying with them for more than a year.

   Carlos wrote to Woolrich via his publisher, expecting that the son of his Tio Genaro would want to meet the half-sister he’d never seen. He received in reply a telegram from Woolrich’s attorney, of which Carlos gave me a copy. “He flatly refused to accept the fact” that he had a half-sister, Carlos told me, and the attorney insisted that Genaro had remained faithful to Woolrich’s mother throughout his life.

   Once settled in New Jersey, Alma crossed the Hudson to New York in hopes of meeting her famous half-brother. “But he wouldn’t receive me…. I remember that he sent out his secretary saying that he didn’t want to see me.” Woolrich never had a secretary. Juan José Delaney told me that the word Alma had used in their phone interview was secretario.

   It was a man who had turned her away from Woolrich’s door. That man had to have been Woolrich himself. I can’t prove it but I know it. How could anyone have resisted the temptation to sneak a peek at his only living relative without revealing himself? If he had died without a will, his half-sister who speaks little or no English would have inherited all his copyrights by intestate succession.

   To me that explains why on 6 March 1961 he signed a document leaving his rights and everything else he owned in trust to Columbia University. It also explains why, later in 1961, he legally changed his name to William Irish: it was a way of spitting in the face of his long-dead father. The table of contents page for that anticipated new edition of Hotel Room, with its conspicuous name change at the top of the sheet, almost certainly dates from around this time. That new edition of course never materialized, and the tale he called “The Fiancée Without a Future” never saw print until the beginning of this year.

   Now that you know the stories behind that story, I hope that, if you haven’t already read “The Dark Oblivion“ in the January-February EQMM, you soon will.
   
   

CORNELL WOOLRICH Stories in EQMM, along with original appearances:

Fal 1941 Dime a Dance (Black Mask, Feb 1938)
Sep 1943 After-Dinner Story (Black Mask, Jan 1938)
Sep 1944 The Fingernail (”The Customer’s Always Right,” Detective Tales, Jul 1941)
Mar 1945 The Mathematics of Murder (“What the Well Dressed Corpse Will Wear,” Dime Detective, Mar 1944)
May 1945 Leg Man (Dime Detective, Aug 1943)
Feb 1946 The Earring (“The Death Stone,” Detective Fiction Weekly, Feb 1943)
Jul 1946 If the Dead Could Talk (Black Mask, Feb 1943)
Dec 1946 Angel Face (“Face Work,” Black Mask, Oct 1937)
Feb 1947 You Take Ballistics (Double Detective, Jan 1938)
Apr 1947 Steps Going Up (“Men Must Die,” Black Mask, Aug 1939)
Feb 1948 That’s Your Own Funeral (“Your Own Funeral,” Argosy, 19 Jun 1937)
Aug 1948 The Night Reveals (Story, Apr 1936)
Nov 1948 Johnny on the Spot (Detective Fiction Weekly, 2 May 1936)
Dec 1948 The Body in Grant’s Tomb (Dime Detective, Jan 1943)
Mar 1949 Speak to Me of Death (Argosy, 27 Feb 1937)
Apr 1949 Somebody on the Phone (Detective Fiction Weekly, 31 Jul 1937)
May 1949 Momentum (“Murder Always Gathers Momentum,” Detective Fiction Weekly, 14 Dec 1940)
Jul 1949 Collared (Black Mask, Oct 1939)
Oct 1949 Blind Date (“The Corpse and the Kid,” Dime Detective, Sep 1935)
Dec 1949 Mystery in Room 913 (Detective Fiction Weekly, 4 Jun 1938)
Mar 1950 The Humming Bird Comes Home (Pocket Detective, Mar 1937)
Jun 1950 The Night I Died (Detective Fiction Weekly, 8 Aug 1936)
Sep 1950 Cab, Mister? (Black Mask, Nov 1937)
Dec 1950 The Heavy Sugar (Pocket Detective, Jan 1937)
Mar 1951 Through a Dead Man’s Eye (Black Mask, Dec 1939)
Jul 1951 Death in Round Three (Pocket Detective, Apr 1937)
Sep 1951 Charlie Won’t Be Home Tonight (Dime Detective, Jul 1939)
Nov 1951 All at Once, No Alice (Argosy, 2 Mar 1940)
Mar 1953 Goodbye, New York (Story, Oct 1937)
May 1953 Dormant Account (Black Mask, May 1942)
Jul 1953 Cinderella and the Mob (Argosy, 23 Jun 1940)
Sep 1953 The Loophole (“Three Kills for One,” Black Mask, Jul 1942)
Mar 1954 The Last Bus Home (“Of Time and Murder,” Detective Fiction Weekly, 15 Mar 1941)
Jun 1954 Dead Shot (“Picture Frame,” Black Mask, Jul 1944)
Oct 1954 Debt of Honor (“I.O.U.—One Life,” Double Detective, Nov 1938)
Dec 1954 Something That Happened in Our House (“Murder at Mother’s Knee,” Dime Detective, October 1941)
Feb 1955 Meet Me by the Mannequin (Dime Detective, June 1940)
Mar 1955 Invitation to Sudden Death (“Blue Is for Bravery,” Detective Fiction Weekly, 27 Feb 1937)
Jun 1955 Death at the Burlesque (“The Fatal Footlights,” Detective Fiction Weekly, 14 June 1941)
Sep 1955 The Most Exciting Show in Town (“Double Feature,” Detective Fiction Weekly, 16 May 1936)
Dec 1955 One Night To Be Dead Sure Of (“The Living Lie Down with the Dead,” Dime Detective, Apr 1936)
May 1956 The Absent-Minded Murder (“Cool, Calm and Detected,” Black Mask, Apr 1941)
Sep 1956 The Ice Pick Murders (“Death in Duplicate,” Detective Fiction Weekly, 17 Feb 1940)
Jan 1957 Wait for Me Downstairs (“Finger of Doom,” Detective Fiction Weekly, 22 Jun 1940)
Feb 1958 Endicott’s Girl (Detective Fiction Weekly, 19 Feb 1938)
Mar 1958 Don’t Bet on Murder (“You Bet Your Life,” Detective Fiction Weekly, 25 Sep 1937)
Jun 1958 Hurting Much? (“Death Sits in the Dentist’s Chair,” Detective Fiction Weekly, 4 Aug 1934)
Sep 1958 The Penny-a-Worder (original)
Feb 1959 The Inside Story (“Murder Story,” Detective Fiction Weekly, 11 Sep 1937)
Mar 1959 Blonde Beauty Slain (original)
Sep 1959 Dead Roses (“The Death Rose,” Baffling Detective Mysteries, Mar 1943)
Jun 1961 Hot Water (Argosy, 28 Dec 1935)
Oct 1961 The Singing Hat (“The Counterfeit Hat,” Detective Fiction Weekly, 18 Feb 1939)
Jan 1962 Money Talks (original)
Apr 1962 One Drop of Blood (original)
Feb 1963 The Cape Triangular (Detective Fiction Weekly, 16 Apr 1938)
Jul 1963 I’ll Never Play Detective Again (Black Mask, May 1937)
Mar 1964 Working Is for Fools (original; radio-play version of “Dilemma of the Dead Lady,” Detective Fiction Weekly, 4 Jul 1936)
Apr 1964 Steps…Coming Near (original)
Jun 1964 When Love Turns (original)
Oct 1964 Adventures of a Fountain Pen (“Dipped in Blood,” Street & Smith’s Detective Story, Apr 1945)
Dec 1964 Murder After Death (original) Dec 1965 Just Enough to Cover a Thumbnail (“C-Jag,” Black Mask, Oct 1940)
Jul 1966 It Only Takes a Minute to Die (original)
Dec 1966 All It Takes Is Brains (“Crime on St. Catherine Street,” Argosy, 25 Jan 1936)
Apr 1967 The Talking Eyes (“The Case of the Talking Eyes,” Dime Detective, Sep 1939)
Jun 1967 Divorce—New York Style: I (original)
Jul 1967 Divorce—New York Style: II (original)
May 1968 For the Rest of Her Life (original)
Feb 1969 Rear Window (“It Had To Be Murder,” Dime Detective, Feb 1942)
Dec 1970 New York Blues (original)
Apr 1972 Only One Grain More (“The Detective’s Dilemma,” Detective Fiction Weekly, 26 Oct 1940)
Sep 1972 The Lie (Detective Fiction Weekly, 9 Oct 1937)
Jul 1975 Mystery in the Statue of Liberty (“Red Liberty,” Dime Detective, 1 Jul 1935)
Oct 1978 Death Between Dances (Shadow Mystery Magazine, Dec 1947-Jan 1948)
Jun 1983 The Phantom of the Subway (“You Pays Your Nickel,” Argosy, 22 Aug 1936)

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