Editors & Anthologies

IT’S ABOUT CRIME, by Marvin Lachman

MARTIN H. GREENBERG & FRANCIS M. NEVINS, Jr., Editors – Mr. President, Private Eye. Ballantine, paperback original, December 1988. Ibooks, softcover, 2004.


   I have long been fascinated by the “Presidential Connection,” the relationship between the mystery and the office of President of the United States. Following the triple traumas of Dallas, Vietnam, and Watergate, we had a publishing growth industry in which, literally, dozens of novels appeared featuring the President as either victim or villain.

   Now the balance has shifted, and increasingly we find the man (so far) in the Oval Office appearing as detective. In recent years many of these stories have been about real Presidents. Three different authors have even written novels in which Theodore Roosevelt is featured, and he also solves a murder in Mr. President, Private Eye, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Francis M. Nevins, Jr.

   The title is not exactly accurate, but you get the idea. Here are a dozen original stories, in each of which a real President gets to solve a crime. There is some evidence of hurried writing in this book, with anachronisms, always a danger in historical mysteries.

   Also, in two of the weaker stories in the book, there is virtually no detection by Grant and Coolidge, respectively. However, there are also some stories which will give you a great deal of pleasure. Hoch has George Washington leave a dying message clue to a mystery which Abraham Lincoln solves half a century later.

   Edward Wellen’s story about Millard Fillmore is surprisingly funny. Stuart M. Kaminsky’s mystery set in Missouri beautifully captures the simplicity and decisiveness of Harry Truman. Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Hoover detect at a Nevada silver mine in a story by Sharon McCrumb that I found to be the strongest in the book.

   Finally, there is a clever K.T. Anders story about Gerald Ford which will make you clap your hand to your forehead and say, “Of course!”

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

IT’S ABOUT CRIME, by Marvin Lachman


   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:  


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)

IT’S ABOUT CRIME, by Marvin Lachman

MWA Anthology

   Short-story anthologies are good for the reader, as well as the writer who earns some more royalties, and there are more around than usual. The Year’s Best Mystery and Suspense Stories, 1988, edited by Edward D. Hoch (Walker, 1988), inevitably contains a selection of the best of the previous year.

   It is the strongest in this series in many years and includes Harlan Ellison’s Edgar winner, “Soft Monkey,” regarding a New York bag lady, and Robert Barnard’s “The Woman in the Wardrobe,” which EQMM‘s readers selected as their favorite story of 1987.

   I’m glad editor Hoch showed no false modesty and included his own “Leopold and the Broken Bride,” the year’s best example of pure detection, in which a woman disappears as she is ready to walk down the aisle at her wedding.

   MWA’s 1988 anthology, Distant Danger, edited by Janwillem van de Wetering (Wynwood, 1988), shows both variety and quality in thirteen reprints by authors like Hoch,Gores, Lillian de la Torre, Margaret Maron, and Amanda Cross. There were also three new stories, including one by Stephanie Kay Bendel that reminds me of some of the fine short novels American Magazine once published.

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


by Francis M. Nevins

   Previously on this blog:




   Boucher wrote Woolrich for the first time in the late spring of 1944, requesting permission to reprint a story in his anthology Great American Detective Stories (World, 1945). Replying on June 5, Woolrich recommended that Boucher use the 1938 “Endicott’s Girl,” which he called “my favorite among all the stories I’ve ever written.”

Anthony Boucher

   Boucher didn’t care for that one, as he explained in a July 19 letter to World editor William Targ: “It has in extreme measure the frequent Woolrich flaw – a fine emotional story which ends with loose ends all over the place and nothing really explained.”

   Instead Boucher opted for “Finger of Doom” (1940), which he retitled “I Won’t Take a Minute.” The new title was retained when the story was included in The Ten Faces of Cornell Woolrich (1965). “Endicott’s Girl” remained uncollected until I put it in Night and Fear (2004).

   On July 20, one day after his letter to Targ, Boucher wrote Woolrich again: “In the past month or two I’ve read over 30 [of your] pulp stories. And even from such a dose as that I still feel no indigestion; which means, I take it, that you are (as I have suspected all along) the goods. Keep ’em coming!”

   Woolrich’s reply, dated July 23, solved a puzzle for me. I had long suspected that his “The Penny-a-Worder” (1958; first collected in Nightwebs, 1971), which is about a pulp writer who has to hack out a story overnight to go with an already completed front cover illustration, was based on personal experience.

Cornell Woolrich

   After finding the July 23 letter among Boucher’s papers at the Lilly Library I knew it for a fact. In it Woolrich mentioned that he particularly remembers his story “Guns, Gentlemen” (1937; collected as “The Lamp of Memory” in Beyond the Night, 1959) “because I wrote it to match up with the cover of the magazine, which they sent me.” This doesn’t mean, of course, that he wrote the story in a single night!

   On a file card dating from 1950 or early 1951, when he was co-editing The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Boucher set down his reaction to the idea of reprinting Woolrich’s novella “Jane Brown’s Body” (1938). “This brilliantly macabre concept spoiled for me by 2 things: a.) My pet irritation of writing exclusively in present tense; b.) A pulp plot so formulaly obvious that each step can be accurately forecast. Inept, for Woolrich, but because of his name let’s include.”

   It was reprinted in the magazine’s October 1951 issue and collected in The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich (1981).

Cornell Woolrich

   Boucher finally met Woolrich while on a visit to New York in April 1965. He died without writing about the encounter but his widow, Phyllis White, was present and described it for me before her own death:

    “[W]e were in a restaurant with some MWA members after a private viewing of a film…. Clayton Rawson [then managing editor of EQMM] told us that before going home he was going to drop in on Cornell Woolrich, who was convalescing from surgery, and he suggested that we come along.

    “Of course Tony was thrilled at the prospect. We went to the hotel room where Woolrich was temporarily quartered. One eye had been operated on and he was to go back after an interval for an operation on the other. [Saint Mystery Magazine editor] Hans Santesson was there trying to look after him. He was supposed to go easy on drinking so he was sticking to wine. Santesson kept suggesting pleasantly but ineffectively that he slow down.

    “The room had until recently been used for storage of furniture. It was in good enough condition except for lacerated wallpaper. Woolrich complained that the hotel staff was sneering and laughing at him behind his back. Rawson asked Woolrich whether he had anything lying around that would be suitable for reprint in EQMM.

Cornell Woolrich

    “Woolrich rummaged around and turned up something. There was a bit of comic pantomime in which Rawson started to look at the story and then tried to hide it from rival editor Santesson peering over his shoulder.

    “The only dramatic incident of the evening was missed by Rawson, who had to leave to catch his train. The door opened suddenly and a crowing man burst in with a girl and a bottle. The hotel had mistakenly sent him to that room and he was indignant on finding us there…

    “The intruder withdrew, leaving Woolrich convinced that this was another part of the conspiracy against him. Eventually we left but it wasn’t easy. Woolrich thought that people who went away, no matter how long they had stayed, were leaving because they didn’t like him. Tony was delighted that he had finally met Woolrich, and at the same time thought that it wouldn’t do his own nerves any good to see too much of him… ”

   He needn’t have worried. They never met again. Boucher died of lung cancer on April 29, 1968, at the unbearably early age of 56; Woolrich of a stroke on September 25, a little more than two months before his 65th birthday. Just a few months apart. Forty years ago this year. May they rest in peace.

    Keith has very kindly expanded on his remarks of the previous post. 

— Steve


SEXTON BLAKE Crooked Skipper.

   I was a reader of the Sexton Blake Library from the age of eight or nine. The first title I read was The Case of the Crooked Skipper by John Hunter. [3rd series, Issue 249, October 1951]

   I liked the changes made by editor Bill Baker in 1956 and became an advocate in fan circles, making contributions while still at school to Herbert Leckenby’s Collector’s Digest.

   Mid-1961, on the departure of Mike Moorcock from Fleetway, I was offered the chance to become the SBL’s editorial assistant. I jumped at it and enjoyed the first year or so of my working life reading manuscripts and proofs, creating book and chapter titles and blurbs, running the readers’ letters section, keeping editorial ledgers and liaising with the accounts department over payments to contributors. It was an eye-opening experience that quickly gave me a firm grounding for a career in editing and writing.

   By the time Fleetway had abandoned the SBL, I was established at Micron Publications Ltd of Mitcham, Surrey, as the editor for a wide range of 64-page comic books of the type popularly known in Britain as picture libraries. In between these duties and writing scripts for the war and western titles, I persuaded the company’s principals that a market existed for a new British text magazine in the mystery field.

Collectors Digest.

   This allowed me to approach the Wallace family and their UK literary agents, A. P. Watt, for permission to use the Edgar Wallace name, then still prominently associated with thriller fiction, particularly through the Anglo-Amalgamated B-movie series.

   The rights were granted for a fairly nominal sum, and each monthly issue contained a reprint of an otherwise unavailable Wallace novelette or story, backed up with other, all-new fiction by contemporary crime writers, true crime articles, book reviews and readers’ letters. Many of the contributors were ex-SBL. One of the several who wasn’t was Nigel Morland, who professed to be a friend of the Wallace family.

   In hindsight, it was a mistake to have involved the Micron company. The firm was in financial difficulties with its publications, stemming largely from a failure to secure adequate distribution and possibly to have re-invested more of their earlier profits. In debt to its printers, Micron handed over the comics business to them on the basis that various series should continue, but only as English-rights reprints of material from a Spanish publisher.

   This terminated my employment, but I was to continue to run EWMM for them as a freelance editor. In a very short time, Micron decided to axe the magazine altogether and I began a battle to save it, negotiating alternative distribution, while Edgar Wallace Ltd stepped into the breach to act as publishers and meet printing and editorial costs.

Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine.

   I have letters on file from Nigel Morland ostensibly offering me support, telling me how “impressed” he was, how it was “first-class” and “excellent”. But many were written at a time when he must at least have had an eye on taking over my role.

    “Dear Keith, I had the new issue, and really do think you are doing it well. You’ve set a standard, and that is a high one. So far you seem to better it a little with each issue, which, after all, is the heart of all really good editing. Congratulations. Every good wish, Yours, Nigel.”

   Two months later, in late 1964, after expending a huge amount of time and energy on what had been “my baby” from the outset, I was bluntly informed by agent Peter Watt that Messrs. Edgar Wallace Ltd had appointed a new editor for the magazine and that after issue number six I should no longer be connected with its publication. I should receive an “ex gratia payment of ?50 when the final corrected proofs of No. 6 go to the printer.”

   The new editor was to be Morland, whom I was told by Penelope Wallace and her husband, George Halcrow, was older and more experienced than me, and therefore would make a better job of the magazine.

   In a reaction typical of the many I received, T.C.H. Jacobs (Jacques Pendower), then a recent chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association, wrote to me: “Their choice of an editor astonishes me. I have known Morland for many years and am unaware he has ever had editorial experience. But I do know that he has always claimed some connection with the Wallace family. Maybe it is true. I don’t know. He is certainly older than you, sixty.”

   I was then aged 21, had done a heap of work in the three and a half years since I’d left school and acquired something of a track record in Fleet-street and backstreet offices. Nevertheless, I was very disillusioned and deeply disappointed. Morland took the magazine in what I suppose was intended to be a more literary direction, eschewing the thriller, slightly pulpish tradition that I felt was truer to the Wallace oeuvre.

   And it didn’t last.

   A brief introduction from me seems to be in order. What follows below was originally a comment left by Keith Chapman (in his alter ego guise as Chap O’Keefe) following my recent review of Edgar Wallace’s The India-Rubber Men. I thought what he had to say informative and interesting enough for me to create a brand new post out of it. And so here it is.

— Steve


   A fascinating thread! As has been observed, Edgar Wallace was a very big name in thriller fiction in the 1920s and ’30s, but he was not, of course, part of the Golden Age of Detection, which makes comparisons with Christie — even Symons — in many ways inappropriate. Wallace was still a big name after the Second World War and right up to the 1960s, when I founded and edited the Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine. At that time, his books and stories were already regarded as having a quaint flavor, which a daughter, Penelope Wallace, was largely responsible for trying to remove by supplying publishers with revised versions.

   Such revisions are, of course, an ultimately futile exercise and may even remove future points of appeal — something I realized even then though I was only 21 years of age. For the short time I ran the magazine, I concentrated on the “action” end of the mystery field, running the kind of stories Americans would have called “pulp fiction” and which I believe were written by authors who were worthy successors of Wallace himself. I also used full-color, vigorous pictorial covers that reflected this content.


   Ultimately, the publishing company running the magazine — and employing me as the editor of it and a raft of digest-size “pocket libraries” — ran into financial difficulties and the Wallace family took over the magazine. I was replaced by a “more experienced” editor: elderly writer Nigel Morland who was said to be a family friend, and as a contributor to the magazine had previously flattered me with consistently favorable comment on my editorial work and policies.

   The illustrated covers were replaced by wholly typographical, two-color covers that at best were a poor imitation of Ellery Queen’s. The content changed, too, certainly abandoning what I considered the true Wallace tradition in preference for material that had more of a “whodunit,” intellectual slant.

   From the online FictionMags Index:

Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine

      Aug-1964 – Nov-1964: Micron Publications, Micron House, Gorringe Park Avenue, Mitcham
      Dec-1964 – Jun-1967: Edgar Wallace Magazines Ltd., 4 Bradmore Road, Oxford
      1969? – 1970?: Edgar Wallace Magazines Ltd., 50 Alexandra Road, London SW19

      Aug-1964 – Nov-1964: Keith Chapman
      Dec-1964 – Jun-1967: Nigel Morland
      1969? – 1970?: Leonard Holdsworth, Kurt Mueller & James Hughes

   Over the past six weeks or so I’ve been working with John Pugmire, a long-time “locked room” aficionado, and the English translator of Paul Halter, the French writer who specializes in the genre, on an article about guess what? Locked room mysteries, of course.

   To tell you the truth, John’s article has been done for most, if not all, of these same past six weeks. What’s been holding up the works has been me. The major part of the piece is a list of well over 100 locked room mysteries. What I’ve been doing in my spare time in the evening is adding cover images to something like 90% of them.

   For more on what this is all about and where the list of books and authors came from, here’s John:

Hoch: All But Impossible.

    “Over twenty five years ago, Ed Hoch asked seventeen authors and critics to rank the best locked room mysteries of all time. The results were published as an introduction to the anthology All But Impossible (Ticknor & Fields, 1981).

    “Early in 2007, Roland Lacourbe, the eminent French expert on impossible crime fiction, decided to ask a group of fellow anthologists and translators to name 99 novels worthy of inclusion in the library of a hypothetical locked room aficionado. The results can be found in this article Steve has just told you about. Also in the piece I offer some thoughts on French Golden Age crime fiction and how it was influenced by the criminal justice system.

    “Monsieur Lacourbe is French and so the original list of 99 was confined to books published in French. However, the article also lists a further 14 noteworthy novels not yet available in French, for a grand total of 113. A surprisingly high proportion – nearly 40% – of the 99 novels are French in origin and have never been translated into English: a great pity and possibly an opportunity for an enterprising publisher. Whether that happens or not, Monsieur Lacourbe will have performed the valuable service of listing, for the first time, the 70 or so best locked room mysteries in the English language.”

   One small but perhaps not so incidental nugget of information that came from the research into the books is that Repos de Bacchus, by French author Pierre Boileau, was used as the basis for a book in English, The Sleeping Bacchus, as by Hilary St.George Saunders. (This was only book under Saunders’ own name. He may be more familiar to mystery fans as Francis Beeding, one of several pen names that he used.)

   Not all of the entries have covers to go with them, but John and I are proud to have come up with as many as we did. Here’s the link to the page:


   If you’re a fan of classical mystery fiction, harking back to the Golden Age of Detection, I think you’ll like what you see. In fact, I guarantee it.

From a notice in the New York Times

   Allan Barnard, who was born in Madison, Wisconsin on August 8th, 1918, died on Monday, January 22nd of complications from Parkinson’s disease in Forest Hills, New York. Allan was married to his beloved wife Polly Barnard for 56 years. Allan was a book lover, author, editor and mentor whose publishing career spanned five decades. At the time of his retirement he was a Vice President and Associate Editorial Director at Bantam Books.

   With all of these years in the world of publishing, Mr. Barnard could very easily have had many connections to the world of crime fiction, but the only one that appeared under his own name is –


THE HARLOT KILLER. Dodd Mead, hc, 1953. Dell #797, 1954. Paperback. An anthology of fact and fiction relating to Jack the Ripper.

Introduction, by the editor
Alan Hynd: Murder Unlimited (fact)
Dion Henderson: The Alarm Bell
Willam Sansom: The Intruder
Anthony Boucher: The Stripper [as by H. H. Holmes]
Richard Barker: The Jack the Ripper Murders (fact)
Kay Rogers: Love Story
Thomas Burke: The Hands of Mr Ottermole
Theodora Benson: In the Fourth Ward
Mrs Marie Belloc Lowndes: The Lodger
Edmund Pearson: “Frenchy” – Ameer Ben Ali (fact)
Unknown: Jack El Destripador [translated by Anthony Boucher] (fact)
Edmund Pearson: Jack the Ripper
Robert Bloch: Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper

   Data taken from a listing on ABE and Index to Crime and Mystery Anthologies, Contento & Greenberg.

   A earlier anthology, Cleopatra’s Nights (Dell #414, pb original, 1950) contains 13 stories and articles about the famous Egyptian queen. None seem to be crime-related, except possibly “A Toast to Murder” (from Queen Cleopatra) by Talbot Mundy.

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