You’ll have to go to the main Mystery*File website to find the checklist, I’m sorry to say, but on the other hand, it’s only a link away. Just click on the one provided.

   Here’s Victor’s introduction, along with a cover image or two —

   Tip Top Detective Tales was one of the Aldine Publishing Company’s many library series produced to capture the fancy of the youth of Great Britain. This particular one ran from 1910 through 1912 when it morphed into just Tip Top Tales, produced to include stories of adventure, as well as those of criminal content. With one exception, all of the novels included in the series were published anonymously.

   For a short history of the trials and tribulations of the Aldine Publishing Company, which was founded by Charles Perry Brown (1834-1916), see the excellent article by John Springhall, “Disseminating impure literature: the ‘penny dreadful’ publishing business since 1860” in ECONOMIC HISTORY REVIEW, XLVII, 3 (1994), especially pages 578-584.

         Tip Top Detective Tales

      Tip Top Detective Tales

Steve: About a year or so ago you were kind enough to post an article on O’Bryan House Publishers’ first title, Detour, by Martin M. Goldsmith. By agreement with the estate of W.R. Burnett, we are now issuing our second crime novel, Burnett’s Dr. Socrates. The details are listed below.

   Best wishes and please let me know if you have any questions.

— Richard


Dr. Socrates

   O’Bryan House Publishers, LLC is pleased to announce the first book appearance of W. R. Burnett’s hard boiled Depression Era novel, Dr. Socrates. Originally serialized in Collier’s Magazine in the spring of 1935, this is the story of young Dr. Cardwell who, after being forced at gun point to treat a wounded gangster, finds himself caught between the threat posed by gang leader Red Bastian and the suspicion of Federal Agents investigating a wave of bank robberies. Portions of the story line suggested by the saga of Public Enemy John Dillinger. First edition, first printing. The novel which served as the basis for the 1935 film Dr. Socrates starring Paul Muni, and Ann Dvorak and later the 1939 Humphrey Bogart film King of the Underworld.

   W. R. Burnett is the author of Little Caesar, High Sierra and The Asphalt Jungle. He was nominated for two Academy Awards for best screenplay for Wake Island (1942) and The Great Escape (1963). In 1980 Burnett received the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Book includes a brief afterword by the publisher entitled “Dr. Socrates and Hollywood.” Dr. Socrates is available at or may be ordered directly from O’Bryan House Publishers LLC at

   I’m not sure if the text on the back cover will show up, but since there’s more information there, including a photo of Burnett, I’ll give it a try. Here it is:

Dr. Socrates

   The dates the story was serialized in Collier’s Magazine, which I’ve discovered from Google, are from 16 March through 20 April, 1935. It’s about time it came out as one complete novel. Good luck on the book, Richard!

   Just a quick note to let you know that the covers to the Phoenix Press mysteries are now complete through 1946. Check out the latest additions here.

   There’s good news tonight!

   Taken from publisher Fender Tucker’s latest email newsletter, Ramble House Rambler #52, along with the other upcoming mystery fiction he’s promising to go to press with soon, I was doubly delighted this evening to see the following:

   Two books by Wade Wright, author of the Paul Cameron series. ECHO OF FEAR and DEATH AT NOSTALGIA STREET. The author, who lives in South Africa, is working with Ramble House to bring back all of his mystery novels.

   Two novels from Rupert Penny, whose mysteries are filled with puzzles, time-charts, maps, railway schedules, etc. Thanks to friends in high places — Petaluma CA and Rockville MD — I was able to obtain copies of two hard-to-find titles: POLICEMAN’S HOLIDAY and POLICEMAN’S EVIDENCE. I’m working on them now.

   Delighted first of all because, as you may recall, John “Wade” Wright was interviewed here not too long ago. These will be the first US editions of any of his novels. It’s been a long wait, but it shouldn’t be too much longer. And if more are coming, as Fender seems to suggest, then all the better.

   As for Rupert Penny, he’s an author that I’ve always assumed to be a huge insiders’ secret. He wrote eight extremely scarce works of solid detective fiction between 1936 and 1941, and I’m lucky enough to have seven of them. I bought them back when they were still hard to find, but when you did, they were still relatively inexpensive. I don’t believe that I paid more than ten dollars for any one of them, but 30 to 35 years ago, ten dollars was a huge pile of change.


   Only two of the books are available on ABE at the moment. There is one copy of Sealed Room Murder, a Canadian paperback in VG condition for $145, and six copies of Policeman’s Holiday, all in paperback also, with asking prices ranging from $65 (a very worn reading copy) to $165. I haven’t checked the other online listing sites, but right now, not a single hardcover first edition is being offered on ABE.

   The Ramble House editions will be the first time that any of Rupert Penny’s will be available in the US. To whet your appetite, here’s a synopsis of Sealed-Room Murder. If your reading tastes are anything like mine, this will be hard to resist. (Unfortunately it’s not one of the book currently on Fender’s schedule, but I think it will get your mind thinking in the right direction.)

RUPERT PENNY excels all his previous form with this highly successful murder mystery. Unlike most “sealed-room ” stories, the problem is perfectly clear-cut and extremely simple in its elements. Where other mysteries try to baffle the reader by their complexity, this one will baffle by its simplicity. The story of Harriet Steele and the family that was forced upon her, is good reading even when considered as a straight novel, the situation is very real, very familiar and always lively and amusing in spite of the undertone of grimness. The thoroughly ingenious and exciting crime is put before the reader with scrupulous fairness so that he has every possible chance of leaping to the solution that will prove completely satisfying.


   From Allen J. Hubin’s Crime Fiction IV, to whet your taste buds even more, assuming perhaps that the first two sell well, and that Fender can locate copies of the rest of them to reprint:

PENNY, RUPERT; pseudonym of Ernest Basil Charles Thornett. Series Character in all titles: Insp. (Chief Insp.) Edward (Ted) Beale.

* The Talkative Policeman (n.) Collins 1936
* Policeman in Armour (n.) Collins 1937
* Policeman’s Holiday (n.) Collins 1937
* The Lucky Policeman (n.) Collins 1938
* Policeman’s Evidence (n.) Collins 1938
* She Had to Have Gas (n.) Collins 1939
* Sweet Poison (n.) Collins 1940
* Sealed-Room Murder (n.) Collins 1941

   Covers for the 1945 mysteries are now included in the online Phoenix Press project. Right now 1945 begins a page to itself, so if you don’t mind, would you check to see that the links to all of the earlier years are working the way they’re supposed to?

Hello Steve:

Here’s what’s coming up for 2007 from Stark House:

JIMBO / THE EDUCATION OF UNCLE PAUL by Algernon Blackwood. New intro by Mike Ashley. Two supernatural novels set in the world of children but written for adults.

A TRIO OF GOLD MEDALS (details of which you already have)
PAN’S GARDEN / INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES by Algernon Blackwood. Intros by Mike Ashley and Tim Lebbon. Previously published in separate volumes, two of Blackwood’s best story collections in one volume.

THE OLD BATTLE-AX / DARK POWER by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. Intro by Gregory Shepard. Two classic novels of suspense, the latter of which has never appeared before in paperback in its complete edition.

UNDERGROUND / COLLECTED STORIES by Russell James. Intro by the author. James’s first novel published here in the U.S. for the first time, along with seven previously uncollected stories, one of which has never been published before.

A SHOT IN THE DARK / SHELL GAME by Richard Powell. Intro to be determined. Two slyly written mysteries from the author of The Philadelphian, recently reprinted by Plexus Publishing.

SNOWBOUND / GAMES by Bill Pronzini. Two excruciating novels of suspense, too long out of print. Intro to be determined but hopefully to include something from Bill himself.

THE KILLER / DEVIL ON TWO STICKS by Wade Miller. Two fine 50’s thrillers from from Bob Wade and Bill Miller, authors of the the Max Thursday detective series.

DOGTOWN / SOULTOWN by Mercedes Lambert. Lambert in real life was Douglas Anne Munson, who died a few years ago from cancer. She left behind three excellent, cynical mysteries featuring lawyer-turned-sleuth Whitney Logan and her streetwise sidekick Lupe Ramos–these two books were the only ones to be published in her lifetime, out of print now for the past ten years.

SWEET MONEY GIRL / LIFE & DEATH OF A TOUGH GUY by Benjamin Appel. Intro by Carla Appel. Two gritty novels from the New York streets, the former of which is one of Appel’s only two Gold Medal books.

ANATOMY OF A KILLER / A SHROUD FOR JESSO by Peter Rabe. Two more dryly written gangster novels from one of the best of the noir writers of the 50’s and 60’s.

A DEVIL FOR O’SHAUGNESSY / THREE-WAY SPLIT by Gil Brewer. The big news for 2007 is that Stark House will be publishing a Brewer novel that never appeared during the author’s lifetime, a fast-paced noir from the early 60’s. We couldn’t be more excited!

IT’S ALWAYS FOUR O’CLOCK / IRON MAN by W. R. Burnett. The first novel is a jazz story originally written as by James Updyke, the second a marvelous tale of the rise and fall of a prizefighter. Both feature Burnett’s keen eye for characterization and dialog, and neither have appeared in paperback before.

And so the year goes out with a bang (assuming I keep to the schedule!). All books will be $19.95 except for the TRIO book, which is $23.95.

I hope this information is helpful. I could probably say more about each book, but wanted to keep it brief. Don’t have intros determined for each book yet. Already planning for another Harry Whittington in 2008, and hopefully more Douglas Sanderson, Vin Packer and Gil Brewer as well.

And you will notice, not everything is vintage-50’s this year. The Lambert is an experiment, I will admit. Something on the order of “righting a wrong,” if you will.

Anyway, thanks for all your support, Steve.



   It’s a good thing that Bill Crider reads this blog. If you saw his comment on my post about trying to remember where I’d seen a photo of mystery writer Dan J. Marlowe recently, you already know that even though he is somewhat older than I am, his mind is at least twice as sharp.

   You’ll find a photo on the back of the upcoming collection from Stark House Press in which one of his books is going to be reprinted, Bill said. And so it is.


   And where is my copy of the ARC for this book? On the top of the pile of TBR books on the living room coffee table. I think I need a shorter leash, no doubt about it!

   While I was on the hunt, Greg Shepard and Mark Shepard, a couple of the head guys at Stark House, sent me photos of the cover of their upcoming book, from which I’ve uploaded the images that you see here.

   Contained in the book, coming out in April, 2007, are three novels published by Gold Medal back in the era when Gold Medal was THE publisher of tough, noirish, hard-boiled fiction, bar none:

      THE VENGEANCE MAN, Dan J. Marlowe (Gold Medal d1645, 1966)

      PARK AVENUE TRAMP, Fletcher Flora (Gold Medal 781, 1958)

      THE PRETTIEST GIRL I EVER KILLED, Charles Runyon (Gold Medal k1507, 1965)


   Well, maybe these are a little past Gold Medal’s prime in the era, but they’re still gritter and tougher than anything else published at the time, and if this is the kind of mystery and crime fiction that you prefer to read, take my word for it, you aren’t going to go wrong reading any of the three.

   Quite coincidentally, in today’s mail came my contributor’s copy of a two-in-one combo of stories by A. S. “Sid” Fleischman, Look Behind You Lady [+] The Venetian Blonde, also from Stark House Press.

   I wrote the introduction to the first book, based on a review I did of the book, and unbeknownst to me at the time, Mr. Fleischman, now in his late 80s, wrote an overall one for both. Luckily the two introductory essays seem to mesh together very well.


   I’ll post the review as a separate blog entry, coming up soon, and in the meantime, I’ll check in with Greg Shepard and see if I can’t have him say something about what’s in store from Stark House for the rest of the year.

   As for Dan J. Marlowe, to get back to the original inquiry, why not check out Josef Hoffman’s piece about him, “Playing with Fire,” quoted on the back cover next to the photo at the top of this page. You’ll find the article reprinted online at the old M*F website, along with a short essay on Marlowe’s Gold Medal fiction by Bill Crider, along with a bibliography of all of his book-length fiction. Recommended!

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