Inquiries


From Kenneth R. Johnson:

   I am hoping to repost my on-line reference book, The Digest Index, this year; to that end I am trying to tie up some loose ends. One minor quandary concerns a short-lived digest imprint called Pennant Mystery. I have one volume, The Six Iron Spiders by Phoebe Atwood Taylor. The back cover ad lists itself and three other titles:

      Death out of Thin Air by Stuart Towne
      So Much Blood by Bruno Fischer
      The Purple Parrot by Clyde B. Clason

   I have been absolutely unable to confirm the existence of these three other titles from any secondary sources. They are not listed in the World Catalog or the National Union Catalog. There are no known cover reproductions anywhere and I have not seen any of them offered for sale in the 14 years since I first posted The Digest Index. I am beginning to suspect that these are phantoms, advertised but never actually published.

   Does anyone out there actually have one of these, or at least have seen one on the hoof?

   

   
   My brother asked me this question, and while I remembered the scene, I couldn’t tell him in what movie or TV show it appears in. (I may even have reviewed it, which would be embarrassing, but what can you do.)

   At least one of the murders in the movie, which is my recollection of where I saw it, is that a giant mirror is placed crosswise across a narrow, isolated stretch of road, so that the driver of an oncoming car would see his own headlights reflected back at him. Trying to avoid an accident, the driver of said car would swerve the only way he could, and straight down into a ravine, the bottom of which is hundreds of feet down.

   Remember that one?

      Here’s a question left as a comment on a long-ago post:

   “These are pieces of the story of a movie I caught only a bit of, and missed the title and cast…. 1930s-1940s, B&W, etc. Genre like a Its a Wonderful Life, etc…

   “A gentleman in a small American town leave friends a bar, is mugged by the tracks, wakes up with no memory and wearing his assailant’s clothing. For all appearances he is a hobo, and he believes as much and moves on, leaves town for several years…. and around Christmastime, appears back in the same town, remembering nothing about it or his old self. A Ward Bond-ish cop mushes him off a snowy park bench at nighttime — in a respectable neighborhood, and as he is ready to comply and leave, he is espied by a younger man at the front door of what had been the elder gentleman’s home; then his wife — the young man’s mother — and he appeal to the old vagabond (without a good look at his face in the darkness) to join them as it is Christmas, after all (this is hugely climatic and heart-swelling). BUT, the kindly gent evidently does not want to impose on the family’s Christmas party and moves on.

   “The End and then the credits rolled… unread by me, dagnabbit!!

   “Please, it’s been 30 years that I have attempted to connect with this film. Not one person I have asked has heard of it, not a wit.”

   Here below is the current data for author R. E. HARRINGTON in the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin. Both he and fellow researcher John Herrington are trying to pin down his correct dates of birth and death.

   Of the dates below, Al says: “[He] was born NY in December 1931, but I have now found a reference that says the author was born in Oklahoma 8 May 1931. And another saying 8 March 1931 which intimates he is still about.!!

   “But to be honest, wonder if either is correct. And curiously several with those names born 1931, though the obituaries I have found for some indicate they are not the author.

   One possibility, says Al is “… a Robert Edward Harrington was born in Oklahoma on 3/6/1924 and died there on 12/8/2018.”

   John’s response:

   “Another site (probably one that you found) says the author was born in Oklahoma, educated at the University of Utah, worked as a systems engineer with IBM, and manager of corporate data processing with Chrysler, later president of a computer R&D company; then living with wife and children in Southern California.”

   If anyone has any other information, it would be welcome!

HARRINGTON, R(obert) E(dward) (1931-1996?) (chron.)
    *Aswan High (with James A. Young) (U.S. & London: Secker, 1983, hc) [Egypt; 1984]
    *Death of a Patriot (Putnam, 1979, hc) [Washington, D.C.] Secker, 1979.
    *-The Doomsday Game (Secker, 1981, hc)
    *Quintain (Putnam, 1977, hc) [Los Angeles, CA] Secker, 1977.
    *The Seven of Swords (Putnam, 1976, hc) [California] Secker, 1976.

Hello Steve. Your blog is great!

I’m on a mission, and it occurred to me that you and your blog followers might be able to assist me. I’m helping someone identify a film they watched on TV many years ago. My efforts so far have failed to find a match, despite the fact that they can recall quite a bit of detail about what they saw. Here is their description:

A sci-fi film (or possibly a TV episode), from the 1970s-1980s.

A woman reporter is recruited into a secret spy organization. The agency is accessed by an elevator where you insert a key and the control panel flips over to a second one.

At the end of the movie/episode, the lead male character bumps into the woman just as the clock strikes the hour, and she suddenly forgets everything that has happened (like ‘Men In Black’, but this was decades before that movie).

The ‘Agency’ is organized by color-coded sections, and I think the black one had the power to make anyone forget their experiences with them.

Seen on Canadian TV (Ontario). Possibly a TV pilot movie, or from a TV series (I believe it’s American), and was definitely live-action. Set in locations that were summer-weather like.

[description ends]

Steve, it sounds like something I would probably enjoy watching myself, so I’m kind of hooked! I’ve been digging pretty deep trying to unearth it, and I feel my best hope now is finding that one human out there who recognizes this – whatever ‘this’ is.

Thank you,
Harry

Hi Steve

   Can you tell me about the two Thursday short stories/novelettes?

   “Murder Has Girl Trouble” Mystery Book Magazine, Spring 1950

               

   “The Corpse Walked Away” Two Complete Detective Books, January 1951

               

   Are these stories different from the stories in the six novels? Or were they later expanded into two of the six novels?

           Thank you,

                   Joe

   A friend of mine named Jim recently asked me the following question:

   “I’m interested in police procedurals taking place in New York City in the 1980s. Are there any you can tell me about?”

   I don’t read a lot of police procedurals and the only immediate suggestion I could come up with was Ed McBain’s series of 87th Precinct novels, assuming that Isola, his fictional setting for the books might just as well be New York City. (And did you know that Isola has its own Wikipedia page? It does: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isola_(fictional_city).)

   Jim said he’d look into them, but that maybe I could ask the fine people who read this blog if they had any other suggestions, so he could put together a good reading list. Any help would be appreciated!

Hi Steve,

   Francis Pollni is in Al Hubin’s Crime Fiction IV for a couple of titles and his last book was published in 1978. Since then he seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth. Just wondering if you could post a question on your blog to see if anyone knows what happened to him.


POLLINI, FRANCIS (1930- )
    -Glover (Putnam, 1965, hc) [England] Spearman (London), 1965.
    Pretty Maids All in a Row (Delacorte, 1968, hc) Spearman (London), 1968. Film: MGM, 1971 (scw: Gene Roddenberry; dir: Roger Vadim).


   He was born in Pennsylvania 9/9/1930 and married his English born wife, Gloria Ann Swann born 1936, in London in 1959, She is on 1960s London electoral rolls apparently by herself, though he is probably not listed as he could not vote here. I believe he is the F. Pollini living Norwich, Norfolk in the late 1970s according to phone directories, the last appearance in the 1980 edition.

   His wife is still there in the 2000s, the last sighting of her being a 2014 newspaper report on the death of their daughter Lisa, while their other daughter Susanne is apparently working in academic circles in Northern England. She is also on electoral rolls around that time but no listing for him.

   I cannot find any trace of him after 1979 (in that 1980 phone directory). Nothing in any records on Ancestry etc.

   There is a 2011 post about him ‘What ever happened to Francis Pollini’ although it seems to deal with his writings rather answering the question. He has a Contemporary Authors entry, but that basically only gives his birth and marriage details.

   Could you use these facts to post an inquiry in case someone does know something. He is a borderline crime writer, but it would be nice to know what happened to him, where he is and what he is doing now, if anyone knows, of course.

           Thanks

                   John

INQUIRY from Matthew Bradley:
The Case of the Missing PI’s.


   As I mentioned in my recent post about writing Richard Matheson on Screen, several of the more obscure Matheson-related television episodes continue to elude me to this day. They include “Iron Mike Benedict” (The D.A.’s Man, 2/14/59), “Act of Faith” (Buckskin, 3/23/59), “Time of Flight” (Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, 9/21/66), “No Such Thing as a Vampire” (Late Night Horror, 4/19/68), and “L’Esame” (The Test; Racconti di Fantascienza [Tales of Fantasy], 1/31/79).

   But even more frustratingly, while he recalled contributing to them in some capacity, I’ve never turned up any information regarding his involvement with two P.I. series, Richard Diamond, Private Detective and Philip Marlowe.

   So how’s about it, Mystery*File readers/writers? Anybody knowledgeable enough about them to shed some light on this real-life mystery or, by some miracle, able to provide me with copies of any of these mini-Grails? You never know, there may be a second edition!

Hi Steve

   Martha Mott Kelley (sometimes misspelt Kelly) was an early co-author of Richard Webb Wilson writing as Q. Patrick, for Cottage Sinister (1931) and Murder at the Women’s City Club (1932; published in the UK as Death in the Dovecote). Searching on the internet, little seems to be known about her except she was born New York in 1906 (a date confirmed in records) while her date of death is often said to be 2005.

   I can now confirm that that date of death is incorrect. On Ancestry, there is a section for ‘US Consular reports of births 1910-1945’ which has a form dated London May 3 1937 for the birth of Sarah Mott Wilson, daughter of Martha Mott Wilson, nee Kelley, born 30 April 1906 in New York, and Stephen Shipley Wilson aged 32 who were married in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, April 26 1933. They were then living at Villas on the Heath, London.

   Unfortunately the GRO Death registration has made a typo of her middle name, though it would be found by searching for Martha Wilson and her date of birth, listing her as Martha Matt Wilson. And a search of the (UK) Probate Index finds a Martha Mott Wilson of 3 Willow Rd, London who died 17 November 1989.

   All this can be found by diligent searching on Ancestry etc. Most of the records with incorrect date of death of 2005 give no indication of her marriage. In fact very little seems to be known about her according to the Internet. So I hope this will help to at least fill a couple of gaps in our knowledge of her. Perhaps the lack of information about her marriage to Stephen Wilson has caused some guesswork about her death. Does anyone know the origins/source of her supposedly dying in 2005, or even 1998 as the odd website says?

   Incidentally, Stephen Shipley Wilson was born 4 August 1904 in Birkenhead, Cheshire and died 16 September 1989 (living 3 Willow Rd, London). He worked for the Public Record Office and Ministry of Transport, becoming Keeper of the PRO 1960-1966 when he retired.

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