June 2012

by Victor A. Berch

   Charles W. Tyler was perhaps the most prolific pulp writer you never heard of. He was the author of 100s of novelettes and short stories, in all genres, many of which are listed below. He wrote detective stories, adventure stories, railroad stories and westerns, but except to a small handful of enthusiasts, his name is no longer known today.

   He is the author of two titles included in Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin:

            Blue Jean Billy (Chelsea, 1926, hc)
            Quality Bill’s Girl (Chelsea, 1925, hc)

   The second of these is described as being “three novelets presented as a novel.” Since Tyler wrote six “Blue Jean Billy” stories that appeared in Detective Story Magazine (see below), a strong conjecture would be that Quality Bill’s Girl contains the first three, and Blue Jean Billy contains the final three.

   Tyler’s two most prominent series characters in the detective pulps were Big-Nose Charley and Blue Jean Billy Race. Here are descriptions of both, as excerpted from the online website The Pulp Heroes, by Jess Nevins. (Follow the link for more.)

    Big-Nose Charley was created by Charles W. Tyler […] appeared in a number of stories, starting with “Big-Nose Charley’s Get Away,” in the 5 April 1917 issue of Detective Story Magazine. […] Charley is a thief who, though occasionally relying on the more artistic forms of crime such as mail fraud, customarily uses strong-arm tactics to get his swag. […] [W]hat kept Big-Nose Charley going for so many years, and what makes his stories remembered fondly today, is the humor within them. The Big-Nose Charley stories are humorous, and meant to be, poking fun of themselves as well as at the genre.


    Blue Jean Billy Race, the “highway woman of the sea,” was the creation of Charles W. Tyler, a fireman, magazine writer, and draftsman [..] Billy appeared in Detective Story Magazine beginning in “Raggedy Ann” on March 26, 1918 […] [Her father] raised Billy to hate society and its hypocrites and hypocrisies […] Billy is a thief and a pirate, stealing aboard ships to rob the owners and passengers at gunpoint and then slipping over the side and disappearing into the night. She’s not just a thief, though; she’s a thief taking revenge on the evil rich, those liars and cheats who rob from and swindle the poor.

   Tyler’s entry in the Crime, Mystery & Gangster Fiction Magazine Index, 1915-2010, compiled by Phil Stephenson-Payne, William G. Contento & Stephen T. Miller (2010), mentions only that he flourished from 1917-1935.

   He is also found in the online FictionMags Index, where no dates are given for birth and death, but it is noted that he was born in North Hinsdale, MA and that he should not be confused with Charles Waller Tyler nor Charles Willis Tyler.

   In Allen J. Hubin’s massive bibliography Crime Fiction Bibliography, 1700-2000, it is stated he was born in Massachusetts, was a fireman, magazine writer and draftsman.

   Armed with these bits of information, I set out to see what I could unearth through my subscription to the databases held by the New England Historic Genealogical Society to determine what information it might have on a Charles W. Tyler, born in Massachusetts prior to 1915 and born in Hinsdale (or North Hinsdale) Massachusetts.

   It was only a matter of seconds to learn that no Charles W. Tyler showed up in the Society’s databases.

   What was my next step to be?

   Having a world-wide subscription to Ancestry.com’s databases, I knew that that was to be my next avenue of research to see what that might produce.

   There were loads of Charles W. Tylers, but one that caught my attention was a Charles W. Tyler who lived in Quincy, MA and was described as a novelist in the city directories for 1918 and 1920.

   Poking his name into the US Census records from 1900 on up, I was taken by surprise at the entry of a Charles W. Tyler, born 1887 in Hinsdale, New Hampshire. Could it be that there were two Hinsdales? One in Massachusetts and one in New Hampshire and somehow the compilers of the Fictionmags Index and Allen J Hubin’s CFIV had mistakenly assigned the birthplace of Charles W. Tyler to Massachusetts.

   To verify this supposition, I turned to Wikipedia and sure enough, it verified that there was a Hinsdale, Massachusetts and a Hinsdale, New Hampshire,

   Hinsdale, Massachusetts is in Berkshire County, Massachusetts and is part of the Pittsfield, Massachusetts, statistical area. While Hinsdale, New Hampshire is in Cheshire County, New Hampshire, south of Brattleboro VT near the Pisgah State Park at the border of New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

   So, once again I turned to my Ancestry subscription. From previous searches on Ancestry, I knew that someone born in the 1880s had to register for the draft of World War I and I began to explore what might be in that particular database. I entered the name Charles W. Tyler and birthplace New Hampshire and up came Charles Warren Tyler, born 1887 in Hinsdale, New Hampshire and living in Quincy, Massachusetts.

   The clinching piece of data was that he described himself as a writer for the Frank Munsey Company in New York. However, his birth date was given as September 1, 1888. Why Mr. Tyler chose to make himself a year younger is anyone’s guess. But it was not an unusual practice, especially with women and oft times men in the public’s eye.

   Now, one of the great features of the Ancestry database is that it will suggest other of its databases to examine that relate to this person.

   So, in the 1900 US Census, it showed Charles W. Tyler, age 12, born 1887, living in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, living with his mother, Clara, a widow.

   In the 1910 Census, Charles W. Tyler, age 22, is shown living at No. 18 George St., Boston, MA as a boarder. His occupation, an artist with a general practice. (This seems to concur with Hubin’s description of him being a draftsman.)

   For some reason, he does not show up in the 1920 Census. But in the 1930 Census, Charles W. Tyler, age 42, born in New Hampshire, is living in Glendale, California with his wife, Alice. His occupation is listed as a fiction writer.

   And finally, the California Death Index shows that Charles Warren Tyler was born September 1, 1887 in New Hampshire and died April 3, 1952 in Los Angeles County, of which Glendale was a part. His mother’s maiden name was listed as Smith.

   In the book A History of the Doggett/Daggett Family, it states that his mother, Clara Smith, was born in Boston Jan. 17, 1850 and had married Olcott B. Tyler of Hinsdale, NH. Their offspring was Charles Warren Tyler.

   As an added bit of information, his story “Raggedy Ann,” which had appeared as a short story in Detective Story Magazine, March 26, 1918 was the basis for the silent film The Exquisite Thief, scenario by Harvey Gates and directed by Todd Browning. 6 reels and copyrighted April 4, 1919.

       Short fiction [crime and detective stories only]

TYLER, CHARLES W. BNC = Big-Nose Charley; BJB = Blue Jean Billy.

* At Milepost 92, (na) Detective Story Magazine Apr 13 1920


* Big-Nose Charley and Any Old Port [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Nov 18 1919
* Big-Nose Charley and Deuces Low [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Apr 6 1920
* Big-Nose Charley and His Jenny [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Apr 17 1926
* Big-Nose Charley and Human Clay [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Sep 2 1919
* Big-Nose Charley and Madeyline [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Aug 15 1925
* Big-Nose Charley and the Double Cross [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Aug 17 1920
* Big-Nose Charley and the Merry Widow [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jun 11 1927
* Big-Nose Charley and the Promised Land [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Feb 24 1920
* Big-Nose Charley and the Simple Life [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Oct 2 1917
* Big-Nose Charley and the Tout [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Oct 14 1922
* Big-Nose Charley at Home [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Dec 16 1919
* Big-Nose Charley at the Auto Show [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jun 4 1921
* Big-Nose Charley at the Opera [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Feb 13 1926
* Big-Nose Charley at the Policemen’s Ball [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Apr 16 1921
* Big-Nose Charley at the Races [BNC], (ss) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine Nov 21 1931
* Big-Nose Charley Enters the City of Angels [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Mar 8 1924
* Big-Nose Charley Finds a Brother [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Sep 5 1925
* Big-Nose Charley Gets an Interview [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Dec 10 1921
* Big-Nose Charley Gets His Match [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Feb 24 1923
* Big-Nose Charley Hops Off [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Mar 28 1925
* Big-Nose Charley in New Orleans [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jul 20 1929
* Big-Nose Charley in the City of Culture [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jan 22 1921
* Big-Nose Charley in the Magic City [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jun 9 1928
* Big-Nose Charley Leaves His Card [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Oct 24 1925
* Big-Nose Charley Lends a Hand [BNC], (ss) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine Mar 25 1935
* Big-Nose Charley Meets Some Home Folks [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jun 21 1924
* Big-Nose Charley on the Barbary Coast [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Apr 1 1922
* Big-Nose Charley on the Mt. Division [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Dec 25 1917
* Big-Nose Charley on the Painted Plain [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Oct 25 1924
* Big-Nose Charley Rolls His Own [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Mar 25 1919
* Big-Nose Charley Sits in the World [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine May 5 1923
* Big-Nose Charley Works Alone [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Sep 11 1917
* Big-Nose Charley, Alias Santa Claus [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Dec 20 1924
* Big-Nose Charley, Bad Man [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jan 29 1918
* Big-Nose Charley, Gentlemun [BNC], (ss) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine Apr 18 1931


* Big-Nose Charley, Goober Grabber [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jan 7 1928
* Big-Nose Charley, Hijacker [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Oct 11 1924
* Big-Nose Charley, On the Cross [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Apr 16 1918
* Big-Nose Charley, Racketeer [BNC], (ss) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine Aug 15 1931
* Big-Nose Charley’s Color Blind [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jan 21 1928
* Big-Nose Charley’s Derby Hat [BNC], (ss) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine Jul 10 1934
* Big-Nose Charley’s Dog Helps Out [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Aug 27 1921
* Big-Nose Charley’s Florida Front [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Mar 24 1928
* Big-Nose Charley’s Get-Away [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Apr 5 1917
* Big-Nose Charley’s Ha-Ha [BNC], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jan 10 1931
* Big-Nose Charley’s Safe [BNC], (ss) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine Feb 13 1932
* Big-Nose Charley’s Trick Umbrella [BNC], (ss) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine Jul 25 1935
* Blue Jean Billy and the Lone Survivor [BJB], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Aug 22 1925
* Blue Jean Billy at Fiddler’s Reach [BJB], (nv) Detective Story Magazine Jun 25 1921


* Blue Jean Billy Plays Fair [BJB], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jan 18 1930
* Blue Jean Billy, Sky Pirate [BJB], (nv) Detective Story Magazine Apr 4 1925; Best Detective Magazine Mar 1937
* Blue Jean Billy, Waif of the Sea [BJB], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Nov 6 1926
* Cold-Hands Kate, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Apr 15 1919
* Dim Trails [Railroad Detective], (na) Detective Story Magazine Feb 19 1921
* The Dub at Eagle Bridge, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Oct 12 1920
* Echo Bowl, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Nov 6 1917
* Expensive Cigarettes, (nv) Detective Story Magazine Oct 26 1920
* Fair Pickin’s, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Nov 3 1928
* Fate Snaps the Shutter, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jul 15 1922
Best Detective Magazine Feb 1931
* The Foothill Tiger, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Oct 31 1925
* The Green Mask, (nv) Detective Story Magazine Jun 19 1926
* The Haunt of Raggedy Arm, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Oct 7 1919
* The Haunted House on Dungeon Road, (na) Detective Story Magazine Jul 6 1920
* Highway Woman of the Sea [BJB], (na) Detective Story Magazine Aug 19 1922


* Hounded by Habit, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jul 30 1921
Best Detective Magazine Oct 1933
* In Hungry Man’s Canon, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Sep 17 1918
* It Was Signed “Bill”, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jun 8 1920
Best Detective Magazine Apr 1933
* Jimmy the Quilt, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Apr 30 1921
Best Detective Magazine Aug 1934
* Judy’s Touch, (ss) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine Oct 17 1931
* A Kiss for Big-Nose Charley [BNC], (ss) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine Oct 25 1934
* Landlubbers, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Apr 8 1922
* Lon Durgin’s Honor System, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Oct 19 1920
* Look Out!, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Apr 7 1928
* Loose Ends, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Apr 9 1918
* The Loot of the Overland, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Apr 20 1917
* The Lying Signal, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Apr 30 1927
* Mountain Misery, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Aug 16 1924
* A Muddy Bird, (nv) Detective Story Magazine Sep 20 1924


* Nix’s Mate [BJB], (ss) Detective Story Magazine Mar 11 1919
* On the Right Side of the Wrong Street, (ss) Detective Story Magazine May 14 1921
* The Pal in the Pullman, (nv) Detective Story Magazine Nov 29 1924
* Pat Brady — Flatfoot, (ss) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine May 10 1933
* Phantoms of Wolf River, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Oct 29 1918
* Raggedy Ann, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Mar 26 1918
* Raiders from Raggedy Ann, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jul 16 1918
* Raw Silk, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Dec 2 1919
* Sea Law and Blue Jean Billy [BJB], (nv) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine Nov 14 1931
* Second No. 12, (na) Detective Story Magazine Aug 31 1920
* 77 and a Wink, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Feb 26 1921; Best Detective Magazine Jul 1934
* Shattered Evidence [Railroad Detective], (ss) Detective Story Magazine May 27 1919
* Sidetracked Loot on the Mountain Division, (na) Detective Story Magazine Aug 20 1921


* The Slicker Bandit, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jan 23 1926
* Stormy Petrel, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jan 10 1925
* There Were No Clews, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Mar 23 1920; Best Detective Magazine Aug 1932
* The Third Thirteen, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Apr 27 1920
* Too Soft, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Feb 18 1928
* Tramps—Hoboes—Bums, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Apr 25 1925
* Unlucky Luke McCloskey, Gun, (ss) Detective Story Magazine Jun 25 1918
* The Wrong Sucker, (ss) Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine Sep 10 1934

ss = short story; nv = novelette; na = novella.

      Short fiction [everything else; likely incomplete]

TYLER, CHARLES W. Born in North Hinsdale, Massachusetts; not to be confused with Charles Waller Tyler (1841-1920) or with Charles Willis Tyler (1857-1922)

* The Angel of Canyon Pass, (ss) Railroad Stories Apr 1936; Railroad Magazine Feb 1973


* At Five Paces, (ss) Western Story Magazine Apr 29 1922; Far West Stories Aug 1930
* Back on the Main, (ss) Railroad Man’s Magazine Dec 1931; Railroad Magazine Oct 1964
* Bad Men of Old Hat, (ss) Western Story Magazine Jun 21 1924
* Baldy Sours [Baldy Sours], (ss) Quick Trigger Stories of the West Apr 1930
* Baldy Sours and a Cock-Eyed Cupid [Baldy Sours], (ss) West Jan 8 1930
* Baldy Sours and Burning Brands [Baldy Sours], (ss) West Oct 1 1930
* Baldy Sours and Skates Ajar [Baldy Sours], (ss) Short Stories Oct 10 1937
* Baldy Sours and the Chariot Race [Baldy Sours], (ss) Ace-High Magazine Oct #1 1927
* Baldy Sours and the Day of Judgment [Baldy Sours], (ss) West Nov 13 1929
* Baldy Sours and the Firing Squad [Baldy Sours], (ss) Western Trails Jan 1930
* Baldy Sours and the Fountain of Youth [Baldy Sours], (ss) Ace-High Magazine Jul #1 1928
* Baldy Sours and the Golden Fleece [Baldy Sours], (ss) Ace-High Magazine Jan #1 1927
* Baldy Sours and the Gunsight Boom [Baldy Sours], (ss) Short Stories Jan 10 1929


* Baldy Sours and the Human Race [Baldy Sours], (ss) Adventure Mar 1937
* Baldy Sours and the Mexican War [Baldy Sours], (ss) Western Trails Sep-Oct 1929
* Baldy Sours and the Pig Skin Game [Baldy Sours], (ss) Short Stories Apr 25 1929
* Baldy Sours and the Polo Game [Baldy Sours], (ss) Short Stories Jun 25 1935
* Baldy Sours and the Spark of Life [Baldy Sours], (ss) Western Aces Nov 1937
* Baldy Sours and the Tin Horse [Baldy Sours], (ss) Short Stories Dec 25 1934
* Baldy Sours and the Woolly West [Baldy Sours], (ss) Short Stories Apr 25 1937
* Baldy Sours at a Gold Strike [Baldy Sours], (ss) Ace-High Magazine Sep #1 1927
* Baldy Sours Takes the Count [Baldy Sours], (ss) Ace-High Magazine Mar #2 1928; Thrilling Western Magazine Spr 1970
* Baldy Sours, Arabian Knight [Baldy Sours], (ss) Short Stories Nov 25 1928
* Baldy Sours, Bad Man from the West [Baldy Sours], (ss) Quick Trigger Stories of the West Aug/Sep 1930
* Baldy Sours, Badman [Baldy Sours], (ss) Ace-High Magazine Dec #1 1927
* Baldy Sours, Errant Knight [Baldy Sours], (ss) Ace-High Magazine Jun #2 1927
* Baldy Sours, King [Baldy Sours], (ss) Western Adventures May 1931
* Baldy Sours, Promoter [Baldy Sours], (ss) Western Adventures Nov 1931
* Baldy Sours, Rain Maker [Baldy Sours], (ss) Ace-High Magazine May #2 1927
* Baldy Sours, The Late Lamented [Baldy Sours], (ss) Ace-High Magazine Oct #2 1928
* Battle-Call for Johnny Bates, (nv) Star Western Oct 1939
* The Bird That Knew, (ss) Western Story Magazine Feb 3 1923
* The Blue-Dome Mustang, (ss) Ace-High Magazine Jun #2 1923
* The Bo Who Rode No. Two, (ss) Short Stories Sep 25 1929
* The Boothill Parson of Babylon Bend, (nv) Star Western Jan 1944
* Boothill’s Buryin’ Man, (ss) New Western Magazine Dec 1950
* Brand Pirates of the Big Muddy, (nv) Star Western Oct 1941
* The Brand-Blotters Want War!, (nv) Star Western Aug 1942
* Buzzards at Bay, (na) Far West Illustrated Oct 1927
* C-Bar, Grab Your Guns!, (ss) Star Western Jun 1947
* Calico’s “Booty” Contest, (ss) Ace-High Magazine Aug #2 1925
* Cassidy’s Kid, (ss) Short Stories Oct 25 1937
* Clear Iron, (ss) Railroad Stories Feb 1934
* Clear the Iron, (ss) Short Stories Aug 10 1936; Short Stories Apr 1952
* Code of the Morse Man, (ss) Short Stories Nov 10 1947
* The Cop on the Beat, (ss) Short Stories May 10 1934


* The Coronation of Baldy Sours [Baldy Sours], (ss) Ace-High Magazine Aug #2 1926
* The Courtship of Baldy Sours [Baldy Sours], (ss) Ace-High Magazine Sep 18 1926
* Cow-Pirates of the Smoky Trail, (ss) Star Western Sep 1939
* Cowboy Sleuths [Baldy Sours], (ss) Ace-High Magazine Aug #1 1927
* Cowboys Amuck, (ss) Ace-High Magazine May #1 1926
* Cowboys at Stove Pipe, (ss) Ace-High Magazine Mar #2 1926
* Crazy Well [Baldy Sours], (ss) Ace-High Magazine Mar #1 1927
* Crossed Wires at Poverty Bend, (ss) Western Story Magazine Mar 19 1921
* Cut Two Notches, (ss) All Western Magazine Nov 1936
* Dead Man’s Bend, (ss) Short Stories May 10 1936
* Dead Man’s Key, (nv) Short Stories Jul 10 1929


* Derelict Cowman’s Last Stand, (nv) Ace-High Magazine Feb 1938
* The Devil Deals Three Tough Jokers, (ss) Star Western Jul 1947
* Devil Makes a Cowman, (ss) [??] 1939; Fifteen Western Tales Sep 1952
* Diamond Jack of Wyoming, (nv) Western Story Magazine Mar 11 1922
* Double-Breasted Mike, (ss) Railroad Man’s Magazine Dec 7 1918
* Down Sunset Trail, (ss) People’s Magazine Feb 1917
* Down the Smoky Road, (ss) Short Stories Aug 25 1935
* Fast Bullet Man, (na) Fifteen Western Tales Feb 1949
* The Fastest Gun, (nv) Far West Illustrated Apr 1927
* Feud Herd Coming Through!, (nv) Ace-High Magazine Jul 1938


* Fighting Men of the Union Pacific, (nv) Star Western Mar 1942
* A Firin’ Fool, (ss) Short Stories Jul 25 1933
* For the Little Lady, (ss) People’s Magazine May 1917
* Fresh in the West, (ss) Far West Illustrated Nov 1928
* From the Primer of Hate, (ss) Far West Illustrated Magazine Sep 1926
* God of the High Iron, (ss) Railroad Man’s Magazine Mar 1930
* Gun Lord of Poverty Empire, (nv) Star Western Oct 1940
* Gun Rider for the Overland, (ss) 10 Story Western Magazine Nov 1942
* The Gun River Pilgrims, (nv) Star Western Apr 1940
* Gunmen of the Rails, (na) Short Stories Sep 10 1929
* Gunmen of the Rails, (ss) Short Stories Sep 10 1929
* Gunmen’s Trails, (nv) West Mar 2 1932
* Guns of the Graveyard Trick, (na) Short Stories Jul 10 1935
* Gunsmoke Funeral at Yellow Cat, (nv) Star Western Jul 1940
* Hard As Nails, (ss) People’s Favorite Magazine Aug 10 1917
* He Forgot to Pay, (ss) Western Story Magazine Nov 5 1921
* He Knew It All, (ss) Western Story Magazine Jul 18 1925
* Hell in Their War-Sacks! [Dewlap, Wattles and the Hairpin Kid], (nv) Star Western Jul 1945
* Highballing the Moonbeam Trail, (ss) Railroad Man’s Magazine May 1930
* Hiram at a Rodeo [Hiram Pertwee], (ss) Western Story Magazine Oct 8 1921
* Hiram in a Hold-Up, (ss) Railroad Man’s Magazine Apr 1916
* Hiram in No Man’s Land, (ss) Railroad Man’s Magazine Nov 9 1918
* Hiram on a Down-Hill Road, (ss) Railroad Man’s Magazine Feb 1915
* Hiram on the High Seas, (ss) Railroad Man’s Magazine Nov 1918
* Hiram on the Yellowstone Trail [Hiram Pertwee], (ss) Western Story Magazine Dec 31 1921
* Hiram Rides “Parson Pickax”, (ss) Western Story Magazine Mar 5 1921
* Hiram Ropes a Kitty Cat [Hiram Pertwee], (ss) Western Story Magazine May 7 1921
* The Horned Toad Detour, (ss) Railroad Man’s Magazine Nov 1930
* Hot Shot (with Griff Crawford, E. S. Dellinger, James W. Earp, William Edward Hayes, John Patrick Johns, Gilbert A. Lathrop, A. Leslie, John A. Thompson & Don Waters), (ss) Railroad Stories Apr 1934
* Igo, the Killer, (ss) Western Story Magazine Sep 24 1921; Far West Stories Mar 1930; Western Winners May 1935
* The Iron Warpath, (nv) Short Stories Oct 10 1943
* Johnny Bates Adopts a War!, (ss) Star Western Dec 1939
* Johnny Bates’ Running-Iron Rebellion, (nv) Star Western Dec 1944
* Johnny Gosh, Top Rope, (ss) Western Story Magazine Sep 10 1921
* The K.K.K., (sl) National Magazine Jul 1906
* The Kid from Gunhammer Vreek, (na) Dime Western Magazine Jul 1946
* Killer Country, (nv) Street & Smith’s Western Story Magazine Oct 15 1932
* The Killer of Canyon Diablo, (nv) Wide World Adventures Oct 1929
* The Killer of Canyon Diabolo, (nv) Ace-High Magazine Apr #2 1923
* The Last Witness, (nv) Short Stories Feb 25 1937; Short Stories Aug 1951
* Little Joe, (ss) Short Stories Jan 25 1938
* Make Way for the Eastbound, (ss) Railroad Magazine Oct 1954; Railroad Magazine Feb 1974
* The Male of the Species, (ss) Breezy Stories Sep 1916
* A Message from Mescal, (ss) Western Aces Jan 1938
* Mohave Buckaroo, (nv) Short Stories Mar 10 1939
* A Mountain Division Man, (ss) New Story Magazine Jul 1914
* The Murder Syndicate, (nv) Argosy All-Story Weekly May 12 1923
* Night Operator, (ss) Railroad Magazine Jan 1971
* Night Trick, (ss) Railroad Magazine Jan 1953
* No Cattle Sold in Hell, (nv) Ace-High Magazine Jun 1938
* No Law on the Tonto Rim, (na) 10 Story Western Magazine Dec 1941
* Old “Harqua Hala” Bill, (ss) Ace-High Magazine Sep #2 1923
* On First 303, (ss) The Railroad and Current Mechanics Oct 1913
* On Time!, (ss) Railroad Man’s Magazine Mar 1931
* The Ora Hanna Stampede, (ss) Ace-High Magazine Jan #1 1926
* Out Where the Worst Begins, (ss) Ace-High Magazine May #1 1928


* Outlaw Frontier, (na) Short Stories Jun 10 1932
* Outlaws of Milestone Mesa, (na) Western Story Magazine Apr 30 1921
* Over the Big Divide, (ss) Western Story Magazine Jun 3 1922
* Owlhoot Roundup at the Horned Moon, (nv) 10 Story Western Magazine Dec 1940
* The Parson Buries His Dead, (ss)
* The Parson of Owlhoot Junction, (nv) Star Western Nov 1943
* Parson Pickax in the Pictures, (ss) Ace-High Magazine Mar #2 1924
* Peelers in Peril, (na) Western Story Magazine Jan 21 1928
* Petticoat Doolittle’s Emancipation, (ss) Ace-High Magazine Jun 1 1926
* Pirates’ Trail, (na) Western Story Magazine Mar 9 1929
* Pistoleers West of the Pecos, (ss) Dime Western Magazine Jul 1950
* Ragtown Shall Rise Again!, (nv) Star Western Oct 1945
* Railroad Drummer, (na) Railroad Stories Dec 1934


* Railroad Engineer, (ss) Railroad Stories Oct 1933
* Railroad Romeo, (ss) Short Stories Mar 25 1937
* Rails West, (ss) Short Stories Sep 10 1944
* Range of Missing Men, (na) Dime Western Magazine Feb 1951
* Ranger Wanted—in Hell!, (nv) Star Western Mar 1944
* The Rattler Racket, (ss) Railroad Man’s Magazine Aug 1931
* The Reign of Baldy Sours [Baldy Sours], (ss) Ace-High Magazine Feb #1 1927
* Reply to Johnson’s letter, (ms) Big-Book Western Magazine Jun 1949
* Ribbons of Iron, (ss) Top-Notch Oct 15 1921
* The Road to Yesterday, (ss) Railroad Stories Feb 1936
* The Rustlers’ Union Votes for War!, (nv) Star Western Mar 1941
* Shoddy Mike’s Last Stand, (ss) Western Story Magazine May 14 1921
* Shoot ’Em Quick—Plant ’Em Fast!, (nv) Star Western Nov 1947
* The Shuffle Trick, (ss) All-Story Weekly May 22 1920
* The Sky Hoss, (ss) Ace-High Magazine Mar #1 1926
* Smiling Smith Sits In, (ss) Railroad Man’s Magazine Aug 1930
* Smoke Blue Ranch, (na) Western Story Magazine Aug 27 1921
* Smoky Smith—Sheriff, (nv) West Apr 15 1931
* Star and Six-Gun, (sl) West Dec 10, Dec 24 1930, Jan 7 1931
* The Star on Outlaw Trail, (ss) All Western Magazine Jan 1937
* Strange Guns Invade the Rim Rock, (ss) Star Western Oct 1937
* “Sunset” Jones, (nv) Western Story Magazine Feb 10 1923
* Telegraph Joe, (ss) Western Story Magazine Jul 16 1921
* The Tenderfoot of Buzzard Flat, (nv) Western Story Magazine Oct 7 1920
* The Terrible Trail to Dodge, (nv) Zane Grey’s Western Magazine Jun 1953
* Texas Sends ’Em Tough!, (na) Big-Book Western Magazine Mar 1949
* There’s Hell in Johnson Country, (na) 10 Story Western Magazine Apr 1942
* They’re Shipping Hell from Texas!, (na) Star Western Jan 1947
* Those Grave-Digging Brand-Hawks!, (nv) Star Western Jul 1943
* Those Three Texas Hellions, (nv) Star Western Jun 1943
* Three from Texas, (nv) Dime Western Magazine Jan 1952
* The 3-Cross Button Rides Gun, (ss) Ace-High Magazine Nov 1938
* “To Hell with the Rangers!”, (nv) Star Western Jan 1943
* Too Many Guns, (na) Western Story Magazine Jul 21 1923
* Track Clear at Algodones, (ss) Argosy Sep 1945
* Track Clear!, (ss) Argosy Nov 1943
* Trouble at Cottonwood Station, (ss) Argosy Jan 1944
* Trouble in the Canyon, (ss) Railroad Magazine Oct 1952
* Trouble Rides from Texas!, (ss) 10 Story Western Magazine Dec 1949
* Two-Gun Justice (with W. D. Liberty), (nv) Lariat Story Magazine Sep 1926; Cowboy Story Magazine Apr 1927
* The Walking Fool, (ss) Western Story Magazine Apr 2 1922
* War Call of the Singing Wire, (na) Ace-High Western Stories Jan 1942
* War of the Branding Iron, (na) Short Stories Nov 25 1935; Boston Sunday Globe Magazine Dec 10 1939
* Welcome to Bullfrog, (ss) Western Story Magazine Mar 28 1925
* The Western Union Kid, (ss) Railroad Stories May 1934
* When Hoboes Rode, (ss) Railroad Stories Jun 1935
* When Rangers Ride the Death-Watch, (nv) Star Western Jun 1944
* When the Chips Were Down, (ss) Railroad Magazine Jul 1945; also as “When the Chips Are Down,” Railroad Magazine Dec 1968
* When the Lights Are Green, (ss) Short Stories Aug 25 1936
* Wolves of the Iron Trail, (sl) West Sep 2, Sep 16, Sep 30 1931


The Crime Fiction Index, by Phil Stephensen-Payne, William G. Contento and Stephen T. Miller (CD-ROM, Locus Press).

Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin (CD-Rom, Locus Press).

The FictionMags Index.

The Pulp Heroes, by Jess Nevins.

   With a special note of gratitude to Phil Stephensen-Payne for not only generously allowing such extensive usage of the bibliographic material above, but also for letting us use his wonderful Galactic Central website as a source for the cover images you see here. Thanks, Phil!

© 2012 by Victor A Berch


“Gertrude.” An episode of Harry O. ABC/Warner Brothers Television. 12 September 1974 (Season 1, Episode 1). Thursday at 10 pm., 60 minutes. Cast: David Janssen, Julie Sommars, Henry Darrow, Michael McGuire, Les Lannon, Mel Stewart. Written and Created by Howard Rodman. Produced by Robert E. Thompson. Executive Producer and Director: Jerry Thorpe.

HARRY O David Janssen

   Harry O remains high on every TV private eye fan’s DVD wish list, while the second pilot “Smile Jenny, You’re Dead” is available as a Made On Demand DVD from WB Archives Collection, the series shows no signs of ever being released on official DVD.

   Harry O was a series that went through many changes over its two-season run, beginning with two separate pilot movies. Rather than review the entire series at once, I plan to randomly return and review single episodes that were important in the series evolution.

   Normally, I would start with the pilot but the first pilot “Such Dust As Dreams Are Made On” (73) is difficult to find. The second pilot, “Smile Jenny, You’re Dead” (74), was an average predictable humorless psychological thriller featuring a stalker killing off the men in his victim’s life and a story of Harry reuniting a homeless child and her mother. Certainly nothing like I remember the series.

   So I start with the premiere episode, “Gertrude.” Even the theme song and opening changed over time. Here is the opening to “Gertrude” as it appears on YouTube:

   â€œGertrude” was the Harry O I remember, funny, off beat with an interesting mystery and entertaining interaction between the characters. The episode was not perfect, suffering from an occasional minor plot hole or two, but the story was entertaining enough for such complaints to be quickly forgiven.

   No actor on television has been more convincing as a PI than David Janssen. In this episode Janssen is at his best, not only as the television PI he did so well in Richard Diamond, but as a character that is as eccentric as his clients.

   Harry Orwell is a former police detective in San Diego who, after one police case left him with a bullet in his back and on full disability, tries to enjoy a simple lifestyle while taking cases as a PI only when he is in the mood.

HARRY O David Janssen

   The Harry in this episode solved the mystery by figuring out the clues and using his experiences as a cop. His humor was playful with non-sequiturs as well as typical PI wisecracks. He is passive, patient, doesn’t talk much, and prefers to travel his own path at his own pace. His methods were as effective as they were odd and a source of irritation to other law enforcement people.

   If Harry O must be labeled it should be as ABC’s version of NBC’s The Rockford Files. But there are too many differences between Harry and Rockford for the label to hold up beyond both series being hour-long mysteries that make fun of the clichés of the PI.

   For example, Harry enjoys taking the bus. In this episode the government agent (Michael McGuire) has to follow Harry who is riding the bus. The scene where the agent in his car is trying not to be spotted while following a bus certainly is in contrast to and more entertaining than the typical TV PI car chase.

   The story opens on the beach in front of Harry’s home. He is working on his broken boat named “The Answer.” The phone begins to ring. Harry ignores it, explaining in his PI narration that he doesn’t want to answer the phone he wants to be in Idaho with the circus. But on the eighteenth ring, Harry answers figuring anyone who would let the phone ring eighteen times must really want to talk to him.

HARRY O David Janssen

   It is a woman named Gertrude (Julie Sommars) who wants Harry to find her missing brother, Harold (Les Lannon), who the Navy says is AWOL. Harold had sent Gertrude a clue, one civilian left shoe. Harry thinks that is an odd thing for a sailor to send, and he likes the sound of Gertrude’s voice, so he takes the case.

   Ditzy teetotaler, virgin Gertrude finds the confessed immoral drinker Harry confusing, while Harry tries hard to prove he is in fact a gentleman who does not want her “to cheat the man she marries” either.

   Two Shore Patrolmen arrive and demand all of Harold’s property. (Gertrude had all ready sold all the furniture to get the money to pay Harry.) Harry runs them off and realizes they are not from the Shore Patrol.

   The first stop on Harry’s search for Harold is the airport, where he uses the baggage scanner to see if there is anything hidden inside the shoe Harold sent his sister (there isn’t).

   Neither Harry nor the Navy are too open with the other, so Harry asks his police contact Lt. Manny Quinlan (Henry Darrow) to find out the answer to two questions, does Harold play poker and what is Harold’s shoe size. This is where the show plays fair as Harry recaps the clues and what we know up to this point for Manny and the detectives among the viewers.

HARRY O David Janssen

   Howard Rodman received a well deserving Edgar nomination for his witty script. The combination of Rodman’s script, Jerry Thorpe’s quality direction, Janssen’s acting and Billy Goldberg’s soundtrack all came together and rose one scene from its typical filler status to memorable.

   When Harry visits the Navy Commander to ask about Harold the missing sailor and brother, he is lead down some corridors. There is a Navy Officer leading the way and a uniformed Shore Patrolman just behind Harry. Meanwhile the soundtrack is playing a military drum march over the theme song. Surprisingly, this usually filler type scene is entertaining and has a story driven reason behind it.

   Harry and the Navy finally work together and Harold and the two posing Shore Patrolman are found. But that was not the end of this entertaining mystery, there is still a twist or two left before all is answered.

   If you have watched “Smile Jenny, You’re Dead” and wondered why anyone remembers Harry O, it is because of episodes such as “Gertrude.”

   Broadcasting (September 23, 1974) ran the ratings of the week as well as excerpts from critic’s reviews around the country of new series such as Harry O.

   Critics at the time were divided over the script. Cecil Smith of the LA Times wrote, “…The dialogue is as sharp as a switchblade, the characters solidly drawn…and the mystery itself continually absorbing.” While John J. O’Connor of the NY Times wrote, “The script is third-rate…”

HARRY O David Janssen

   Most found Janssen better than the script with such comments as Kay Gardella of the NY Daily News, who wrote, “…An actor with charisma and a good track record can take a mediocre property and make it look a lot better than it is. That’s what David Janssen does with Harry O.” But John Carmody of the Washington Post worried “…the viewer is never sure whether Janssen is wise-cracking or just proving he’s still awake.”

   â€œGertrude” aired on premiere week of the 1974-75 fall season. The Thursday lineup on ABC began with The Odd Couple followed by Paper Moon then Streets of San Francisco and Harry O at 10pm. CBS had a two hour Waltons followed by Perry Como Summer of 74 at 10pm. NBC’s lineup began with Sierra followed by Ironside and Movin’ On at 10pm. (Thanks to TVTango.com and David Bushman’s TV Guide.)

   Ratings were good as “Gertrude” was one of only three shows ABC had in the top 30 (the movie Fiddler on the Roof and Streets of San Francisco were the other two). For its time slot Harry O finished ranked twenty-fifth with 19.6 and 34 share. Movin’ On’s rating was 19.8 and a 34 share and CBS’s Perry Como finished with a 32 share. In an era when shows often enjoyed 50 shares and higher, and under 30 meant you were in trouble, the most positive ratings news for Harry was how bad the rest of the ABC schedule was doing.

   Will future episode maintain the high standards of “Gertrude”? I am looking forward to watching and find out.

ROBERT BARNARD Political Suicide

ROBERT BARNARD – Political Suicide. Collins Crime Club, UK, hardcover, 1986. Scribner’s, US, hardcover, 1986. Reprinted several times, including Dell, US, paperback, August 1987; Corgi, UK, paperback, 1988.

   I don’t know about you, but the cover just to the right (the Corgi reprint) is one of the ugliest I’ve ever seen on a paperback. It’s not just that it’s in black and white, or that’s incompetently done (I’m not saying that, exactly), but it makes me feel kind of creepy every time I look at it. (And how many covers have you seen rendered in black and white recently?)

   It’s not that the book it adorns is not a noir novel, for maybe it is. What Political Suicide is, is a novel about politics, and politicians, British style, and how more downbeat and depressing can a book be than to be about politics and politicians, no matter the country of origin?

ROBERT BARNARD Political Suicide

   Barnard takes the humorous approach, though. His dry wit skewers the profession at every turn, both its pretenses and its pretensions. (No, they are not the same.) But here is the problem, as I see it. Making fun of politicians and their ilk is far too easy. It is as much fun for the reader as I am sure it was for the author, but not for as long, I have a feeling, speaking for myself, of course.

   Setting off an election is the presumed suicide of the previous MP of Bootham East, his body fished out of the Thames. The Prime Minister sees no need for an investigation, but Scotland Yard is suspicious.

   Sent off to Bootham East, a dismal backwater area of England, is Superintendent Sutcliffe, who is about to retire (only several weeks to go) and he has some vacation time coming.

   His investigation is therefore low key and largely unofficial, but he has a keen sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. But another problem with this detective novel, though – as a detective novel – is that it’s a little too low key.

ROBERT BARNARD Political Suicide

   The investigation goes along at a pace that’s slow to begin with, and then manages to go even slower. The antics of the professional politicians — the three primary ones vying for the seat — get a lot more coverage than the sleuthing does. And as a result, our attention (as detective story fans) begins to flag, and we may not be as prepared for the ending when it comes, even though we’ve been keeping a good eye open for the number of pages left.

   Speaking for myself, of course. If you are British, you may become more involved with the politics and the politicians (a sorry lot, all), and chances are high that you will have a far better time with this one than I did.

   Off on another note, one that I have found strange, Supt. Sutcliffe had a second recorded case: A Scandal in Belgravia (1991), but he may be a participant only in retirement – or in a decidedly minor role. None of the online reviews of the book mention him. If you’ve read that book, can you confirm that he’s in it?

Happy Birthday to the Drive-In Theater
by Walker Martin

   While recently engaged in one of my favorite activities, mainly that of watching movies on DVD, I suddenly realized that it was the birthday of one of my former hangouts, the Drive-In Theater.


   On June 6, 1933, the Drive-In was born in Camden, New Jersey. It immediately became the place to go and by the height of its popularity in the 1950’s and 1960’s there were over 4,000 theaters across the country.

   In the 1970’s, my wife and I went to the Drive-Ins just about every weekend. Even in the winter, the places were so popular that there were theaters that provided in-car heaters. Of course you would have to turn your ignition and also use the car heater.

   There were several in the Trenton NJ area and we used to visit them all: US 1 North Drive-In, Roosevelt Drive-In, Lawrence, Route 206, The Dix, Ewing Drive-In. Too many to remember.

   They are all gone now, and maybe for me personally it’s a good thing. I probably would not have survived to 2012 if I had continued to go to them. I believe most of them died in the 1980’s and if they had lasted much longer, I would have died with them.


   Why? I got into the habit of following my “Drive-In Routine,” which consisted of cigarettes, a six pack of beer, and Arby roast beef sandwiches and french fries.

   We would eagerly arrive while it was still daylight in order to get a place in the front or second row. I would hold off the orgy of eating and drinking until the opening credits and then it was not a pretty sight as I devoured Arby’s and swilled cans of beer, tossing them outside the car window as I finished each one. One beer equaled one cigarette.

   My wife hated my smoking because the smell of old cigarette smoke would sink into her hair and clothes. But, being the typically guy, and since she was a non-book collector, what did I care? Even at the Drive-In, I still applied my life long philosophy that there are two types of people, collectors and non-collectors.

   There was another annoying thing about many Drive-Ins: the bugs and insects. In the hot summer nights we would of course have the windows down and in they would come to feast on me. They mainly ignored my wife because she was only half my size, and the Arby’s and beers must have made my blood taste good.


   To try and drive the bugs away, many of the theaters sold a product called PIC. I forget what the initials meant but it was a coil that you lit with a match and placed on your dashboard. It seemed to work on clearing the bugs out of the car but after awhile you also wanted to leave the car.

   Of course, after a few beers I no longer cared about them and I had no trouble concentrating on the movie.

   My wife and I followed the same routine. Me with Arby’s, french fries, beer, cigarettes, while watching all 3 movies, and she gasping, coughing, scratching, and complaining while she watched the first feature. She never made it past the first movie because she always fell asleep during the first intermission.

   It seemed I always picked the movie, and they just about all were the triple feature horror movies. This was before the VCR and the video revolution, and you could not find many of the movies on TV.

   Some were foreign imports showing more than the usual violence and skin but my favorites were the Hammer horror films. Nothing like a Hammer horror movie combined with Arby’s and beer. Heaven!


   Actually my first experiences with a Drive-In came late in life but once exposed, I was hooked until they all died. I’ve always had my nose stuck in a book during my childhood and into my twenties. It was not until I was drafted into Army that I started regularly attending. While at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, a bunch of soldiers would pile into a car with a couple cases of beer and go to the Drive-Ins off base.

   The first time I went I was not used to drinking and instead of drinking beer I drank a bottle of blackberry brandy. The last thing I remembered was the opening credits of the first feature. The next thing I recalled was the closing credits of the third and last movie. I had passed out and missed all three films. I made sure that never happened again.

   There used to be hundreds of the theaters in New Jersey and now there is one in Vineland NJ that I’m aware of. Too far away. What killed the Drive-In? The VCR and the video revolution killed them.


   No longer did movie lovers and horror buffs have to go to the Drive-In to see films of the bizarre and unusual. Instead they could stay home and watch the movies on their VCR’s in the comfort of family surroundings.

   No more fighting insects, smelly PICS, or terrible drive-in rest rooms. I never tried drive-in fast food but it looked deadly.

   So Happy Birthday to the Drive-In. I know there are a few scattered survivors in other parts of the country. But in New Jersey, the birthplace of the Drive-In, they are sadly missed. Rest In Peace.


DAY OF THE EVIL GUN. MGM, 1968. Glenn Ford, Arthur Kennedy, Dean Jagger, John Anderson, Paul Fix, Nico Minardos, Dean Stanton, Pilar Pellicer, Parley Baer, Royal Dano. Screenplay: Charles Marquis Warren and Eric Bercovici, based on a story by the former. Director: Jerry Thorpe.


   Day of the Evil Gun is perhaps more enjoyable for the films it remembers than for the film it is, but I found it an agreeably entertaining ninety minutes or so when I saw it at the local grind-houses in my misspent college years and again when I revisited it last month.

   Glenn Ford and Arthur Kennedy star in this thing, and their iconic presences add a certain amount of dramatic weight to what would otherwise have been a rather insubstantial effort.

   How insubstantial? Well the plot is the well-worn one about a gunfighter (Glenn Ford) forswearing violence and returning home, only to find … well they always find one damn thing or another, and this time it’s that his wife and kids got carried off by Injuns t’other day.

   Well hell. So Glenn has to strap on his guns and ride off once again, following what clues he can find to rescue his family.

   What follows is rather cheaply done, with only a few sets and extras, simplistic action scenes, and even a dearth of horses. There are a few good ideas here and there, too often let down by uninspired execution.


   The Indians who have been marauding the countryside, appearing at will and then vanishing like ninja warriors when they decimate a troop of soldiers, get a bad case of the Stupids once Glenn actually catches up with them, and the rescue the film has been building to seems easy and anticlimactic.

   Lame script and fitful direction (by Jerry Thorpe, son of Richard Thorpe, a director who plodded around Metro for a generation) don’t help at all.

   But what does help is a cast that seems to remember better days, starting with Dean Jagger as a crazed (or is he?) drifter who gets along with the Apache — a direct reference to Old Mose in The Searchers. Then there’s Paul Fix as yet another weary marshal, John Anderson from Ride the High Country, Royal Dano from Johnny Guitar and James Griffith, who incarnated both Doc Holiday and Pat Garrett in the B movies at various times.


   All of whom are outshown by Arthur Kennedy as a neighboring rancher who’s been a-courtin’ Glenn’s wife whilst he was gone. Back in the 50s, Glenn Ford may have been the bigger star, always the savvy westerner, but Kennedy got the juicier parts, invariably as the likeable but weak-willed good/bad guy who gets corrupted in films like Rancho Notorious, The Lusty Men, Bend of the River and Man from Laramie, and it’s good to see him get out the Moral Disintegration bit one more time.

   The last face-off between Ford and Kennedy, two dusty veterans stepping out in the street for a last bout of gunplay, is done with authority and even a certain reverence, and it’s a real pleasure to watch, even if the ending is a foregone conclusion.


by Josef Hoffmann

    For years I have collected crime books which dealt with music. For example a protagonist is a singer, a musician, a dancer or a DJ. The setting is a night club with musical performances, an opera-house, a record company. The reason for the crime is the corruption in the music business, organised crime and drugs. Stars are being threatened by jealous fans or blackmailers. The murder weapon is a musical instrument. A clue is a melody which leads to the killer, and so on.

    “Music and crime”-mysteries comprehend all subgenres: the traditional puzzle mystery, the hard-boiled detective story, the action thriller, the suspense novel, the crime comedy etc. Some crime stories have such bizarre plot ideas that they might be parodies. Various kinds of music are presented: classical music, blues, jazz, soul, pop and rock music, country, folk music, reggae, rap etc. Most of the books, above all the paperbacks, have really nice covers, even some crime novels which are mediocre or worse.

   Once I had filled four big boxes with this kind of books I stopped collecting systematically. There were just too many books to buy. Now and then I still pick up a crime novel with a music background. Some very interesting novels were written by French and Scandinavian authors (e. g. Pouy, Daeninckx, Bocquet, Edwardson, Nesser, Dahl etc.) which I have read in German translation.

   But my list below contains only crime and detective novels which were written in English (no short stories). I cannot say they are the fifty best music mysteries because there are many left I have not read at all. Every writer is represented only with one novel, even though he or she has written two or more mysteries referring to music.

   The novels are listed alphabetically by author. They should be enjoyable at least for readers which are interested in music and the music scene. Some books are excellent.

   If I were to recommend one book especially, I would select Devil Take the Blue-Tail Fly by John Franklin Bardin. It catches the reader with its uncommon atmosphere. One gets the impression that music and crime meet in a kind of deviant behaviour, different from “normal reality” (seen from a rather abstract point of view).

   More information about this novel can be found in Crime and Mystery: The 100 Best Books, by H. R. F. Keating. Everybody who likes the film Black Swan should also like Bardin’s novel.

   Here is the list:

Allingham, Margery: Dancers in Mourning (1937)

Bardin, John Franklin: Devil Take the Blue-Tail Fly (1948)


Barnard, Robert: Death on the High Cs (1977)

Barnes, Linda: Steel Guitar (1991)

Bloch, Robert: The Dead Beat (1960)

Box, Edgar: Death in the Fifth Position (1952)


Brown, Carter: Death on the Downbeat (1958); retitled: The Corpse (1960)

Brean, Herbert: The Traces of Brillhart (1960)

Cain, James M.: Serenade (1937)

Chase, James Hadley: What’s Better Than Money (1960)

Cody, Liza: Under Contract (1986)

Coxe, George Harmon: The Ring of Truth (1966)

Dewey, Thomas B.: A Sad Song Singing (1963)


Ellison, Harlan: Rockabilly (1961); retitled: Spider Kiss (1982)

Friedman, Kinky: Greenwich Killing Time (1986)

Goodis, David: Down There (1958); retitled: Shoot the Piano Player (1962)


Gosling, Paula: Loser’s Blues (1980)

Gruber, Frank: The Whispering Master (1947)

Haas, Charlie & Hunter, Tim: The Soul Hit (1977)

Hansen, Joseph: Fadeout (1970)

Hare, Cyril: When the Wind Blows (1949)


Haymon, S. T.: Death of a God (1987)

Headley, Victor: Excess (1993)

Hiaasen, Carl: Basket Case (2002)

Kane, Henry: Dirty Gertie (1963)

Keene, Day: Payola (1960)

Leonard, Elmore: Be Cool (1999)

Lyons, Arthur: Three with a Bullet (1984)

Marsh, Ngaio: Overture to Death (1939)


Martin, Robert: Catch a Killer (1956)

McBain, Ed: Rumpelstiltskin (1981)

McCoy, Horace: They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1935)

McDermid, Val: Dead Beat (1992)

Moody, Bill: Death of a Tenor Man (1995)

Myles, Simon: The Big Hit (1975)

Nielsen, Helen: Sing Me a Murder (1960)


Peters, Ellis: Black Is The Colour of My True-Love’s Heart (1967)

Pines, Paul: The Tin Angel (1983)

Queen, Ellery (Richard Deming): Death Spins the Platter (1962)

Rabe, Peter: Murder Me for Nickels (1960)

Rendell, Ruth: Some Lie and Some Die (1973)

Ripley, Mike: Just Another Angel (1988)

Sanders, William: A Death on 66 (1994)

Spicer, Bart: Blues for the Prince (1950)


Stagge, Jonathan: Death’s Old Sweet Song (1946)

Stout, Rex: The Broken Vase (1941)

Thompson, Jim: The Kill-Off (1957)

Timlin, Mark: Zip Gun Boogie (1992)

Westbrook, Robert: Nostalgia Kills (1987)

Whitfield, Raoul: Death in a Bowl (1931)


    Additional titles of older music mysteries are listed in The Subject Is Murder (1986), Chapter 14, by Albert J. Menendez. Menendez refers especially to an extensive review of the opera mystery by Marv Lachman in Opera News, July 1980.

LESLIE FORD – By the Watchman’s Clock. Farrar & Rinehart, hardcover, 1932. Pocket #33, paperback; 1st printing, 1940. Popular Library 50-440, paperback, 1960.

LESLIE FORD By the Watchman's Clock

   I ended my previous review, that of Susan Moody’s Penny Dreadful [reviewed here ], with a quote. Let me start this one with another one, this one taken from the book’s first couple of paragraphs:

   In the little town of Landover, the most important thing is Daniel Sutton. Landover College is the next most important. Landover, like the rest of Maryland, measures everybody and everything by two yardsticks. One is Money and the other is Age. The conclusion is inevitable. Daniel Sutton is disgustingly rich and the college is exceedingly old. Some people might dispute the matter of priority. There are Marylanders who believe that age is more important than money, but as a rule they are held to be prejudiced. There’s certainly no doubt in the minds of practical people that it would be better to be rich as Daniel Sutton than to be as old as Landover College.

   As a matter of fact, to give credit where credit is due, Daniel Sutton has done more for himself than Landover College has done for itself.

LESLIE FORD By the Watchman's Clock

   As a prologue, it sets the stage for the rest of the book in exact, precise fashion. In fact, if I were to tell you who the murder victim is to be, I don’t think that there is any way in the world that you would be surprised. With its old-fashioned, Southern aristocratic background, you could easily imagine, I’m sure, that there would be very few similarities between this book and the one with Penny Wanawake (modern, British, young, tall, black) as its leading character.

   But you might be wrong if you did, and I’ll get back to that in a minute. One way that times have changed, though, is that the heroine who narrates Leslie Ford’s story, Martha Niles, a wife of one of the college’s professors, simply takes for granted the role that blacks have in the world. She would be utterly amazed at the possibility of a series of mysteries solved by a stunningly beautiful young black woman. To her credit, she seems intelligent enough that maybe it wouldn’t surprise her, after all. On the other hand, “black” is certainly not the word she ever uses. Other characters use worse.

LESLIE FORD By the Watchman's Clock

   The mystery in this book is cluttered by all sorts of “if I had only known”s, failures to follow through on even the most obvious hints and clues — when the murder occurs there seems to be absolutely no understanding that a fatal shooting is a matter for the police, and that no one should wander off right afterward — and silence on the part of many to protect someone else is seldom a good idea.

   One similarity between this book and the previous one is the failure in each to bring the killer to conventional justice. The omission is even greater in this book, because I don’t believe the victim is as despicable as the one in Susan Moody’s book.

   Daniel Sutton’s “crime” is only that he is rich, and the money he is hoarding could be used for better purposes. Although Martha Niles is one of the few people who actually likes him, even she seems to be content with the way the book ends.

   I enjoyed the first 28 chapters, but the key to how well you like a mystery novel lies in the 29th chapter, not the first 28. It’s too bad. Given the time, the place and the era, the characters are described well, and they behave according. The book couldn’t be reprinted, but as a slice of an earlier America, it is, in its way, even better than the mystery.

— Reprinted from Mystery*File 31,
       May 1991 (slightly revised).

A TV Review by Mike Tooney

UFO The Square Triangle

“The Square Triangle.” An installment of UFO: Season 1, Episode 10. First broadcast: 9 December 1970. Ed Bishop, Michael Billington, Ayshea, Gabrielle Drake, Adrienne Corri, Dolores Mantez, Antonia Ellis, Allan Cuthbertson, Patrick Mower, George Sewell, Anthony Chinn, Keith Alexander, Gary Myers, Hugo Panczak, Godfrey James, Norma Ronald, Mel Oxley (the voice of SID, uncredited). Producers and format: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, and Reg Hill. Writer: Alan Pattillo. Director: David Lane.

    From Wikipedia: “The basic premise [of UFO] is that in the near future – a fictional version of 1980 (a date indicated in the opening credits) — Earth is being visited and attacked by aliens from a dying planet and humans are being covertly harvested for their organs by the aliens. The show’s main cast of characters are members of a secret, high-technology international agency called SHADO (an acronym for Supreme Headquarters, Alien Defence Organisation) established to defend Earth and humanity against the mysterious aliens and learn more about them.

    “SHADO is headed by Commander Edward Straker (played by Ed Bishop), a former United States Air Force Colonel and astronaut…”

UFO The Square Triangle

   It’s been a hard day’s night for our blue-skinned alien: He has just flown almost thirty trillion miles from his home planet to Earth (which his race is anxious to colonize) without being detected — until the last few thousand miles of his journey.

   An Earth-orbiting space detector (a posh-voiced computer system named SID) picks up his saucer-shaped spacecraft and directs a Moon-based rocket fighter to intercept him just outside Earth’s atmosphere.

   Although he manages to avoid destruction, the alien must still make an emergency landing somewhere in rural southern England. Leaving his ship behind, he wanders through the woods more or less aimlessly — until he finds a small cottage. As he stealthily pushes the door open, the last thing he would expect to find on the other side is a woman with a gun.

UFO The Square Triangle

   And a space alien is the last thing the woman with the gun would anticipate seeing — because for some time now she and her lover have been waiting nervously for her husband to come home and walk through that door….

   This episode of UFO seems to be one of those “high concepts” — in this case Earth vs. the Flying Saucers meets Double Indemnity.

   However, don’t dismiss this one too hastily. If you accept the show’s “reality” (sometimes called “willing suspension of disbelief”), then “The Square Triangle” actually succeeds.

   The man in charge of hunting down alien intruders (Bishop) has his hands full with this case, and because of it he is impaled on the horns of an ethical dilemma. He has uncovered a foiled murder plot. What actions should he take? He can’t arrest them because they’ve killed an alien who officially doesn’t exist — if he does he’ll have too much explaining to do, thereby exposing his super tip-top secret operation to the world. However, if he lets the plotters go, they may try it again.

UFO The Square Triangle

   His decision, a tough one, might not sit well with some viewers, but it’s what makes “The Square Triangle” one of the best episodes of the otherwise mediocre UFO series.

   …and if you happen to watch this particular show, stay with it through the final closing credits, where you’ll see the ultimate resolution of the plot line.

   Gerry Anderson (born 1929) will always be fondly remembered for his children’s shows featuring brilliant marionette and scale model work: Supercar (1961-62), Fireball XL5 (1962-63), Stingray (1964-65), Thunderbirds (1965-66), Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967-68, with a CGI reboot in 2005), and Terrahawks (1983-86).

UFO The Square Triangle

   Anderson is also infamously and perhaps unfairly known for his two live-action SF series UFO (1970-71) and Space: 1999 (1975-77), but he was also responsible for a fairly entertaining crime-adventure show called The Protectors, starring Robert Vaughn (1972-74, 52 episodes). He also produced one fascinating science fiction feature film, Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969, a.k.a. Doppelganger).

   Finally, some trivia: Col. Virginia Lake, a continuing character in the UFO series (but absent from “The Square Triangle”), was played by Wanda Ventham, who would become the mother of Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor currently making a big splash as Holmes in the Sherlock series.

NOTE: This episode may be seen on YouTube in five parts, beginning here.

I’ll be taking this weekend off from blogging. I have several posts in progress, and I should have some time to work on them now and then, but in all likelihood, you’ll not see anything posted here until Tuesday. Maybe I’ll get caught up on a few other things that need doing, and maybe not, but without taking a couple of days off from the computer, I don’t think there’s any chance I will. See you soon!

William F. Deeck

HARRISON R. STEEVES – Good Night, Sheriff. Random House, hardcover, 1941. Mercury Mystery #60, digest paperback, no date, abridged. Superior Reprint M657/The Military Service Publishing Co., paperback, 1945. Note: The Superior paperback was also released with a dust jacket published by Bantam and numbered #149. (See the two cover images below.)

HARRISON R. STEEVS Good Night, Sheriff

   Having graduated from medical examinations for an insurance company to “medical investigator,” Dr. Patterson is asked to read the inquest of the shooting death of Agnes, wife of Dr. Thomas Earlie, who either died by accident or murder.

   Patterson notices some oddities in the testimony and goes to the scene, somewhere in New England, to determine whether the beneficiary of Mrs. Earlie’s insurance policy might have murdered her.

   Pretending to be merely a physician interested in hunting, Patterson fools nearly no one. All those involved in any way with the death are intent on protecting Dr. Earlie, who did not stand to gain from his wife’s death.

   One of Patterson’s conclusions — dismissing a most likely murderer since “temperamentally he couldn’t have done it” — bothered me, but he does in the end spot the culprit through an unusual motive. Or does he?

   An only mystery, whose limited action is more than made up for by solid writing and good characterization.

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

HARRISON R. STEEVS Good Night, Sheriff

Editorial Notes:   There was a lucrative deal between the military in the mid-1940s and Ian Ballantine in which the army furnished the paper and Penguin supplied the books, which were then distributed to the various armed forces. Among the books published this way was the line of “Superior Reprints.” The troops received the books free, but they were available for purchase by the general public as well.

   For more on this arrangement, check out the Bookscans website.

   When Ballantine left Penguin to start Bantam, he brought some of the Superior paperbacks with him and re-released them with Bantam jackets. The jackets have mostly disappeared over the years, making them extremely collectible. Once the jacket is removed, if there is any way to tell a Superior paperback from one released as a Superior/Bantam hybrid, I do not know. (I have always assumed not.)

   As for Harrison Steeves, the author himself, I found the following online at the Golden Age of Detection Wiki:

    “Harrison Ross Steeves was born [in 1881] in New York City and educated at Columbia, where he became head of the English department before his retirement in 1947. […] After retirement he lived in New Hampshire. His sole detective work was Good Night, Sheriff (1941).”   [According to Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, he died in 1981.]

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