June 2023

RICHARD JESSUP – Port Angelique. Gold Medal s11159, paperback original; 1st printing October 1961.

   Angelique is a small island in the Caribbean, a possession of the United States. A paradise unknown to all but for its few inhabitants. A few years ago, when the notorious Sabo de Chine was finally forced from the island, his fortune in gold had to be left behind.

   And now that he’s back, the job of police commissioner Stanley Fowler is twofold: get the money, and not let his long-time nemesis slip through his fingers again. Intended, I think, as something more than just a crime novel, it still grows in momentum [as the latter] as it goes.

– Reprinted from Mystery.File.6, June 1980.

THE WILDCATTERS. “Kelly from Dallas.” Unaired pilot, 30 min. Batjac Productions, 1959. Claude Akins, Sean McClory, L.Q. Jones (as Justice McQueen), Karen Steele, Don Wilson (yes, that Don Wilson), Denver Pyle. Created, written & produced by Burt Kennedy. Directed by Budd Boetticher. Currently available on You Tube (see below).

   Set in WWI-era Texas, three friends work as oil well diggers on spec (that is to say, wildcatters), but their latest venture seems to have gone bust, not because there’s no oil, but the owner of the venture has lost the rights to it to a lady gambler, who has given them only one more day before closing it down.

   Also in opposition to the project is a local cattle rancher who fears that oil, if found, will poison the only watering hole on his land.

   And that’s about there can be said about the story line itself. It’s a jaunty, more than semi-humorous effort, with blaring music, a backfiring contemporaneous automobile, and featuring the beauteous Karen Steele as the lady gambler.

   A highlight of the episode occurs when the three guys barge in on the lady and start to strip down to take a well-needed bath but not noticing that she is already in the tub.

   Mostly an entertaining but essentially inconsequential enterprise, in spite of an excellent cast and high production values. If it had been picked up as a series, one has to wonder how long it would have lasted before running out of stories to tell. This pilot seems to have exhausted most of the possibilities, all in itself.

A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Robert E. Briney


AUGUST DERLETH – In Re: Sherlock Holmes: The Adventures of Solar Pons. Mycroft & Moran, hardcover, 1945. Reprinted as Regarding Sherlock Holmes #1 – The Adventures of Solar Pons (Pinnacle, paperback, 1974).

   August Derleth was a literary phenomenon. In a writing career that lasted from his teens until his death at the age of sixty-two, he worked in a wide variety of genres and styles. Among his more than 150 books are contemporary novels, historical novels (both for adults and for young readers), regional history, biographies, mystery fiction, true-crime essays, pastiches, weird and supernatural fiction, children’s books, personal journals, compilations of nature observations, and poetry.

   He edited numerous volumes of short stories and poetry, and he founded and operated Arkham House, a publishing company originally devoted to preserving the work of H. P. Lovecraft in book form; Arkham later published the first books of such writers as Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Fritz Leiber, and A. E. Van Vogt.

   By his late teens, Derleth had read and reread all of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and wrote to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to ask if there would ever be any more of them. Doyle’s noncommittal reply spurred the nineteen-year-old Derleth to fill the gap himself. The result was “The Adventure of the Black Narcissus,” the first of some seventy stories about Solar Pons of 78 Praed Street and his literary chronicler, Dr. Lyndon Parker.

   In Re: Sherlock Holmes gathers twelve of these stories in book form. In addition to “The Black Narcissus,” the book includes “The Adventures of the Norcross Riddle,” ·”The Retired Novelist” “The Three Red Dwarfs,” “The Purloined Periapt,” “The Man with the Broken Face,” and others. As Vincent Starrett wrote in his introduction to the book, Pons “is not a caricature of Sherlock Holmes. He is, rather a clever impersonator, with a twinkle in his eye, [who] hopes we will like him anyway for what he symbolizes.” Ellery Queen’s jacket blurb asked, “How many budding authors, not yet old enough to vote, could have captured the spirit and atmosphere of the Sacred Writings with so much fidelity?”

   The Pons stories eventually filled seven volumes (including one novel), with an additional volume of miscellaneous commentary. The entire series was edited and revised by Basil Copper and issued as a 1306-page, two-volume set, The Solar Pons Omnibus, in 1982. Some diehard fans of the Pontine canon have expressed a preference for the original versions over the altered texts in the omnibus, but for the average reader the differences are hardly significant.

Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.



   This live performance by Metallica is a cover of The Misfits’s “Die Die My Darling” which is, itself, the American release name for the Hammer thriller, Fanatic from 1965.



VARGO STATTEN – Ultra Spectrum. Scion, UK, paperback, 1952. Also currently available in ebook form.

   The din of the storm was so overwhelming the two men could hardly hear each other’s shouts as they worked with determined energy atop the three-hundred-foot high electric pylon.

   So much for setting. Our protagonist, he’s no hero, is Sidney Cassels, and he and Jim Prescott are on the giant pylon trying to keep the whole thing from collapsing in a terrible storm. Jim is getting a bit nervous too, not about the storm, though.

   There is a strange look in Sid’s eye, and could it possibly have something to do with their rivalry for the girl Mary Carson waiting below with their boss Fred Ashworth?

   â€œYou may not believe me,” Sid said bitterly, drawing himself up so that his face was close enough to Jim Prescott’s for him to hear the words, “but I’ve been waiting for a chance like this for months! We’re up here alone, Jim — undisturbed! An accident would be considered the most natural thing in the world!”

   Jim Prescott felt instinctively for the wrench in his belt. “What the hell are you talking about, man?”

   â€œI’m talking about Mary.”

   And Jim takes the three hundred foot drop as they watch helpless below, unable to see Sid pushed him, the perfect murder until Sid is struck by lightning.

   This novel being Science Fiction in the mode of a Thirties B monster movie this does not take the paperback original Gold Medal thriller path you may be expecting, though what happens next is in its own way as hardboiled as anything from its American cousins.

   Sid wakes up and in pretty good shape, no one suspecting he might have murdered Jim, save for one thing, soon after he starts to glow. He doesn’t just glow, he can produce a pretty good charge, and without heat, cold light, the dream of energy without heat loss.

   Sid is no benefactor to mankind, and while he is trying to figure out what to do with this gift, he makes a few mistakes. The first and biggest is he tells Mary.

   And Mary, who could have sailed out of any Gold Medal novel as the fatal femme with an eye for herself, promptly sells Sid out to his ambitious boss, not that you can really blame her after Sid lights up.

   In surprise he glanced down, and then gave a start. Though the twilight had now deepened to near-night he could see his hands! Not actually as hands, but as dim red outlines, glowing as a slightly heated poker glows in a dark room.

   â€œWhat the devil—!” he ejaculated, jumping up and staring at his fingers. “What’s happened to them?”

   â€œYour face is the same!” Mary cried, horrified. “It’s — it’s awful!”

   A girl, certainly one no better than Mary, has a reason to think of herself. She tells Fred Ashworth Sidney’s manager and his doctor, Billings, tells his big boss, Denham Roberts, the President of the International Power and Light Combine.

   And they would kind of like to know how Sid generates that heat, and not for the betterment of mankind or Sid.

   Sid ends up kidnapped and held prisoner, probed and prodded and measured, and when they have discovered the secret of cold light they send Sid off to be killed and his body dumped deep in a deserted mine shaft.

   Sid’s a tough lad though. He kills the hitman and he keeps himself hidden in a small village while he waits to see what happens.

   Meanwhile Roberts has invested in cold light, International Power and Light now selling cold lamps provided to people’s home and flooding the market.

   The moment is ripe and Sid slips back, but he doesn’t reveal himself. He’s discovered he can infect people with a mild case of what he has, so he sneaks around and quietly does so, just enough that stock in International Power and Light is falling and Scotland Yard in the person of Inspector Hodge is poking around.

   Now Sid shows up with his little extortion plan. Cut him 75% of International Power and Light stock and he’ll clear the cold light lamps of suspicion.

   Roberts doesn’t go for that, and Sid isn’t the forgiving type. He does go back to Mary, but time has passed, she has married, and as she tells him while she may be a the kind of a woman who will cheat on a guy for money she isn’t a murderer. Soon he is on the run and captured by Hodge, who, unable to risk touching Sid, outwits him and drops a rope on him hauling him to jail before they untie him.

   But Sid is still the key to cold light, and if he will cooperate …

   Not our boy Sid, and from there the book rushes to its fairly obvious conclusion.

   As Hodge sums it up, “Let’s get a rope round him. He was due for a rope, anyway.”

   Vargo Statten was British pulp writer John Russell Fearn, best known for his long running Science Fiction superwoman super science Golden Amazon saga. After a parting of the ways with his American pulp magazine publishers over payment in 1943, Fearn took up Crime and Westerns as well as SF in Britain and made a success of it under his own name and numerous pseudonyms (he was already Polton Cross and Thornton Ayre in the States). Vargo Statten was successful enough as a pseudonym it even got its own pulp. Some have suggested it was a shared pseudonym, but all the books as by Statten are Fearn. Volstead Gribdan was a shared pseudonym he, E. C. Tubb, and others used.

   Ultra Spectrum was one of the later Vargo Statten books that had begun to share the interest in crime reflected in his mystery and crime books.

   Frankly, as a science fiction concept cold light doesn’t really support a book this long (most of the Vargo Statten “novels” run roughly 35,000 to 45,000 words), at best its an episode of The Outer Limits or a low budget SF monster movie. There is no real character development, no growth. Everyone is exactly what they are when you meet them and no better or worse when it ends. The writing is good but nothing better, and while it is a compelling read, it is all empty mental calories.

   I enjoyed it enough. Fearn was a gifted storyteller, but for all the moving around and action nothing happens to anyone you care enough about to be involved with. Sid isn’t even so bad you are cheering for him to get what he deserves.

   He was alive, he killed a guy, he got hit by lightning, he glowed in the dark, he got screwed over by a few people, he tried to take revenge but wasn’t as smart as he thought, and he ended badly.

   You could make art out of that. Others have, pretty good art too.

   Fearn doesn’t bother.

   I suspect you probably won’t either.

THE GREEN PARROT. 1958. TV pilot, 30 min. Never aired. Howard Duff (Paul Mace), Ramon Novarro, Peter Whitney, Donald Randolph, Mari Blanchard. Created by Ida Lupino & Howard Duff. Teleplay: William Spier. Directed by Allen H. Miner. Currently streaming on YouTube (see below).

   There is small but significant number of movie, TV, and radio series based on the concept of an American (usually but not always) running a tavern, cafe. or the like in a foreign country, often an exotic one, but although he’d rather it otherwise, trouble always seems to seek him out and get him involved in peril and danger for as long as the current episode lasts.

   Such is the case with Paul Mace, who co-owns The Green Parrot (dba El Pavo Verde), a cantina in a small Mexican village. The episode begins with Mace staggering into the bar with a bullet in his shoulder, then contnues in true Sam Spade fashion as he relates to the doctor and others what kind of scrpe he has just gotten himself into – and presumably (and hopefully) out of.

   It all began with a beautiful blonde, complete with fur coat, coming into the cantina asking Mace for help. Her husband has just died in a fire. Foul play is suspected, and as his wife, she is sure that she is the number one suspect. And so she is, and Mace does his best to help.

   The cast and setting are both fine, but the story simply has no oomph. Being of the appropriate age for such material at the time it was produced, however, I’d certainly have watched any continuing episodes, if such had eventuated. But as adult fare, it’s as weak as yesterday’s tea. I wish I could say better.




ARMITAGE TRAIL – Scarface. Edward J. Clode, hardcover, 1930. Dell #D336, paperback, December 1959. Reprinted several times in various editions. Film: United Artists, 1932 (starring Paul Muni & Ann Dvorak; directed by Howard Hawks).

   Story of the rise and fall of a Sicilian gang boss in Chicago. And the concurrent rise and rise of his brother to Chief of Police who must stop him! And his sister, seduced by his #1 gunman!

   Tony “Scarface” Camonte is a rising star in the Irish mob. Then he pulls a job, killing a rival mob boss, and things get too hot for him at home. So he enlists in the Army in the War to End All Wars (I only recently realized that the reason that Veteran’s Day is always November 11 (as opposed to, say, the second Monday in November), is that it was originally Armistice Day. Armistice literally means to stop fighting. So after the War to End All Wars ended — there of course would never be another war! That’s what the holiday was celebrating! No more war! So anywho, when that name began to get too silly they changed the name to Veteran’s Day, celebrating the armed services rather than the end of war.)

   In any case, it turns out that a hitman can make an excellent soldier. He shows real leadership ability during a battle where as a mere Sergeant he is forced to take control of his unit when all of the higher ranking officers are slaughtered. And he makes a good showing of it, winning the battle with strategic, fearless leadership. He’s already seen plenty of life and done plenty of killing before the war — unlike his brother at arms. He’s cool as a cucumber and twice as dangerous (assuming, of course, that the cucumber had botulism (a recent groaner I heard: ‘In the old days plastic surgery was frowned upon. These days when you hear about Botox, no one raises an eyebrow’).

   While leading his troop, a shell fragment slices his face, blood pouring out like a turnip. His face forever maimed, he is unrecognizable by even his closest family! (i.e. sis and bro mentioned above).

   When he returns to Chicago, he finds out that the papers had reported him a casualty of war and his family’s already grieved his passing. He figures to just go with it, gets a fresh identity, and resumes his path to ‘greatness’. Prohibition is now a thing and all the punks are getting rich. The City is divided into four rival gangs. But each one, like any business, would rather have a monopoly. If you’re not growing you’re dying. So they’re all out to get each other. Scarface deigns to choose to join the mob he figures strongest.

   He proves his worth right away, volunteering to sever of the head of their 2nd strongest rival. This he does, in a daring assassination at a fancy gala, in front of the Mayor and all the best people robber and their purchased politicos, everybody who’s anybody.

   It’s, to me, the best scene in the novel by a longshot. And it’s where I first learned the importance of a ‘gun girl’. A ‘gun girl’ is a cool, good looking, classy dame, in fancy threads, with silky tone, who carries your gun for you. She hands you the gun when you give her the sign, and she takes it right back when you’re done with it so you can escape unscathed. No evidence in tow.

   Here’s how it works:

   Tony “nodded slightly. She gave him a look of understanding, then, with every appearance of affection, caught his right hand and gently maneuvered it beneath the table. His hand found her knee, rested there. And he thrilled at the contact. But she did not shrink. Then he felt cold steel against his flesh and his eager fingers clutched an automatic. His thumb slipped off the safety catch and he waited. Some woman sang a comic song that made Tony laugh – even in the tenacity of the moment then the chorus came on…the jazz band blared madly….The din was tremendous…..Tony took careful aim and fired three times, so rapidly that the reports almost merged into each other. He saw Hoffman slump forward as he jerked the pistol under the table and slipped it back to Jane. Her fingers were cool and steady as she took it from him.”

   Tony ends up taking over the mob and then taking over the city: the bosses, the cops, the booze, the whores. Til his brother, chief of police, is told to clean the place up.

   And the showdown.


   Armitage Trail, the pen name of Maurice Coons, died aged 28 in 1930, the same year he published Scarface and sold the film rights to Howard Hughes for 25 grand. Immediately moving to Hollywood, screenwriter W.R. Burnett relates that Trail drank heavily and lived flamboyantly, getting fat, wearing wide-brimmed Borsalino hats, and hiring a servant, only to die of congestive heart failure in the Paramount Theatre. The only info I found on him was on Wikipedia (if you can call that a source) and this great website I happened upon: https://mysteryfile.com/blog/?p=303

   The book is okay but not great — and is soiled by Scarface developing a conscience by the end, naming names and setting the table for a cleanup of the city. I’d put it on par with Burnett’s Little Caesar — the latter which maybe wins by a nose by the protagonist’s consistent immorality. Better than both is Louis Beretti, reviewed here: https://mysteryfile.com/blog/?p=79372

BONANZA. “The Spanish Grant.” NBC, 06 February1960 (Season 1, Episode 21.) Lorne Greene, Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker, Michael Landon. Guest cast: Patricia Medina (Isabella Maria Ynez Y Castra De La Cuesta / Rosita Morales), Sebastian Cabot, Celia Lovsky. Director: Christian Nyby. Currently strreaming on YouTube (see below).

   Bonanza was one of the most popular and long-lived TV westerns of all time – but not, of course, the most – we all know what that one was – and by this far into the first season both the audience and players knew who was who without a lot of (or any) explanation or preparation for their characters.

   This episode begins with a gang of things on horseback attacking a pair of homesteaders, and killing the husband, under the guise of the law. It seems as though a claimant (female) to an old Spanish grant has appeared, and she, under her uncle’s guidance, is asking all of current residents to clear out, or pay the price. Among those resisting are the men of the Ponderosa (father and three sons), a part of whose holdings is among those claimed by the stunningly beautiful (as it so happens) Isabella Maria Ynez Y Castra De La Cuesta, played by the stunningly beautiful Patricia Medina.

   A question quickly arises in the viewer’s mind – and soon enough the Cartwrights as well — is she who she says she is? Adam (Pernall Roberts) takes the lead on this one, romancing the lady while investigating the possibility that she is not.

   Standard enough western affair, even if stolen from other sources (e.g., the Anastasia controversy). But what makes the story line so enjoyable is that it manages to never quite answer the question, even after Adam locates the grand old lady of the Spanish family who, under the law, own the land. Bringing her to Virginia City to settle matters leads, quite surprisingly, to a most satisfactory ending anyway.

Nero Wolfe on Page and (Small U.S.) Screen:
Murder by the Book
by Matthew R. Bradley


   Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novel Murder by the Book (1951) marks Archie’s first reference that I’ve noted — insert fallibility disclaimer—to his weighing a “seventh of a ton” (285.7 pounds). I’ll continue to monitor the situation, but I think this became the standard after, e.g., “two hundred and sixty-some pounds” (“Help Wanted, Male,” 1945), a quarter of a ton (i.e., 500 pounds, perhaps figurative; “Instead of Evidence,” 1946), close to 340 (Too Many Women, 1947), and an even 300 (“Door to Death,” 1949). With its metafictional publishing theme, it is set in motion when Wolfe is hired by the father of Joan Wellman, an editor at Scholl and Hanna who died in an apparent hit and run in Van Cortlandt Park.

   Peoria grocer John R. Wellman believes otherwise, due to her appointment that day with Baird Archer to discuss a novel she’d rejected; no trace is found, but Wolfe recalls seeing the name on a list of tentative aliases among the effects of Leonard Dykes, whose murder led Cramer to consult him six weeks earlier. He had been a law clerk at Corrigan, Phelps, Kustin and Briggs, formerly O’Malley, Corrigan and Phelps until O’Malley’s disbarment. Conjecturing that Joan was killed because she’d read the manuscript, Wolfe has the ’teers canvass typing services and sends Archie to Scholl and Hanna, where he merely confirms that she’d read, rejected, and returned Put Not Your Trust to Archer via General Delivery.

   Joining the hunt, Archie arrives at the office of typist Rachel Abrams just after her plunge from the window, pocketing the notebook recording Archer’s payment on his way out the door; reaching Rachel’s mother before the news, he gets the names of her friends William Butterfield, Hulda Greenberg, and Cynthia Free, on whom he sics the ’teers. Shifting his focus, Wolfe has Archie cultivate the law firm’s female staff of 16, with ten accepting his invitation to dinner when he sends them orchids. Archie produces Mr. Wellman and Mrs. Abrams to stir sentiment, eliciting steno Helen Troy’s controversial assertion that Conroy O’Malley killed Dykes for getting him disbarred because he bribed the foreman of a jury.

   She notes that others believe her uncle, new partner Frederick Briggs, ratted Con out, and killed Dykes to prevent his revealing that fact; Eleanor Gruber, secretary to Con and now Louis Kustin, posits that his death was unrelated to the others, and as the party breaks up, Archie takes Sue Dondero, Emmett Phelps’s secretary, dancing. Senior partner James A. Corrigan brings his current and former colleagues to Wolfe’s office, where they submit to fruitless questioning, and he requests samples of Dykes’s writing. On a resignation letter, offered due to gossip (but declined), is a scribbled notation directing them to Psalm 146, verse 3: “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.”

   Switchboard operator Blanche Duke identifies the handwriting (via a ruse by Archie) as Corrigan’s, and says that writing a book was one way she’d suggested the smitten Dykes might attract Sue’s attention. Regarding the notation as a trick, Wolfe sends Archie out to California to have Dykes’s sister and heir, Peggy Potter, search his letters to confirm that he wrote the novel, and solicit the firm’s advice about having literary agent “Walter Finch” sell the film rights on her behalf, hoping to panic the killer. Archie hires Nathan Harris from Ferdinand Dolman’s Southwest Agency to pose as Finch, and another man to hide within earshot when Peggy meets with Corrigan, who immediately flies out to L.A.

   Archie himself hides in Finch’s closet when she sends Corrigan to the South Seas Hotel, where he tries to insist on a look at the (nonexistent) manuscript, saying he has reason to believe it is libelous, and leaves after an altercation. Stymied again chez Potter by Finch, then left on guard, Corrigan infiltrates his room, only to find Archie, who puts Southwest man Phil Buratti on his tail; when he calls from the airport, Archie asks Phil to get him a seat on Corrigan’s flight back east. The fivesome revisits Wolfe, demanding to know the contents of the manuscript or offering to buy it, but Wolfe merely says he is not yet ready to act, while Kustin correctly thinks that “it’s a ten-cent bluff,” and he has no knowledge.

   That night they get a call, ostensibly from Corrigan, who says he has sent Wolfe a letter, followed by an apparent gunshot; after they alert the police, Archie gets there in time to witness the discovery of his body, consistent with suicide. The unsigned letter confesses to blowing the whistle anonymously on Con without identifying the information’s source, and to stumbling on the “Modern Novel of a Lawyer’s Frailty,” which made it clear that Dykes knew he had done so. Claiming to have destroyed all copies of the roman à clef, he admits killing Dykes after a blackmail attempt and the others to cover his tracks, but while the details are obviously accurate, Wolfe believes that the killer framed Corrigan.

   The D.A. is satisfied that it was suicide, yet after an undisclosed report from Saul, Wolfe has Cramer and Purley Stebbins assemble the ten women and four surviving partners for a “risky but resolute effort to expose a murderer,” to which Archie invites Wellman. Wolfe deduced the truth because the “confession” asserted that Corrigan knew the manuscript’s contents, when his behavior in L.A. clearly indicated that he did not. He had informed on O’Malley, who targeted him for murder to avenge that fact and “killed three people so he could safely kill a fourth,” and made the notation in Corrigan’s handwriting — assumed by Cramer et alia to have been a trick by Wolfe or Archie — as the first step in framing him.

   An episode of NBC’s Nero Wolfe series starring William Conrad, “Murder by the Book” (3/13/81) was directed by Bob Kelljan, best known for Count Yorga, Vampire (1970) and its 1971 sequel, and written by David Karp, an Emmy-winner for a two-part 1964 episode of The Defenders, using his “Wallace Ware” byline. Jean Wellman (Delta Burke) refuses to believe that her sister Claire — a reader for Wainwright Press — committed suicide with alcohol and sleeping pills, which she did not use, and the hunt is on for the elusive Blake Ritchie. Karp also renames the lawyers Phillip Corrigan (David Hedison), Robert Phelps (Edmund Gilbert), George Briggs (Walter Brooke), and Ryan O’Malley (John Randolph).

   The episode opens as Cramer (Allan Miller) reports that an unknown man killed in a hit-and-run a block from the brownstone bore a slip of paper with Wolfe’s name and address and the mysterious list, which includes “Ritchie”; by the time this ties him in to Claire, he has been identified as Leonard Dart, a member of the firm. When Jean takes Archie (Lee Horsley) to her apartment to retrieve a contact number that may have been Ritchie’s, his instincts save her from a booby-trapped door with minor injury, so Saul (George Wyner) guards her at the hospital. Wolfe suspects that she was targeted because, per Archie, “she knows something she doesn’t know she knows,” a sentiment worthy of Donald Rumsfeld.

   The editor who turned down the first novel supplies the title, and Jean recalls being told it was about the members of a law firm. At O’Malley, Phelps, Corrigan and Briggs, Archie tells Dart’s secretary, Elizabeth Marsh (Jennifer Leak), that he was murdered, which Miss Johnson (Elizabeth Halliday) quickly reports to Briggs — who gives him the bum’s rush — and Phelps, yet retiree O’Malley wants to protect the reputation of the firm he made, and Wolfe finally gets a well-heeled client. For safety, Jean is moved to the brownstone, and a visit by Corrigan leads Wolfe to invite the three active partners to dinner, before which Liz, whose information suggested that Ritchie and Dart were the same man, is strangled.

   Wolfe learns of a prior scandal, the embezzlement of $2 million — unproven and repaid — from an estate the firm represented, which he theorizes may have been the subject of Put Not Your Trust. Liz was found in the computer room, suggesting that Dart kept the book there; it is unlocked with the code “146 P 3,” and the list of names were for characters, to protect him from libel. Wolfe had suspected since being hired by him that the embezzler and killer was O’Malley, who asks before Cramer takes him away to make a summation: his theft, which they concealed, gave his partners “the shock of righteous men, meaning those who haven’t been caught yet with their hands in the till…[and so] they retired me.”

   Kelljan was blessed with a strong guest cast, including Burke, known for the CBS sitcom Designing Women, and Randolph, one of the former blacklistees — along with Will Geer, Jeff Corey, and Nedrick Young — cast by John Frankenheimer in Seconds (1966). David Hedison, who starred in The Fly (1958) and Irwin Allen’s series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, became the first actor to play James Bond’s CIA buddy, Felix Leiter, in multiple movies, Live and Let Die (1973) and Licence to Kill (1989). Giving ammunition to those who disapprove of Conrad’s casting, the episode ends with the jaw-dropping sight of the grinning Wolfe returning Archie’s thumbs-up, which Stout fortunately did not live to see.

         — Copyright © 2023 by Matthew R. Bradley.

Up next: “The Cop-Killer”

Edition cited:

      Murder by the Book: Bantam (1954)

Online source:



   This one is a very unique trailer. AIP released this comedy-horror cult film with a particularly compelling trailer that horrifies with humor. Notice one of the stars of the film is Eugene Levy, who went on to a stellar comedy career. The director is Ivan Reitman, who later went on to do Ghostbusters.

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