by Bill Pronzini.


   Here’s something of a surprise, at least to me: the only novel by Len Zinberg (Ed Lacy) to be published under his other pseudonym turns out to be crime fiction. As per the attached from the dj. Very scarce book; the copy I just bought is the first I’ve seen in 40 years of collecting.

STEVE APRIL – Route 13. Funk & Wagnalls, hardcover, 1954. Setting: NYC

      STORY DESCRIPTION     [Taken from both inside jacket flaps.]

   There was a lot that Manson Cornwall wanted to do, but becoming a mailman wasn’t on his list. In spite of his uncle’s love for the postal service, he was sure it would be the dullest job in the world. What he meant to do first was graduate from high school, and then somehow he would become a doctor. But Uncle Harry was murdered, and Manny thought he had to make some money quickly to help his aunt and at the same time look for his uncle’s killer. Thelma, who lived with her family in the apartment upstairs, understood and sympathized with him, but even she lost patience when he tried to settle for quick and easy money in professional boxing.


   After his brief, bitter experience in the ring, Manny began job hunting, but his high school diploma wasn’t enough. Then the post office appointment for which he had applied to please his uncle came through, and Manny went to work as a mailman, determined to resign at the first possible opportunity. He was not surprised at the hard work, but what did surprise him was the pleasure he found in working with others, in the security of a steady job with a good salary, and in the fact that people depended on the mail and on him.

   Letter-carrying, night school, and crime detection didn’t mix very well, but Manny combined them for a while, and by the time the sleuthing was finished he had grown up enough to distinguish between dreams of what he would be and the real world in which he had to do. He had learned that for him the post office could provide a rewarding career; in his job he was important, not just as himself, but as part of an organization doing important work and doing it well.

      STEVE APRIL     [A Biography of the Author, taken from the back cover.]


   Born in upstate in New York, outside Syracuse, Steve April left there before he was ten and moved to New York City, and ever since has been wondering if that was a mistake, although he thinks New York City is “terrific.” Traveling being his only hobby, he nosed around Los Angeles, Dayton, Topeka, Montreal, Salt Lake City, Port-au-Prince, Athens, Paris, San Juan, Oran, and Nice, as well as Rome and various other Italian cities. Most of this was done under his own steam, but during the war Uncle Sam gave his hobby an assist by putting a uniform on Mr. April and shoving him around the USA and Europe for three years.

   Although this is Mr. April’s first book, he has had stories and articles in many magazines and newspapers, including Collier’s, This Week, Esquire, Family Circle, the Montreal Standard, and the Toronto Star.

   A substitute and regular mailman for several years, Mr. April gave up the job to devote full time to his typewriter, and because he hates getting up early in the morning. Sometimes, when sales are far between, he wonders if this wasn’t a mistake, but as he says, “Writing and being a mail carrier have at least one thing in common — both professions give one a very satisfying sense of doing things.”