Lion #60

   There’s not much that’s known about a mystery writer named Mike Teagle. He wrote a pair of detective novels published by Hillman-Curl in the late 1930s, but after the second was published, he seems to have vanished completely. There’s not a single source that has any biographical data about him. The two books appear to be the only legacy he’s left behind.

   We can make some preliminary judgments and surmises, though. Since “Mike Teagle” is a character in his first book, the odds are that the name’s a pseudonym — possibly but not very likely to be the author’s too. Bill Pronzini says, “Judging from the political story, theme, and characters in Death over San Silvestro, I would guess that he was a newspaperman with leftist leanings, probably based in New York City or environs. His knowledge of NYC and Long Island is evident in the background descriptions in Murders in Silk.”

   Bill goes on to say: “Both novels are ultra-hardboiled. I prefer Silk, but that’s because I’m not a political animal. Silk is flawed, but it has well-drawn characters, good dialogue, an abundance (probably an overabundance) of violent action, and moves at a breakneck pace.”

Death Over San Silvestro
. Hillman-Curl, hardcover, 1936. Two printings known.

Murder San Silvestro - Teagle

Leading character: Mike Teagle, bodyguard.

Setting: New York City

Jacket Blurb:
Every American is a suspect in the strange murders which rock the country as the people of he United States approach their most crucial presidential election.

   In the midst of this fog of death and hidden conflict moves the figure of Horace J. Breasted, sometimes sinister, always powerful, driving ruthlessly toward his secret goal. A strange man, Horace J. Breasted – a multi-millionaire publisher of newspapers and magazines, friend of presidents and foreign dictators, paramour of beautiful women, owner of vast fields and factories and mines. A man hated by millions, feared by millions, envied by millions – doomed to die at the hands of an assassin.

   Caught up with Breasted in this whirlwind of mystery and danger are the President of the United States and his Republican opponent, gangsters and society matrons, show girls and senators, a general with a secret, and a girl with a cause. Caught up with them, flung about in the madness of speeded-up America at the crisis, are all the others, too – millionaires and starving men, Communists and Fascists, Democrats, Republicans and Socialists.

   How many of these are involved in the mysterious murders that shock America? Which of these know the forces that are at work behind the scenes to gain power over the American people for their own secret purposes? And which of these will be the next to die?

Review excerpts: “The book is probably the nearest thing to Marxist mystery-mongering the circulating library patrons have had to date.” – Carlton Brown, New Republic

    “The story is well told, but it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.”– Isaac Anderson, New York Times

    “Tough ’n terrible.”– Saturday Review of Literature

       [Taken from the front flap of Murders in Silk:]

    “Makes The Thin Man seem like a juvenile.” – Alvin C. Hammer

    “Most audacious mystery novel of the year.” – Toledo News Bee

    “The most exciting fiction story you have read since the ban was lifted on Nick Carter.” – Springfield Union

Murders in Silk. Hillman-Curl, hardcover, 1938. Mystery Novel of the Month, no number [#1], digest paperback, no date. Lion #60, paperback, 1951. John Long, UK, hc, 1939. Phantom Books #598, Australia, digest pb, 1954.

Murders in Silk - Teagle

Leading characters: Tiberius Bixby and Zeb Bixby.

Setting: New York City and Long Island

Jacket Blurb:
The troubles of Tiberius Bixby began when the man with the purple tie got his throat cut in the women’s washroom on a Long Island Railroad train. And mixed up in the bloody jigsaw jumble were:

   The girl in the red calot who strangely hid her knowledge of a dead man and thought murder didn’t constitute a social introduction;

   The blonde Paula, who celebrated because her father was mysteriously burned to death;

   Nicky Pet and the woman dentist; a Ghurka knife and the cryptic cry of a dead man’s wife – all tangled in a fog of alcohol and murder.

   What have all these to do with silk?

   The answer was found by eccentric old Pa Bixby, who, at seventy, was still able to appreciate a well-filled stocking as he mixed his whiskey with philosophy.

Review excerpts: “The story is fast, slick, exciting and altogether an outstanding example of the tough trend; it also contains additional features in the way of character and real amusement. If you must have a ten-minute egg, read Murders in Silk.” – Will Cuppy, Books

    “Good-natured cynicism, a clever plot well told, and a seventy-year-old chronic alcoholic make this book a feature of the mystery season. Three murders … and a wholly surprising denouement are some of the other factors that entitle this story to high praise.”– Boston Transcript.

Phantom Books - Teagle