CARTER BROWN – The Wench Is Wicked. Al Wheeler #1. Horwitz-Transport, Australia, paperback original, 1955, as by Peter Carter Brown. To be published by Stark House Press, trade paperback, October 2017, in a threesome with Blonde Verdict and Delilah Was Deadly. (See the end notes for more information.)

   Carter Brown was the primary working byline of an Australian writer named Alan Yates (1923-1985), but his short breezy detective novels, featuring both cops and PI’s, almost always took place in the US. They appeared first in Australia, but when they were picked up by Signet in the US in the mid-1950s, they took the country by storm. With over 300 titles to his credit, a good estimate is that Carter Brown eventually totaled over 100 million copies in print.

   One of his most commonly used characters was a freewheeling police lieutenant named Al Wheeler. Based in Southern California, Wheeler appeared in almost 60 of his books. Stark House Press has gotten the rights to the first six of them and will be reprinting them in order, including several never before published in this country. (And if sales go well, I’m sure there’ll be more.)

   In this case Wheeler investigates the case of a man who’s been found shot to death in a deep quarry. It turns out that he was known well by all of the members of a Hollywood cast and film crew that’s shooting a movie nearby. When it turns out that the man was also writing a series of bombshell articles for Dynamite magazine (self-explanatory) the list of suspects goes sky high.

   Wheeler does a better than average job of investigating, but to tell you the truth. solid police procedure is not the reason so many people (mostly guys) read all those Carter Brown paperbacks over the years. The women that Wheeler meets are always luscious, full-bosomed and wear their clothes — what there are of them — so tight one wonders how they manage to move and breathe. The banter that Wheeler has with these ladies is full of good-natured innuendo, and (you will not be surprised to know) a good deal of extracurricular activity goes on as well.

   Tastefully, I hasten to add. Nothing explicit, not in 1955. Just enough to get the pulses of red-blooded males pumped up a notch or two, and the pages turning about as fast as they could. And so it is here, starting with book one, never before published in this country.

Bibliographic Notes:   The forthcoming Stark House three-in-one volume will also mark the first US publication of Delilah Was Deadly (Horwitz, Australia, 1956). The history behind Blonde Verdict (Horwitz, Australia, 1956) is a little more complicated. This will be its first US appearance in its original form, but previously unknown to Al Hubin, it was revised and reprinted in the US by Signet under the title The Brazen in 1960. This is new information that will appear in the next installment of the online Addenda to Crime Fiction IV.