I received the following as an email from Wynn Manners a couple of days ago, and he’s agreed to let me post it here on the blog. The article he’s referring to is one done by Doug Bassett on the original Mystery*File website. At the conclusion of Doug’s essay is a bibliography of all the books in Sam Durell series, followed by the story of how the person behind the Will B. Aarons pseudonym on the last six books was revealed, thanks to Jeff Falco and Al Hubin. You may go read it now, but if you do, don’t forget to find your way back.    –Steve

   Thanks for your write up on Edward S. Aarons.

   Appreciated it — and the listing of all the Assignment series. Looks like I only lack about two of  ’em…

   Personally I *far* prefer Aarons’s thrillers over John Buchan’s (I *barely* managed to wade thru his 39 Steps & Ian Fleming’s 1930’s-level pulp trash James Bond thrillers (tho I thoroughly enjoy the movies). (Truth-to-tell, I’ve only read *one* by each of these… and started one other volume by each of them. They just didn’t “grab” me. *Yawn.*)

   I put Aarons’s books right up there with John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series and Donald Hamilton’s Matt Helm series — at the very TOP — better than most of the rest!

Will Aarons

   Happy to have found out the “inside dope” on Will B. Aarons. I’ve *enjoyed* the “Will B. Aarons” books I’ve read; I thought he did a *good* job by way of trying to fill Edward’s shoes (far, far better than anyone has done writing further Tarzan novels, for example — tho I’d still love the opportunity to read Stu Byrne’s Tarzan On Mars …)

   If one gives Edward an “A” — overall (and I *do*!) I’d say that “Will’s” books still deserve a “B.” They’re certainly worth a one-time read.

   I started reading the Assignment series back when I was in college (1960-64)… and am *rereading* some of them, all these years later (Lili Lamaris being the current reread). One utterly forgets the story in 20 to 40 years… so it’s “all new” again… Lucked-out at one library sale at the Clarkston (Michigan) Library… someone had collected most of what he’d written, including early 50’s non-Assignment thrillers. (Don’t recall ever seeing the Ace Double Novel ones, tho…)

   Aarons keeps ya glued to the book, turning the pages, on-the-edge. *Excellent* storytelling. And I like the wisdom of the way he chose that last name — a double A to put him *first* when books are arranged alphabetically by authors’ last names!

Edward Aarons

   It’s always seemed to me that the connoisseurs “in the know” with a more developed taste go to the likes of Edward S. Aarons and Donald Hamilton — and the plebian masses who just “follow the popularity crowd” — picking up on the latest “best seller” or read the considerably *inferior* Ian Fleming’s James Bond!

   Once in awhile I read a “best seller” type of book and understand *why* people were attracted to it (Robert James Waller, for example)… but *most* of the time what is most popular… it’s utterly *beyond* me what people see in it!

   I recently acquired a copy of the Edward Gorman edited The Black Lizard Anthology Of Crime Fiction (for two bits, from the back room of our local library) and was delighted to be reading the intro, devoted to Fawcett Gold Medal books… but *appalled* that Edward S. Aarons (& Donald Hamilton, for that matter) were never even *mentioned* (tho I realize that the “thrillers” category is a bit different from the category of hard-boiled detectives he seemed to be focussed upon).

   The first two Gold Medal books I remember reading were Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend — bought at O’Dell’s Drug Store as a 10th grader… and the Gardner F. Fox one on Jack the Ripper (the title escapes my mind, at the moment). My Name Is Buchanan by Jonas Ward was read around those years, too…


               ~~wynn manners