“Murder’s a Must” by John Russell Fearn


A wealthy miserable bitch of a woman is hunted and ruthlessly murdered, her back (just below her shoulder blades) revealing a tattoo. Too many people had reasons to murder the woman, and their alibis are weak. When another woman dies with a tattoo on her back, in the same location, the two murders become a real mystery.

MUIR WATSON Murders A Must

Murder’s a Must” by John Russell Fearn was published by Muir-Watson Ltd., Glasgow (1949). It is a 128-page digest-paperback with excellent cover art. The illustration is rendered by Reina Sington.

In this splendidly-written crime thriller, Scotland Yard’s Inspector Handcock (yes, you read that accurately) arrogantly accepts an unsolvable murder from a Divisional Inspector, whom is at his wit’s end. Handcock soon confesses to his partner Sergeant Grimshaw that he may have accepted a tough assignment. He’s right.

The case begins with the murder of Vera Bradmore. Her assailant lithely had climbed a wall, inserted their self through a window, then smothered Vera to death with a pillow. Prior to the murder, the killer extracts the whereabouts of two other persons. Adding insult to injury, the murderer exposes her back and reveals a tattooed name: MARY.

Handcock has his hands full (no pun intended) when another murder occurs. Far to the north, one Elsie Jackson is smothered to death, found face down in the sands of a lonely beach. Her husband discovers her corpse. The news reaches the ears of our desperate Inspector. The girl would otherwise remain unmentioned, save for the fact that her back is equally tattooed with a name: IAN.

The third person murdered wraps up the entire plot, as we learn the trio are sisters, triplicates, in fact. Their father decades ago was part of a famous jewel heist. His mask failing to protect his identity, he escaped and secreted the diamonds and then tattooed clues onto the backs of his young daughters (a painful memento; gee, thanks dad!). The police catch up to him and while hopping over rooftops, he plummets to his death.

Or was escape impossible and the splat a suicide?

Who cares.

The children were left in the care of another family, whom had a daughter one year their senior. This family-man was believed to be the triplicate’s father’s accomplice during the heist. It was never spoken of, even to his own family. Years pass, and, when the trio reach 16 years of age, they inexplicably vanish. They sealed a pact among themselves to part ways, never contact one another, change their identities and disappear, for better or for worse.

Meanwhile, the caretakers also move, departing England. Our highly resourceful inspector learns that they sailed for South Africa. Contacting authorities, he learns that the entire family died in a fire. Or, did they? He suspects the daughter in fact did not die. Furthermore, he speculates the father at some point did disclose the jewel heist to his family.

During the ensuing investigation, a figure from his past returns; an old friend (Cavendish) wishes to renew their friendship. Baffled by this sudden jack-in-the-box surfacing during a murder investigation, Handcock juggles the idea that Cavendish might be somehow tied up with the murders. When he is inexplicably invited to Cavendish’s home to meet his wife, an American that was born in London, his guts churn with a new conviction.

We eventually learn that it is Mr. Cavendish’s wife that is the murderer, whom was the daughter of the other jewel heist man! She did not die in the fire; a friend of the family died instead, and was mistakenly identified. She is captured after having killed the final sister.

With all three clues at her disposal, at night, she investigates the combined clues (I won’t reveal the final 3-word name) down a dark street. The police pounce, apprehend, and bring her to Inspector Handcock. Here, she finally confesses the entire plot and catches Handcock and Grimshaw off-guard by sucking on a seemingly innocent lozenge which in fact contains half a grain of atropine, a deadly poison. She dies and Inspector Handcock is left the grisly task of informing Mr. Cavendish that not only has his loving wife died, but, she is also the murderer, three-times over. Good luck, bub!

If this book sounds right up your alley, guess what!!!
You may readily find it reprinted as “The Tattoo Murders.”

 

“Murder’s a Must” by John Russell Fearn

Weird and Occult Library # 3 (Gerald G. Swan)

weird-and-occult-library-3

It’s been a real pleasure reading all three of these lost gems. That Gerald G. Swan decided to unearth his trove of unpublished manuscripts, acquired back in the 1940s, and publish them during the 1960-61 era, is phenomenal.

The contents for this issue:

(1-5) The Incredible Awakening by Norman C. Pallant
(5-15) Black-Man’s Magic by Frank C. Brooke
(15-25) Labyrinth of Zekor by S. G. J. Ouseley
(26-34) Silvester’s Oasis by Henry Rawle
(34) The Hill of Worms by A. S. Quilter Palmer(35-43) As White as Snow by Ian Mercer
(43-47) A Guest of Vanderdecken by Ernest L. McKeag
(48-52) The Last Word by A. E. Crawley
(52-57) The Yellow Mask by John Body
(57-62) Corner Cottage by A. M. Burridge (sic, Burrage)
(63-64) A Lot of Gammon (uncredited)

The first story is of a dreaming man slowly waking up. While the dreamer awakens, worlds within the realm of his mind come crashing down and entities vanish in the blink of an eye. The Incredible Awakening may represent our own existence being but a dream. It’s unclear, bizarre, and unusual, and I like it all the more!

The author, Norman C. Pallant, has written a handful of
other weird stories and science fiction tales.

In Black Man’s Magic, the story reads like something L. Patrick Greene might have written for his African adventure pulp stories. Captain Ferguson saves the life an African’s child, and in return, grants him a vision into the future, one to solve a crime, and the other, a noise from the wand of African man from earlier in the story, to save his life! Only he can hear the noise and save his life it does, for the villain pulls a gun. Following the rest of the vision, he goes directly to the hidden false identity gear, a stowed gun, and then, elsewhere, to stashed cash that nobody could possibly normally locate. This even baffles the local police. When asked how did he solve the mysterious crime, was it “black magic” he replies, that no, it was “black-man’s magic.”

Frank C. Brooke is no stranger to selling stories
to Gerald G. Swan. Typically he can be found as the
writer of juvenile stories for boys and girls.

Lybyrinth of Zekor…titles like that are always interesting. You KNOW you are about to read some weird and unusual story. At the least, the title infers something out of the ordinary. A vacationing couple are duped into hiring a local and visiting the sunken ruins of an immense building. While underground, they discover it is a lost cult, and other vacationers are lured below, capture and murdered. They escape and the lost city inexplicably explodes and sinks further, killing all inhabitants.

Ouseley has contributed other weird stories
to this genre field, with equal ability. Some are
of the purely outlandish variety but many simply
are concluded with irrational endings.

Silvester’s Oasis is typical deliriousness in a desert. While dehydrated and near death, he is rescued by a man of the desert whom takes him home and Silvester finds himself transported back through time, hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. He is mistaken for another person, and he becomes romantically involved with a lady, whom all males are forbidden to contact. Taken before the supreme ruler, he learns of his fate but times inexplicably change and he is back in the present. A weak conclusion that left me wondering why the author went to the trouble to write an otherwise interesting story.

Henry Rawle is no virgin to the weird genre.
Click on his name in the side-bar to read more about
from another of my earlier posts.

The Hill of Worms is a half-page vignette. Dead guy buried in cottage, murdered, year later comes back to haunt the murderer. The locals find him dead and in the corner, instead of a dead decomposed man, a dead adder.

Initially I thought As White as Snow was going to turn out to be a Romeo and Juliet spoof. Don’t ask me why; I simply believed that to be the case. It was, close enough. Our Romeo is romantically involved with working with the church when he is introduced to an intoxicating young beauty. They fall in love, kiss, then she breaks off mortified, and confesses that they can never be together. She has leprosy, and then runs off a cliff. Our Romeo is found at the drinking establishment, and our narrator runs to him to save their lives, after learning that the guy does NOT have leprosy. He learns of her demise too late, and is thankful that Romeo hasn’t done anything foolish. But, he has. The drink is drugged. He dies. So, a twist on an old story. While he isn’t named Romeo, she IS named Julia.

Despite fearing that A Guest of Vanderdecken would be typical fluff, I plunged into McKeag’s version of the ill-fated voyage of the Flying Dutchman. When a man is lost at sea and deliriously near death, a storm saves his life, providing much-needed drinkable water. Spying a ship, he and his small boat are pulled aboard and he is revived. On securing his health, he is mortified to find those on board are wearing antiquated outfits from hundreds years ago, and the ship of the ancient seafaring sort. But when he learns the identity of the ship’s captain, and that they are nearing the Cape, he loses his grip on sanity, realizing that if they get past the Cape, the ship and all her crew are doomed to repeat their adventure until the end of time, and that somehow, in this time loop, he has joined their crew! As the crew hurrahs! at passing the Cape, their bodies rapidly age and disintegrate, as does the ship. Just before it crumbles out of the present to rejoin the ghostly past, our narrator dives into his own boat and lands safely in the water, to be picked and saved.

Although the impression given was that all the stories
present are lost, unpublished stories, fact is, this story
actually was published, by Gerald G. Swan, in the
May 1949 issue of Cute Fun. Perhaps they needed
further filler material for this volume or lost their own
records indicating it had been published.

In The Last Word, an old man and nurse at an infirmary heatedly dislike one another. The “why” of it is entirely unclear. Perhaps it is purely a matter of personality. The old man one night is having an attack, and the nurse, happening to be on duty, takes her time in giving him his meds. Taking too long, he dies, but sets his sights on her, in death, to haunt her. Time passes…. His favorite wheel chair is constantly avoided. Anyone trying to use it leap out of it immediately, as if pushed, prodded, poked, etc. The wheelchair one night is found out of place and the head nurse reprimands the killer-nurse. She takes umbrage to the charge, and after it occurs again, begins to keep an hourly watch on that chair. It happens again. Finally on the third night, she tries to put it back, but finds the chair evading and pursuing her about the infirmary. Everyone is asleep, save for the narrator, whom watches as the chair steers her to the balcony and shoves her over the edge.

The Yellow Mask is given to have been the cause for many a strange death and insanity. A pair of men decided to investigate the ancient dilapidated remains of an opium establishment, where their buddy was last known to have visited, prior to succumbing to insanity. They find indeed that something sinister and supernatural is present.

John Body is the alias of John Brody. He wrote other short
tales for Gerald G. Swan. He also had a brief career writing
science fiction for New Worlds magazine.

Corner Cottage by A. M. Burrage (erroneously spelled here as Burridge) is typical campfire stuff. Family takes up residence in a cottage that annually is abandoned due to a curse. An entire family died there. The current residence–and artist and his wife and son–move in and disregard local gossip. But when events and noises rattle them for weeks and months, the climax comes on the very annual night the dead family, er, well, DIED. Coming home from the pub, the artist walks in on his wife and two very dead visitors, with bullet wounds in their heads, from a double-suicide. Their son is upstairs screaming and bawling that a dead girl is in his room. They move out the next day, and later read that the cottage caught fire and burned to the ground. The artist prefers to believe that the dead scared them away to save their lives. Did they?

A. M. Burrage prolifically wrote for at least three full decades.

The vignette A Lot of Gammon is purely tongue-in-cheek humor poking fun at small village lore surrounding ghosts and the like. Amusingly enough, the local tells informs the outsider that he was told how to invoke curses and use witchcraft, but states it’s a lot of gammon, or bunk. As a jest, he grabs the broom, sits upon it, and recounts the words he was to use to fly. Shockingly, the broom lifts and takes off, with the man screaming BLIMEY into the night….

 

Weird and Occult Library # 3 (Gerald G. Swan)

Weird and Occult 1/- Library # 2 (Gerald G. Swan)

w-and-o-2

…let’s now continue the second of three blogs on Weird and Occult 1/- Library, as published by Gerald G. Swan, my favorite wartime British publisher. As noted, Swan had acquired and filed numerous short stories during and shortly after the war years. Come 1960, they re-opened their files and compiled three 64-page books, with original cover art.

The contents:

  • (1-12) The Voice of Amalzzar by Henry Rawle
  • (12-13) Skulls That Cannot Be Shifted by A. C. Bailey (article)
  • (14-18) His Second Chance by A. C. Bailey
  • (19) The Cat and the Occult by F. Thomas (article)
  • (20-29) Death Mates by Hugh J. Gallagher
  • (30-37) Come Brother, Come! by Dallas Kirby
  • (37) A Court Martialled Ghost by A. C. Bailey (article)
  • (38-43) “Where That Dark Water Is…” by Chas. H. Bradford
  • (44-52) Beneath the Mountain by Christine Gittings
  • (53-63) Judgment Bell by John Russell Fearn
  • (63-64) Made of Sand by M. E. Orman

The Voice of Amalzzar begins in the usual introductory fashion. Chums haven’t met in many years and the one suffering with weird situations requests the assistance of their old friend, writes him, and he, like a good buddy, appears on the scene, to record the event for the reader. In this one, a mummy’s essence is tapped and they bring back its entire life story. Thankfully, the mummy speaks perfect English (or, rather, the scientist’s mechanism does). One of the electron tubes suddenly blow as the orator begins foretelling the future. A stale, well-dated tale.

His Second Chance is somewhat amusing, if cliché. A man is struck by a bus, dead, and his ghost wanders about eventually learning the truth and that the world will get by just fine without him. The ghost also learns that his wife had been having an affair, his daughter now intends to pursue her own interests against his wishes, his job and friends found him a scoundrel, and only his dog seems aware of his presence after he whistles. He eventually imposes the shell of his soul upon a newborn baby….

Death Mates is an adventure tale. Not weird. Perhaps gruesome, in its time? A wealthy man in the jungles of South America over the years places ads around the globe for certain sorts of female employees. The current boat-load arrives and they are sent to their rooms. The self-proclaimed trapeze artist manipulates her room’s window to access and enter another girl’s room at night and reveals that she is in fact a man, in disguise. He’s secretly on a mission to discover the whereabouts of his missing sister. While talking, the pair sneak out and discover that the resident is a madman whom enjoys hunting “skilled” women. His trophy room consists of their heads! The trapeze artist does battle with the man and his weekend-warriors (killers) and blows up the mansion. A fun tale, but ill-placed to this volume.

Come Brother, Come is another of those cliché tales, in which a fisherman whom murdered his brother long ago is drawn again out to sea during a tumultuous storm, rowing for his life, as his rotting corpse of a brother pulls himself out of the ocean and drags his killer down with him….

“Where that Dark Water Is…” is from poet Walter de la Mare. It is aptly re-utilized here, involving deadly sea sirens. A lighthouse is investigated, only to discover a knife in the back of one man, and another tethered, equally dead, by a pool of water.

Beneath the Mountain involves a typical discovery of a lost sea monster, being tended to by a zoologist, of sorts. The trapped cave-dwelling beast kills the man feeding it, and the narrator leads others to the location, but the beast has already escaped.

Now, this next story, by John Russell Fearn, is well-worth the purchase of this book, alone. Judgment Bell, while yet another typical story of its sort tackling a well-worn plot, is so adroitly told that it kept me plodding along wondering just how this particular version would end. Two lovers picnicking are caught in an uncanny storm and take shelter in a church in which her uncle, a dozen years earlier, had died, from a bizarre lightning strike. The lady is strong-willed, independent and intelligent, to the point that she does not believe in the occult. However, when she finds a variant of her surname in the monk’s books, retelling an old local legend, the eerie setting rattles her nerves and shakes her to the core. Legend holds that an ancestor [of hers] assassinated the church’s monk, but he set a curse upon the family, to hold through the centuries until each could be drawn to this very church and vengeance exacted upon each one. Realizing that she may be victim to an unknown family curse, she frantically seeks to escape, but the storm keeps them inside. Losing sanity, she “sees” the ghostly monk, loses her mind, and is struck by a bolt of lightning, charring half her body. Her lover is maddened and discovers a real live monk on the premises, and is certain he is the man she saw. The monk explains the old tale, and that he is aware of who [in family name] she is, and then shows that the legendary “Judgment Bell” that they both heard, in fact, does not exist!

The digest wraps up with a bizarre short, in the form of Made of Sand. An odd child builds a figure out of beach sand and that night, it takes form on the beach and the girl wakes up and dies. A worthless little tale….

Weird and Occult 1/- Library # 2 (Gerald G. Swan)

Weird and Occult 1/- Library # 1 (Gerald G. Swan)

w-and-o-1

In the 1940s, Gerald G. Swan purchased the rights to tons of stories, paying on acceptance. His files were loaded with unused material that languished throughout the 1950s. Come 1960-1961, the outfit finally issued much of this languishing material in a variety of genre-specific editions. Here, I will be dealing exclusively with the first issue of the Weird and Occult 1/- Library digest-sized paperbacks (and in January 2017, two more blog entries will follow, covering the other two issues).

The books are 64-pages each, measure 5 x 7 inches, and are stapled with glued wraps.

The contents:

  • (1-13) Vashtarin by Kay Hammond
  • (14-15) Twenty-five Years by Herbert J. Brandon
  • (16-22) Cause or Effect by Maurice Grove
  • (22-30) Dr. Kranzer’s Masterpiece by S. G. J. Ousley (sic)
  • (30-39) The Horsehair Chair by Winifred M. Carnegie
  • (40-46) The Case of Eva Gardiner by A. M. Burrage
  • (46-49) In the Dark Temple by Noman C. Jallant (sic)
  • (49-56) Green Eyes for Evil by Leslie Bussey
  • (56-58) Scuttled by Christine Douglas
  • (59-63) The Sins of the Fathers by Tom Lawrence
  • (63-64) So Near – So Far by Philip Glyde

Quite easily this lead story by Kay Hammond-Davies is the best out of the whole lot. Equally so, Vashtarin is the only story within the whole volume worth reading. Taking place during World War Two, the Royal Air Force are interested in investigating a downed plane in the Himalayas. Rumor has it that the valley holds a lost race. The scene switches, and the lost race is given to us in typical Oriental-fiction style, complete with the evil leader possessing magical abilities. Complete with a virgin that falls for the downed airman, we are introduced to a wonderfully exotic lost realm, a pilot whom is struck down after his flights of fancy, and a magically-enhanced world is bombed out of existence by the RAF in retaliation. A story that is more Oriental adventure than weird, with slightly fantastic tones throughout. If only the rest of the stories retained such interest….

Herbert J. Brandon doesn’t break new ground in Twenty-five Years. A few college chums going their own way after graduation vow to meet 25 years hence. Usual snap ending, they all arrive, sans one, whom at the midnight hour, arrives, as a ghostly form, then vanishes, and one of the other older lads notes that he hung that very morning, for a crime!

In Maurice Grove’s Cause or Effect, a wife is convinced that her husband is causing the untimely deaths of people that they once knew or famous persons that haven’t made the news in a while. However, she’s informed she is interpreting his proclamations wrongly. He is attuned to the occult and picking up on their death vibrations, which suddenly makes him call out their name, etc. Convincing her to return to her estranged husband, he later learns that she has died, while attempting to return home. Ironically, only that very day, the husband, whom had long since given up on her returning home, and just uttered that her name, making the doctor wonder…was he wrong?

In Dr. Kranzer’s Masterpiece, S. G. J. Ouseley writes a truly weird tale. Kranzer has gone missing, and Dr. Arnold is brought in to investigate matters. He eventually discovers a secret chamber underground and the doctor, dead, with an uncanny thing, a creation of his own doing, that led, ultimately, to his own undoing!

Winifred M. Carnegie delivers a creepy tale when a dead man bequeaths The Horsehair Chair to a non-believer in the occult. However, when a friend visits and stays the night, reading by the fire, he ends up sitting in the chair (while his friend is drawn away for the night). He’s soon unable to extricate himself from the chair, and is visited by a frightening thing. A demon? The next night, his friend returns and the pair retire to the same room and he takes to the seat. Unable to warn him without being scoffed at, his friend soon suffers the same fate. They later break apart the chair, find a note within, from the original owner, noting that he had murdered another person in that very chair….

A. M. Burrage handles the murder of a young girl in The Case of Eva Gardiner. The police have their man but no evidence. Angered that the murderer has escaped Justice, Mr. Ransome, an older gentleman bachelor nightly coerces himself to focus mentally on the girl, whom was a regular visitor at his home. One night, she ethereally visits while he dreams, and discloses the identity of her killer, and other details. Unable to obtain the police’s assistance in his arrest, Mr. Ransome obtains a gun and shoots the killer dead, turns himself over to the police.

In the Dark Temple, by Norman C. Pallant (erroneously credited as “Jallant” on the page), a man is in the jungle seeking a lost temple. Securing its whereabouts, he alone enters and steals a rare gem off a temple gods face. Despite the gleaming stones removal, he hears a ferociously evil roar from the god and a baleful, evilly bright gleaming eye glares down at him. Scared out of his wits, he is assaulted by some being. Whipping out his knife, he fights for his life…. Mentally deranged, the locals find the treasure hunter, with the gem, and it is learned that a locally infamous one-eyed tiger assaulted him.

Leslie Bussey delivers a somewhat chilling account in Green Eyes for Evil. Alan is fixated on his brother’s fiance, and proclaims his love to her. Failing to secure her affections, he gives her a green stone ring. Time passes, and he receives a letter to meet his brother. In reaching the home, he learns that the brother murdered his wife, after discovering the bejeweled ring. He knows the gem was stolen from a specific location, and intends to exact his revenge upon his deceitful brother. His plans misfire, and Alan murders his brother in  quasi-self-defense. Fearing that, if caught, he’ll hang for murder, he cleans the scene of his presence, and slips the dead man his gun. His brother gets the last laugh…his finger contracts and drills Alan, dead.

Christine Douglas delivers a weakly constructed tale in Scuttled. The protagonist annually plans various luxurious vacations, but in fact, never leaves his home. On returning from his “vacation,” he boasts about how enjoyable it was and provides relevant details to enhance the experience, by reading up on each locale. His plans go vastly awry, when on returning to work this time, his workmates leave a newspaper on his desk noting that HIS SHIP NEVER MADE IT to its final destination.

In The Sins of the Fathers, Tom Lawrence writes a typically dated weird tale in which a dead man visits a young man as a ghost in his dreams, and informs him that he shall die for the sins of his father. While a young boy, his father had caught the dead man stealing from the cash drawer. In protecting his property, he inadvertently strikes the man a death blow and sent to the penitentiary, where, he himself dies, succumbing to an illness. Feeling cheated, the ghost is determined to take the son’s life, instead. If only he can stay away long enough to escape the ghost’s intentions….

In Philip Glyde’s So Near – So Far, a romantic couple are hiking up a mountain when he accidentally slips, knocking their pack off the edge, and damaging his watch. Continuing the ascent, they are met by a thickening mist. Realizing they may become stranded, they begin a rapid, but cautious descent. The mist becomes impenetrably dangerous. Realizing further efforts may result in their death(s), the pair hole-up for the night. On awakening, they find that, in looking over the edge, they were only three feet from completing their downward journey. (NOTE: This is not a weird story in the least)

Weird and Occult 1/- Library # 1 (Gerald G. Swan)

Galaxy (a post-WW2 humour pocket magazine)

Galaxy 1946 Autumn

Published by The Star Publishing Corporation, GALAXY lasted from 1946 through at least 1949. Numbering is difficult for this publication. It began in January and ran successively for 8 monthly installments, concluding with the August 1946 edition. Then came the pictured edition here, simply dated Autumn. One “Eric H. Hale” is given to have been the editor, a man for whom I know nothing about.

These thin side-stapled pocket magazines contained photos of actresses and models, tons of cartoon drawings, numerous short stories, articles and advertisements. Interestingly enough, the last interior page has two ads, for Outlands: A Magazine for Adventurous Minds and for the New Realm Magazine.

The stories within are hardly noteworthy, running a page or two in length. This issue sports two known entities: Kay Hammond-Davies and N. Wesley Firth. The former supplies a tale in which a young couple and their dog move into a home and must rid their garden of a pesky rabbit. All three are gung-ho toward wanton murder until the girl has a change of heart for the innocent bunny. The husband blows its brains out and the dog pounces and she calls them beasts, much to their bewilderment. Firth’s short-short involves a French artist with poor English-speaking skills explaining why he will no longer paint any further nudes in the future. Most are general fiction tales, with a humorous slant.

The best features of this magazine are the assorted line-drawn cartoons. Contributors include the talented comic artists Denis Gifford and Denis McLoughlin.

Galaxy no 11 1947 SpringThe Spring 1947 issue (the year is actually  not given) sports neither a contents page nor are any of the pages numbered.

Noteworthy contents include the short fantasy “Flesh and Blood” by Eira Williams and a tale by David Boyce.

Artists include Hooper, Ynott, Sten, Anis, James Symington, Arthur Williams, Jones, Hix, and others.

While the gifted “named” artists are missing from this issue, there are some decent “indecent” illustrations that give way to a good chuckle, such as a man’s wife stuffing her bra….

Galaxy no 13 1947 Autumn

The Autumn 1947 edition provides the following data:
Editor: Eric H. Hale
Associate Editor: Beryl Cousins
Advertisement Manager: J. C. Robson
American Representative: Emil Zubryn
African Representative: J. J. Odufuwa

London offices are located at:
Temple Bar House, 23/28 Fleet St,
London, E.C.4

American Bureau
47 West 56th Street
New York City

African Bureau
58 Macullum Street
Ebute-Metta, Nigeria

Trade distributors throughout the world are given to be:
Rolls House Publishing Co., Ltd.
Rolls House
2 Bream Buildings, London, E.C.4

Fiction stories abound with the usual motley crew of illustrators, photos and a Hollywood article supplied by David Boyce. Talented artist Bob Monkhouse supplies a half-pager, while the best fiction tale is a one-page ghoul from beyond the grave! Patrick S. Selby also supplies a short story. His name might best be remembered for having copped the cover to New Worlds #2 with “Space Ship 13.”

Galaxy no 15 SpringAnd we wrap up this article with the last edition in my possession, the Spring 1948 issue.

Story contributors include editor Beryl Cousins, Joan Seager, and a tale by Cay van Ash, largely remembered for  bicycling to the home of writer Sax Rohmer to obtain an interview. He later became Rohmer’s secretary and then departed for Japan, the two becoming fast friends until Sax Rohmer’s death.

David Boyce supplies a supernatural article.

Artwork is supplied by all the regulars of the time, including Griff, James Symington, Housley, Hix, Kenneth Mahood, and the talented Bob Monkhouse returns with two witty pieces.

Galaxy (a post-WW2 humour pocket magazine)

1921-04-02

I am hunting hundreds of newspaper issues.

PLEASE CONTACT ME AT:
morganwallace AT gmail DOT com

Chicago Ledger (1901-1923)
Illustrated Story Weekly (1923-1924)
Weekly Ledger (1924-1925)
Blade and Ledger (1925-1938)

I am interested in the following years.
Quote all issues.
I often buy spare copies as upgrades.

1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909,
1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919,
1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928,
1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1936, 1937, 1938

1921-02-19

Also collecting numerous other story newspapers, including the following titles:

Toronto Star Weekly
(Magazine Sections, 1920s-1940s)
Toronto Star Weekly
(Complete Novel, 1920s-1940s)
Montreal Standard
(Complete Novel, 1920s-1940s)
Fiction Magazine
(Saturday or Sunday edition, 1916-1918)
Literary Magazine Section
(weekly: 1909-1910)
The Illustrated Companion (monthly: 1915-1916)

Corpse from the Sky by J. Murray Crouch

GULLIVER BOOKS Corpse From The Sky
“Corpse from the Sky” by Joseph Murray Crouch (Gulliver Books, 1950)

Corpse from the Sky” was written by J. Murray Crouch and published by Gulliver Books, in 1950.
The book is a 128-page digest-paperback that features artwork that is both not credited and has zero to do with the content(s) of the novel.

This is part of their short-lived Skyscraper Books series, which featured only one other known novel, “The Dead Are So Dumb,” by Leslie Cargill; he churned out over a dozen thrillers during a 15-year span.

Other books noted (on the rear cover) include the following series:

  • Starlight Westerns
  • Kismet Romances
  • It Really Happened!

Our author appears to be Joseph Murray Crouch, born possibly in 1912, Newport and died 1997 in Croydon, Surrey. (Perhaps one day a family-member will read this blog and contribute something further). Come 1940, I found online that he was in the Royal Artillery, and by 1943, he was married on the Isle of Man. At some point, Mr. Crouch was involved with the Intelligence Corps. To my knowledge, this is his only literary contribution. I would surmise that he attempted to translate some of his life experiences into writing this murder – mystery novel.

Here, a man is dumped out of an airplane. The large body slams into the buildings before slithering to the ground, nearly at the feet of a detective. The coincidences and poor ability of the author to create any sense of suspense is further shattered when a lovely young lady enters his office. She is Denise, daughter and heir to Arthur Vanrietz’s fortunes. Inexplicably, we learn that her father, Arthur, had suggested to her to seek out this particular detective, in the event that he is dead. No connection is even given to explain why Arthur should want this particular detective.

So, now we have an unidentified corpse (landing literally at the feet of the detective) and a young lovely lady hiring him to look for her murdered father. She is certain that he is dead, after all. A silly assumption. Our detective, Mr. Bartle, sends her to the local police and while there, she learns of the dropped body, identifies it as her father, returns to Bartle, and tells all. He’s immediately on the case.

Traveling out to the family castle, he meets all sorts of villainous residents. There is no need to travel down the well-worn path to explain that the butler is always given the evil slant (in fact, he served time once) and that the rest are equally unscrupulous.

In the end, Bartle, whom hasn’t a damned clue who the murderer really is, but secretly speculates, has everyone in the lounge and exposes everything he knows, then, absurdly, states that the (secret) half-brother had the best motive for murder and is indeed the crafty butcher whom has murdered every other person throughout the novel.

Seriously? 

Without any basis or proof, the half-brother whips out a gun and tries to effect his escape. Why? There was no proof! he could have sat there all day and laughed.

The novel ends practically on that note. No romantic conclusion. The girl, we are given to understand, is romantically involved with the only other person in the castle that appears to have a relatively clean slate. The half-brother is tackled, cuffed, and arrested, and Bartle turns away in disgust, because he can’t stand the sight of persons placed under arrest.

Huh?

Honestly, the novel had me utterly flummoxed, as I hoping that the otherwise juvenile construction and plot would suddenly explode ingeniously into a ripe thriller. Imagine my disappointment….

 

Corpse from the Sky by J. Murray Crouch