I read this booklet many years ago, but it was nice to freshen up on it as I had just recently posted another title, “The Gamma Ray Murders,” which features the very same protagonist.
“Death on Priority 1” by Preston Yorke is in fact penned by the famous Darcy Glinto writer, Harold Ernest Kelly, and published by Everybody’s Books (1945) shortly after the second world war. However, it is clear, from the story-line, that it was written during the war.
Inspector Bevis is sent to investigate the hijackings of freighting trucks across England. With his partner, they eventually spot a group of criminals making off with a truck, but, the criminal mastermind behind it all was prepared for this eventuality, and has a souped-up heavy car broadside their lightweight vehicle into flipping over. Bevis’ partner dies in the crash, flying through the windshield. Bevis is seriously injured.
Bevis convinces his chief to give him one last “go” at the affair, going undercover as a trucker. Bevis makes a name for himself, making deliveries in record time and rumors get around that he won’t take no shit from anyone, even the cops, to get his goods from Point A to Point B.
As weeks and months go by, Bevis, operating as “Mad” Yorky, is met by a crook whom offers him the side job of losing his truck of goods for a hundred pounds. He accepts, but then confides that he’s looking for an “in” with the bosses and wishes to earn more money while the war is ongoing. Once the war ends, so does the trafficking, etc.
The story is slightly reminiscent of another Kelly story, written under the alias of Buck Toler….
Anyhow, Bevis spots his hijacked truck passing through the dockside town and realizes that the goods MUST be transported and unloaded nearby, rather than stolen and driven far away. He sneaks into several warehoused areas before striking lucky. That is, until he is caught unawares by a pair of hoodlums that cave in his skull and toss his butt into confinement.
How he escapes and the escapades that follow to the point of busting the gang will remain a secret, for those that entertain the notion of obtaining a copy for themselves.
Having been a collector of British wartime fiction booklets for over 20 years, I’ve managed to hoard and secure 3 copies of this elusive title…. Why? Because they are variants. After the first run sold out, Kelly issued further copies to be printed. And yes, there are noticeable differences, starting with the rear cover ads.
So, what am I reading next? A mystery magazine chock full o’ short stories, so, you might not see a post here for close-on a week. Where magazines are concerned, chug along mighty slow on the tales.