“Dames Out of the Ring” by Hamilton Enterkin

Dames Out Of The Ring
Dames Out of the Ring (by Hamilton Enterkin)

Published by The Kaner Publishing Co., “Dames Out of the Ring” is told by fictional boxing trainer Aloysius to author Hamilton Enterkin. British Library shows that they received this undated booklet in 1948. Was the author a real person or the alias of the publisher? There was one Hamilton Enterkin born during The Great War and died 1996 in Plymouth, England.

This was essentially a vanity press, in that he (Hyman Kaner) published his own stories. He eventually released publications with various other authors.

The cover art, while unsigned, would appear to be the work of H. W. Perl.

This 64-page stapled booklet contains 9 short boxing stories:

03 – No Fury
10 – More Deadly Than the Male
17 – Mother’s Boy
24 – Golden Girl
31 – Witchcraft
38 – The Trimmer
45 – Error of Judgment
53 – The Greatest Charity
60 – The Ghost of Conway Hall

I wish that at least one of these stories was decent enough to report upon, but the fact is, and despite the ‘weird’ sounding titles to a couple, which certainly had my hopes up in the ‘weird’ genre direction, they are all truly general fiction tales.

No Fury” involves a boxer spurning the attentions of a girl whom is dead-set on marrying him. She brings in a man whom bested him in college and he clubs him through all the rounds purposely without knocking him, delivering a severe beating. Finally, she gives the OK to knock him off his heels. They end up marrying.

More Deadly than the Male” could easily have been the prior story (in title only). In this, a Parisian young lady makes like she is in love with the champion. They hook up; then, a man finally puts in an appearance and demands hush money or a fight to the death. Our champion is given time to learn the art of fencing, and, shockingly, he is quite adept at the art. He takes down his challenger, and they vacate Paris.

Mother’s Boy” is unique. It appears to be yet another ‘shake-down’ tale like the one above. A fictitious mother is created for the young boxer whom grew up in an orphanage, so that the trainers can keep the girls off him. At the end of each match or interview, he peels himself away, stating he has to get home to mother. Disembarking a ship from some foreign bouts, he walks ashore to the flashbulbs of the press and a woman rushes up claiming to be his mother! And it’s no real shake-down; she literally just wants to be taken in. Feeling the pressure, and realizing she can call the bluff, they let her tend house and she turns out to be just as good as her word! Her world comes crashing down when a villain from her past comes to blackmail the champion and recognizes her. Overnight, she packs all evidences of her living with the champion, and murders the villain! They go to set her free from jail but she claims to never have seen them before. In my opinion, this heartfelt story was the best in the booklet, and is worthy of being collected elsewhere, one day.

Golden Girl” involves a female moving up in the world to Hollywood and suddenly will have nothing to do with a lowly boxer. After some failed Hollywood romances, she tries to reinstate herself with the boxer, but he’s onto her and gives her the goodbye. Irate, she sets him against a tough, but the boxer knocks him down. Years pass, and the offended “tough” learns how to box and moves up in the world. Our boy has retired, and, Aloysius, our narrator, is confronted by the offended party from years’ past. He has a chronic condition, looks weak, and asks for a bout with the ex-champ, so he can get some money. They finally agree, and the deceit is learned, that the man is faking. He’s in excellent shape, while the ex-champ hasn’t trained in years! However, all the training in the world doesn’t prepare him for the fact that the champ is still a contender….

Witchcraft” involves a champion whom is, well, unbeatable. However, he meets his match in a contender whom should stand no chance in beating him. He becomes worried, informing Aloysius that the guy is weird and keeps staring at him. It comes about that he is a hypnotist, and while the champ is under, he is cleanly knocked out.

The Trimmer” involves a rail of a man entering the boxing world. His reps are taking in most of the proceeds, leaving him with barely 10%. He trims them by setting up dozens of fictitious names and playing the gambling odds under these assorted names. In the end, he cleans up to the tune of several tens of thousands of pounds. He ‘clipped the bookies!’

Error of Judgment” has a preacher placing a young man into Aloysius’ hands. He believes he can be freed from liquor, drugs, and the gangster rackets, by removing him from the city and putting him onto an honest career in boxing. It works for a time; he marries a very decent girl, but, he ends up firing his crew and Aloysius returns to the church and lies about the kid’s condition. Eventually, the wife approaches them with a black eye and the pair go to the rescue, only to learn that the kid is beyond redemption.

The Greatest is Charity” involves a champ going the rounds and due to lose, but his wife spikes the contenders sponge with chloroform, and our hero knocks him out. A simple, boring tale.

The Ghost of Conway Hall” is merely two jerks playing a practical joke on a boxer, digging up the ancient family curse of a haunted portion of the building. Unable to avoid the call of being called a ‘chicken,’ he gamely accepts the challenge to stay the night in the haunted room, in which a death reportedly in the past, has occurred….

“Dames Out of the Ring” by Hamilton Enterkin

The Prison Murder by Rex Dark

MELLIFONT The Prison Murder

The Prison Murder” by Rex Dark was first published by Wright & Brown in 1939, then later released in soft cover, via the Mellifont Press, in 1943. Published as a 96-page digest-paperback, it doesn’t sport a price anywhere on the cover or the spine, nor is one mentioned on the inside.

Looking at the author’s name bubbled onto the cover, I even wonder if the artwork is original to the book or recycled. The illustration certainly has zero to do with the contents.

The identity of Rex Dark has never been ascertained, although guesses abound. Let’s look at who else wrote for Wright & Brown. “Roland Daniel” immediately comes to mind. Same letters, same time period. However, I’ve not read enough of either author’s works to make a definitive statement.

The novel opens with Amelia and her husband, simply referred to by their joint surname of Cressman, discussing the plans to obtain certain papers from another crook. He has a silenced revolver loaded with two bullets. While preparing in an alternate room, Amelia opens the window and fires off both bullets. To her amazement, the muffled retort does not travel to her husband. Unaware that he is proceeding to plan with an empty weapon, he departs with the gun. Amelia was worried that he intended on killing their prey, hence the real reason she fired off the rounds….

Cressman makes his way toward his target, goes inside the man’s abode, and is dumbfounded to find the man already dead, two bullets in him. The door crashes in and the police enter. It’s an open-and-closed case for them. A dead body, two bullets, a killer on the premises, and, his weapon has been recently fired. He is taken away to prison, where he proclaims emphatically he is innocent of the murder, but not the premeditation thereof….

Chapter Three introduces us to private detective Bartholomew Dane and later, to Inspector Thackeray. The inspector has just phoned and is inviting himself over to dinner and a select bottle of wine but foremost, Dane finds himself dealing with a young girl (Miss Virginia Hyam) of fine social standing, whom has received a threat-letter. Deciding that the letter is credible, he and Thackeray stake out a restaurant in which she is to meet the writer. While there, they spot two hoodlums, but they do not seem interested in the girl. After much time has passed, the pair join her table, deciding that the letter-writer either was spooked or is a no-show. Virginia is certain that they are putting on false airs to comfort her, but is convinced that she is ultimately in some form of danger.

While following Virginia home, from a safe distance, they find a rat named The Weasel rifling through the residence trash. Certain that he is part of the plot, he refuses to cop to anything evil and states he is merely searching for scrap metal to sell during the war effort. They have no grounds to detain him, so let him go.

From the girl’s residence, we are introduced to her father, a servant name of Gant, a house female companion name of Mrs. Julian Northmore (whom seems to have affections toward Virginia’s father), the father’s private in-house secretary (Peter Tallack), and a man whom under false-pretenses of wealth is hitting on Virginia (Henry Ransom). Her father, Sir Bernard, having too much money and time in retirement, often pursues human interest cases. His current fad is prison reform.

Tallack, on Sir Bernard’s behalf, schedules all of them to visit the local prison and see what the true conditions are like. While there, they meet Cressman, whom talks privately and in earnest with Sir Bernard. What is whispered between the two, we are never told. A couple hours later, the warden is informed that Cressman has died, from an apparent suicide. However, Tallack remarks that a man on the verge of pointing his finger at the true murderer would hardly kill himself. Furthermore, he notes, that he saw someone pass him a drink, while they were departing. Virginia supports this claim, as she too saw the mug.

It is later ascertained that he indeed consumed poison from the mug. The five (Sir Bernard, daughter Virginia, Mrs. Julian Northmore, Peter Tallack, and Henry Ransom) are immediately under suspicion, as they were within the time-table as suspects to have slipped Cressman the poison.

Throughout the rest of the novel, Tallack acts like an amateur detective, openly theorizing how each of the four (himself excluded, because one does not accuse their own self) could or would have murdered Cressman, what evidence he might have had on each and the outcome. The evidence he creates is spectacularly damning on all counts, and everything remarkably comes to a head when it is learned that Amelia Cressman appears to know who performed the actual murder!

That night, infuriated by the police constantly tracking their every move, Virginia stages an escape for the five to a night club and announces loudly to the driver a different location. The police are lulled into a false security and accidentally permit the car to slip away. No fear; they know which night club they are heading toward, right? Wrong. On arrival, they realize that they were duped.

Private detective Bartholomew Dane and Inspector Thackeray are irked to learn of the deceit, and to further vex the situation, Cressman’s widow is found stabbed to death. Fully realizing the importance that one of these fools is a cunning murderer, they decide to lay a trap for the man or woman, by setting the final climatic scene to lure the killer into the open.

They fool the ill-fated person into believing that Cressman’s wife has actually not only survived the stabbing, but, is coming to the house to finger her would-be killer. As the lady enters and is announced by the butler, the killer, shockingly, turns out to be Peter Tallack, whom in reality is Sir Bernard’s dead nephew!!!

(Earlier in the novel we learn that the nephew, whose real name is not Peter Tallack, of course, got into a fight in America with a New York “tough” by the name of the Bowery Kid, over a girl. Reportedly, on being slain by the Bowery Kid, she told the police that the dead man was actually slain BY THE BOWERY KID, in order to save his life. Now, he and she had shrewdly returned to England and in order to avoid a scandal, had slain others to obtain his own father’s Will, which declared him the initial rights holder to the monies and estate. However, being a murderer, he could never claim to be heir. He’d have been locked up! Hence, the murders and blackmail racket).

Returning to the house, on hearing Cressman’s wife’s name announced by the butler, he draws out his gun and seeks to make good his escape but is thwarted at the open window by the police. He ends his life by blowing out his brains. His girl-friend maintains her silence as to his true identity in order to still obtain the promised blackmail funds and not sully the family name….

The Prison Murder by Rex Dark