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

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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 That Gerald G. Swan decided to unearth his trove of unpublished manuscripts, acquired back in the 1940s, and publish them during the 1960-61 era, is phenomenal.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)

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…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)

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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)

Detective Thriller Library # 2 (Gerald G Swan)

Having finished reading the first in this limited series, I plunged into the second Detective Thriller Library publication by Gerald G. Swan, printed circa 1960-1961, which collects leftover manuscripts purchased during the 1940s by Swan. This 64-page, stapled digest-paperback, measures approximately 5 x 7 inches. Cover art lacks any identifying signature, and seems to illustration the lead story.

Detective Thriller 2

All Brides Must Die,” written by Patricia Westley, is a murder thriller. An unknown assailant known as “The Choker” is strangling beautiful young ladies to death, before they take the final plunge into matrimony. Malcolm Peters is invited to a party held by the gorgeous newlywed Mrs. Carter. While at home again, he receives a frantic distress call from her, that someone is in her house, etc. On investigating, he finds the typical souvenir left behind by The Choker. Further, the house has burned to the ground. Mrs. Carter’s faithful dog has escaped the infernal, unscathed. Peters takes in the dog, and reports all to the police. Mrs. Carter’s husband is missing. Did Harold murder her? Is he the “choker?” Questions abound. But when Peters discerns that Mrs. Carter is not actually dead, he begins to put the pieces to this puzzle together…

One can rely on Leslie Bussey to supply a decent, hard-hitting short thriller. With a title like “The Dead Sometimes Talk,” we really expect something of that sort. Bussey provides us with a bizarre tale, in which a poor woman is rifling through trash on a dead-end street, when she happens across a large manikin-doll. While rescuing the item, she is approached by a younger gentleman, whom talks sincerely to her. Offers her a job, to-be-paid at the end of her couple weeks, and she is to maintain his home for him while he is out, etc. Above all else, she is to ask no questions. She (Jenny) takes the job immediately, as housekeeper. Too, she needs money, and employment in England is tough to obtain, especially for someone down on their luck like herself. Cleaned up and dressed in better clothes, all at his expense, she takes to the job. She blunders into becoming too aware of her surroundings and suspicions begin to form that he is the mysterious murderer that the police want. The tale is inherently weak, but stimulating enough to forge through. Locked in his home, she has no escape, and finally, hangs the manikin outside the window, hoping somebody will see the manner in which it is hung. The device works. For, just as he is throttling the life out of her, the police burst in and save her life.

Next up is Dorothy Bronson’s “Blackmail Racket.” June Elder is murdered shortly after having visiting Barry Logan, private investigator. He reports the murder to Inspector Bland. Seems there is a lot of love affairs going on, and June was caught by her husband, whom creates a fake blackmail racket and plans to stick it to her secret suitor, whom has a tainted background. But when Logan discovers the woeful husband is amorous with the local dance-hall hussy, he begins to put the various clues of misdirection together in a proper sequence. Not a bad tale, altogether. It did keep me guessing.

In “Death Came Flying,” Chris Blake supplies the typical circus murder. A man is found dead, splattered, having been thrown from a fast-flying ride. Turns out he is (was) one of the circus owners. All eyes are on the co-owners, the ride operator, and the woman involved, but the detective discovers the extra clue due to mud on his clothes, which leads us to the doctor, whom was on the scene at the time of the murder. Ironically, we learn via post mortem that the victim was already dead. The murderer wanted to speed up the process by providing his own post mortem, but, the police stuck to protocols, and this thwarted him. He never had the time to remove the bullet. Secondly, a newly dead body splattering should have been drenched in blood. He was already dead, and did not splatter….

Seems odd for me to see Patrick S. Selby’s name in a crime thriller, since I’m more familiar with his appearance in New Worlds magazine, but, here we have “Pint Pots and Papers.” Terry Kestry is an insurance-man. He wishes to marry the bosses girl, but, so far, believes he will be fired shortly, because every case he has handled, the insurance company  has found no fault and had to pay out. His career as an insurance detective seems to be rapidly dwindling, when he is called to check out a claim. A book collector has had his safe blown, and a rare book stolen. The case blows wide-open when Terry realizes the book could NOT have been inside a safe that couldn’t hold a book of such disproportionate dimensions, which means the person that sold the book to the collector also is in on the fraud, for having claimed he saw the book placed in the safe!

In “The Resurrection of Reen,” H. Main tells a crooks’ tale. A henchman is sent to steal a mummy from a professor. The mummy had been sold at auction, but, the henchman failed to be the high bidder. His boss isn’t happy. The mummy has a false bottom, having been stuffed with “five thousand quid’s worth” of cocaine. Having slipped through customs, it was to be auctioned off. Anyway, our crook, Snaky, realizes he can’t blow the job twice, or his life is quits. He sneaks into the professor’s home, and waits forever for the professor to leave the room. Only, he doesn’t. The professor is too engrossed in deciphering the hieroglyphics and learns of a curse. He flees to the window, when he hears a rapping. It is a raven, as mentioned in the curse, and bizarrely, it drops stone dead (never explained). While away, staring at the deceased bird, Snaky sneaks in, nabs the mummy, but only gets to the curtain in time before the professor returns. The professor is in stark fear. The mummy has arisen! and he flees the scene. Meanwhile, Snaky learns it is the wrong mummy. No false bottom. Despite fearing his life, he replaces the mummy back into its case, and reports back to his boss, whom gathers the gang, intent on raiding the house and securing the mummy, for he is certain that Snaky is an idiot. The professor has returned with a colleague, whom thinks he his batty, especially after regurgitating the mummy’s curse. On arriving, they find the mummy has returned. What’s more, they now find themselves surrounded by masked thieves. The whole scene goes colorfully weird when police burst in and the mummy inexplicably comes to life, its wrappings falling from its face to reveal a raven-haired corpse. It informs the bad guys to kneel before the presence of Reen, High Priest of Ra. Remarkably, they do just that, except the boss, whom faints. Turns out the mummy did NOT pass customs. They caught the cocaine, and switched the mummy, too, in order to bust the gang.

Last up is Garry Elliott’s “Cheque for Murder.” Darrell, a one-time crook, has been in the hire of old man Cowan now for quite some time. Having forgiven the crook’s past transgressions, he gave the man a chance at redemption and Darrell, as accounts bookkeeper, and has performed admirably. However, he is sweating bullets. He signed and cashed a false check, and is afraid the bank caught this. When an envelope arrives with his name on it and check noted, Darrell is sure he has been caught. He decides to murder Cowan; and murder him, he does. The irony occurs when the police discover the check in an envelope on the desk, and Darrell blurts out that they can’t have found it…he has it on him! Really? Turns out Cowan had written a bonus check, and was to award Darrell a promotion! He had never been suspected by Cowan and, he recovered the wrong check.

Cheque-mate !!!

Detective Thriller Library # 2 (Gerald G Swan)

Detective Thriller Library (no. 1) Gerald G. Swan

By now, everyone knows the history of publisher Gerald G. Swan. His savvy decision to purchase and hoard warehouses full of paper leading into World War Two is almost legendary. And when one of the warehouses was destroyed, it didn’t slow Swan down in the least.

Someone within the Swan organization in the late 1950s discovered files filled with unpublished manuscripts dating back to the 1940s. Who precisely unearthed the trove, is unknown (to me) but, the publishers immediately compiled the assorted miscellaneous shorts, and issued the following publications, circa 1960-1961:

Detective Thriller 1

  • Weird and Occult Library (3 issues)
    complete short stories and articles
  • Science Fiction Library (3 issues)
    complete short stories and articles
  • Detective Thriller Library (2 issues)
    complete short stories
  • Schoolgirls Library (not seen by me)
  • Schoolboys Library (2 issues)
    one novelette and one short story
  • Romances (not seen by me)

Initially, I collected the W&O and the SF series.
Then, I began to chase the third series on the list.
The Detective Thriller Library series eluded me for nearly twenty years, until finally, I got lucky. Naturally, one must read these 64-page booklets.

Murder in Jail by C. G. Wimhurst (see the cover) is the lead novelette. George Stephens is found dead suspended high up in the air, on a hook, on the prison wall. While the reader is keenly aware who precisely murdered Stephens, Wimhurst adroitly offers us various alternate opportunities, going so far as to suggest another prison guard, whom was having an affair with Stephens’ wife–Stephens’ much-much-much younger wife. In the end, the detective realizes that the prisoner held above the suspended dead man was a rope expert. Have lassoed Stephens, he wrenched him up and strangled the man to death. Having successfully murdered the man, he went to drop the body to earth. However, he was not aware of the oddly placed hook below his window (which the author fails to explain the presence of).

Water-Hyacinth by Keats Hill is a short story of greed and murder and cunning. When Durgham’s partner becomes entangled and drowns, he returns to the dead man’s hut to find a strangely alluring, beautiful young man already ahead of him, with a manservant. She claims to be the dead man’s wife. Durgham never knew of a wife, and she declares calmly that they were newly wed. Suspicious of her, he explains the circumstances for her husband’s death, and that he is there looking for business plans. She adroitly convinces him to drag her along, so that she can locate, too, the missing plans. She is actually not wed to the lately deceased, but a hired thug sent to retrieve those plans for another party.

Brown Dust by Frederick Purves involves a man trudging along and entering a pub, only to find a man there, dead, blood all about. Kneeling to inspect the body, a young lady enters the pub and naturally assumes he to be the murderer. He defends his position, and they agree that neither of them are the killer. They vacate quickly, in fear that the killer is still nearby or may return. Ironically, they return to the scene of the crime, and he enters without her. Shockingly, he finds body  gone, all traces of blood removed, and the bar open for business! He plays it cool and tricks the cold-blooded killer into revealing himself and it turns out the pub owner found the corpse first and hid the body, too, in the hopes of discerning who murdered the man.

Strange Things Happen by John Theydon introduces us to Mr. Herbert Josser, special agent to the Foreign Office. Sent on a mission of extreme importance, and at all costs not to reveal his own identity, he is nonplussed to find himself the pivotal focus of a murder aboard a train. Can Josser solve the mystery before finding himself imprisoned and failing in finishing his assignment? Despite being written during the 1940s, it very much has the feel of several 1910s pre-Great War tales of espionage that I have read….

The Missing Key by Iris Weigh is tiresomely painful to read, after all the disappointing tales before it. A murder is committed and the door is locked. The detectives learn that a second key exists, and, furthermore, that the murdered lady actually committed suicide and tossed the spare key out the window into the bushes, in the hopes of her suicide being labeled a murder and sending a man to his own death. An overly recycled plot device.

Murder in Mayfair by G. M. Byrne features Jackson Laramee, investigating and safeguarding the priceless pearl necklace of Mrs. Woodchurch. Her husband believes that the famous thief Four Fingered Harry is present to woo her, and then snatch the pearls. Laramee has brought in some friends to watch everyone, but his plans go awry, when she is found murdered, after Harry walked in, but never walked out. Who murdered Mrs. Woodchurch? Where is Harry? And what happened to the pearl necklace? Perhaps the best-written tale in this neat volume, for offering the reader multiple plot complications, and just enough of an edge to keep you guessing.

Music Lesson by Douglas Haig introduces us to Inspector Seal, whom is musically inclined to know that the murdered man, in dying, played notes on the piano to indicate his killer’s identity and location.

Detective Thriller Library (no. 1) Gerald G. Swan

Weird Shorts: First Selection (Gerald G Swan, 1944)

Weird Shorts

Weird Shorts: First Selection was published by Gerald G. Swan in 1944 and priced at 7d. This 36-page stapled pamphlet contains 7 short stories. It is actually the only edition.

Up first is “In Alien Valleys” by Henry Rawle.
Typical social gathering at the local pub, one of those fire-side chats, discussing ghosts and psychical phenomenon and the traditional naysayers that take control of the conversation until the ‘silent-looker-on’ off to the side coughs their way into the discussion. This person is usually another noted scientist or doctor or, just some bloke that knew to attend one of these gatherings. In any case, his morbid tale is of his own mind suffering astral projection but the effects are proven by his awakening and the marks left behind by a giant taloned bird are upon his very body. Naturally, anyone can scoff at this conclusion. While the tale of being projected onto another planet was a fun read, the freshly made scars could be readily faked from a variety of sources. The tale has a very “dated” feel to it.

Henry Rawle has contributed many weird tales to the
British mags of old, including the following:

  • Armand’s Return, (ss) Ghosts & Goblins, 1938
  • The Bride of Yum-Chac, (ss) Occult #1 ’45
  • Dr. Gabrielle’s Chair, (ss) Space Fact and Fiction # 2 ’54
  • Fiorello (ss) New Acorn Jun/Jul 1949
  • Flashback, (ss) Occult #2 ’46
  • Gruenaldo, (vi) Weird Story Magazine #1 ’46
  • The Head of Ekillon, (ss) Ghosts & Goblins, 1938
  • In Alien Valleys, (ss) Weird Shorts #1 ’44
  • The Intruder, (vi) Weird and Occult Miscellany, 1949
  • Marley’s Masterpiece, (ss) Mystery Stories #18 ’39
  • Revanoff’s Fantasia, (ss) Tales of Ghosts and Haunted Houses, 1939
  • Silvester’s Oasis, (ss) Weird and Occult Library #3 ’60
  • The Voice of Amalzzar, (ss) Weird and Occult Library #2 ’60

Next is Trevor Dudley-Smith’s “The Immortal Guardian,” which also treads upon the usual. A woman’s long-suffering brother is dying, and, commits suicide. Before dying, he surrenders onto her his ring to wear, and promises to watch over her throughout life. Much time has past since his departure, and, while she and her husband are driving away to catch a flight, she is horror-stricken to note the ring is missing! They return to the hotel and learn that a maid found it in the shower drain. How did it fall off? It had never come off or been removed prior. They miss their flight, and next morning, while reading the newspaper, the husband is in awe to learn that the plane crashed. Was it fate, luck, coincidence, or … her brother?

The former name of Elleston Trevor, he obtained greater
fame later as Adam Hall with his “Quiller” crime novels.

Sigrid’s House” by Dallas Kirby is a tale of demoniacal possession.
Long ago, a lovely lady married a preacher and then tried to corrupt his soul and sell it to the devil. He fought her and the house exploded from within, after he fought her off with his silver cross. Every seven years, a stranger happens along and is stranded in the vicinity and happens upon the house and is never seen or heard from again. Enter our hero, a detective on assignment, headed off to investigate illegal transportation of drugs. He never makes his destination, for his wheels become stuck in the mud during a torrential downpour. Seeing a light in the distance, he decides to make a break for it and finds himself at a desolate mansion of sorts. Entering, a servant brings him to his master, a stunningly beautiful girl. Whether his drink was doped or she worked black magic upon him is unclear, but, he becomes aware dreamily that he has told her of his entire assignment, etc., and then jerks fully awake as a spark from the fireplace burns him. Shucking the evil power holding him, he’s now fully coherent and in perfect control of his faculties. Midnight is drawing near and he realizes that he is in the evilly rumored Sigrid’s House. He goes down to the basement, and finds the girl in a trance calling out to the devil himself, and an evil THING does manifest. Realizing that he is to be the final sacrifice to bring her Self back to life (and the demon, too) he lunges forward upon the preacher’s old silver cross, performs some brief battle with cadaverous creature from hell using the cross, and the home and explodes. He awakens in Hoyt, where he was to perform his duties. He is battered and bruised from his ordeal, but is being aptly cared for by a woman, whose husband found him dazed and near death, clutching in his hands a branch of wood in the form of a crucifix…

Dallas Kirby is the alias of David J. Gammon; he contributed two
other odd bits, both to the publisher Gerald G. Swan, being:

  • Come Brother, Come!, (ss) Weird and Occult Library #2 ’60
  • The Incredible Solution, (ss) Yankee Science Fiction #21 ’42

Night of Terror!” by E. A. Cross is more a crime story than a weird one.
Your typical fat, bloated, rich asshole is driving through the countryside when his car fails him. Walking to a home in the remote region during a storm, he is welcomed by an older man, whom turns out to be a scientist. While left alone, the visitor stumbles into the laboratory and discovers that the man is insanely carving upon brains of missing “other” visitors and leaving them alive as brainless halfwits. Scared out of his mind, the portly man tries in vain to escape but is captured, tied to a bench, and commits suicide rather than be operated upon. The joke is on him. The intent WAS to scare him to death, as a prank. The asshole, turns out, had stolen another man’s woman and she died. The scientist was the father, and the halfwit running around? the woman’s original betrayed lover, also in on the gag.

Elizabeth Anne Cross contributed at least two more shorts, both
to Swan, being general fiction stories. 

David Alun presents us with an awfully good tongue-in-cheek sinister spoof on Adolph Hitler as Udolph Litter. In “The Demon and the Dictator,” a lesser demon is sent to earth to corrupt a tiny country’s tyrant into committing flagrant atrocities. The dictator is repulsed by Melite, the ugly little demon, so it changes form to a fuckably cute little girl in a dancer outfit. We are led to believe that Udolph kisses the girl (and is zapped) and they might even have intercourse over the years. Melite convinces him to sign off on a form to provide Melite with a “ball” and in exchange, Melite gives him the world (sort of). Many many years pass and Udolph is conquering the world but is not ready to die just yet, each time becoming more and more wretched and evil. Melite suggests killing the Jews (I’m surprised this made it into the text). Tired of waiting, Melite uses his demon abilities to coerce Udolph to blow his brains out, and Melite collects an evilly hardened little ball, being Udolph’s soul. Melite was assigned to obtain a solidly functional soul-ball for the upper demons to play Rugby with, incidentally…. It’s a damn good story, despite the spoof being chillingly close to reality.

This author’s identity has never been cemented, however,
I suspect that this is David William Alun Llewellyn. Who?
Yeah, that’s what I said, too. Check out the following link.
If you read it and concur, let me know. I’m fairly confident this is our man.
http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/llewellyn_alun

In “The Revenge of Arnul,” author W. P. Cockroft presents a man whom has been wronged and robbed his whole life by a man that competed with and bettered him in all tasks and assignments and goals throughout childhood and later years, even going so far as to claim the woman he loved. Tired of the constant suffering, he went on to pursue a career in the sciences, an area the other had zero interest. Many years, decades perhaps, pass. The scientist sends a letter of invite to his one-time competitor, and he accepts, but brings a gun with him. He realizes that something is afoot, and is prepared to defend himself. The scientist informs him that he has created a time machine and he has succeeded in sending a motion camera into the future and recorded certain events. He shows him one such reel, indicating the wife’s great sorrow. And then he shows him his own death, being hanged for the murder of the scientist! Angered and frightened, he attacks the scientist and threatens to destroy the machines, believing the scenes are faked. While fighting, he fatally shoots the scientists, whom laughs to death, proclaiming his own death was what was needed to solidify the future’s reality, otherwise, it was just one of many such futures. With his dying breath, he tells his killer to play one last reel. The man plays the reel, which shows HIM entering the house, going into the library, talking to the scientist, and plays on through to the final kill scene. In a fit of utter insanity, he destroys everything and is arrested for murder. His lawyer can’t fathom why he won’t plead to self-defense, but, he’s seen the future, and knows that the hangman’s noose is unavoidable….

I wrote up another Wilfred P. Cockroft tale many months ago
(see: They Came From Mars) but never discussed the man himself.
He contributed to SF and Weird fandom alike from
1934 through 1954, appearing earliest in the world’s
first science fiction newspaper (Scoops), made a couple sales to
American pulps, appeared in Britain’s debut issue of Tales of Wonder, etc.

I. O. Evans presents a ghoulish Norse revival of “The Kraken.” Bringing in a geologist to investigate seaside phenomenon of the sea floor seeming to rise, Jarvis is gobsmacked to learn that the sea does indeed appear to have risen several dozen feet, making the bottom quite visible in places. Numerous tourists have come to the beach to take pictures, boats aplenty are adrift, anchored and watching, and the British navy is on the scene, when, inexplicably, the whole of the ocean floor suddenly rises and bubbles to the surface, becoming a rubbery gelatinous mass. The situation worsens when tentacled claws shoot out and begin grasping sea-goers and dragging them under for nourishment. Jarvis, our geologist, immediately realizes that they are dealing with the historically fantastic Kraken of Norse mythology, but, hasn’t a clue how to defeat the creature. The navy does battle with the beast, and the beast retaliates by pulling an entire warship under. Depth charges are unleashed, and the Kraken drops and creates a whirlpool that drags every ship under to a watery grave. Nothing seems to kill or permanently injure the beast. Bombs fail. Cannonballs bounce off the rubbery body. Anti-aircraft fire penetrates but really does nothing else, other than annoy the creature. In the end, it is the English weather that sends the critter swimming away to the deeper and COLDER recesses of the Atlantic depths.

Idrisyn Oliver Evans contributed only the one known weird story,
one science fiction tale involving a robot-boxer
(The Passing Show, 15 Jan 1938), and translated
two of Jules Verne’s tales (“Frritt-Flacc” and “Gil Braltar”)
both for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author_talk:Idrisyn_Oliver_Evans
For further interest, here is a link detailing his books:
https://www.librarything.com/author/evansio

In conclusion, below are the publication’s specs:

Weird Shorts: First Selection [#1, 1944]
(London: Gerald G Swan, 7d, 36-pages, 4.75 x 7.5 inches, stapled pamphlet, cover art: unknown)
2 * In Alien Valleys * Henry Rawle
5 * The Immortal Guardian * Trevor Dudley-Smith
8 * Sigrid’s House * Dallas Kirby
15 * Night of Terror! * E. A. Cross
21 * The Demon and the Dictator * David Alun
25 * The Revenge of Arnul * W. P. Cockcroft (sic)
30 * The Kraken * I. O. Evans

Weird Shorts: First Selection (Gerald G Swan, 1944)

“Gang Shorts” – 3rd Collection

Gang Shorts 3
Gang Shorts # 3

Gang Shorts: 3rd Collection
Printed 1945 in England, by Gerald G. Swan.
Published double column, on 36 pages.
Cover price: 7d.

The booklet is comprised of:

  • Black Huntress by Norman C. Pallant
  • Honi Soit… by G. H. Lister
  • The Broken Window Cord by Ronald Horton
  • Sadie Gets Her Story by Stella Dene
  • They Always Get Theirs by Leslie Bussey
  • Roast Beef? Take it Away! by Preston D. Olsen
  • Limited Risk by G. H. Lister

The lead story is Norman C. Pallant’s “Black Huntress.”
Public Enemy No. 1 “Joe Conner” has made a name for himself, making money and slaying his enemies. He thinks his life is 100% positively secure, until a dame in black begins a cross-country chase. Believing her to be the widow of a man he wiped out years ago, he flees to further recesses of the country, and always, he finds her there. While attempting to vanish, he holds up a bank, and, who should walk in but the dame! Pushing his gat into her chest, he threatens to kill her and run with the goods, but the bank teller pumps him full of lead. In conclusion, the police interrogate the woman in black, only to learn that she is an autograph hound!!!

Norman Charles Pallant was born 14 February 1910
in the Hitchin district, died the end of 1972, in the
Haringey district. His literary output, as follows:

Up next is “Honi Soit…” by G. H. Lister.
Montgomery Smith is an Englishman whom has outlived his usefulness as a swindler of his own countryman. Relocating to the United States, he quickly administers thievery and lies, and builds up a rapid reservoir of cash. Looking for bigger game, he convinces a man to pay him an immense amount of dollars, and in return, Smith coughs up a family heirloom, a sword, that when possessed gives the owner the title of an English gentleman. Desiring to be a Lord, the American readily agrees. Smith goes out to a shop, buys an old sword, has a fake certificate created, and the whole process is complete. Things go rapidly wrong when a pair of criminals hold them up for their hard-earned cash. In the process, Smith ends up with the dame, whom is convinced he really is a wealthy Englishman. Fleeing America with the toots, he begins to work on a plan to unload the broad….

Gordon H. Lister was born 1914 and died 1996.
His output seems limited strictly to Swan publications:

Ronald Horton supplies “The Broken Window Cord.”
Ray Lester is gonna hang for attempted murder. But investigator ‘Dad’ Morgan literally finds “holes” in the botched murder scene, and a loose cord in a trunk drilled with air-holes seals the real killer’s fate!

Ronald Harcourt Horton was born Qtr 2, 1902 in the
Solihull district, and died 1987.
While his output appears limited, I suspect he sold stories
to numerous rural newspapers throughout the country.
He also turns in various boys’ annuals.

Stella Dene supplies “Sadie Gets Her Story.”
Blonde bombshell newsgirl Sadie is handed the assignment of bringing back to her paper a real humdinger. While investigating a young man whom appears to be cozying up unflattering-like with the local mob enforcers, Sadie inexplicably finds herself kidnapped, in a case of mistaken identity! While trying to find a means of escape, she contacts her boss and reveals the secret location of the Bronx Gang. The place is raided and she is rescued, in what is otherwise a fairly weak story.

The identity of “Stella Dene” is murky.
What is known is that she (or he?) wrote a handful of
girls’ short stories for the various Swan publications.

Up next is “They Always Get Theirs” by Leslie Bussey.
Lefty leaves his entire life fortune and business to two ex-criminals, whom find themselves currently booted from Lefty’s business by hardier gangsters. Forced out with the option to LIVE or DIE, they choose to live. But, when they receive a copy of the Will, they find themselves in possession of a coded message, that, when deciphered, reveals that the business is a time-bomb, and, if not reset on a regular basis, the entire premises will explode. It does, and takes out all of the criminals in on the initial plot to wipe out Lefty. And the pair of heirs? They play is straight, open and operate a drive-in!

Leslie Bussey’s works appear to be “almost” exclusively
attached to the Swan outfit. Due to the common nature
of his namesake, his birth and death years are unknown.
He also contributed to Swan’s “Detective Album, 1947” and
the “Crime Album, 1947.” I’m not sure about the 1946 editions.

Preston D. Olsen’s “Roast Beef?–Take It Away!” is without meaty substance.
Two thieves snatch a diamond studded ladies’ accessory, break it apart, and hide the diamonds inside a golf ball. Fleeing America in order to sell the diamonds on the black market and avoid another criminal whom is onto them, they find themselves on the short end, crossing an English pasture and pursued by a bull. When the bull smacks the rump of the man possessing the diamonds, he finds himself lacking his own inherited family jewels. Discerning that the bull must have swallowed the bling, they purchase the bull and have it shipped back to America, to be slaughtered. The joke is on them; no golf ball, no jewels. Later, a story circulates in the Odd Column back in England. A bird’s nest was found to contain the golf ball and inside, the diamonds!

The true identity of this author is unknown.
Further, this is the only known tale to appear under this name.

Gang Shorts wraps up with “Limited Risk” by G. H. Lister.
Again returns our lovable criminal-scoundrel, Montgomery Smith. Looking for some fresh excitement in his retirement from criminal activities, Montgomery strolls through Central Park, listening to various orators denouncing this-and-that, and one in particular, is beating the drum against citywide corruption, in the form of a strong-arm faux-insurance broker, named Perelli. Using his enforcers to pressure local small businesses to cough up a percentage of their hard-earned profits towards insurance, this protection racket is beating up resisters and burning out the rest. Smith decides to use his skills to unseat Perelli, by flipping the tables and landing him in jail.

“Gang Shorts” – 3rd Collection