“Easy Curves” by Nick Baroni

Easy Curves by Nick Baroni was published circa 1950 by Curtis Warren Ltd.; it begins on page 3 and concludes on 128. The front cover illustration is by H. W. Perl, appearing to be one of his customary painted (colorized) photos of a model or actress. Sadly, my copy is in complete ruin: the front cover is severely ripped and torn. A chunk of the lower cover along the spine is missing. However, these are incredibly difficult to obtain, so I won’t complain.

CURTIS WARREN Easy Curves

The novel was one of many penned by Albert Edward Garrett (born 1917) since the 1940s, a career that spanned a few decades.

He frequently under the alias “Edgar Garrett,” this appearing first on “Headline Holiday” (John Crowther, 1944) and later resuscitated for his Western novels of the 1950s and 1960s.

For the mushroom publishers, he wrote under a slew of identified books, and no doubt, many more yet to be confirmed. Below are two examples of his crime titles:

Bart Banarto – The Big Panic – Edwin Self, circa 1953
Johnny Cello – Corruption’s Tutor – Scion, 1953

It’s not the focus of this article, however, to delve into this author’s literary career, for which there are many other sites already admirably suited, so let’s return to Easy Curves for a moment. This novel embraces all that is hard-boiled and sleaze. Loads of violence, bloodshed, tons of unscrupulous sex and rapes, etc.

Gangster boss Joey Grindle and his boys are in a tight spot straight into the novel. A rival gang has moved in and are blissfully mowing down their competition. Joey is a survivor, and while convincing a couple of his boys to give up and head out front, he blasts his way out the back and escapes. Joey captures a rival gangster and beats the hell out of him to learn who squealed. When he learns that his younger brother’s “steady” spilled the beans, he busts in his brother and the girl. Relating the misadventures and the extinction of the Grindle gang, his brother is nonplussed and quickly angered to find that his girl sold them out. Trying to worm her way out of death, she attempts to seduce Joey, during an act of misinterpreting him. He catapults her into another world with a single shot through the heart.

Brothers Joey and Eddie take it on the lam and lay low for several weeks. Instructing Eddie to avoid female attachments in future, they hook up with one-night-stands to sate their urges. Joey, however, becomes infatuated with a girl that gives him the works and dumps him the next day. He doesn’t mind doing that to any girl, but no girl is gonna give him the one-night treatment. Possessed, he stalks her, but lands one of her friends, instead. They hook up and while on a drive to a cottage, they are intercepted by her aged wealthy husband and his hired hoodlums. They beat the living tar out of Joey and leave him for dead on a tombstone with a cement angel looking down on him, wings spread.

Something in him has cracked, severely. Mentally unstable, he is tended by a mob doctor and nursed back to health. But he doesn’t wait long to drag Eddie and some fresh cohorts into an assignment to kill everyone at the mansion that beat him to death. The doll-baby is happy that they are all dead and she is free. Convincing her to stay away from him until the news dies down, she plays her part admirably to the newshounds and law.

Time passes, they hook up, take a drive, and another group of hoods pull them over. Beaten severely and captured, he awakens to find his girlfriend on a bed and raped by a man he let take the rap for him years earlier. He had escaped prison and was hunting Joey the entire time. Having located Joey earlier in the novel, he followed him to the mansion and realized there was the opportunity for a monetary rake-off, a la bribery. He convinces an apish ogre to join his ranks, and others. After raping the girl, the ape is given his turn. Rapidly unhinging, Joey struggles free, grabs a gun, and shoots her dead. The ape dims is lights quickly.

He reawakens in a basement, bound and chained to a wall, battered and beaten to death. His brother and help break him out, but it’s clear to all present that his mental stability is rapidly waning. He’s dangerously close to losing touch with reality.

Fearing that everyone is out to get him, Joey begins a one-man war against his own gang, thinking that they are taking over the gang. He kills everyone, often mistaking his guards as long-dead rival gang members. In the final scene, he has it out with his brother Eddie, and top lieutenant, whom he is certain intends to take over the gang. Eddie, realizing that Joey is indeed too far gone, pulls his gun. The lieutenant pulls his and shoots the gun out of Eddie’s hand (he’s still loyal after all) and Joey shoots him.

Joey, not wounded, last man standing, gloats, and while Eddie is slowly bleeding out to death, the lieutenant, shot himself a couple fatal times, shoot Joey dead, realizing many innocent parties will continue to die if he doesn’t. He is the last to eventually die in that office, with the final thought that none of this should ever have happened….

 

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“Easy Curves” by Nick Baroni

“The Man of Many Colours” by David Braza

MODERN FICTION The Man Of Many Colours

This lovely item has been sitting on my shelf for a very long time, begging to be read….

The Man of Many Colours” is by David Braza, whose actual identity is unconfirmed. This 126-page digest-paperback was published by Modern Fiction Ltd. around September 1953 and is a “Detective Spy Thriller.” Perhaps what arrested my eye was the Ray Theobald artwork. It’s hard to ignore the scantily clad female in the backdrop.

The book opens with the police force chasing a man whom is jumping across rooftops. Eventually, the narrating policeman apparently shoots once and kills the man. The whole scenario feels wrong to him and the spends the rest of the novel moping around trying to learn more about the man, the circumstances, and just what building and offices the apparent cat burglar was either trying to break into, or, had succeeded in entering. Anyone reading realizes that the latter is the case, he isn’t convinced. He’s more focused on the fact that he actually had to draw his sidearm and kill a man.

Unfortunately for him, and the reader, our would-be hero is a mutt of a character, whom takes a backseat to another character, halfway through the novel. He is eventually disclosed as an M.I.5 operative, and while he requires the active assistance of the local police force, and in fact requests this specific officer to continue his investigative work, he himself relinquishes very little in the way of facts until too late.

They are time and again brought back to a circus, to the freak show circuit. The center attraction (for them) is a seemingly deaf-and-dumb behemoth, whom is colorfully tattooed from head to toe (hence the title of the book). And yes, if you are into INK (that’s “tattooing” for those in the know, among other choice words) then perhaps this book will have a market for tattoo collectors. This man is eventually kidnapped and brought to the docks to be shipped overseas.

Racing against time, they board several unscrupulously run seafaring vessels before lucking onto a cabin containing the “freak” and the person in charge of smuggling him out of the country. The freak ends up dying, having been giving a massive drug overdose. Only thing is, the freak is not the right man. And the smuggler was tricked, not aware of the duplicity.

Combining all known details, we are led on a wild chase that leads to an anti-war movement convention and Communists, which pretty much explains the spy thriller elements of this novel. The ensuing chase(s) lead them to the man behind the whole entire charade…for one man, a mole, has been hindering their every step. Someone privy to police operations. Turns out the Chief Constable was the head conspirator! On arriving at his estate, they find that he has committed suicide. Rather than print this damning evidence, M.I.5 buries the incident as a heart attack case.

But, where is the freak?

Without any due explanation, it is deduced that he never was smuggled, but locked away somewhere on the circus grounds. They investigate at night, and crawling through the tunnels of a ride that normally is flooded by day, they find a side door. Inside is the vixen on the front cover (no, she’s not skimpily clad) wielding a gun. They take her apart, but, the freak is released, and in his insanity, he batters them aside and escapes. Chasing after him, the tunnel is suddenly flooded with water by the tattooed man. A light in one hand, gun in the other, the police detective inches forward in the inky, watery gloom, when suddenly a boulder is hurled at him (see the front cover). Thankfully, the boulder is nothing more than a painted styrofoam prop, and while it stuns him and forces him to drop the gun, he’s not seriously injured.

With the assistance of the M.I.5 operative, they subdue the mentally deranged lunatic (for aren’t nearly all freak show participants portrayed as abnormal in old literature?) and all Communist parties are arrested.

And the girl? She was put on trial and convicted. Turns out our policeman didn’t kill the rooftop hopper. She did.

The tattooed behemoth? He died months later, having mysteriously drowned in a river.

The novel is spotted with holes and inconsistencies, but, my overall verdict is that the novel was captivating enough a read to warrant a second look for anyone else interested in tackling the task. Or, you might just wish to acquire it for the cover art…like most collectors.

 

 

 

“The Man of Many Colours” by David Braza

WANT TO BUY: “Chicago Ledger” and more!!!

1920 05-01
Sample issue from 1920

I am hunting hundreds of issues of a newspaper
that changed names a few times in the 1920s.

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, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938

This illustrated story paper predominantly reprinted fiction
from popular novels, magazines, and other newspapers.
It was distributed all across the United States and in Canada.

Please feel free to contact me anytime at:
morganwallace@gmail.com
These are permanent wants I’ve been collecting for many years.

 

WANT TO BUY: “Chicago Ledger” and more!!!

The Black Wraith by Raymond Buxton and Ben Bennison

STANLEY BAKER The Black Wraith

Raymond Buxton (author) and Ben Bennison (sports journalist) team up for “The Black Wraith: A Story of the Dog Tracks” (aka: See How They Run) published by Stanley Baker Publications Ltd., in 1952. (Click on STANLEY BAKER in the “tags” section for another book I read October 2017)

The precise identity of Raymond Buxton is currently unclear, and from online research, I see that this topic has already been tackled, so I will move along to the novel itself.

The cover art features a stylish blonde paying a creepy-looking man a ton of money. No such scene ever transpires within the novel.

At its heart, “The Black Wraith” is a dog racing novel. We are introduced to Bart Bentley, an unscrupulous soul whom learns from another underworld denizen that up in Ireland, he might find the fastest dog that has never been raced. Bentley departs the train and eventually meets the O’Dare clan, which consists purely of father Patrick and his daughter, the lovely Sheila. They are poor and in dire straits. The father is a mechanic owes the local government(s) taxes and like.

Bentley takes advantage of their situation, playing up the London gentleman, whom got away from the big city for rest and relaxation. In fact, he wants to slowly claim control of the dogs and Sheila, the supreme prize. After attaining her confidence, he suggests that they train her two greyhound dogs (Sweep and Sooty). Afraid to go with him to London, he then suggests a chaperone. She obtains a relative, Kay Mulvaney, a spirited-fiery young lady that ultimately (privately) informs Bentley that she is onto his plans, but, has no intention of crossing his path. She’s in it for two things: the money and escaping to the city.

Agreed, the trio embark to London, and Bentley in no time begins to have the dogs trained at a derelict track, quietly, so that nobody becomes suspiciously awakened to the fact that Sheila has in fact two dogs in training. The world soon is introduced to the unknown Sweep, whom does just that. Sweep blows past the competition and repetitively begins to win races. No fool Bentley, he informs each of the local rackets about the dog, to ensure that they are equally satisfied, since they are aware of his darker reputation.

Bentley’s greed grows. He begins to toss Sooty into the mix, to purposely lose some races. On the sly, he bets on the sure dog, while placing public bets on Sooty (listed as Sweep). Sooty is fast, but seconds slower that Sweep, and, not as intelligent.

His funds growing by leaps and bounds, he has forgotten to include one other ally in his winnings. The person that first informed him about the dogs! That man slowly becomes enraged to the point that he goes to one of the big-noises, whom just lost thousands of pounds at a recent race “fixed” by Bentley.

To make matters worse, the floozie that Bentley normally shacks up with over the years is actually deeply in love with the louse. She learns that Bentley has been not only evading her (believing him to be busy on the tracks) but, also having sex with Kay Mulvaney. She and Sheila had been staying at a large home the during much of the novel. Kay wanted to escape, badly, as early mentioned, and with her share of Sweep’s winnings, finally sets herself up in some nicely furnished rooms.

Not satisfied with the winnings that Bentley bestows upon her, she flirts with Max Glicka, the man whom was just noted to have lost thousands of pounds on Sweep (er, Sooty). As anyone knows, that multi-faceted love triangle is bound to collapse.

Bentley’s floozie, Bessie, introduces herself to Sheila, and, while under alcoholic influences, reveals the truth to her, going so far as to state that if Sheila goes to Kay’s flat at “x”-hour, she will find Kay and Bart together.

However, Bessie arrives at that flat first, and forcing her way in, past the trim and scantily clad form of Kay, she finds Bentley in bed, inappropriately dressed. Next arrives Sheila, and she is aghast. Developments spiral out of control when Max Glicka, Kay’s other lover, also appears on the scene, to learn the truth of the fixed dog races.

Enraged beyond any sense of self-control, and realizing her wealth-building whorish empire is crumbling, Kay lifts a chair to clobber Bessie, but is shot dead by her erstwhile exposure! Bessie had found a revolver in Bentley’s clothes (at her apartments, where he sometimes stayed) and she brought it along for protection. Having never wielded a fire-arm in her life, she is shocked to find that she has shot and killed Kay! The gun drops to the ground, the police and called and Max makes sure nobody leaves the scene of the crime.

The next chapter switches to Bessie, imprisoned, awaiting trial. All the witnesses are present and are questioned. Each are honest save for Bentley, and Bessie’s lawyer, however, is one of the best in the country. He wrings enough of the truth out of Bentley to satisfy his case. The jury comes back: “manslaughter!” She collapses and is carried away, to serve her one-year sentence.

Time passes again. Sheila is rich, back home in Ireland, with her pa. She has saved the homestead and converted the back into a kennel. She receives a letter postmarked from Canada, and learns that Bentley, whom vanished after the trial, fled across The Great Pond and settled in Canada, and further, Bessie has joined him!  She, a goodhearted young lady, decides to “gift” the pair with one of her newest pups…and so the novel ends.

Personally, I care little for any sort of sport story, however, Raymond Buxton delivers decent dialogue and a stupendous backdrop of color and an okay-enough plot to keep you plodding along. I heartily recommend this novel to anyone looking for a fresh escape.

 

The Black Wraith by Raymond Buxton and Ben Bennison

Murder Involved by T. C. H. Jacobs

PALADIN Murder InvolvedThis book is an enigma….
The cover to Murder Involved is rudimentary, and busy. We have two men dragging what appears to be an unwilling third body along the pavement to an awaiting vehicle. Are they rescuing him, prepared to give him the third degree at some secret location, hold an impromptu meeting in the auto, or kill him down the road? So many options!

To add to the confusion, the bottom of the cover proclaims that this title is part of the Dick Barton Library. And yet, I could not locate this title in any crime fiction indices nor recorded anywhere online. Worldcat and COPAC and the British Library have zero copies.

I couldn’t wait for Murder Involved to arrive, so that I could perform some investigative work….

When it did arrive, I was further flummoxed. Despite the dilapidated state of the book (chunk of spine missing, upper two inches spine to cover split, lower inch split and torn an inch into the cover from the spine and barely attached, rear cover entirely lacking) there is enough here to work on. But I was still somewhat baffled.

Here are the details:

Publisher: Paladin Press Ltd. (30, Gaywood Street, London)
Printer: Hollyfield Printers Ltd., Friern Barnet, London, N.11.
Published in association with Ariel Productions Ltd.

On the last interior printed page (bear in mind the rear cover is missing) are four titles. Two of the titles are actual Dick Barton novels, being Jail Break and The Black Panther, both listed as “by arrangement with the B.B.C.” Let’s focus on those two titles before moving on to the other two….

Now, some quick research online shows that broadcasted scripts for Dick Barton and the Affair of the Black Panther actually was written by Geoffrey Webb. I’m not sure when this was originally broadcast (in the U.K.), but the Australian broadcast was on 3 November through (?) December 1949, representing Story # 9 in the radio series. Then, in 1952, Atlas Publications published The Return of Dick Barton: Special Agent — The Black Panther. No author is given. However, this very same book later was re-released by Paladin Press Ltd., likely 1953. Paladin Press obtained the right to handle the series. The Atlas book sold poorly, and Paladin retrieved all unsold copies, stripped off the covers, issued a new cover to help move the remainder stock, and slapped a sticker over the original Atlas cover-page. So, same book, simply re-packaged with a fresh cover.

COPAC shows that Oxford University and Trinity College Dublin has Jail Break, listing the author as Dick Barton, and registered 1953. I’m not sure where this falls in the B.B.C. radio series.

Now, the other two titles listed on the reverse clearly state that they are not Dick Barton. They both are credited to T. C. H. Jacobs, and feature one Slim Sullivan. It’s unclear why Paladin Press deviated from running the Dick Barton name, however, one may readily insinuate that they did not have the rights to utilize the name in their fiction stories.

Adventure in Paris, which is listed on the BBC list as a Dick Barton radio play (Story 2: Dick Barton and the Paris Adventure) is clearly NOT a Dick Barton story. As noted, the rear of this book states it features SLIM SULLIVAN (whom is a private detective). The ultimate question is: was the book a re-write of the radio play?

Likewise, the book that I have (Murder Involved) definitely does feature Slim Sullivan. However, the rear cover lists this title before the Paris title. So, was it the first Slim Sullivan title, or no?

None of the major UK libraries appear to have Adventure in Paris nor Murder Involved. Was the Paris title published (assuming it indeed is the fourth) or was the series nixed?

While much of the actual history surrounding these latter two novels is a complete mystery, the answers may repose at Penn State University, whom hold the research and literary papers of author T. C. H. Jacobs. If anyone lives in the vicinity and regularly performs research there, I would love for you to tap that collection and retrieve copies of all relevant letters and correspondence, includes sales receipts, etc.

Now, you’ve patiently slogged through my ramblings, and are wondering just what is the plot of this book, right? Trust me, you aren’t missing much.

Private Detective Slim Sullivan has just been contracted by Samuel Budd to track down Percy (an American), the son and future heir to a large fortune, whose father (Justin Van Gault) has died. His mother, Mrs. Van Gault, is now in London, having learned that Percy is a weak-minded fool and is mixing it up with an “undesirable character.” Her name is Helga Bonne, a German whom previously worked at The Virgin Maid, but quit and latched onto Percy.

Quitting Mr. Budd’s company, Slim visits Percy’s mother, to obtain further details. We don’t learn much more from her beyond the scant details already divulged. She requests that Helga be removed, whether by deportation, bribery, and less scrupulous methods. Satisfied that Slim can find means satisfactory towards Helga’s removal, he signs on with an advance payment, and attends to the assignment.

Visiting Helga Bonne at her apartments, the door opens and his eyes are greeted to “the picture of some Norse goddess” and “wore her hair like a gleaming crown of gold with two thick plaits woven in a heavy coil above her head.” She assures Slim that she isn’t interested in Percy’s presumed fortune, or if he ever retrieves one red cent from the family. She is in love with Percy, despite his alcoholism and flirtations with an exotic dancer at the place of her former employ. Helga is also very much surprised to learn that Percy’s mother is in London; she was under the impression that Percy’s mother was an invalid. Slim comes clean and confesses his assigned task, but believes that she is in fact in love with Percy.

Unexpectedly, another door in the apartment (likely leading to her bedroom) opens and out lumbers Percy. He is the not the weak-kneed, frail boy that Slim expected. He is a “big, broad-shouldered fellow” and taking him in wearing pajamas, discounts the drunk as a serious threat. That is, until a “fist like a ham” knocks him out….

Waking up in the hallway, Slim stumbles outside and ambles home. Here he is greeted by Mugsy Spewmacker, described as “a short, broad-shouldered man with a chest like a barrel, a battered, homely face and a jaw which defied all the efforts of a razor to keep it free from stubble.” Described as tough, dumb, loyal like a dog, this ex-American was saved from a life in prison by Slim long ago and has stuck with Slim ever since.

Returning to Mrs. Van Gault’s hotel room, he asks her for a description of her son, should he actually run into the man. She’s mystified and states that is unnecessary. The assignment is remove the Helga, not track Percy. Slim explains that he might accidentally run into the boy while in company with Helga, and doesn’t wish to create a stir. Satisfied, she describes Percy but fails to accurately describe his eyes! Slim is now wholly convinced this woman, whom Helga thought to be an invalid, truly is not Percy’s real mother, but an imposter.

So, what is the real deal? Confirmed is that Percy indeed does stand to inherit a fortune, very soon. Clearly the faux Mrs. Van Gault is in league with a person or other parties to remove Helga from marrying Percy, assure he remains single or maybe even kill him and leave the path clear for some other potential heir. Slim doesn’t like his limited options, and continues to play the field.

Visiting The Virgin Maid, he witnesses the exotic dancer and her control both over the crowd and the intoxicated Percy. They leave together. Mugsy and Percy depart, and trail them to her apartments. There, they stealthily wait for developments. Surprisingly, another person arrives and heads up the steps. It’s one Maxy Fischer, a killer. A couple minutes later, the duo hear a muffled or startled cry, then silence. Shortly thereafter, Maxy departs.

The coast clear, the pair make haste up the steps and to the room, whose door is left open. Inside, the cliche scene: Katina lying dead with a bloodied puncture wound on her back, and Percy passed out, holding the bloody knife.

Realizing that Percy has been framed for murder, they commit a further crime by messing with the entire scene, extracting and cleaning the knife, retaining it, and lug the unconscious Percy to their car. From there, they arrive home and lock him away both for his safety and from prying eyes of the police.

The situation out-of-control, Slim phones Helga and asks if she is alone. Confirmed, he arrives at her flat and going in, spills a complete lie: Percy killed Katina! Her face shows immense shock, much to Slim’s disappointment. He was hoping to know if she was aware of the murder-plot. Caught unawares by this disclosure, he reveals that he is willing to hide Percy from the police…for a fee. He must also discern some method of clearing Percy from the presumed crime (the police will know that he left in her company). A fugitive from the law can hardly inherit a dime!

He shows her the knife, but she has never seen the weapon before. Slim is now certain that the knife did not belong to Percy. Smuggling her into his home, with her aid, they convince the drunk and befuddled Percy that he, in his drunken stupor, murdered the dancer.

While running about, comparing clues, Slim heads to his own detective agency (only took him until page 58) and we are introduced to Daisy Jones, his secretary. Stereotypical beauty she is not! Rather, we are given to understand that Daisy is “short, dumpy, mousy-haired and wore horn spectacles when she was typing.” The novel rapidly degrades into the realm of sleaze when Slim “came behind her and slid his arm around her. His left hand cupped her breast and he squeezed softly. The colour flamed in her cheeks and she pushed his hand away.” The scene is entirely unnecessary. To worsen matters, the author toots Slim’s horn with this casual explanation of the deed: “Maybe it was his warped sense of humour, but he never could resist embarrassing her. Daisy had about as much sex appeal as a suet pudding.”

After their brief encounter, he sends her on a mission, then establishes a social call with the possible assassin, Maxy Fischer, on the grounds that Slim’s secretary obtained a letter confirming that the faux Mrs. Van Gault is in fact Fischer’s wife, Flora, whom is also the real Mrs. Van Gault’s actual sister. Percy’s mother died ten days earlier. With Percy rubbed out or committed to an asylum, the sister becomes legally the next-of-kin! Confronting Fischer with these facts, he then bribes Fischer to pay him funds if he can get Percy shipped back to America, away from English lockup, etc. He plays the card that Percy murdered Katina, and that for a fee, he’ll help Percy escape, return home, and Maxy and Flora can themselves essentially have control over Percy and the inheritance. Maxy bites.

The murder is discovered and hits the newspapers. It’s not long before the police pay Slim a social call. Prior to the police arriving, Mugsy removed Percy and the pair went to a distant cottage, leaving Slim to expertly wipe the place clean of Percy’s prints and hairs, etc. One police officer arrives, and he substantiates that Slim Sullivan and Mugsy were spotted at The Virgin Maid that night and their car was seen in the vicinity of Katina’s apartments. Disliking coincidences, he is politely interrogated.

Slim confesses the “gist” of the assignment, quite crudely referring to Helga as a “German whore” whom Percy’s mother is not pleased with, but at least she is a “white European. Katina is described to the officer as “the coloured bird” and later as “a God-knows-what-breed….” Later, a fingerprint crew is brought in.

After the police depart, he visits Sam Budd, the person that originally brought him on board, and gives him the third degree. Slim’s not amused at being dragged into a web of lies and murder. He perpetuates his own lie that Percy murdered Katina and adds to this a fresh one…that Helga and Percy married days ago. Budd is caught unawares, and threatens to track that registered marriage. Slim laughs and informs Budd that he can, but he doubts that it has been released and registered yet at the Somerset House.

The irony is, that Helga is indeed married! She confesses this to Slim Sullivan, whom is both amused (his lying jest is in truth a reality) and mortified (her life is now in danger). And it wasn’t days ago. It was a month ago. The marriage will be officially recorded and public knowledge! Departing her apartment an hour later, Slim is accosted again by an officer, spying on his movements.

The officer insinuates that Slim was “busy” and lets slip that that the police are aware of her marriage. Slim feigns surprise, that he was not aware that is married. It’s revealed that the police do not know she is married to Percy; in fact, they have a record that she is married to one Gustav Bonne, serving a life sentence in a German asylum. Slim is secretly amused, as this means her marriage to Percy is null and void. Naturally, she could get a divorce, but, she would have to legally re-marry Percy, and that is clearly not part of her original plan, as her and Gustav used to operate a bribery racket, hitting on wealthy men and catching them in elicit positions, etc.

In the end, the office departs and Slim chews over the information. He’s angered to learn that Helga has perfectly played him and painted him a complete fool. Feeling like a mug, he heads home, hoping that Mugsy and Percy are getting along well at his secret cottage….

Mugsy in fact was not getting along with Percy. He disliked the wild Yank; his arrogance grated on his nerves. Thankfully, the man emptied a bottle of liquor and passes out. Grateful of the peace and quiet, Mugsy turns in and goes to bed. Unbeknownst to all, a robber has been casing the remote cottage, and once the lights go out, he goes in. Snapping a flashlight upon the dozing Mugsy’s face, he knocks Mugsy out with two solid lumps with the aid a blunt object. The robber is dismayed that neither Mugsy nor the unconscious Percy have any real funds upon their persons. Mission accomplished, the goes to leave, but spots another bottle of nearly empty liquor on the table. Snatching this up, he escapes, but, in a moment of foolishness, manages to get killed by a drunk driving along the country road. The drunk never realizes what happened until the next day, when he finds a piece of cloth on his car, and now knows he didn’t simply hit a pot-hole.

The police are called in after the body is discovered, and one of the C.I.D. men that visited our private detective is on the scene. He hefts the emptied liquor bottle and examines it, no doubt holding it up to the sunlight, to count the fingerprints. Meanwhile, earlier, back the cottage, that morning, Mugsy slowly drags himself out of bed from his beating, makes coffee. Percy challenges Mugsy for having robbed him while drunk, and Mugsy delivers a K.O. to the point of Percy’s chin. Asleep once more, Mugsy ties Percy up with wire (which he later escapes from) and departs, to hike a few miles to the nearest telephone.

While on his hike, he drops into the weeds and watches the police and C.I.D. man handling the liquor bottle. Mugsy mentally panics. Three sets of fingerprints are on that bottle: Percy, Mugsy, and his boss, Slim Sullivan!!! He continues on his way and calls Slim’s home. He’s not home. Then he phones the office, and leaves a message with Daisy, whom five minutes later relays it to their boss.

Angered over the matter, he irrationally chastises Mugsy’s inability to handle Percy, even if just for one night. He heads out to the cottage to professionally wipe away all fingerprints and remove any trace of their presence.

Returning to the city, Slim is confronted by the policeman again, and the cards are laid bare. It’s clear that Slim has been dishonest with the police and he begs the officer a respite until the next morning to give them Katina’s actual killer. The request granted, the officer departs and Slim informs his secretary to close shop….

Re-visiting Maxy Fischer’s flat, he confronts Maxy with the truth that he now knows Maxy was the actual killer, that Helga had found a dislodged button, and intends to blackmail Maxy. The latter wishes to know just how Helga knows his identity. Slim professes that he told Helga. Maxy is displeased with the matter, and they come to an agreement over raising the bar of the bribe that Slim was gonna extract from Maxy, if he kept “mum” about the entire affair. Agreeing to terms, Maxy infers that he will take care of Helga, by making it look like a suicide.

Slim leaves and quickly visits Helga. Bringing her up to speed, she is dismayed to learn that she is bait to trap a killer. Playing her part well the entire time, she is up to the “act. ” Slim hides, and Maxy knocks. Opening her door, she feigns no knowledge of who Maxy is, and he forces his way inside. She then exclaims she recognizes his mug, that he is the man that knifed Katina! Maxy is annoyed to learn that Slim had told the truth and Helga indeed does know that the murder was not committed by the drunken Percy. Demanding the lost button, she pulls a pistol on him. He slaps it aside and laughs. The gun wasn’t even loaded!

He pulls out a length of cord and begins the process of strangulation and setting the stage to make it look like a hanging, all the while the two have been talking about Katina’s murder and the whole plot. Slim jumps out of hiding and proclaims that Maxy’s entire confession has been recorded. A fight ensues and from out of another room, suddenly Mugsy appears on the scene and pulls his gun, shoots Maxy’s gun-hand, and putting all his weight into the swing, Slim Sullivan knocks out Maxy.

In conclusion….

Maxy is arrested, to be tried for murder, etc.

Percy had already been found, after his escape, attempting to obtain liquor sans any funds on his person and upon police arrival, was in the process of destroying the establishment for refusal to provide him with alcohol. He has been locked up to dry out.

Helga’s marriage to Percy is cleared. Turns out her ex-husband died in prison months ago. Further, she apparently really does love the moron.

In lieu of his being in jail to dry out, Helga decides to forget about her husband (for now), and making some moves on our private detective, decides to see if she can straighten out Slim Sullivan !!!

Murder Involved by T. C. H. Jacobs

Want to Buy – CHICAGO LEDGER etc

I am hunting hundreds of issues of a newspaper
that changed names a few times in the 1920s.

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

This illustrated story paper predominantly reprinted fiction
from popular novels, magazines, and other newspapers.
It was distributed all across the United States and in Canada.

Please feel free to contact me anytime at:
morganwallace@gmail.com
These are permanent wants I’ve been collecting for many years.

Want to Buy – CHICAGO LEDGER etc

Three Miles from Murder by Frederick C. Davis

SHARMAN ELLIS 03In the late 1930s, English publisher Sharman Ellis Ltd. acquired the right to reprint several of Frederick C. Davis’s pulp stories.  It’s unclear whether those rights were obtained via the author, or the original publishers, or, his agent (if he had one).

The cover art is simply signed as “LB.”

None of the booklets in the series carry a copyright notice. They were published prior to World War Two, perhaps late 1936 or early 1937. The rear cover quotes the first four titles in the “Mystery Thrillers” series (of which this is #3) and that they are to be issued monthly. The featured read here contains two stories, and runs a total of 64 pages.

In Three Miles from Murder, Nicholas Bansak, a slot-machine racketeer, is shot to death in his home. There is no evidence as to who the shooter is. The maid hears the shot, finds his corpse, and quite naturally, phones the police. Arriving are Detective Lieutenant Frank Cooper. He is described as: “alert, muscular tension of a race horse.” His counterpart is lethargic Detective Sergeant Otto Schellhaus, and Cooper has zero respect for his partner, whom later remarks that he is no Sherlock Holmes (note, however, that S. H. figures in Otto’s surname). The pair are given 24-hours to solve the mystery or lose their jobs. To worsen the predicament, the body disappears! No body, no incriminating bullet, no murder! Right? Wrong. The maid saw the body, and the pair saw the body just before it pulled a Houdini. Crime has been running rampant in the city, and their only clue as a possible culprit to the murder, is one Ed Fox, whom now is the sole operator of slot-machines. The rash Cooper is convinced that Fox has fled the city upon calling at his home and finding he has not returned home overnight. The city is cordoned off, calls are placed, etc. Otto has other ideas, but Cooper isn’t interested. So, he nonchalantly follows up on them himself. He discovers that Fox has not fled, but, rather, is simply at work. Fox threatens to sue for slander and false-arrest. He is released, despite Cooper’s attempts to detain him. While Cooper is chasing up various angles like a rabid attack dog, Otto decides to investigate if it were indeed possible for Ed Fox to commit the crime. He learns that Fox’s home isn’t far from Bansak’s home, and, tallies off the mileage. While illegally snooping in Fox’s auto, he discovers a receipt noting that the car was recently worked on. Going to the shop, he obtains the mileage on the car. With this information, he maps out the mileage home, to the murder, etc. While driving all over town trying to discover just where a missing 3 miles may have led Fox (if he committed the crime) he discovers one circuitous route: the cemetery. And that very morning, the Chief of Police had a member of his family buried! Convinced that Fox slipped in and stole the body while they were distracted, Otto illegally convinces the caretaker to unearth the casket and crack it open. Scarily enough, only the body that is supposed to be present is accounted for. Worse than that, Cooper arrives on the scene and is mortified that find that Otto has dug up the Chief’s family. While being reprimanded, Otto freaks out and grabs Cooper into the car, and speeds all around the city like a raving lunatic the mileage per destination and insists the body has to be at the cemetery. They then strike upon the idea that the body IS at the cemetery, UNDER the casket. Returning to the scene, they lift the casket out of the ground and dig further. They haven’t got far to go before they find Bansak’s corpse and ultimately, prove that the bullet belongs to Fox’s gun.

Three Miles from Murder (via his alias Clark Aiken) was originally published under his own name in Detective Fiction Weekly (17 June 1933) and copped that edition’s cover (erroneously as “Three Miles to Murder”).

In the concluding story, Marmon speeds to the home of the Hartleys. The family has a legacy of being buried alive via freak accidents. Worse, Marmon’s fiancee is afraid of being buried alive. Her father was deemed dead, and to their horror, rose from the dead, only later to die in a mine cave-in. She informs Marmon that she suffers from the same malady that her father had, and that while she may appear dead, with no pulse, breath, etc., she is actually in a trance-like state. After her brother is shot fatally while chasing a grave-robber, Bernice faints and is presumed dead. The embalmers are brought in and Marmon chases them out. Eventually he resorts to violence, and carries a gun. Much time passes and someone breaks into her room. Hearing the noise, and bashes in the door and shoots the perpetrator whom is about to ram a knife into her chest. They tussle and someone bashes him over the head. The villain(s) depart down a trellis and escape. Marmon discovers the knife was left behind and realizes it belongs to the armory downstairs. Two others live in the house, and Marmon accuses them of attempted murder, the only logical option. While remaining once more on guard, they bring him food and tea and he staggers and passes out. His drink was drugged! Waking, he discovers Bernice removed and they couple acknowledge that they did dope his drink with sleeping tablets, because he was acting irrational. Speeding off to the embalmers, he bursts in as they are about to drain Bernice of her fluids. Pulling his gun, he locks them in a closet and takes her away to a secret location. Eventually, he thinks he hears her call faintly for water…. Or is it all really in his mind? The police are certain that he was the one that murdered Bernice’s brother, and that is why she fainted dead. Marmon discovers a letter with notes about the mother and jewels and following a lead, digs up the mother and learns that her necklace is fake! Only one person could have had access and the time to effect a swap: the embalmers. Calling the pair back to his house to claim the body, and to finally give up, the police instead appear first. Marmon begs them off and states the real murderer(s) are due. The couple, the cops, Marmon, and finally the embalmers are present. He reveals the fake necklace and lays the claim before the embalmers, whom stridently deny the accusations. There is no evidence. Or is there? Didn’t Bernice perchance see her brother’s killers? She did. She walks in and everyone is stunned. The conclusion is evident, as she points out who the killers are….

The Embalmers carries no byline. The story was originally published under his alias Garry Grant in Dime Mystery Magazine (March 1936).

Both stories are fun, entrancingly interesting reads. I look forward to obtaining and reading further stories by Frederick C. Davis in the near future. Stay tuned !!!

Three Miles from Murder by Frederick C. Davis