STAG : Man’s Own Magazine (Spring 1946)

The second world war is over. And out of those ashes arose a plethora of new publications, borne from the minds of civilians and veterans alike. STAG: Man’s Own Magazine (Vol 1 # 1, Spring [March] 1946) was edited by Bevis Winter, and claimed to be exclusively for “men.” The opening pages are written and signed by the editor, welcoming readers out of the hell of war to the progress of tomorrow.

Stag 1

It’s also littered with stock-photos of Hollywood actresses in various poses.

  • Page 2 – Cyd Charisse
  • Page 27 – Jean Kent
  • Page 28 – Margaret Lockwood
  • Page 32 – Marilyn Maxwell
  • Page 37 – Phyllis Calvert
  • Page 41 – Ava Gardner
  • Page 42 – Frances Rafferty
  • Page 67 – Patricia Roc

An assortment of articles aimed at men include historical male figures, sports, men’s dress code, household, automobiles, etc. Then there are the usual cartoon and comic joke-snippets interspersed by artists such as “Merlin,” Geoffrey Wadlow, and a pair of others.

The real gems are the fiction stories, most of which are supplied by quality writers.

  • Ralph L. Finn – A Dame with a Difference (pages 7-11)
    A man jaded on women finds the woman of his dreams and they romance each other to pieces but he bails out on her when marriage is brought into the equation.
  • Hervey Elliot Scott – He Shot a Fat Lady (pages 16-20)
    A humorous circus murder story, involving the presumed murder of the Four Ton Florrie by the India-rubber Man. The police try him for murder, he is convicted, but, when they attempt to exact vengeance in the name of the law, bullets bounce off him, hanging him only stretches his neck, electrocution fails, etc. You get the idea. We then are informed that the Fat Lady is not dead! She merely was in a coma due to the folds of her fat, where the bullet had lodged.
  • Dennis Wynne – And the Blood Coursed Freely (pages 21-26)
    The story involves a man reliving his youthful days through a variety of action-filled silly scenarios; finding a beautiful woman, fighting and losing her. Purely a humorous tale.
  • Denys Val Baker – Water (pages 49-51)
    Baker delves deep into the sinister fascination a hydrophobic deals with on a regular, daily basis, in all forms and fears.
  • Gerald Kersh – Vision of a Lost Child (pages 55-58)
    A man grows up re-living a nightmarish tragedy from childhood in his dreams and each time he sleeps, he sinks deeper and deeper in mud. Believing that when the mud succeeds in creeping over him that he will die, he puts off sleep for over a week and seeks the aid of a psychologist. In the end, he falls asleep, and the mud wins. A deep, dark story by a clever writer of weird stories.
  • Brett Ogilvie – The Abnormal Talent (pages 62-66)
    A painter’s works-of-art come to life upon completion, only, he desires to exit the business lest he go insane. When asked by a friend to draw a gun, he performs the task. It is used against him. Thus dying, all his creations-come-to-life immediately vanish. However, the dead artist returns to life, sans his former ability! A entrancingly humorous fantasy.
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STAG : Man’s Own Magazine (Spring 1946)

“Make Mine Murder” by Bevis Winter

CW Make Mine Murder

Published 1949 by Curtis Warren Ltd., Make Mine Murder was written by Bevis Winter, and is 192-pages.

The artwork has nothing to do with the plot of the story.

The author was born Bevis Peter Winter on 27 August 1918 in Birmingham, England, and died 1985 at Haywards Heath, Sussex, England.

He married twice.

First, to Rose Brodie, in 1943.
They sired one child: David F. Winter, born 1945, in Birmingham.

Divorcing, he married Deirdre Clifton (born 1928) in 1949. Residing in Hove, they sired three children: Penny S. (1951), Stephen C. (1954), and Alayne K. (1956). Deirdre worked as an archivist at Dean Wilson Solicitors, Brighton, and died 27 December 2011, at Haywards Heath.

And now, onto the novel…

Released from the English army, ex-Corporal Philip Denton is disheartened. He’s returning home to his cottage, where he was hoping to start a new life with his wife. However, while at war, he receives a letter stating that she is leaving him and hooking up with an American soldier. On arrival, he finds the key under the mat, lets himself in, and is soon greeted by a young lady from a neighboring farm, taking pity on him. She helps to set the cottage right and, in going down to the cellar for supplies, suddenly screams. Philip darts down and beholds the emaciated, very decomposed body of his wife. She’d been likely down there for many, many months.

The local small-town police are useless. Philip hires the services of one of his ex-army mates, whom he recalls was returning back to civilization as a private investigator.

Enter: Major Martin Myers, and his secretarial sidekick, Olivia.

They take the case but he sees little in it. Especially via financial means. Philip isn’t worth much. But, while in the army, he had jokingly noted that if anyone needed his help as a P.I., he’d lend a hand. Now, he’s in it.

Meanwhile, back in London, another murder occurs, shortly after the grisly discovery of Philip’s wife. The two do not seem to coincide. It happens like this:

Author and playwright — Hackle — is holding one of his usual festive parties, when he gets into an argument over a murder scene. Wanting to prove his case, he has a gun loaded with blanks from an unopened case of blank cartridges, and has his party-goers enact the scene. Dismayed by the results, he swaps places with the guying playing the murderer, and takes the gun himself, and directs the scene. He fires and a fellow drops dead.

The police think the man that originally loaded the gun (not Hackle) was responsible, and had slipped a real “live” cartridge in. However, the department discovers that while he admitted to loading the gun, the blanks in the gun sport no fingerprints! They are entirely clean. Ergo, this can NOT be the same gun. Someone switched guns.

Now the police are secretly investigating Hackle, as he is the only other person known to have handled the gun. Clearly, there is a duplicate gun, somewhere. However, when they raid his house, with an arrest warrant, they find Hackle shot dead, lying across his desk.

Meanwhile, back at the cottage town, investigator Myers has learned that Hackle many years earlier had been a teacher in this community, and left shortly after a 9-year old girl had been found slain and brutally, sexually assaulted. It later comes about the recluse gynecologist has an imbecile son, and Myers is certain that he raped the child.

Confronting the doctor, he admits the truth, and that Hackle had been blackmailing him for years. As to the young man shot at the house party, turns out he was a newspaperman in London, but years earlier, had been a cub-reporter in the cottage town, and he, in turn, had begun to blackmail Hackle, thinking HE was the one responsible for the child’s demise, because, in one of his bestselling sensational novels, he describes the murder scene of the child and a bonnet she had on. That bonnet never made it into the local circulars, and he had known about via interviewing the parents. Naturally, only the murderer would know about it. Or, so he wrongly surmised. He never realized that the doctor had also been on the scene.

In learning all this, the detective and the police investigator team up to arrest the imbecile and take him into medical custody, only to learn that the brute has coincidentally escaped his “cage” and is running loose through the countryside. Drawing guns, they run in pursuit and finally locate him, in the ravenous act of raping Olivia (how convenient).

The whole plot wraps up nicely with Myers hooking up with Olivia, but, on the whole, while I enjoyed reading this early novel effort by Bevis Winter, it is ruined by the tasteless “imbecile” plot. For its few faults, Make Mine Murder is a damn fine read, overall, and I highly recommend it to anyone.

I should like to read more of Bevis Winter’s later efforts (again), as his quality of writing developed admirably over the ensuing years, after some years practice working on hardboiled gangster novels.

“Make Mine Murder” by Bevis Winter