Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Bounty Killer by Marvin H. Albert

The Bounty Killer by Marvin H. Albert
Gold Medal 760, Copyright 1958

Marvin Albert had talent and was a versatile author. Crime fiction, adventure thrillers, westerns, P.I. mysteries, movie adaptations, screen plays-he covered the field. He had a way of building a strong introduction to a story and using that as momentum to guide the reader through the entire novel. From 1956 until 1964, he authored seven Gold Medal Westerns. You won't find anything extraordinary about these early Westerns by Marvin Albert, they are just good solid stories.

Before anyone realized what he was going to do, Faradin took two fast steps to Luke's prone figure, raised one booted foot, and deliberately brought it down with all his strength and weight on Luke's right forearm that leaned against the bar rail.
"You'll never scare anybody with that fast gun again, bounty hunter," Faradin said.

The bounty hunter's name is Luke Chilson. He's young and tall, raised with humble fiber to be polite and play by the rules. Burt Faradin just escaped from a stage where he was under guard to Yuma prison. Luke heads out to get him and stops over in the sleepy town of Westgate Wells. Later Burt Faradin arrives and teams up with his boys waiting in the town, and now Luke finds himself in a "snake pit" situation. The town is just a lone waystation supplying goods to a mining camp miles away. Westgate Wells is isolated and all are trapped with Burt Faradin holding most of the cards. But our boy Luke is a brave man and sets out to make things right. Violent action heats up and he gets busted up fairly bad in an excellent fight scene in the story. Beaten so bad and unable to use a gun and move freely, Luke relies on his wits to even the score and bring justice back to Westgate Wells.

I call these good-clean westerns, as was the norm for the day. No real dark mysterious characters in these novels. The good guys and bad guys are clearly defined and there are no gray areas in their character. There is always a girl in the story and the two leading men have an interest in her. The town folk are the frighten rabbits, unwilling to support a man who arrived to hunt down his man. When put together by a good author like Marvin Albert, this story comes together into a fine 50s Western. Not the author's best Gold Medal Western, (The Law and Jake Wade, Posse at High Pass are superior) but a suspenseful one and still worth a read.

The Gold Medal Westerns by Marvin Albert:

The Law and Jake Wade (1956)
Apache Uprising (1957)
The Bounty Killer (1958)
Renegade Gun (1958)
The Reformed Gun (1959)
Rider from Wild River (1959)
Posse at High Pass (1964)

Later using the pseud. Al Conroy, he wrote four Clayburn westerns that were published by Dell.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman 01/26/1925-09/26/2008

Sad day, This one hurts.
God Bless Paul Newman

A great actor and a great man, his charity work was second to none.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Guns by Ed McBain

Guns by Ed McBain
Random House, Copyright 1976

Someone reminded me that it's been over three years since Ed McBain passed away, I was all set to argue with him that "no he died last year," but I guess time does fly. "Guns" is a novel that I always was planning to read, but never did. I just finished it and McBain slams you in the face with this one.

"The side of Colley's face is throbbing where the shotgun stock collided with his cheekbone. The Smith & Wesson has been taken from his side pocket, he is aware at once of the absence of its bulk. He feels suddenly naked."

It's a 24 hour story of small-time robber Colley Donato. He and a couple of his pals rob a NYC liquor store and two cops are waiting. Colley blows the back of the head off of one of them and he's on the run from then on. As he is moving between apartments and meeting past acquaintances, we get an insight into Colley's mindset and how he became what he is. Brought up on the mean-streets of NYC, at twenty-nine he developed into an unstable, fearful (almost superstitiously) punk. The cops quickly get an ID on him and a massive city manhunt takes place. Colley allies himself with his partner's wife, but that goes sour. Escaping from NYC, he is left wandering in New Jersey with a constant hunger for a gun and trying to make another score.

This is a street-dirty novel and for 1976 it may have turn a few heads. But I'm sure Ed McBain had to present it that way to capture the vile nature of men like Colley Donato and the filthy streets they rise from. There are no decent guys (or girls) in the novel, just crooks, hookers, pushers, rapists and all of them cop-haters. The title has relevance throughout the novel and McBain latently reminds us of that. "Guns" is damn good, I read it in one setting and never looked at what page I was on. But beware, McBain's going to hit you with a fist.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Maiden Murders by The Mystery Writers of America

Maiden Murders by The Mystery Writers of America.
Harper & Brothers, Copyright 1952

This is one of the better anthologies that I've came across. I'm very selective when it comes to collections of short works in a book form, probably because I'll read only one or two of the stories and never get around to reading the majority of them. This wasn't the case here, these are terrific mystery stories. I see this book often in used bookstores or Salvation Army stores, I assume they published many copies. I paid a buck a few months ago, so how can you go wrong. The book has each authors first story, (or close to their first published story) and the author writes a brief introduction before the story. These are fascinating, some struggle to remember how the story came about, some were written on ships during WWII, some from a little episode they witnessed in life, almost all mention the little money they got paid for the story. I read over half of them so far, and there hasn't been a bad one in the bunch.

Since these were written so early in each authors career, you can see the "greatness in infancy" come through the pages. Of the ones I read, Gault's Marksman and David Alexander's racial lynching story are chilling. Kenneth Millar introduces us to a P.I. called Rogers, who latter turns into one of the best P.I.s in print, Lew Archer. In fact, Millar (Ross Macdonald) latter altered the story and substituted Rogers with Archer. Lawrence Blockman contributes an excellent pulp story, as does one of my favorite authors, Day Keene. The Ellery Queen adventure is a who-done-it marvel, and Jerome Barry packs a handful of suspense in his four page story. And you can't go wrong when the last story in the anthology is Stanley Ellin's award winning "dining" thriller.

A surprisingly excellent collection and if you see a battered copy in your travels, it's definitely worth a buck or two.

Room Number Twenty-Three by Hugh Penecost
The Fifty-Carat Jinx by Lawrence G. Blockman
Bezique of Death by Veronica Parker Johns
The Little House at Croix-Rousse by George Simenon
The Riddle of the Dangling Pearl by Stuart Palmer
Shoes for Breakfast by Lawrence Treat
Find the Woman by Kenneth Millar
Marksman by William Campbell Gault
Victim No. 5 by Harry Stephen Keeler
The Man in the Velvet Hat by Jerome and Harold Prince
The Adventure of the Black Narcissus by August Derleth
And On the Third Day by David Alexander
Too Many Brides by Ruth Wilson
The Fourth Degree by Jerome Barry
The Second Sight of Dr. Sam Johnson by Lillian De La Torre
Old Calamity Tries a Bluff by Joseph Fulling Fishman
A Great Whirring of Wings by Day Keene
Threnody by Anthony Boucher
The Adventures of the One-Penny Black by Ellery Queen
The Specialty of the House by Stanley Ellin

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Last Detail by Darryl Ponicsan

The Last Detail by Darryl Ponicsan
The Dial Press
Hardcover Ed., Copyright 1970

The transient barracks at Norfolk Naval Base are deserted at nine this morning, or almost deserted; Billy Bad-Ass, First Class Signalman, is asleep in the TV room at the far end of the barracks.

I'll never forget that opening line from Darryl Ponicsan's first novel. Set in the late 60s during dismal weather in late autumn, "The Last Detail" is a journey story. Although travel is involved, it not that type of journey. The novel is a bit forgotten, and that could be because of the fine Hal Ashby film. But good movies come from books that are usually better, and this is definitely the case here.

Billy "Bad-Ass" Buddusky is awaiting orders for a ship, when he pulls Shore Patrol duty with Richard "Mule" Mulhall. Both sailors are 32 year old "lifers" and their orders are to escort an 18 year old sailor to the Naval brig in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Larry Meadows stole $40 from a polio donation box and was sentenced eight years hard labor. Billy and Mule look at this as a cushy detail, but as they head out with young Meadows, they discover differently.

It's a novel about understanding, pity, and duty. Billy and Mule realize that Meadows' sentence is too extreme, they feel sorry for him, and set out to show the young sailor a good time before he is locked up. It's a sailors good time they take him on, the only one they know. Giving him experiences that they feel the young man will miss out on, the two "brotherly" take Meadows on an accelerated tour of taverns, rowdiness, places of ill repute, and along the way form a drunken companionship. A friendship develops between the three, but it's a bleak friendship. We know that Billy and Mule will carry out their orders to the end, it's an understanding that all of them know as they continue northward, through Washington, New York and Boston. The closer they get to Portsmouth, the more they agonize within, because they allowed the bond between them to grow too strong. As Mule said, "I hate this chickenshit detail." As time is running out, the end of their journey draws near and the inevitable awaits them.

It's a sailor's novel; salty in language, humor and antics. I spent time in transient barracks, pulled Shore Patrol duty, and met "lifers" like Billy "Bad-Ass" Buddusky -there is reality here. Compassion develops and depressed sadness is left. Billy and Mule experience feelings of sympathy and affection for Meadows, as the unlikely friendship develops between the three sailors. And amazingly, Meadows comes to understand men like Billy and Mule. Away from the sea and naval bases, they find themselves in places always outside looking in. They live in a world where ordinary men must do undesirable duties. It's painful for all of them.

"Here we are," Billy says out loud, "three pals on a picnic. Do we think about other picnics? No, we ain't even been on one before. We never ice staked, we never seen the sights, all we know is whores and bars."

"We know ships," says Mule, "and we know our rate."
"Yeah, whores and bars and ships and our rates."

Hal Ashby's 1973 film which starred Jack Nicholson, followed the novel quite well, but it wasn't complete. The film omits the last two chapters and in those we learn the fates of Billy "Bad-Ass" and Mule, after they hand Meadows over to the Marines in Portsmouth. If you enjoyed the movie but never read the novel, you will want to....

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Night Watch by Thomas Walsh

The Night Watch by Thomas Walsh
Little, Brown and Company
Hardcover Ed., Copyright 1951

I love rogue cop stories. Whether the cop is a decent guy who turns bad or just a natural bad egg who uses his police authority for his own personal gain, the stories have a gritty social breach feel to them. The ones written in the 40s & 50s were always noirish, with dirty alleyways, lonely street lamps, and dark cold nights. I read short stories by Thomas Walsh, but never one of his novels. When I heard that the storyline of "The Night Watch" dealt with a "dirty" cop, I dug the novel out.

"So we get the truth now," Ahern said, narrowing his eyes tiredly. "What you really did it for. Not for me. For that money."

Originally serialized in the Saturday Evening Post, the novel starts with three detectives assigned to a stakeout job. Ritchie McCallister is the young clean honest one, who feels compelled to look after his partner Paddy Ahern. Ahern is an average cop, who has a habit of taking a nip from the bottle at times. Walter Sheridan is the third detective. He's a wise ass, who only looks out for himself. The stakeout is the apartment of a bank robber's wife. One night the robber returns, and Sheridan and Ahern nab him. The guy has the money with him, so Sheridan kills him making it look like self defense. He's really after the cash, and he convinces Ahern he's doing this to protect him. Sheridan throws the body along with the loot into the trunk, with plans to retrieve it after the night is over. Things go quickly wrong for Sheridan and after a failed attempt to silence a female witness, he ends up killing Ahern. The second half of the novel involves the manhunt for Sheridan. McCallister, distraught over Ahern's death and the attempt to kill an innocent girl, stalks Sheridan throughout the apartment development area with the assistance of other policemen. We get an efficient behind the scenes look at a 1950s police manhunt operation, as Sheridan becomes trapped. This portion of the novel is excellent and really builds up to an exciting ending. In the last hours, it's good vs. evil between McCallister and Sheridan. And in these stories the fate of the rogue cop is always known.

I liked the novel. It took a few pages for me to get the flow of Walsh's writing style, (especially the dialog) but I quickly adapted to it. With the exception of the first few introduction pages, the story takes place in one night. We go back and forth between the characters, getting each ones thoughts and actions. I liked the way this worked, it gave the novel a documentary feel. Sheridan is a guy you don't like from the start, but I wasn't expecting him to turn diabolical. McCallister is our detective hero and a romantic relationship develops between him and the girl. Ahern is the cop we feel sorry for, caught in an event that he never wanted. His death in the novel is extraordinarily written, and one of the best death scenes I read in a long time.

Although I read better rogue cop novels, this one is damn good. It was used as the basis for the 1954 film "Pushover," which starred Fred MacMurray and Kim Novak. Throughout his career, Thomas Walsh wrote a ton of short stories for mystery magazines. In 1950, he wrote his first novel "Nightmare in Manhattan" and won the Edgar for Best First Mystery Novel. His bibliography consists of eleven novels:

Nightmare in Manhattan (1950)
The Night Watch (1952)
The Dark Window (1956)
Dangerous Passenger (1959)
The Eye of the Needle (1961)
A Thief in the Night (1962)
To Hide A Rogue (1964)
The Tenth Point (1965)
The Resurrection Man (1966)
The Face of the Enemy (1966)
The Action of the Tiger (1968)

Bantam 1150
paperback edition

Friday, September 12, 2008

An Eye For An Eye by Leigh Brackett

An Eye For An Eye by Leigh Brackett
Bantam A2308, Copyright 1957

My introduction to the work of Leigh Brackett started by reading her pulp mystery short stories. After being knocked out by those, I had to read her first book, "No Good from a Corpse." The history around that novel and it's influence on director Howard Hawks is widely known. She wrote five crime novels, all masterfully written and hardboiled. In "An Eye for An Eye," Leigh Brackett gives us a psychological thriller that has a creepy bite to it.

Al said, "We got a little business to do between us, Forbes. I want you to listen and listen good and careful, because I'd rather have my wife living than your wife dead."

Lawyer Ben Forbes is waiting for his wife to pick him up from the office, time passes and Carolyn doesn’t show up. Worried, he heads home and quickly discovers that she has vanished. Cop Ernie MacGrath, a neighbor and friend of Forbes, gets involved with the missing persons case. A few days go by without anything turning up, when Forbes gets a phone call from the man who kidnapped her. His name is Al Guthrie and we learn that Forbes was the lawyer for Guthrie’s wife Lorene during their hostile divorce. Al Guthrie is a violent and unstable man, who has a history of abuse towards Lorene. Guthrie tells Forbes that he is going pay for taking his Lorene away, and then offers the lawyer a deal; convince Lorene to come back to him and Forbes will get his own wife back. Guthrie makes it clear that Carolyn will be killed if the cops are told about him, the kidnapping, or the exchange of the women. Guthrie gives him four days to convince Lorene to return to him. His hate for Forbes is so intense, that he plans to kill him during the exchange. Panic and fear escalates, as Forbes is thrown into a nightmare ordeal. He secretly attempts to locate his wife by himself, he makes some progress and then stumbles. This results into getting Lorene totally terrified, she fears Guthrie will kill her and now Ernie MacGrath is suspicious of Forbes because of his erratic behavior. Finally Ben Forbes has an emotional breakdown and he tells the cops what has happened to his wife. Irate at him for wasting valuable time, the police struggle to formulate a plan for the rescue of Carolyn. But first they have to locate where she is being held and little time is left.

Ben Forbes is on a downward slide, and through him Leigh Brackett takes us on this hellish journey. The strain is too much for Forbes, he mentally tumbles and is left tattered as we move through the pages. This is a fast paced novel, with events unfolding after every turn of the page. It’s a race and the author keeps us in doubt as to how it will turn out. An interesting character in the story is Lorene, a girl who finally finds contentment and freedom, and then after one visit by Forbes she is whirled back into a world of fear and panic. Leigh Brackett writes some of the best dialog through her and we feel her pain (which is almost torture) as she spirals into a child-like state. And then there is the mind of Al Guthrie, a confused violent man who lost reality and hungers for the return of Lorene. The psychological strains of Forbes, Lorene and Guthrie intertwine in the story, which gives the novel a dark, eerie texture. This is enhanced by the disconsolate feel of the story, which takes place during the dreary, empty, cold days of November. The kidnapping and captivity scenes are descriptively raw for it’s time, Guthrie treats Forbes’ wife quite horribly. And the ending is highly climatic, as Leigh Brackett takes us back into the thoughts and actions of Al Guthrie for the final paragraphs.

A skillfully written crime novel, full of bleak terror and arousing suspense.

I savored the bits of Brackett’s hardboiled dialog that appear in the story. "The dame had a voice like a hack saw and she didn't care who heard it." There are numerous little gems like these throughout the novel.

Doubleday Crime Club
Hardcover Edition

Monday, September 8, 2008

Vein of Violence by William Campbell Gault

Vein of Violence by William Campbell Gault
Award Books, Copyright 1961

"Two are already dead," I said. "A vein of violence has been brought into life. The first murder is always the hardest one; a killer gets hardened quickly after that."

Gault's Brock Callahan P.I. series is one of the best ever written. The novels are like a magnet; once you finish one, you're looking forward to the next. For those who are not familiar with "The Rock," he's a retired L.A. Rams defensive guard, level-headed, lives modestly, and likes to play poker with his old teammates. He has a fondness for Einlicher beer and is content driving his old groaning flivver. A practical guy, who you would love to have as a friend or on your side if you need help. Also, his on/off relationship with Jan Bonnett is always a welcomed enrichment in the stories. This is Gault's fifth Brock Callahan novel and he gives us another first-class murder mystery story with the honest California P.I.

Callahan's newly married Aunt Sheila pays the P.I. a visit with her new husband, Texas oil man Homer Gallup. We get the impression that the aunt likes to marry rich men. (she had a few) Anyway they would like to have Brock's girl, Jan Bonnet, help them find a house and help design the interior, which is her profession. They come across a dated mansion estate which belongs to an old silver screen scarlet named Mary Mae Milgram. Homer loves the place and purchases the property, despite the disapproval of Jan and Aunt Sheila. Brock has taken a liking to Homer for that. Homer throws an open house party and Mary Milgram is found dead, poisoned. Homer hires Brock to find the killer, and the cops let him assist as long as he keeps them informed. The road leads Brock into a world of blackmailers, greedy heirs, and other faded stars from a bygone Hollywood era. He stumbles onto another murder and discovers a family scandal that numerous individuals are determined to keep hidden.

No dark alleys or heavy gun play here, this is good honest detective work. The novel appears to be divided into two parts. The first having Brock and the group interacting with the real estate deal, the murder, and possible motives for Homer's mysterious interest in the property. There is the continual friction in the relationship between Brock and Jan, which heats up when Callahan is caught spending the night with the beautiful assistant to the murdered victim. The second half has Brock Callahan digging into the case with Aunt Sheila, Homer and Jan rarely around. The P.I. covers a good part of Southern California in his old flivver, uncovering leads and giving the cops just enough to keep them off his back. Eventually he puts the pieces together and just as he figures it out- we do too. And as readers, we get the privilege to go with him to lay it all out. -Wonderfully done by Gault.

As in all of the Brock Callahan novels, Bill Gault fills this story with terrific lines:

Brock describing his girl:
She is a fairly complex girl, loving both beauty and money. She is a girl of many moods, but I love her in all of them. She is the beginning and the end. She is Jan; what can I say?

Brock describing himself:
"I'm always for rent but never for sale."

Brock describing Hollywood:
I turned into the bright lights and swirling carbon monoxide of Sunset Boulevard, the street of stars, the treadmill of tourists, the winding, grinding, noisy street that leads where all streets lead -to the grave.

Brock describing L.A.:
The smog was behind and we were back in California. Los Angeles is not California, not in any way. Los Angeles is a fungus that will some day destroy California.

Brock describing reporters:
Small men working for big papers and it gave them a false sense of their own importance. Meaningless men with powerful weapons.

And one of my favorites, describing himself to the cops:
"I'm not a lecher, I said. "I'm not Joe Puma. I'm a square, Lieutenant, poor and honest. Occasionally, I am a victim of my strong romantic compulsions, but I have never accepted a dishonest dollar."
(Of course all Gault fans know about P.I. Joe Puma)

I'll say it again, the Brock 'The Rock" Callahan P.I. novels are some of the best ever published. To me he's right up there with Philip Marlowe, Lew Archer and Paul Pine. William Campbell Gault's "Vein of Violence" is a fine example of the huge talent he had as a mystery author. We find Callahan a little more upbeat in this novel. He has less worries and seems very content with his life. Highly entertaining, interestingly suspenseful, and as in all of Gault's novels- a damn good mystery.

Note: Don Siegel directed an 30 minute Adventure Showcase T.V. episode in 1959 called "Brock Callahan." Synopsis on TCM states: "The exploits of Brock Callahan, a retired Los Angeles Rams guard turned two-fisted private detective working out of Beverly Hills. The story relates Brock's attempts to find the killer of an interior decorator." Sounds interesting!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Valdez is Coming by Elmore Leonard

Valdez is Coming by Elmore Leonard
Fawcett Gold Medal T2918, Copyright 1970

" Just a little war, if he wants it," Valdez said.

As most Elmore Leonard fans know, the author started out writing short stories for Western magazines and his first novels were Westerns. In 1961, Elmore Leonard wrote a short story for Western Roundup called "Only Good Ones." Later in the decade, he was looking for an idea for a new novel and started searching over his past work. He took "Only Good Ones," made it the first chapter in his book and wrote the classic Western novel, "Valdez is Coming."

Powerful Frank Tanner and his men have a suspected Army deserter and his Apache wife trapped in a shack. Seems this deserter killed a friend of Tanner's six months earlier, and he wants him dead. It's turning into a big spectacle as humble Bob Valdez, a part-time constable from the Mexican side of town, arrives at the scene. Valdez goes down to talk the man into giving himself up. Tanner's men start firing and Valdez is forced to kill the man to protect himself. The man turns out not to be the one Tanner was after. Later, Valdez wants to take up a collection for the widowed Apache wife, but gets plenty of hostility from Frank Tanner on that idea. On one trip to see Tanner about the money, Valdez is ridiculed, humiliated, and left to wander and die bound to a wooden crosspole. But Valdez survives, and when he comes back he comes back as a different Bob Valdez. A Valdez from the past....

Valdez brought up the barrels of the Remington from his lap, and with the ten-bore explosion close in from of him, the Mexican came out of the saddle...His eyes were open and he had his left arm tight to his side.The shotgun charge had torn through his side at the waist.
Valdez smiled, "You ride to Mr. Tanner, all right? Tell him Valdez is coming. You hear what I said? Valdez is coming. But listen friend, I think you better go there quick."

Valdez enters Tanner's compound and kidnaps his woman. His plan is simple, "If I have something he wants, then maybe we make a trade. Give me the money and I give you your woman." Tanner and his men go after Valdez, but they find that isn't so easy. Valdez and the woman develop a respectful and sympathetic relationship during the ordeal, which Leonard gracefully presents to the reader. This isn't a story about vengeance, it's about correcting a wrong, a noble attempt to seek justice. Valdez is a modest man, who possesses a hidden courage to do what is right. This is a profound novel, with dynamic characters -some displaying a nature of extreme brutality, and others showing compassion and sensitivity. It's flawlessly written and has one of the best (and traditionally different) endings I read in any Western novel.
Truly an American Western Classic....

Elmore Leonard's Western novels should be revered and not forgotten. He wrote eight excellent ones and you can't go wrong reading any of them. Besides this novel, my other personal favorites are "Hombre" (the classic Apache-raised John Russell story) and "Forty Lashes Less One." (a Yuma prison story) It's been 30 years since Elmore Leonard wrote a Western novel, and that's too long. I hunger for another one. I hope he will reward us again.

"The Bounty Hunters" (1953)
"The Law at Randado" (1954)
"Escape from Five Shadows" (1956)
"Last Stand at Saber River" (1959)
"Hombre" (1961)
"Valdez is Coming" (1970)
"Forty Lashes Less One" (1972)
"Gunsights" (1979)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Flight to Nowhere by Charles Williams

Flight To Nowhere by Charles Williams
Short Story in Manhunt, Sept 1955

Charles Williams wrote many excellent crime suspense novels, some of which take place with a sailing setting as a backdrop. The same is true with this Manhunt short story. It's wildly exciting, keeps you on edge, and could be one of the finest tales he wrote.

Three-quarters of a million dollars was the prize. Brutality was their profession, I thought of it and felt chilly along the back.

The story involves the "flight" of diver Bill Manning who quickly is offered a proposition by lovely Shannon Wayne to recover a shotgun lost in a lake by her husband. A couple of thugs show up looking for the woman's husband and Manning discovers her real name is Shannon Macauley. She gives Manning another story about why she needs a diver, to recover stolen diamonds that are in a small plane at the bottom of the sea. Her husband was into some shady doings with the thugs and Manning believes the husband is now on the lam from the mob. Later, he learns that is not true. Manning needs the cash and accepts the offer and with it gets hooked into a deadly adventure. Lust and love spins Manning, who has the cops hunting him for a murder rap, into taking the risk against the two thugs. Williams has us tensely waiting to see if Manning and the girl come out of this one. It all ends gravely, at sea aboard the recovery sloop. Thrilling heart-pounding action on land and at sea in this story, and a mesmerizing plot. This one is up there with the best published in any Manhunt Magazine.
Charles Williams excels....

Note: Harry Whittington authored a short story in 1953 with the same title. A neat coincidence, both are fine writers and both stories are excellent.

There are many gems included in this Manhunt issue. One that stands out is a short five-pager called "The Muscle" by Philp Weck. It takes place in a dingy city diner through the eyes of the counter cook. The cook recognizes two hired killers, along with another guy, entering during the end of the lunch hour and they take a booth. We wait it out with the cook to find out which of the customers receives the "hit." It's hardboiled and creepy.

Contents in this Manhunt issue:

"Flight To Nowhere" by Charles Williams
'The War" by Richard Deming (Clancy Ross story)
"The Big Day" by Richard Marsten
"Side Street" by James T. Farrell
"Pickup" by Hal Ellson
"Uncle Tom" by David Alexander
"Cast Off, A Police Files Story" by Jonathan Craig
'The Muscle" by Philip Weck
"Mass Production" by Andrew J. Burris

I thought Philip Weck was a pseud., but digging I discovered not. Actually he was an accomplished short story author and journalist. Here is a listing of his work. ( I'll gladly read more stories by Philip Weck)

Welcome Home, Sucker! (nv) Detective Tales Mar 1947
I Love You Dead! (ss) Detective Tales Jan 1948
Poor, Dead Charlie! (ss) Detective Tales Jul 1948
Don’t Kid with Morrissey! (ss) Detective Tales Oct 1948
Hot-Hate Alley (ss) Dime Detective Magazine Jan 1949
Vicious Circle (ss) Detective Tales May 1949
Leave It to the Little Men! (ss) Dime Mystery Magazine Aug 1949
No Time for Death! (ss) Dime Mystery Magazine Dec 1949
No-Know Nora (ss) Detective Tales Jan 1950
A Body on the House (ss) Detective Tales Feb 1950
Eyes to Kill With (nv) Detective Tales Mar 1950
You Can’t Run Away (ss) Suspense Magazine Fll 1951
Murder with Onions (ss) Popular Detective Jan 1952
City of Strangers (na) Popular Detective Nov 1952
Love Me - Love My Corpse! (nv) Popular Detective Mar 1953
Murder Bait (ss) Triple Detective Spr 1953
The Cop War (nv) Popular Detective May 1953
The Corpse Came Back (ss) Triple Detective Sum 1953
Deadlier Than the Male (ss) Popular Detective Fll 1953
Terror Street (ss) Fifteen Detective Stories Dec 1953
The Devil’s Judge (ss) Fifteen Detective Stories Apr 1954
The Muscle (ss) Manhunt Sep 1955
Thanks for the Drink, Mac (ss) Manhunt Aug 1956
One Day of Fear (ss) Trapped Detective Story Magazine May 1961