Tuesday, January 22, 2008

No Chance In Hell by Nick Quarry

No Chance In Hell by Nick Quarry.
Gold Medal 1033, Copyright 1960.

Marvin H. Albert used the Nick Quarry pseudonym for his six Jake Barrow private eye novels. We're not breaking new ground here, but all the novels have hair-trigger action and are excellent. This is one of the best from the series.

The novel starts off fast, with P.I. Jake Barrow swiftly entering a tenement building in NYC. He's looking for the daughter of a friend and ends up blasting a hole in a guy with his .357 Magnum. Then we flashback to learn that Barrow has to find and protect the girl from a ruthless killer. This killer has already shot two of his friends and Barrow wants to perform his own justice on the guy. He fights exhaustion and a couple of brutal beatings trying to located the girl and killer. There is an Mexican immigrant smuggling operation, a unbelievable escape scene in the NYC sewer system, and a wild cat- fight with Barrow letting the girls go at it. Barrow follows the trail to New Mexico, (the girl is Native American) ending in the desert buttes.

Jake Barrow is a hard driven P.I. -tough, but likable. A little weak in showing some compassion for victims, but he is willing to get knocked around and will bounce back fighting. A good storyline and an excellent ending. Thought it was over, but Barrow figured out more involving two murders.

Barrow uses the dialog of the era: "Dark fog engulfed my brain. My arms and legs turned to jelly. Hanks heaved me off him. I sprawled to the floor, as limp and uncoordinated as a dropped bunch of rubber bands."

I always thought Albert's Tony Rome character (written as Anthony Rome) had a lot of Jake Barrow in him. Just a different setting and social class, but same hardboiled style. I prefer the Jake Barrow stories.

Marvin Albert wrote many quality novels. His Gold Medal westerns are very good and I was hooked in the 70's on his adventure novels authored as
Ian MacAlister. Used a few pseudonyms and wrote many novels and film novelizations. Two Gold Medal paperbacks written under the name Albert Conroy are exceptional, "Nice Guys Finish Dead" and "Murder in Room 13."


mybillcrider said...

I prefer the Quarry books to the Rome books, too. I also like the later Stone Angel series quite a bit.

Anonymous said...

For a short insightful piece on Marvin Albert that Bill Crider did for me a while back, see http://www.mysteryfile.com/GM_Albert/goldmedal_albert.html .

I always liked the Quarry books, long before I had any idea that he was the Marvin Albert who wrote those westerns I was reading and enjoying. I guess I agree with Bill in not caring as much for Tony Rome, but I read the books after the movies, which I thought were rather tedious. (I also wasn't much of a Frank Sinatra fan at the time.)

I wonder if I'd still feel the same way now.

There's only one way to find out!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Nice Guys Finish Dead is great. I think the Conroy books are his best. mtm

Anonymous said...

You can trust any Quarry book to have a quick pace, at least one scene of very well described fisticuffs (I wonder if Albert was a boxer...) and some of the best descriptions of garment-disadvantaged dames outside a vintage issue of Spicy Detective.
This series seems to me to be an unsung gem of the detective genre. A perfect snapshot of the genre halfway between Spillane and McDonald.
Props to you for blogging about it.


August West said...

Speaking of the series, I always loved the cover of "Trail of a Tramp" GM #824., I'll have to get that PIC on the blog one day.
The only Albert series I didn't care much for was the Dell "Clayburn" Westerns (I prefer his Gold Medal westerns)

I will check out the Stone Angel series, I forgot all about them, Thanks Bill.

Also,Guys: Thanks for the great comments.

Kevin Burton Smith said...

Great stuff as always, August.

True confessions time: It took me years to get to Albert's books, due to the horrid film adaptations of the Tony Rome books.

Though, actually, to be fair it wasn't the films -- it was the horrible miscasting of the lead. I've seen bottle caps that would have been more convincing. That dorky captain's hat and the starched and pressed casual gear were bad enough, but Ol' Blue Eyes himself never seemed like more of a dork than in those films. Anyone who thought the Rat Pack was the epitome of over-the-hill faux cool has to see these cheesefests to see how far the mighty can fall.

A rough and tough beach bum private eye? Ol' Frankie looked more like an aging gigolo desperately trying to pass himself off as twenty years younger -- and failing miserably. Maybe the hat was there to keep his hairpiece in place.

Not that the films were ALL bad, mind you. The fight scene in THE LADY IN CEMENT with Dan "Hoss" Blocker (as the bad guy!) was pretty intense, and Raquel Welch is always nice on the eyes.

But yeah, definitely stick with the books. There's still a fair amount of cheese in all of Albert's work (he occasionally wrote like he must have been wearing boxing gloves), but at least it's good cheese.

Glen Davis said...

Still trying to get all of Albert's books.

I thought the Tony Rome movies were sort of Frank's answer to Dino's Matt Helm. Salt and Pepper were just as bad.