Monday, March 3, 2008

Prognosis Negative by Floyd Mahannah

Prognosis Negative by Floyd Mahannah
Short Story in Manhunt March 1953

I always enjoy the PI stories that Manhunt published and this one is excellent. It's a story of a "two-bit dick" who finally shows some guts before he "punches out."

Jim Makin is a California PI, who was just informed that he has an inaccessible tumor in his brain and has about a year to live. He's in a middle of a case in which his client, a female illegal immigrant, has taken $60,000 from the racket boss-Ernie Fidako. The big guy wants the dough back, and knows Makin is hiding her. Makin is a bit scared of Ernie and his boys, but after his negative prognosis he musters up some courage and a "what the hell" attitude. He goes after Ernie. Eventually, Makin stubbles, and Ernie nabs him and the tamale. Ernie roughs both up, before Jim Makin makes his move and violently takes on the four of them.

"I'd crossed Ernie Fidako, and in this town that was poison. He left it lying there-the alternative-the slug in the back, the concrete coffin, the long sleep under the Bay."

I love these Manhunt short stories and this one is definitely hardboiled. Hell, Ernie Fidako even sets the girl's hair on fire to make her talk. A top-notch story, with an ending that is rough, violent and the bullets are flying. Jim Makin is an interesting PI character and too bad he only had a year left-would of loved to see him in a whole novel. The transition from a guy who yesterday would of been running scared, to the nothing-to-lose attitude Makin has now, is ingeniously handled by the author. A fine little noir short story.

As for Floyd Mahannah, a fine writer that wrote some excellent novels for Signet in the 50s. Bill Crider wrote a fine review for The Broken Body. (Signet 957)

As for this issue of Manhunt, check who else is inside:
Mickey Spillane (Part III of "Everybody's Watching Me")
Richard Prather (Scott Shell story)
Leslie Charteris (A Saint story)
Craig Rice (John J. Malone story)
Bruno Fischer
Frank Kane (Johnny Liddell story)
William Lindsay Gresham
Harold Masur (Scott Jordan story)
Evan Hunter (Matt Cordell story)
Robert Patrick Wilmot
Richard Marsten


Glen Davis said...

If only a magazine like this existed today.

Craig Clarke said...

I've got that Spillane novella in one of the Gorman/Greenberg pulp anthos. I really need to read it ... soon!