Monday, August 4, 2008

The Quiet Woman by Bruno Fischer

The Quiet Woman by Bruno Fischer
Short story in Dell Mystery Novels No.1 Jan.-Mar 1955

Bruno Fischer wrote five novels featuring P.I. Ben Helm. All are very good and written on the "gentle" hardboiled side. In this one shot digest, that precedes the Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine run, contains the only short story the amiable detective appeared in.

Though he was flat on his back, not much of his once handsome face was visible. Blood covered it, and blood had dyed most of his blond hair. All around him the pale-green linoleum looked as if somebody had swung an open can of red paint...It always surprised me how much blood a human being had in him.

Ben Helm returning from a blackmail case in Buffalo, arrives in the city of West Amber where his wife is an actress in a summer theater group. That night, the leading man of the performing group is murdered by having his skull smashed by a milk bottle. The actor's wife is taken in as the suspect, and Helm believing the woman is innocent looks into the case. Things darken for the jailed suspect, after it is discovered that four years ago in Chicago she killed her previous husband in self-defense using a milk bottle. The D. A. believes this locks up the case, while Ben Helm suspects she was set up. Later, the neighbor of the murdered actor is killed with her skull cracked open by a rock, and the coincidence is too much for Helm. He spends the night figuring it out and in the morning, with his .32 (that is stored under his spare tire in the truck of his car) he confronts the killer.

As always with Bruno Fischer, this is well written and a worthy read. It's quick and tight; and even with figuring out who the real murder is halfway through, I enjoyed it because of Ben Helm. This P.I. is likable, content and doesn't let the dregs of society get to him. He'll lay back, observe and think it through. The local police even study his published articles and books on criminology, and eagerly accept his help. Helm has an updated American Sherlock Holmes air to him, especially when he is stoking his pipe and spending a night putting the pieces together. Plus, with having the loving, striking actress Greta Murdock as a wife (who men swoon over) -why not be content and likable.

This issue contains three "novels": (all by fine authors)
A Bundle for the Coroner by Brett Halliday
But the Prophet Died by William Campbell Gault
The Quiet Woman by Bruno Fischer

The Evil Days by Bruno Fischer
Ballantine, Copyright 1973

Now, if you want something completely different by Bruno Fischer, you will want to sink your teeth into his last novel, "The Evil Days." A thriller mystery that contains violent murder, robbery, drugs, adultery, kidnapping, deceit and at the end- forgiveness....
All masterfully embedded in this tense narrative.
Where we expect suburban life to be protective and salutary, Bruno Fischer give us one that changes a man's home life into a grim, voluted nightmare.

Hang on for Cabeb Dawson's ride.

1 comment:

Frank Loose said...

When Bruno Fisher was clicking on all cylinders, his writing was top drawer. I list several Fishers among my all time favorite crime books. They are: House of Flesh, and So Wicked My Love. They are marked with a "mental tag" that says: To Be Read Again. I've been saving Evil Days, along with the only Charles Williams that i haven't read, The Hot Spot, for just the right read, when i can tackle them uninterrupted, and savor.
--- Frank