Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Stakeout by Robert Patrick Wilmot

Stakeout by Robert Patrick Wilmot
Short Story in Manhunt, May 1953

This 1953 issue of Manhunt Detective Story is packed with hardboiled stories from some of the best fictional crime authors from the era. Snuck in there is an action-packed little number by Robert Patrick Wilmot. In the early 50s, Wilmot created New York P.I. Steve Considine. The detective's first appearance was in the novel, Blood in Your Eye. The story was so hard and good, that two more quickly followed, Murder on Monday, and Death Rides a Painted Horse. In between Wilmot wrote a few short stories. "Stakeout" is not a Steve Caradine story, but it contains its fair share of twists and surprises that Wilmot's novels were known for.

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, hitting poor Marvin so hard. He's a mess of muscles, but he can't take it in the belly. No man can take it in the belly when he lives mostly on pastrami and beer and broads."

Denham is an ex-con who can use his fists. In a bar, he takes it out on a big Irish lug named Marvin Burke. A couple of observers witness his abilities and hire him as a bodyguard. But it's all for show and there turns out to be a crooked scheme brewing. We find the good guys are not so good, and we start wondering about the bad guys. (Denham included) The target is a blind ex-gangster with stolen gems and a sneaky wife making plans for herself. All tightly packaged up in a handful of pages, that spins and catches the reader off guard. Exceptionally good, with characters that interlocked together dangerously. Robert Patrick Wilmot sure was an author who had talent!

Check the heavy-hitters in this Manhunt issue:

"The Guilty Ones" (A Lew Archer story) by John Ross Macdonald
"Don't Go Near" (A John J. Malone story) by Craig Rice
"Now Die In It" (A Matt Cordell story) by Evan Hunter
"Cigarette Girl" by James M. Cain
"Old Willie" by William P. McGivern
"Graveyard Shift" by Steve Frazee
"Build Another Coffin" (A Scott Jordan story) by Harold Q. Masur
"Stakeout" by Robert Patrick Wilmot
"Nice Bunch of Guys" by Michael Fessier
"Services Rendered" by Jonathan Craig
"Assault" by Grant Colby

One of my favorite characters is in this issue, (besides Lew Archer) and that is Ed McBain's Matt Cordell. The ex-P.I. from the gutter, appeared in six Manhunt issues in the 1950s. They are all the way I like them, mean and hardboiled. In 1958, Gold Medal published all six in one paperback, "I Like 'Em Tough."(GM743 and again in GM 1120) For the GM paperback the character's name is changed to Curt Cannon, same as the pseud. , but the stories are the same. There was also a full length novel called "I'm Cannon for Hire." (GM 814 & GM 1325) In 2005, Hard Case Crime published it under the title "The Gutter and the Grave."

The novel was very good, but I've always enjoyed the Matt Cordell short stories more.


Anonymous said...

Where do you find all this terrific stuff to read?

Anonymous said...

Several of the Curt Cannon short stories were adapted into MIKE HAMMER half hours with Darren McGavin.

August West said...

Max: I've been waiting for a quality studio to release the 78 episodes of "Mike Hammer" starring Darren McGavin in DVD. When they do, (along with "Harry O") I'll be satisfied for a while. By the way, finished "The Goliath Bone" a couple of weeks ago. Excellent as always, thanks for keeping the THE MAN and the tradition going...

Anonymous: Just old material that I collected years ago before the cost of stuff got pricey. I have most in boxes throughout the house and the wife yells at me to get rid of it. Never will happen...

Anonymous said...

Hey Max, do you know which MIKE HAMMER episodes are Cannon stories? I've watched just over half of them and spotted only one story credited to Evan Hunter. There's a Steve Fisher, too, but most seem to be by Frank Kane.
The show is pretty uneven, but the best ones are gold.

John Hocking

August West said...

John: "Dead Men Don't Dream" was a Matt Cordell story from Manhunt March 1953.

Here is what I found on a Ed McBain site:

Story by as CANNON, Curt

Story by as CANNON, Curt

There's probably more. A.W.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Happy Thanksgiving, August.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, August. It turns out I've seen both of those. Hope there's more I haven't seen.
McGavin is an odd sort of Hammer. He plays the detective with a light touch as a smiling wolf. I guess I can understand why they couldn't give us a half hour of ONE LONELY NIGHT every week, but I wish the star went for more of the original's intensity.


Anonymous said...

Darren Mcgavin was filming Riverboat at the same time he did Mike Shayne PI.
I am guessing that's what you are talking about.. not Mike Hammer.
Anyway maybe his serious Riverboat character was off set by His Mike Shayne Light as you say.
Darren's 1967 TV Detective Dan Ross in The Outsider is another series to look for as ids Robert Loggia T.H.E, Cat.
Thomas Edward Hewett cat bugalar.

Anonymous said...

There were eight Matt Cordell stories published in Manhunt. Six made it into I Like'em Tough. The two that didn't are "Return"
from July 1954 and "The Beatings" from October 1954.

Another Cordell story, "Now Die in It" was turned into an episode of Mike Hammer in 1959.

The 1960-1961 show "Michael Shayne" starred Richard Denning not Darren McGavin