Sunday, June 27, 2010

Never Come Back by Robert Colby

Never Come Back by Robert Colby
Short Story originally published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, June 1967

With the exception of the ones published by Monarch, I believe I've read all of the novels written by Robert Colby. (including the excellent co-authored Killmaster adventure titled, The Death's Head Conspiracy) I'm always on the lookout for Colby's short stories and when I get my hands on one, I eagerly dig into it.

"Never Come Back" first appeared in the June 1967 AHMM issue and was later added to one of Hitchcock's anthology collections. It's a story about an out of luck loser who has to drive a cab to make a living. Opportunity knocks one day when a fare leaves an attache case in his back seat. Upon returning the case for an assumed reward, he stumbles upon a murder and an alluring dame. The theme in this story is really about obsessive attraction. Jerry Hoagland (the cabbie) continues to seek out the girl and it becomes almost addictive pursuing her. Not for money, but just to see her. But in the end this spirals out of control for Hoagland. Staying away is not an option for him and his obsession has dangerous results.

A powerful short story written by an author that should have received more notoriety. Robert Colby was one of those special authors that besides writing excellent crime/mystery novels, he added an impressive collection of top-notch short stories throughout this career. "Never Come Back" happens to be just one of many that I have stumbled upon. And I'm glad I did.

This "Happiness is a Warm Corpse" Hitchcock collection contains many fine stories. Others that I've enjoyed, "This Day's Evil" by Jonathan Craig - burglary, murder and a hick Sheriff might just allow crime to pay. The author Fletcher Flora has always been an enigma to me because there is so little information about him. But he wrote great short stories and "IQ 184" is one of them. Also included in this issue is Richard Deming's ""Kill, If You Want Me!" This may be Deming's best short work. And an unexpected surprise awaits the reader at the end of by "Once Upon a Bank Floor" by James Holding Jr.

Many good ones by some excellent mystery writers.