Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Complete Guide to Manhunt Part 15

by Peter Enfantino

Vol. 2 No. 8 October 1954
144 pages, 35 cents

The Beatings by Evan Hunter
(3500 words) **** illo: Ray Houlihan
“Men can become good neighbors when their common mortar is despair.” Another visit to the hell populated by Ex-PI, current drunk Matt Cordell. This time, Matt’s helping out his fellow winos, who find themselves under attack by a pack of violence hungry teenagers. Interestingly enough, “The Beatings” starts off with one of Ed McBain’s patented soliloquies of the city: “the city wore August like a soiled flannel shirt.” Eighth and final Matt Cordell story is also the best of the bunch.

The Bargain by Charles Beckman, Jr.
(3000 words) *** illo: Tom O’Sullivan
Frank and his wife Mavis re vacationing at their mountain cabin when a murderer, hiding from the police, takes them hostage. To win their freedom, Mavis must give the man what he wants. Nice twist when we find that Mavis might have other reasons for going along with this killer’s demands.

Clean Getaway by William Vance
(5500 words) ***
Police chief Mark Nadine closes in on a couple of murderers at a roadside inn. The pair make a getaway but not before Mark makes a startling discovery: the woman of the pair is his wife, long gone but not forgotten. A well-written noir, very much cut from the cloth of Jim Thompson, but a few too many questions left unanswered for my tastes. Second and final Manhunt story for Vance (although this story would be retitled “Lust or Honor” for the December 1966 issue). William Vance wrote westerns, under his name as well as the pseudonym George Cassidy, for such pulps as Star Western, 2-Gun Western, Dime Western, and Best Western, as well as crime stories for Trapped, Terror Detective, and Mike Shayne. His novel, Homicide Lost, was published by Graphic in 1956.

Laura and the Deep, Deep Woods by W. B. Hartley
(2000 words) ** illo: Tom O’Sullivan
Teenaged Eddie gets his first glimpse of “what sex really is” when he happens upon cute little Laura in the deep, deep woods. By no stretch of the imagination, a Manhunt story. Reads more like an excerpt from a Twain novel. This was the only story Hartley wrote for Manhunt.

Second Cousin by Erskine Caldwell
(2000 words) * ½ illo: Tom O’Sullivan
Pete Ellrod comes home to find his wife’s second cousin, once removed, has moved into his house and the wife is being a bit stubborn about the situation. Pete doesn’t want the cousin around as second cousins, once removed historically have a tendency to want favors granted. Second story by Erskine Caldwell to see print in Manhunt (with three to follow) has the same problem I had with its predecessor: it doesn’t belong in a “Detective Story Monthly.” It would be better served in The Saturday Evening Post or one of the other slicks of the 1950s.

Love Affair by Richard Deming
(2000 words) * illo: Ray Houlihan
This homophobic tale of two cops and the “woman” they pick up in a sleazy bar is about as subtle as the bar’s name: The Purple Dragon. You can see the “twist” coming at you two pages in. Deming is so much better than this would lead one to believe.

Lady Killer by Richard Marsten
(2500 words) ** illo: Francis
Charlie Rawlings is the best hit man money can buy. Now George Manelli, mob boss, needs Rawlings to silence an old moll of George’s. She’s about to sing to the cops about his organization and she knows enough to bring his comfy world crashing around him. No relation to the 87th Precinct novel McBain (Marsten) would write in 1958.

The Dead Darling by Jonathan Craig
(5000 words) **1/2 illo: James Sentz
Detectives Rayder and Selby are called in to investigate what appears at first to be a suicide (a girl with her head in the oven) but it quickly becomes apparent that what they’re actually dealing with is a murder. This girl spent a lot of her free time bedding married men.
Though Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels became world famous and sold in the millions, Jonathan Craig’s Pete Selby and Stan Rayder stories (aka The 18th Precinct) actually pre-dated the 87th by two years. “The Dead Darling” was expanded into the first Pete Selby novel of the same name in 1955. Craig wrote 3 18th Precinct stories for Manhunt before turning his attention to the novels. The series morphed in a way into a second set of procedurals Craig wrote for Manhunt (the Police Files) but more on that in a future installment.

There were ten Pete Selby novels in all: The Dead Darling (1955); Morgue for Venus (1956); The Case of the Cold Coquette (1957); The Case of the Beautiful Body (1957); The Case of the Petticoat Murder (1958); The Case of the Nervous Nude (1959); The Case of the Village Tramp (1959); The Case of the Laughing Virgin (1960);The Case of the Silent Stranger (1964); and The Case of the Brazen Beauty (1966). The original Gold Medal paperbacks had typically gorgeous covers by George Mayers, George Gross, and Stanley Zuckerberg. When Belmont/Tower reprinted the series in 1973, the publishers opted to grace the covers (with one exception - The Dead Darling - a sharp painting that could have come from the Gold Medal art gallery) with generic, ugly men’s adventure leftovers. The casual newsstand browser would not have been able to tell the difference between SELBY and THE SHARPSHOOTER or THE MARKSMAN, two very bad 1970s Belmont adventure series. Belmont also chose to number both Morgue for Venus and Laughing Virgin as #6 in the series, ostensibly to confuse the reader or because they just didn’t care enough to check the number of the previous book.

That Stranger, My Son by C. B. Gilford
(3000 words) * illo: Ray Houlihan
Paul and his father are grieving the drowning death of Paul’s brother. The boy’s father is convinced that Paul could have saved his brother’s life. There’s something to those suspicions, of course. The first appearance by prolific short story writer C. B. Gilford in Manhunt (he would contribute a total of 12 stories throughout the run). Gilford became a staple of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine (seeing 80 stories published between the July 1957 issue and his last appearance in October 1980 ) as well as most of the other crime digests of the 1950s and 1960s. 5 of his stories were dramatized on Alfred Hitchcock Presents/Hour.

One of a Kind by Ben Smith
(1000 words) * illo: Ray Houlihan
Sordid short-short about rape and the degrees of evil.

The Famous Actress by Harry Roskelenko
(1500 words) * illo: Lee
Wandering the streets of Paris, a man picks up a woman he later fiinds is a well-known actress, researching a role. Unfortunately for the lady, the man is a bit of an “actor” himself.

Candlestick by Henry Kane
(16,500 words) ** illo: James Sentz
Peter Chambers is enlisted by police lieutenant Louis Parker to help solve the murder of publicity mega-agent Max Keith. The agent has been clobbered with a gold candlestick and the lieutenant is up to his neck in suspects. One of the suspects is the victim’s sister, who stands to inherit a big chunk of the family inheritance once her brother is dead. Chambers knows the girl is innocent (well, innocent in Manhunt is a relative term) since, in a laugh out loud coincidence, he was bedding her when he got the call! Not really as grating as the other Chambers novellas but still about double the length it needs to be.

Mugged and Printed features Henry Kane, Erskine Caldwell, Richard Deming and Evan Hunter (in Hunter’s bio, it’s revealed that his novel The Blackboard Jungle, had just been sold to MGM for a record $95,000—good coin in that day).

This issue also features What’s Your Verdict? #3: The Drinking Man by Sam Ross; Crime Cavalcade by Vincent H. Gaddis; and Portrait of a Killer #14: Albert Van Dyke by Dan Sontup.


Jack Seabrook said...

Would "Love Affair" have the same conclusion as that Mickey Spillane novel whose last line is: "Juno was a man!"???

Todd Mason said...

Well, presumably similar.

Mark me down as a C. B. Gilford fan...and since he was a Scott Meredith client, even his minor stories might land in MANHUNT.