Thursday, February 17, 2011
The Complete Guide to Manhunt Part 20
by Peter Enfantino
Vol. 3 No. 2 February 1955
144 pages, 35 cents
Cover by Michael
The Revolving Door by Sam Merwin, Jr.
(4000 words) ** illo by “GHP”
Marty embezzles 50 grand from the mob and has to hide out in a fancy hotel, waiting for a way out of town. Well-written story with a predictable outcome.
This was Sam Merwin, Jr.’s first Manhunt appearance (with three more to follow). Son of writer Samuel Merwin, Sam Merwin, Jr (1910-1996) dabbled in both crime and science fiction fiction. His science fiction included The House of Many Worlds (1951) and its followup, Three Faces of Time (1955). Crime novels included Murder in Miniatures (1940), Knife in My Back (1945) The Creeping Shadow (1952), and Killer To Come (1953). In addition, Merwin was omnipresent in the pulps (just a few of the titles he appeared in: Detective Novel, Thrilling Adventure, Fifteen Sports Stories, Phantom Detective). His short story, “The Big Score”(from Manhunt, July 1955) was adapted for Alfred Hitchcock Presents in 1962.
Hot by Evan Hunter
(4500 words) *** illo by Houlihan
Life aboard a Naval ship in Guantanamo Bay aint all it’s cracked up to be even if you’re on the good side of the skipper, which Peters definitely is not. His commander has it out for Peters, but Peters is determined to make him pay.
Return Engagement by Frank Kane
(8000 words) * illo by James Sentz
Johnny Liddell is hired by Abel Terrell, a man who believes he murdered someone months before. Problem is, the victim’s body turns up and police say the man died within the past few days. Terrell doesn’t know what kind of scam is being played but he’s pretty sure there’s one and he’s been the target. So how did the corpse get a second life (and death)? Johnny know that the answers to all difficult questions are usually found in a nightclub and the answer usually has something to do with a beautiful girl. The weakest of the Liddells thus far is lackluster and lazily written with a lame payoff.
The Pigeons by Hal Ellson
(2000 words) *
At a home for boys, Hop is constantly picked on by Al. Hop’s only consolation is the pigeon nest next to his window. When Al finds this out, he sabotages Hop’s happiness.
(4000 words) *** illo by Houlihan
Sam and Dave find that business is less than booming at their mortuary. When Dave comes up with the bright idea of buying a combination hearse/ambulance to branch out, things get a little rosier. That is, until their only competitor, Harry Averill, of Averill’s Funeral home, gets the same idea. That’s when Dave comes up with a novel way to drum up more business for the funeral home: murder their riders on the way to the hospital. Dark comedy is absurd at times (well, it would have to be, wouldn’t it?) but ultimately entertains. Would have made a great episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Rendezvous by James T. Farrell
(5000 words) ** ½
Annabelle lives the good life; nice house, rich husband, no job, everything money can buy. But she’s not happy. She feels she can find happiness in one night stands. To that end, she contacts an old college acquaintance (the boyfriend who never was), now a big shot newspaper writer living in New York and asks him if they can meet and talk about old times. So they meet and talk, and talk, and talk. A nice enough slice of life story but here comes my “this does not belong in a Detective Story Monthly” speech. I’d like to know how readers at the time reacted to stories in Manhunt that had no criminal elements whatsoever (other than imagined adultery).
Self-Defense by Harold Q. Masur
(5000 words) ** 1/2 illo by Dick Shelton
George Richardson fears his adopted son will be kindnapped in the near future so he hires attorney Scott Jordan to handle the ransom drop if the boy is snatched. Sure enough, his son is taken. Better-than-average Jordan tale (the 8th of 9 to appear in Manhunt) is almost ruined by its Perry Mason-esque wrap-up wherein Scott tells us all about how the kidnapping went down – even though there’s no way he could know this information. Interetsing side note: in the Mugged & Printed column this issue, the editors mistakenly title this story “Dead Issue,” which is actualy the title of the previous Scott Jordan mystery (December 25, 1954).
(17,500 words) ** illo by Gussman
A woman is found stabbed to death on the top of her brownstone apartment in New York. Detectives Walt Logan and Steve Manning catch the case and eventually get to the bottom of the brutal murder.
The first of Jonathan Craig’s “Police Files” stories, “Classification: Homicide” tends to get bogged down by Craig’s love of technical terms and police lingo and doesn’t spend enough time developing characters. I can tell there are some good characters sketched in this novel, but unfortunately it’s hinted at rather than fleshed out. The obvious comparison to the “Police Files” series and Craig’s other series, the Pete Selby novels, would be Ed McBain’s long-running 87th Precinct novels (the first novel of which, Cop Hater, would be published in 1956) which also dwells on every move a cop makes and every form he fills out. McBain does it better though.
Mugged and Printed this issue features James T. Farrell, Hal Ellson, Frank Kane, and Jonathon Craig.
Also in this issue: Crime Cavalcade by Vincent H. Gaddis; You, Detective #3: The Sweet Death by Wilson Harman; What’s Your Verdict #8: The Legal Mind by Sam Ross; and Portrait of a Killer #19: Herbert Mills by Dan Sontup.