Thursday, March 3, 2011
The Complete Guide to Manhunt Part 21
by Peter Enfantino
160 pages, 35 cents
Cover illustration by Graves
I Didn’t See a Thing by Hal Ellson
(4500 words) ** illo: Lee
Dip keeps pigeons and deals with the everyday hip lingo of Hal Ellson. It’s a tribute, I guess, to Ellson’s grasp of street language that I had no idea that Dip actually raised pigeons until well into the story. I thought we might be discussing drugs or girls but, no, they’re birds. Ellison’s definitely an acquired taste. He pretty much cornered the market on pigeon noir between this story and “The Pigeons” (from the February 1955 issue).
The Punisher by Jonathan Craig
(5500 words) *** illo: James Sentz
Second in the “Police Files” series by Craig is an improvement over the first (in the February 1955 issue). Craig uses a different set of cops to tell the story of a man burned to death in his bed. At first, the thought among the detectives is that the man fell asleep while smoking, but quickly that idea is replaced with homicide. The resolution and identity of the killer is handled well.
First Case by David Alexander
(3500 words) *** illo: Gussman
Miss Petty takes an unusual interest in the first case of young attorney Winston Knight, Jr. The interest can be traced back to the affair she had had with Winston, Sr. years before. Though there’s not much to the story, it’s still fairly effective.
(3000 words) **** illo: Richards
Jim has a particularly adulterous wife and things have gotten a bit out of hand so Jim does what any loving husband would do: he starts eliminating his competitors. “Moonshine” shows the same kind of skewed world view that infested the novels of Gil Brewer.
Brewer was one of the fabled Gold Medal authors, writing such classics as A Killer is Loose (1954), The Red Scarf (1958), The Three Way Split (1960), and his biggest seller, 13 French Street (1951). Manhunt readers were fortunate enough to visit Gil Brewer’s hellish world ten times over the course of the magazine’s life.
Welcome Home by G. T. Fleming-Roberts
(15,500 words) ** illo: Roy Houlihan
Norb Bailey returns to his hometown to get to the bottom of the shooting death of his brother. Well-written but could have been told in half the word count. The high word count is appropriate however since Fleming-Roberts wrote hundreds of novels and short stories for the pulps. He was one of the ghost-writers for such "hero pulps" as Secret Agent X. You can find a plethora of information on the author here. This was his only Manhunt appearance.
The Jury by Kenneth Fearing
(3500 words) ** illo: GHP
Thorndale knows everything about the syndicate’s business and now he’s to take the stand. That obviously doesn’t sit well with the mob and so they make Thorndale an offer he can’t refuse.
(6000 words) ** ½ illo: Tom O’Sullivan
Airport cops Mace Prouty and Don Wells have their hands full when a woman enters their office to claim her husband took out a fifty thousand dollar life insurance policy and hopped on a plane with a briefcase rigged to blow. On the same day, a mobster that Prouty had run oout of town is set to get off a plane at Prouty’s airport. Interesting angle to the cop story is soured a bit by that Ring-Ding-Daddy-O lingo that populates most of Frank Kane’s fiction.
It should be noted that, even to this day, many sources erroneously identify this Jack Webb (1916-?) as the Jack Webb (1920-1983) who created and starred in Dragnet (Allen J. Hubin, in Bibliography of Crime Fiction, gives the author’s birthdate as 1920, which is actually the actor’s birthdate). According to Webb’s bio (published on the inside back cover of V. 2 N. 3), the author is “no relation to the Jack Webb who directs and stars in Dragnet” (in fact, his portrait actually makes him look more like contemporary mystery author Ed Gorman!). Jack Webb, the author, wrote many novels in the 1950s starring the crime-solving team of Catholic priest Father Joseph Shanley and Detective-Sergeant Sammy Golden, including The Broken Doll (1955),The Brass Halo (1957), and The Deadly Sex (1959). The bio in Manhunt also notes that MGM was about to begin filming a series of Shanley/Golden flicks, but I can find no reference to these films being produced. Prouty and Wells return for two more adventures.
Memento by Erskine Caldwell
(2000 words) *** 1/2 illo: James Sentz
When Nellie Stoddard, a wonderful woman form all accounts, passes away suddenly, her husband, a no-good bastard form all accounts, makes a trip down to the county courtroom to attend to some unfinished business. As I’ve stated before with some of the “high-calibre slick” fiction contributed by Caldwell, there’s not a lick of Manhunt blood in “Memento.” That doesn’t make it a bad read, Quite the contrary, it’s a fabulously written tale, one that would fit nicely in the pages of The Saturday Evening Post.
(4500 words) * illo: Roy Houlihan
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a beautiful, but troubled, woman comes to Peter Chamber’ office to hire him as a bodyguard. He consoles her, admires her great figure and accepts the job. She goes home and her body is found there later on. She’d paid Peter a ten thousand dollar retainer and he doesn’t believe in free money so he digs into her murder.
Incident in August by G. H. Williams
(2000 words) ** 1/2 illo: Roy Houlihan
Poor Mal is about to be strung up by country hicks for a crime he didn’t commit. Climax pulls no punches. The Ox-Bow Incident meets Manhunt noir.
This issue’s Mugged & Printed features bios of Erskine Caldwell, Edward D. Radin, Gil Brewer, and Kenneth Fearing.
Also in this issue: What’s Your Verdict? #9: The Domestic Killer, Vincent H. Gaddis’ Crime Cavalcade, and Portrait of a Killer #20: Everett Appelgate by Dan Sontup.
In addition, beginning this issue was Edward D. Radin’s “The Bite,” a non-fiction piece about a murderous barber circa 1935. Radin, according to his Manhunt bio was “renowned as the country’s top fact-crime writer.”
Oh, for the days when page count increases didn't automatically equal price increases. An extra 16 pages beginning this month and nary a reprint among those pages.-PE