Friday, November 19, 2010

The Complete Guide to Manhunt Part 9

by Peter Enfantino

Continuing an issue by issue examination of the greatest crime digest of all time.

Vol. 1 No. 10 October 1953

The Girl Behind the Hedge by Mickey Spillane
(3500 words) *** illos: Tom O'Sullivan
Walter Harrison’s suicide is explained by his good friend Duncan. Decidedly un- Spillane-ish with an ending that would not sit well with today’s politically correct crowd.

Squeeze Play by Richard S. Prather
(4500 words) ***
Ann Crane’s husband Leroy has gone missing. She’s concerned because Leroy was an accountant for bigtime Mob man Wallace Hackman. Enter Shell Scott. Though the plot revolves around Leroy and Hackman, the emphasis on the brutal exchanges between Scott and Hackman’s right hand man, Pretty Willis.

Balanced Account by Richard Deming
(4000 words) *** illo: Don Rico
Gerlad Mason is accused of rape by the beautiful teenage girl next door. After his name is dragged through the mud by the press, the girl admits Mason never touched her. Mason decides that since he’s had to pay for his new rep, he may as well earn it.

Dead Heat by Robert Turner
(4500 words) **
Sadistic horse owner Lew Winters blackmails his jockey into fixing races.

The Idiot by Harold Cantor
(3500 words) ***
The occupants of Happy Dell Resort play a sick joke on a retarded young man. This is one of those rare stories that leads the reader to believe it’s going down one path but effectively veers down another. Though I’ve read stories very similar to this in the past (the obvious being Steinbeck’s OF MICE AND MEN), the author gets extra credit for making his main protagonist both likeable and loathsome. “The Idiot” has all the earmarks of an ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS episode.

Professional Man by David Goodis
(8500 words) ***1/2 illo: Tom O'Sullivan
Elevator operator by day, hit man by night, Freddy Lamb is the best at what he does. He’s got the best girl in town too, but his boss has his eyes on her. When Freddy’s gal gives the cold shoulder to the chief, Freddy gets his next assignment: wipe out the dame. If written by an optomist, “Professional Man” would find Freddy offing his boss but, since this nasty little tale is penned by David Goodis, there’s no happy ending waiting on the last page. Downbeat slices of criminal life like this are what made Goodis such a hit in the 1950s and a favorite among hardcore crime readers to this day. Filmed by acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh (TRAFFIC, ERIN BROCKOVICH, OCEAN’S ELEVEN) for the Showtime series FALLEN ANGELS in 1995, starring Peter Coyote and Brendan Fraser.

Summer is a Bad Time by Sam S. Taylor
(4500 words) *1/2
Walt only wants to make his wife Della happy so he lets her accompany him on a business trip. Turns out that Della only wants to meet up with her side guy in one of Walt’s towns. Nothing new here, but the story is slightly redeemed by an overly sadistic revenge finale. Sam S. Taylor (1903-1994) wrote five stories for MH and four novels in the 1940s and 1950s, three originally in hardcover for Dutton (SLEEP NO MORE (1949), NO HEAD FOR HER PILLOW (1952), and SO COLD, MY BED (1953)) and one in paperback for Gold Medal (BRENDA (1952) under the psuedonym Lehi Zane .

Response by Arnold Marmor
(1000 words) ** illo: Houlihan
Jose Abrardo, police chief on a small island, is constantly feeling pressure from mobsters to allow gambling on his island. He’s not one to bow to ressure. It’s tough to appraise stories that are only a thousand words long, but “Response,” like most of the other short-shorts has nothing new to add to crime literature.

Where’s the Money? by Floyd Mahannah
(4000 words)** illo: Don Rico
When he was a young man, Joe drove a getaway car for a bank job gone wrong. After he and his partners do twelve years in the stir, the partners want to know what Joe did with the money. Joe insists he never had it but the bad guys aren’t buying that and they kidnap Joe’s daughter.

The Beat-Up Sister by John Ross MacDonald
(12,000 words) * ½
Lew Archer’s third MANHUNT case is also his worst. This time he’s hired by a girl who’s not only beautiful but also broke (am I the only one who wonders how these guys made a living when they never got paid?). She’s trying to find her sister, who may be the victim of foul play. Long and boring, “The Beat-Up Sister” is redeemed only by an explosive climax.

The Bobby-Soxer by Jonathan Craig
(1000 words) *
A cute little bobby-soxer is pulled into an alley and attacked until a crazed mob rescues her and beats her assailant.

This issue's Mugged and Printed features Mickey Spillane, David Goodis, John Ross MacDonald, and Richard S. Prather.

Also in this issue: Vincent H. Gaddis' Crime Cavalcade and Portrait of a Killer #5: Louis Peete by Dan Sontup.

Vol. 1 No. 11 November 1953

The Big Touch by Henry Kane
(14,000 words) *
Peter Chambers handles a blackmail scheme with the beautiful showgirl Annabel Jolly his prime suspect. Tediuos and cliched, even at this early stage of hardboiled PI fiction.

The Watcher by Peter Paige
(1500 words) ***
Marcia Smith has for years been known as something of a “tease.” When her main teasee happens upon Marcia being raped by two thugs, he considers letting the crime continue and teaching Marcia a lesson. Nasty twist ending.

The Bells are Ringing by Craig Rice
(3500 words) *
Super-Attorney John J. Malone is in the wrong place at the wrong time (as usual): he witnesses a prisoner blasting his way out of a jailhouse. Turns out the guy needs to get to his wedding to a dying woman. John J aids the felon on his journey. Ludicrous.

Case History by Charles Beckman, Jr.
(3500 words) **
PI Nick Scotch (of the Scotch Detective Agency) is attempting to find who’s blackmailing lovely Evelyn Rose. Slow read builds to a climax right out of left field.

The Right Hand of Garth by Evan Hunter
(5000 words) **
Gunman Ed is tired of sneaking around with his kingpin boss’ gorgeous girlfriend. When his boss hires a new gun, Ed sees a perfect way of getting out from under his boss’ shadow.

Six Stories Up by Raymond J. Dyer
(2000 words) ***
Paul threatens to jump off a ledge and a police chief attempts to talk him down. The kid claims he didn’t murder his employer. He ends up jumping and afterwards they find the boy’s boss with plenty of Paul’s fingerprints on his body.

Classification: Dead by Richard Marsten
(5000 words) **
A woman is shot dead hours after having an illegal abortion. Very reminiscent of McBain’s 31st Precinct mysteries, complete with his stylized staccato dialogue and police form reproductions.

A Long Way to KC by Fletcher Flora
(4500 words) ***
Escaping a two-thousand dollar debt, Dickie Cosmos flees to the high country and stumbles onto a veritable goldmine: a beautiful girl and her hillbilly husband who make their own moonshine and hoard the huge profits. Sensing a way out of his debt, Cosmos plans the mountain man’s quick demise. Familiar plot enlivened by good writing.

Coney Island Incident by Bruno Fischer
(8500 words) **
Ray Whitehead chances on the beautiful Cherry Drew on the beach at Coney Island. Thinking he’s in for a good time, he accepts her invitation back to her hotel room, only to find out that Cherry was involved in an armored car holdup and her partners are searching for her. Seems she got the loot and is being selfish with her co-horts’ slice of the pie. She uses Ray in an attempt to get her and the money out of town but she’s not fast enough. “Coney Island Incident” drags on far too long and is told so matter of factly that it most resembles a bad 1950s cop show episode.

Kid Stuff by Jonathan Craig
(2500 words) **
Chris is upset that his girlfriend Laurie has dumped him for an older, more experienced lover. He decides to stalk and kill them both. The “shock ending” is telecast so far in advance that it would have been a shock if it was a different ending!

This issue's Mugged and Printed features: Henry Kane, Evan Hunter, Bruno Fischer, and Craig Rice.

Also in this issue: Crime Cavalcade by Vincent H. Gaddis and Portrait of a Killer #6: Pat Mahon by Dan Sontup.

Next week: The final issue of 1953 plus The 10 Best Stories of the Year.


Jack Seabrook said...

That Oct. '53 issue must be worth a few bucks with that lineup of authors!

Peter, I can take a hint. How can I submit something to you? Gmail? And what's the preferred format for illos?

Peter Enfantino said...

Hint? Why, whatever do you mean, Jack? :>

Yes, you can submit to me (that sounds bad, doesn't it?) at
and jpgs are great.

Jocko said...

Hey Peter, it's cool to see somebody write about the classics with your expertise. Ever since I bought the anthology "Hard-Boiled," in the summer of 1995, I've been a big fan of crime fiction. That book is like my bible.

Over the years, maybe because of my job, I've been reading mainly non-fiction crime books. Recently I've had a resurgence and a hunger for some good crime fiction. I would like to make a possible suggestion for perhaps a future article I would like to see you write if you'd be interested.

Being a huge boxing fan, I naturally love the noir films and books that involve the sweet science. You'd obviously be the guy to go to for novels or short stories involving boxing matches or pugs. I don't necessarily mean tales that revolve around a boxing match, but it could feature a character where the fact that he is a fighter comes into play, like the genius short story, "The Merry, Merry Christmas," by Evan Hunter.

You can only imagine how enthralled I was when I got to view "99 River Street," for the first time over last summer! Anyway, keep up the good work.

Peter Enfantino said...

Hey UTW!

Sorry it took so long to respond. I love boxing stories. Robert E. Howard wrote a batch, if I recall. Martin Greenberg "edited" a collection of boxing stories called "in the Ring," in case you didn't know. There are loads of copies on the net for next to nothing. My copy is in a box somewhere so can't give you story titles but I'm sure there were some noir boxing stories in there somewhere. It's a sizeable book. And thanks for the kind words. Getting feedback from youse guys makes posting these things so much more rewarding.

Jocko said...

Hey, Peter, your welcome and anytime. I actually have "In the Ring" and it's a great collection. Like yourself, mine is packed away at the moment, but I do recall it had the story "Steel," which was made famous by the Twilight Zone ep. starring Lee Marvin. Of course, even the magic of Mr. Marvin could not do the short story justice.