Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Complete Guide to Manhunt Part 16

Vol. 2 No. 9   November 1954
144 pages, 35 cents

Pistol by Hal Ellson
(4000 words) ***   illo: Lee
            To impress his fellow gang members, Dusty must come up with a gun to rumble with. Written much like a diary, “Pistol” is an impressive debut for Hal Ellson, who would contribute a total of 23 stories throughout the run of Manhunt. According to Ellson’s bio, his stories are “based on his experience with these teen-age gangs and have gained the praise of critics and readers not only for their excitement and realistic pace and tone, but for their obvious authenticity.” Ellson’s other contributions to gang-related fiction included his million-seller Duke, about a gang of Harlem youth.

Replacement by Jack Ritchie
(3000 words) **   illo: Tom O’Sullivan
            Max Warren wants to move up fast in  the chain of command in the local organization. Once he gets there, he decides he wants all that goes with the job, including the boss’ woman. Interesting story marred by a bad last line.

Shy Guy by Robert Turner
(3000 words) ***   illo: Lee
            Della, now employed and feeling free, tries to push her husband Aryie into her new-found world of alcohol and business parties. When the parties turn to wife-swapping, Artie’s had enough and cracks under the strain. Years before this fiction became famous in the hands of Jacqueline Susann and her ilk, “Shy Guy” was a daring little story. It’s lost a lot of its punch, of course, but it’s still fairly effective.

Man from Yesterday by Jonathan Craig
(5000 words) ***   illo: Ray Houlihan
            Detectives Lew Keller and Burt Ogden must solve the intriguing case of a man found in a car, murdered. Their trail leads to a married woman the man had been seeing. Though “The Man From Yesterday” can be very dry at times (Craig has that Dragnet-style dialog down pat), I still found it an enjoyable read. Halfway through the story, Ed Seibert,  a PI makes a brief appearance. This reminded me of the crossover shows that populated such seventies shows as Cannon and Barnaby Jones. A nice touch, and Seibert seems to be a character that Craig would have spun off.

A Bull to Kill by Richard Marsten
(4000 words) ***   illo: Tom O’Sullivan
            Reardon, a rare American bullfighter has had everything taken away from him: his beloved Juanita, lost to fellow toreador Gomez; his nerve, to a recent goring; and the crowd that once cheered his name and now favors the upstart Gomez. Driven to madness, Reardon decides he will fight one more bull and then kill Gomez. Marsden (McBain) again proves he can’t be pigeonholed. “A Bull to Kill” is as far removed from an 87th Precinct mystery as you can get.

The Stalkers by Grant Colby
(1000 words) *   illo: Lee
            Ben is released from the sanitarium and presumed sane. He acts sane until he imagines his parakeet and puppy are stalking him.

The Wet Brain by David Alexander
(7500 words) * ½   illo: Ray Houlihan
            A “wet brain” is a derogatory term for an alcoholic so far gone that he oses all sense of reality and place. This particular “wet brain” is convinced he’s killed someone but can’t convince anyone of that. He’s wandering the Bowery with a pocket full of money and attracting the attention of fellow booze hounds.
            David Alexander, according to his Manhunt bio, “insures the accuracy of his stories through study of actual police procedure, and graduated at the head of a recent class in Criminology given by a former New York police inspector. Alexander was the author of several crime novels, among them:  Murder Points a Finger (1953), Murder in Black and White (1951), Paint the Town Black (1956) Die, Little Goose (1956) and the b/side of Robert Bloch’s Spiderweb (Ace Double, 1954), The Corpse in My Bed (a retitling of his first novel, Most Men Don’t Kill, 1951). 
The Man who Had Too Much to Lose by Hampton Stone
(23,500 words) ** ½   illo: Ray Houlihan
            Assistant District Attorney Jeremiah X. Gibson happens to be in the right place at the right time when he witnesses portly Jason Gracie fall ill from what appears to be poisoning. Gracie, a belligerent and pompous individual, refuses to believe this theory until his chef is found dead, poisoned. It’s up to Jeremiah to sort through the motives and alibis of the cast of characters that surround Jason Gracie. Very much in the Perry Mason tradition, “The Man Who Had Too Much to Lose” is not a bad read, despite its length and its “cozy” atmosphere, which I usually find detrimental to a story published in Manhunt.
            Published in hardcover by Simon and Schuster in 1955 and reprinted by Dell in paperback in 1957. 18 novels featuring DA Jeremiah X. “Gibby” Gibson and his helper, Mac, were published between 1948 and 1972. More interesting is the reprinting that took place in 1972 as part of the “Hampton Stone Mystery” series of paperbacks published by Paperback Library. 17 of the novels were reprinted in the series (“The Man Who Had Too Much to Lose” was #16). Strangely enough, the 18th, published in 1972, was never reprinted in paperback (in the series or otherwise). Hampton Stone was the pseudonym of prolific author Aaron Marc Stein (1906-1985), who wrote over a hundred novels under his own name, as Stone, and also as George Bagby. “The Man Who Had Too Much to Lose” would be Gibby Gibson’s only appearance in Manhunt but Gibson would later pop up in  “The Mourners at the Bedside”, a short story in Ed McBain's Mystery Book #3 (1961).

Mugged and Printed features Hampton Stone, David Alexander, Robert Turner, and Hal Ellson. 
Also appearing in this issue are: What’s Your Verdict? #4: The Anxious Friend by Sam Ross; Vincent H. Gaddis’ Crime Cavalcade; and Portrait of a Killer #15: Joseph McElroy by Dan Sontup.


Jack Seabrook said...

Is Hal Ellison any relation to Harlan Ellison? I know Harlan wrote "Memo From Purgatory" which was so well adapted for the Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Walker Martin said...

I used to wonder about this also but the two men have no connection except they both wrote for the crime digests.

Peter Enfantino said...

Ellson died in 1994.

Peter Enfantino said...

As a follow-up, I just ordered Raw Rumbles: The Hal Ellson Omnibus which, until a few minutes ago on a google search, I didn't even know existed. It collects three novels: Tomboy, Duke, and The Knife. Got it for the bargain price of $2.50 plus shipping. There are still some more cheap copies left, boys.

Walker Martin said...

Peter just referred to us as "boys". I really think in a post devoted to the hardboiled crime magazine, MANHUNT, that he should have called us "guys", "men", "toughguys", or just "crazed collectors".

Peter Enfantino said...

Since there's usually only three of us around here (well, four when I make a mistake :>) I guess I could call you "boys" by name: "Black" Jack Seabrook and "Street" Walker Martin, two of the toughest individuals to ever walk the streets of Manhunt Blvd.

Todd Mason said...

I lurk in the shadowy alley off HK Blvd...