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Detective/Mystery Stories

Authors represented include: Richard Blaine, Carter Brown, James M. Cain, George C. Chesbro, John W. Corrington, Sean Flannery, Donald Hamilton, Marcia Muller, Gerald Petievich, Mike Warden, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Dashiell Hammett

Seven Slayers

Paul Cain
New York: Avon Publishing Co., Inc., 1950.
Bison Catalog Record

The name of the game is murder in this collection of seven hard-boiled short stories, originally published during the 1930s in the pulp magazine Black Mask. The opening tale, "Black", introduces a mysterious stranger who makes a grim discovery late one night upon his arrival in a small nameless town. The stranger quickly capitalizes upon his discovery, cleverly playing one side against another in a dispute between local rival gangs. "Pigeon Blood" features the diabolically ingenious Mr. Druse, a former attorney, whose investigation into the theft of some very valuable rubies brings out his most morbid and mercenary tendencies. "Parlor Trick" introduces the attractive Bella, a young woman who conjures up some fast talking to explain the fact that there is a corpse in her kitchen. And there's Johnny Doolin of "Murder In Blue", a former stuntman currently employed as a bodyguard, who quickly realizes that his client isn't terribly interested in staying alive. Driven by greed, passion and blackmail, these characters, along with those featured in the collection's other stories: "Red 71", "One, Two, Three" and "Pineapple" live life on the edge and let their guns do the talking.

Slice of Hell

Mike Roscoe
New York: New American Library, 1955, c1954.

Throughout his career, private investigator Johnny April has always been more than willing to tackle any type of case that might fall into his lap. So it sounds like a fairly run-of-the-mill trip when a wealthy businessman hires Johnny to investigate rumors of a suspected mob takeover deal currently in the planning stages out in San Francisco. Johnny also agrees to assist an impoverished widow who wants him to collect the belongings of an old friend who has just passed away in San Francisco. On his flight West, Johnny meets an attractive redhead and the two become fast friends, but his visions of easy money and a quick solution to the case are shattered abruptly. A gang of well-organized thugs deliver increasingly violent warnings to get out of town, but tough guy Johnny is determined to figure out what is going on before getting caught in the crossfire. As the body count grows higher, Johnny negotiates with the cops, a group of high-powered mobsters, and an ever-widening circle of criminals that extends far beyond the West coast.

Devil May Care

Wade Miller
New York: Fawcett Publications, c1950.

Biggo Venn, soldier of fortune, has earned a well-deserved reputation in certain circles as a professional man of action. Despite encroaching middle age, this hired gun has seen more than his share of hard-fought battles and has plenty of scars to prove it. Willing to sell his services to whatever side will pay the highest price, Venn is approached by an aging fellow adventurer who promises to split the take if his old friend will make a quick run to Mexico. Venn's mission: deliver a handwritten confession that will enable one of the Mafia's biggest gambling bosses to legally return to the States from his Mexican hideout. But things turn sour shortly after Venn steps off the plane. In the space of a single week, he is robbed, thrown into jail, betrayed by those he trusted, and beaten to a pulp. Forced to play a game of cat and mouse, Venn grows increasingly disillusioned and suspicious of everyone, including a former comrade who wants to muscle in on the action. Venn's stake in the mission is transformed into a passionate personal crusade after the murder of an old friend, and he conducts a methodical campaign of revenge according to his own personal moral code and sense of justice.

Ring around a Rogue

J.M. Flynn
New York: Ace Books, c1960.

At long last, ace car salesman Jere Deal has achieved his goal: he is the proud manager of a highly successful dealership located in San Francisco's auto row, thanks to the financial backing of hard-edged moneyman Udell Bruggeman. There is trouble in paradise however, when Jere learns that a stolen car has surfaced on his lot and has been sold to a loud-mouthed customer. If this one car is hot, there might easily be others. Perhaps honest, hard-working Mr. Deal is at the center of a plot engineered by his competitors to put him out of business for good. Worried that the police will move in and accuse him of unloading stolen vehicles on unsuspecting customers (including the lovely Miss Sammy Travis), Jere decides to take matters into his own hands and do a little investing. Eager to learn the truth in order to salvage his business and his reputation, Deal's investigation uncovers a network of vicious thugs who would like nothing better than to put Deal out of business once and for all. When several of Deal's former business associates are found murdered, he quickly becomes the chief suspect, sought by local, state, and federal officials in both the murder cases and as the kingpin of a vast stolen car operation.