Bruno Fischer (1908-1992) was a crime fiction author who, in a more just world, would be better known today because his books were consistently great. Case in point: “The Pigskin Bag.” The short novel began its life in 1946 when it was published in “Mercury Mystery” for 25 cents. It later achieved life as a hardcover and several iterations of paperbacks, including the 1955 Dell edition pictured here. Sadly, it has not been released legally as an eBook, so you’re stuck with paper if you want to read it.
Adam Breen, our sarcastic narrator, is a car salesman and U.S. Army vet living and working in Brooklyn. One evening, he notices a small pigskin suitcase on the backseat floor of the vehicle his wife has been driving. The bag is locked, and it’s heavy as hell as Adam lugs it inside his modest townhome. Upon arrival, his wife is acting suspicious as all hell. What the heck is going on here?
That’s the central question of the paperback. I won’t spoil the wife’s incredible story about how the pigskin bag wound up in the car, but it begs a lot more questions. Fortunately, we are in good hands with Bruno Fischer guiding us though the quickly-unfolding mysteries of the bag and it’s mysterious contents. Everyone wants the damn thing, and some are willing to kill for it.
Of course, the cops don’t buy Adam’s innocent bystander routine. They think he knows what’s inside the bag and where it’s stashed. As often happens in noir novels of this nature, it’s incumbent on Adam to solve the mystery of the pigskin bag and the murders occurring in its wake to clear his own good name and resume his life.
There’s some great violence in this book - bone crunching, close-quarters, face smashing stuff. However, there is no vintage paperback sex because it was written in 1946 before sex was invented. “The Pigskin Bag” (the novel, not the satchel) does contain way too many characters, and I needed a cheat sheet to keep all the cops, crooks, and red herrings straight.
At the novel’s conclusion, we get to learn what’s inside the McGuffin - I mean pigskin bag, - as well as who committed the murders, and what all the fuss was about. It was a satisfying ending to a satisfying mystery paperback. Perhaps it wasn’t a masterpiece of the genre - or even among Fischer’s greatest hits - but if you can find a copy cheap and want to kill a couple hours, you’ll certainly enjoy “The Pigskin Bag.”
Buy a copy of this book HERE