Showing posts with label Richard Deming. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Richard Deming. Show all posts

Monday, November 28, 2022

Best of Manhunt: Volume 3

The good people at Stark House Press have blessed us with another compilation of hardboiled crime stories from the pages of Manhunt Magazine, the premier digest for crime noir fiction in the 1950s and 1960s.

The introduction by scholars Jeff Vorzimmer and David Rachels tackles the literary mystery of the identity behind the house name of Roy Carroll, a pseudonym employed by the Manhunt editors when an author had more than one story in a single issue. The thought was that magazine readers desired a great diversity of names in the Table of Contents and would somehow feel ripped off if the same author appeared twice.

Several of the Roy Carroll stories in Manhunt are now known to be written by Robert Turner - but not all. The editors performed some investigative legwork worthy of Paperback Warrior to firmly-establish that the Roy Carroll story appearing in the November 1956 issue under the title “Death Wears a Grey Sweater” was, in fact, written by fan-favorite Gil Brewer for which Brewer was paid a tidy sum of $260.

With that mystery about a mystery solved, it’s only fair that we begin our tour of this anthology with the story itself.

Death Wears a Sweater by Gil Brewer writing as Roy Carroll (November 1956)

The story opens with the horrific death of an 11 year-old girl in a broad daylight hit-and-run while her father watches helplessly nearby. After verifying that his little girl is, in fact, dead, her dad — his name is Irv Walsh — goes bananas, hops in his car, and begins pursuing the hit-and-run driver. The confrontation with the car occupants goes poorly for Walsh, and his quest for quick justice is thwarted while his desire for revenge burns hot.

As vendetta stories go, this one is pretty dark, gruesome and sadistic. Brewer’s strongest works were his short stories and this one is no exception. It’s a tough and tension-filled read that packs the appropriate emotional punch.

Services Rendered by Jonathan Craig (May 1953)

Henry Callan is a crooked, hard-drinking police lieutenant investigating the murder of a florist. A suspect named Tommy is in custody, but refuses to talk. The dirty cop visits Tommy’s wife and makes her an offer of regular sex with Henry in exchange for Tommy’s freedom and avoidance of the electric chair.

This is the kind of dark and twisted story that made Manhunt great. Jonathan Craig (real name: Frank Smith) is always a reliably great writer, and this story is consistent with his hardboiled output. Don’t skip this one.

Throwback by Donald Hamilton (August 1953)

Donald Hamilton was the author of the esteemed Matt Helm spy series, but this short story predates his groundbreaking Death of a Citizen by nearly seven years. “Throwback” is an unusual story for both Hamilton and Manhunt as it is a post-apocalyptic story set shortly after the atomic destruction of the USA.

George Hardin and his wife are among the shambling survivors wandering among the smoldering ruins of a freshly-destroyed America. Hamilton’s writing is characteristically beautiful and descriptive. Unfortunately, a coherent plot never comes together, making this story perfectly skippable.

The Red Herring by Richard Deming (December 1962)

Richard Deming appears twice in this Manhunt compilation, and “The Red Herring” won the coin toss for the prestigious Paperback Warrior review. The story stars a Private Detective named Matt Gannon, who is engaged by a corporate CEO.

The company manufactures a radiation detector similar to a Gieger counter but way more sensitive. The company bought the technology from the inventor for a song, and now the creator is apparently sending threatening notes. Gannon is hired to make the case. As expected, Deming does a fine job with a compelling, if rather standard, PI mystery.

The Verdict

The brain-trust behind these Stark House Manhunt anthologies has another winner on their hands. I hope these collections never stop, and they expand to the other hardboiled magazines that popped up in the wake of Manhunt’s success. These short crime stories are an important part of American literary history and need to be preserved for modern audiences and future generations. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Mike Macauley #02 - City Limits

Will Oursler (1913-1985) was an American author, lecturer, radio commentator and the son of notable novelist Fulton Oursler. Over Oursler's career, he authored a number of non-fiction works as well as crime-fiction novels under his own name as well as Gale Gallagher (Chord in Crimson, I Found Him Dead). 

Using the pseudonym Nick Marino, Oursler wrote the book One Way Street in 1952. It was the first of two books featuring tough Assistant District Attorney Mike Macauley. The second Macauley novel, City Limits, was originally published in 1958 by Pyramid and then later reprinted again in 1963. It is currently available as an affordable ebook via Wildside Press. Although Nick Marino's name is on the cover of City Limits, my research indicates that the novel was authored by Richard Deming. Apparently Oursler wrote the outline for the book and either gave it to Deming by way of an agent or publisher. The ultimate result is City Limits is by Richard Deming under the pseudonym of Nick Marino.

Assistant D.A. Mike Macauley lives and works in an unnamed city in Missouri. Mike's friend and colleague Harry works for the city's vice squad. In the book's opening pages, Harry is on the stand providing testimony on his collar of a prostitute named Gloria Townsend. After beating the rap, Gloria phones Macauley and offers information on the location of a call girl racket outside the city. She asks Mike to meet her near the area in a country and western bar. When Mike arrives, he finds Gloria nearly beaten to death in a bathroom stall and a dense coverup from that town's sheriff.

Investigating the beatings and the testimony of Gloria, Mike finds himself in a perplexing position. The call girl ring is run outside of city limits and outside of Mike's jurisdiction. Furthermore, Mike's administration, including Harry and the police, may be involved in this prostitution scheme and is continuously fighting Mike's efforts to stop the operation. His only ally is Gloria when the two of them find themselves as targets by the ring's hired killers.

There's a lot to like about Deming's fast-paced narration. There is violence, romance, a profound mystery and a number of outlaws and shady ladies. I found Mike's position as Assistant D.A. a suitable replacement as a stereotypical private detective. Like a Mike Hammer, Mike Shayne or Johnny Liddell, Mike's quest for justice contains the typical protocol - working with a sexy secretary, finding allies within the local law-enforcement and beating the streets searching for clues and answers. There is also a bureaucratic examination of the chain of command between the prosecutor's office and the police.

Overall, this was another fantastic crime-fiction novel by Richard Deming. I'm not sure how this compares to the first Mike Macauley novel considering it was written by a totally different author. I can only say that I loved this character and thoroughly enjoyed City Limits.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Back Alley Jungle

Leo Margulies (1900-1975) is a familiar name in the world of pulps, MAMs and digests. Originally from New York, he started as a researcher for 20th Century Fox before becoming the editor of Ned Pines' Standard Magazines. Along with magazines like Mike Shayne, Popular Detective and Thrilling Detective, Margulies also compiled and edited a number of anthology collections including Back Alley Jungle. This 1960 collection of short stories was initially published by Fawcett Gold Medal under the Crest brand name. Here’s some highlights:

Ed McBain (written under the name of Richard Marsten) is the author of the 1952 story entitled “Carrera’s Woman”. In it, a man named Jeff has been working the oil fields in Mexico. After many hard years, Jeff amassed $10,000 in savings. Before returning to America to start a new life he was robbed by a co-worker named Carrera and his girlfriend Linda. When the story starts, Jeff takes Linda hostage behind big rocks. Carrera is across the dry gulch firing futilely into the rocks hoping to kill Jeff and reclaim Linda. During the night, the three parties are at each other's throats with both sides taking potshots across the gap. But the story changes fast as Linda starts to seduce Jeff. Is this an escape strategy or is she sincere in her sexual advances? This is the ultimate question McBain is asking, and it's such a tempting one. I really liked this story and it's a key part of the collection. 

In Steve Frazee's 1953 "Graveyard Shift" story, the close narration focuses on a busy police dispatcher on a late night shift. When a woman holding a gun enters the police station, this lone dispatcher is ordered to place all of the city's patrol cars in one section of the city. The woman's motive becomes clear when the dispatcher locates the pattern - she's purposefully maneuvering the police away from the local casino. Involved in this complex case, it is up to the dispatcher to use code words so that officers redirect efforts to the casino. This is a really unique story that presents a rare, but deserving hero - the police dispatcher.

The longest and most enjoyable story is Richard Deming's 1955 short "The War". This starts with a woman named Janice entering the Rotunda Club, a posh casino owned by Clancy Ross. After a talk and a call upstairs, Clancy greets Janice in his office. In short, Janice is the widow of Clancy's old Army buddy from the Korean War. She explains to Clancy that her husband witnessed a mob slaying and was later gunned down by killers working for a syndicate kingpin named Lawson. During the exchange, the Mob framed Janice so that she would appear as a frustrated wife who shot her husband during a heated argument. After the arrest, the Mob posted bail for her in an effort to then kill her in a way that would resemble suicide. With no friends or allies, Janice fled to Clancy hoping he will keep her safe. This violent and explosive story features Clancy at odds with Lawson over the woman's safety. But is there some secret about her? Deming was a great storyteller and “The War” is absolutely awesome. I can't say enough good things about it.

Other authors appearing in this compilation are Jonathan Craig (Frank E. Smith), Dan Sontup, Mann Rubin, Charles Boeckman, Robert Turner and Don Stanford. There's an additional Ed McBain story titled "Clean Break" that's listed under the pseudonym Hunt Collins.

At 150-pages and 10 solid short-stories, Back Alley Jungle is an absolute joy to read and a fairly affordable used paperback considering the era and publisher. Highly recommended.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Best of Manhunt: Volume 2

In 2019, Stark House Press generated a commercial and critical hit with the release of The Best of Manhunt, an anthology of stories from the legendary 1950s crime fiction digest. Knowing a good thing when they see it, the reprint publisher has compiled a second volume of blood-on-the-knuckles tales from the popular magazine’s heyday for an August 2020 release.

By way of background, Manhunt began publishing in January 1953 capitalizing on the success of a new breed of hardboiled authors with Mickey Spillane leading the pack supported by muscular authors including Evan Hunter and David Goodis willing to make five cents per word for their stories. While the magazine’s run stretched into 1967, everyone knows that the publication largely lost its way by the mid-1960s. As such, the new anthology front-loads the content with stories primarily form the 1950s.

Before the stories, the reader is treated to a series of essays about Manhunt Magazine by scholars Peter Enfantino, Jon L. Breen, and Robert Turner followed by over 400 pages of twisted, violent short fiction. Anthology editor Jeff Vorzimmer intentionally sought out many “deep tracks” from the magazine’s history choosing many authors who never achieved paperback stardom. There’s a lot to enjoy in stories by John M. Sitan, Roy Carroll, and Glenn Canary who share the pages with heavy hitters including Bruno Fischer, Donald E. Westlake, and Erle Stanley Gardner.

Reviewing an anthology is always a challenging task - particularly in a literary buffet filled to the brim with this much quality. Here are some thoughts regarding a handful of noteworthy stories in the collection:

As I Lay Dead by Fletcher Flora (February 1953)

Fletcher Flora brings the reader a perverse and twisted little tale. Cousins Tony and Cindy work each other into a sexual lather while oiling each other’s skin on the man-made beach. Meanwhile, their wealthy, fat grandpa floats in the lake nearby. It occurs to the lusty twins that if something happened to grandpa, they’d be free - and financially-set - to run away to Acapulco together where the booze, sun and screwing never stops.

Flora’s novels are often tinged with a heavy dose of non-graphic sexuality, and “As I Lay Dead” amplifies that aspect of this writing. Murder, blackmail, and double-crosses are also on the menu making for a perfect story. Whatever you do, don’t skip this one. It’s everything that dark crime fiction should be. With over 160 published short stories to his name, I can’t help but think this might be his best magazine work.

Shakedown by Roy Carroll (April 1953)

Roy Carroll was a pseudonym for Robert Turner, a short story guy who started in the pulp magazines. His literary agent was Scott Merideth, who curated a lot of the talent that appeared in Manhunt. It was at Merideth’s urging that Turner shifted his style from over-the-top pulp writing to the gritty and realistic crime digest format.

“Shakedown” is narrated by Van who has just knocked up a chick at work and has no intention of doing the right thing by the poor girl. He comes up with the idea that she should bang their boss, pin the pregnancy on him, and be set for life as the old man’s wife.

As you can imagine, the plan goes very wrong when the boss doesn’t take kindly to being shaken down by a knocked-up employee in his typing pool. If you can handle some 1950s misogyny with your crime fiction, you’re going to enjoy this one just fine.

One More Mile to Go by F.J. Smith (June 1956)

I could find next to nothing about author F.J. Smith other than the fact that several of his stories appeared in various Alfred Hitchcock anthologies. “One More Mile to Go” is a rare third-person narration from the pages of Manhunt. A small-town Louisiana shopkeeper strangles his nagging wife in her sleep and needs to hide the body somewhere (a recurring theme in Manhunt).

Along the way to the body stash site, he’s pulled over by a state trooper, and the interaction feeds the tension of the situation. It’s a good, simple story. Nothing revelatory, but certainly not a waste of your time.

The Geniuses by Max Franklin (June 1957)

Richard Deming is the only author to appear twice in the anthology with one story under his own name and this one under his Max Franklin pseudonym. “The Geniuses” is about two teenage thrill-killers long before murderous youth was a regular occurrence in American life.

Bart and Edward are high-IQ college kids who find themselves to be social pariahs among their campus peers. A conversation about how one might craft the perfect murder takes a nefarious turn when they begin experimenting with these ideas on a classmate. It begins as an intellectual exercise and then becomes deadly real high-wire act. Under any name, Deming is a solid talent and was rightfully among the bedrock of the Manhunt talent pool.

Girl Friend by Mark Mallory (September 1957)

Mark Mallory was a pseudonym for Morris Hershman who did a lot of writing in the mid-20th Century in the science fiction, war and crime genres. He was also a regular contributor to Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

“Girl Friend” is a diabolical little story told as an interrogation transcript of a 14 year-old girl accused of murder. As the story unfolds, the kid appears to be the daughter of a prostitute pressed into service herself. Her mom would command top dollar for the girl by telling the clients she was a twelve year-old virgin. As the nightmare narrative shifts into a murder confession, the brilliance of this nasty little story really takes shape. Despite the disturbing set-up, don’t skip this gem.

Midnight Caller by Wade Miller (January 1958)

Wade Miller was the popular collaboration of Robert Wade and Bill Miller that produced so many outstanding crime and adventure novels in the paperback original era. “Midnight Caller” is a short-short story - only two pages long - about a woman being menaced by a sexually-aggressive intruder in her bedroom. It’s a tense little story with a fun punch line at the end.

Paperback Warrior Verdict:

The Best of Manhunt 2 is another masterpiece of short fiction that will be an essential part of any hardboiled library. I’m hoping that it’s another monster success for Stark House to justify more volumes in the future. Highly recommended.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Monday, February 24, 2020

Paperback Warrior Podcast - Episode 32

This week we are doing a deep-dive into the life and work of Richard Deming, including a review of his novel, “She’ll Hate Me Tomorrow.”  The first installment of the “Able Team” series is also reviewed, and Eric discusses his brush with fame when he finally spoke to Men’s Adventure cover model Jason Savas about his remarkable career in the publishing industry. Stream the episode below or your favorite podcast app. Download the episode directly HERE.
  Listen to "Episode 32: Richard Deming" on Spreaker.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Edge of the Law

Hardboiled crime author Richard Deming was one of the stable of writers represented by literary agent Scott Meredith who regularly produced muscular and twisty short stories for Manhunt Magazine in the 1950s. Later in his career, he presumably made a good living writing TV tie-in novels for shows including “Dragnet” and “The Mod Squad.” His original, full-length novels are a bit uneven - I’ve read both brilliant ones and mediocre ones. As I wade though his body of work, my next plunge is his stand-alone novel, “Edge of Law” from 1960.

Jud Sands is a man on the run bouncing from town to town with his head on a swivel waiting to be captured or killed. His pursuer is Miami racketeer Big Mark Fallon, a man with the resources to deploy goons anywhere in America to settle the score. The riff began with a gambling dispute that escalated to a violent confrontation wherein a gunshot to the arm resulted in an amputation for Big Mark. Now, the one-armed crime boss wants a piece of Jud’s ass, and our hero isn’t interested in making good on that debt.

The road takes Jud to the fictional town of Ridgeford, a city with plenty of backroom gambling and good-looking dames for Jud to sample. It doesn’t take long until he attracts the attention of Ridgeford’s local mob boss, Rizzo Amatti, who offers Jud a job as muscle for $250 a week. Jud needs the cash and figures that his new employer may provide him some protection from his old employer, so he joins up with Rizzo’s outfit.

Jud’s first assignment is to rough up a local tavern owner who refuses to play ball with the local syndicate. While delivering a message to the non-compliant proprietor, Jud learns that his old flame from back home is now married to the bar’s owner. The warm feelings for his old sweetheart change his mind and cause him to question his loyalty to Rizzo. Suddenly, he has a decision to make: keep working for the local mobster or join up with the few small businesses seeking to resist Rizzo’s stranglehold on Ridgeford? Meanwhile, will Jud’s Miami problem catch up to him in his current powder-keg?

By this point in his writing career, Deming really was at the top of his game. His tough-guy prose is perfect and his plotting is tight as a drum. As a protagonist, Jud is a man-in-full - crooked as hell but fiercely loyal to his friends with an unbending code of ethics. The conflicts arising in “Edge of the Law” are high-stakes for the participants and genuinely suspenseful for the reader. There’s plenty of action and violence along the way to keep the tension high and the pages turning. The ending was a bit abrupt for me, but that wasn’t unusual for this era and genre.

Best of all, the vintage paperback has been resurrected as an eBook priced at about four bucks or free with Kindle Unlimited. The Kindle edition doesn’t give you the alluring paperback cover art, but the product inside is good enough that you can forego a flashy wrapper. Recommended.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Rudd #01 - Vice Cop

To the extent that crime fiction author Richard Deming is remembered today, it’s for his many TV tie-in novels (Dragnet, Mod Squad, Starsky & Hutch) or his one-legged P.I. character, Manville Moon. However, he also wrote an interesting three-book series of hardboiled police procedurals starring Matt Rudd, a vice cop in the fictional city of St. Cecilia. The three Rudd novels are “Vice Cop” (1961), “Anything but Saintly” (1963), and “Death of a Pusher” (1964) - all of which are available today as cheap eBooks. 

In a 1960 interview, Deming said that his Matt Rudd character (real name: Mateuz Rudowski) was originally designed to steal market share from Richard Prather’s Shell Scott series. Other than both detectives solving mysteries in sexually-charged environments (Rudd is, after all, a Vice Cop), they really aren’t all that similar - other than the fact that first-person narration and the fact that both heroes get laid. For my money, Deming was a far better writer than Prather.

“Vice Cop” begins with a citizen showing up at the police station to report a society dame who hosts “marijuana parties” with sex orgies at her home attended by the idle wealthy. Because the world was a very different place in 1961, the department assigns Rudd to begin dating a sexy reefer user in an undercover capacity, so he could score an invite to this recurring pot party in a private home. (Your tax dollars at work, 1961 America.)

Although the premise is stupid by today’s standards, Deming is still able to weave this into a credible crime novel. As long as you can see this as a historical artifact, “Vice Cop” is a minimally compelling police procedural story with well-written prose and a highly-likable blue-collar main character in Rudd. He’s a funny, and self-deprecating cop who makes you wish you were his drinking buddy. Narration this good makes the 175 pages fly by, but it still wasn’t much of a great novel.

Last year, I read and reviewed the second book in the Matt Rudd series, “Anything but Saintly.” It was a far superior effort than “Vice Cop” and more worth your time. You can probably just skip this one and try some of Deming’s better works. After all, life’s too short to read so-do crime fiction.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

She'll Hate Me Tomorrow

Richard Deming (1915-1983) was a crime fiction author born in Iowa who, as an adult in upstate New York, was one of the core contributors to “Manhunt” magazine and the early years of “Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.” In addition to over 300 published short stories and novelettes, he also wrote several full-length novels. His work is largely kept alive today through digital reprints of his short stories by Wildside Press and his novels by Prologue Books. “She’ll Hate Me Tomorrow” was a mid-career crime novel for Deming published by Monarch Books in 1963 that remains available today as an eBook.

Stella Parsons is a 23 year-old looker fresh out of secretarial school who lands a job with an attorney representing a Chicago crime boss. One day the mobster decides that the attorney, among others, knows too much about a recent murder and has the lawyer killed. It quickly becomes clear that Stella is also in danger for the unpardonable sin of having taken dictation from her boss detailing the client’s misdeeds.

With mob assassins on her tail, Stella takes off to the fictional Midwest city of St. Stephen where she lands a job as a coat check girl at an after-hours gambling joint. The proprietor is a gambler named Clancy Ross who’s been able to operate his joint free of influence from the local syndicate - thanks to an uneasy peace treaty with the local boss. When the Chicago mob sends a hit man to St. Stephen in search of Stella, Clancy needs to decide whether to protect his coat check girl or to serve her up.

Clancy the gambler is a fantastic, white knight hero for both Stella and the reader. He’s funny, self-deprecating, competent, and capable of extreme violence. I wanted to spend more time with him than the 143-page paperback allowed. Watching him solve problems with a direct and confrontational approach was a real pleasure, and I wish Deming could have figured out a way to bring him back for more adventures.

By the time the 1960s rolled around, Deming’s writing had improved markedly. He also seemed to have more latitude to be graphic in his sex scenes, which I appreciated. “She’ll Hate Me Tomorrow” is a lousy title, and I’m not really sure what it means in the context of the story. Regardless, this is a top-tier crime fiction paperback that’s absolutely worth reading. It’s also among Deming’s finest work. Highly recommended.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Monday, September 17, 2018

Rudd #02 - Anything But Saintly

I’ll confess that the cover art by Robert Abbett sucked me into opening the 1963 stand-alone paperback “Anything But Saintly” by Richard Deming. But in my defense, I’ve enjoyed the hell out of the handful of Deming’s novels I’ve read thus far. Deming was an under-appreciated master of crime fiction, and it’s a crime that few people know his work today.

“Anything But Saintly” is narrated by a fundamentally honest vice cop named Matt Rudd (Americanized from his given name of Mateusz Rudowski) who is playing gin with his partner in the squad room one day when a citizen barges in asking, “Is this where you come to report whores?” The citizen is a visitor from Houston who was rolled by a prostitute after consummating the transaction in his hotel room and wants his $500 back.

The investigation of this seemingly simple crime gets materially more complex for Rudd and his partner when they learn the identity of the whore and her pimp. It turns out that the pimp has some pretty heavy political connections, and this is particularly inconvenient for Rudd who is jockeying for a promotion in a town where the police board is politically appointed. “There are certain rackets we overlook because of the political influence of the racketeers”, Rudd explains.

The story takes place in the fictitious city of St. Cecilia, but it’s obvious this is a euphemism for Chicago, and Deming does a nice job of taking the reader into the incestuous alliance between the urban racketeers and the local politicians, a symbiotic relationship that was the real deal in 20th century Chicago.

The cover of the paperback gives away a fairly significant plot point that occurs around the 20% mark, but I won’t spoil it here. Suffice it to say that the stakes in this minor investigation increase markedly as the plot evolves into a murder mystery and the political alliances of the characters shift. This is very smart novel - smarter than it had to be for a cheapo paperback original from this era. The writing is excellent and the characters - particularly the call girls - are vividly drawn. The plot is fast moving and dialogue heavy with a good bit of action and gunplay. The murder mystery also has a nice twist with a satisfying solution.

If you can’t find the 1963 paperback, it’s also available as an eBook in all formats. Whatever the medium, “Anything But Saintly” is another straight-up winner for Richard Deming. Recommended.

Buy a copy of this book HERE

Monday, February 5, 2018

Kiss and Kill

Richard Deming was a 20th century pulp author with a specialty in crime fiction. Later in life, he wrote branded paperback tie-ins for 'Mod Squad', 'Dragnet' and 'Starsky and Hutch'. His 1960 short crime novel “Kiss and Kill” was a mid-career effort originally published in the US by Zenith Books and since reprinted by Armchair Fiction.

The book is a darn masterpiece.

Small-time con-man Sam Carter meets a fellow bunco artist named Mavis. They decide to marry, team up and seek out bigger cons. The angle they develop involves posing as brother and sister, targeting wealthy spinsters for Sam to marry and then making off with his new wife’s cash.

Without spoiling anything, the first person narration (Sam tells the story) recalls a Jim Thompson styled sociopathic anti-hero. Mavis is a sexy and devoted partner toggling between her role as a lusty wife and a chaste sister. The plotting is crisp and efficient and reminded me of Harry Whittington at his best. Finally, the twist ending will leave you howling and dying to read more of Deming’s work.

Fans of hard-boiled con-game crime fiction should drop everything and get a copy of this one. It’s hard to understate the perfection of this quick read. Highly recommended. Essential reading.

Hit and Run

The December 1954 issue of “Manhunt” featured a “Complete New Novel” by hardboiled crime writer Richard Deming called “Hit and Run.” The original novella was later expanded by Deming into a lean Pocketbooks paperback release in 1960. “Hit and Run” is an amazingly good story about a hard-luck private eye named Barney who happens to witness a hit-and-run accident involving a beautiful woman driver. He concocts a scheme to blackmail her into engaging him to cover up the accident and keep her out of trouble. From there, Deming takes the reader on a twisty ride not unlike the violent Fawcett Gold Medal short novels of that era. It’s hard to summarize the plot any further without spoiling several jaw-dropping plot twists, but suffice to say that this short novel was a total delight and is worth hunting down.