Monthly Archives: April 2016

Bevis Winter aka Al Bocca Make It Murder

Make It Murder by Al Bocca (Bevis Winter)

Make It Murder by Al Bocca (Bevis Winter)

Information online about English crime writer Bevis Winter (1918-1985) is limited but here’s a few factoids pieced together from various searches. Winter was based in London and wrote under the pseudonyms Al Bocca, Peter Cagney, Sammy Coburn, Bennet Hill, Gordon Shayne, Hyman Zore (house name), and several others. He may also have been an editor at Stag Books in Birmingham, England and is credited as the author of several of their books under is own name.

Another “mushroom” publisher, Milestone Publications in London, issued several of his novels in 1953, including the Make It Murder, shown here in the Red Back #12 edition from Gary Lovisi’s article, ”Australia’s ‘Action/Leisure’ Pulp Crime Digests” from TDE2. Milestone also published Al Bocca’s Blonde on Ice, Desire After Dark and Build Me a Blonde in 1953.

Davis Dresser, Brett Halliday and the Mysterious Traveler

Mike Shayne Annual 1971

Mike Shayne Annual 1971

Brett Halliday was the most famous of nearly a dozen pen names used by Davis Dresser over his career. His most famous creation was hardboiled detective Mike Shayne, who made his debut in the novel Dividend on Death (1939). Mike Shayne gained his own digest magazine in 1956, which ran for thirty years, making it one of the most successful fiction magazines in the format. Besides the monthly magazine, the series was popular enough to garner summer annuals. Shown here is the first from 1971.

Dresser wrote “Women Are Poison” under his own name for Detective Fiction Weekly (Oct. 31, 1936). However, when the story was reprinted in The Mysterious Traveler Mystery Reader #5 (Sep. 1952) it was credited to the well-known Halliday pseudonym. Here’s the opening:

“The Fancy Kid was scared. His lips were twitching, beads of sweat formed on his forehead and ran down the tip of his nose, dripping off in a continuous stream.”

Even in this early effort, Dresser/Halliday’s powerhouse narrative drive was firmly in place. “Woman Are Poison” opens as a murderer flees the scene and city of his crime, along with the twenty grand he stole. Hopping trains as the authorities close in, he seems to catch a break when he’s rescued out in the middle of nowhere by an old man and his beautiful daughter. Too bad he didn’t read the title of his own story.

Crime Syndicate Magazine #1

Crime Syndicate Magazine #1 Jan. 2016

Crime Syndicate Magazine #1 Jan. 2016

Crime Syndicate Magazine #1, January 2016
“So Close” by Eric Beetner
“Restoration” by Art Taylor
“Jack the Hammer’s Online Identity Crisis” by Jeff Bowles
“On Tilt” by James Queally
“Dee the Friendly Grizzly’s Little Miracle” by Nick Kolakowski
“God May Forgive You” by Tess Makovesky
“The Line” by C.J. Edwards
Interview with Eric Beetner

Guest Editor: Eric Beetner
Editor-in-Chief: Michael Pool
Formatting: Rik Hall
5” x 8” 116 pages
Available in print ($6.99) and KindleUnlimited (included)
Crime Syndicate Magazine website

James E. Gunn: Beyond Fantasy Fiction

Beyond Fantasy Fiction Sept. 1954 Vol 2 #2 (#8)

Beyond Fantasy Fiction Sept. 1954 Vol 2 #2 (#8)

The founding director of the University of Kansas’ Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction (CSSF), James E. Gunn, was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2015 and named Grand Master by SFWA in 2007.

Gunn launched his writing career in 1949 with the publication of his first short stories, “Communications” in Startling Stories (Sept. 1949) and “Paradox” in Thrilling Wonder Stories (Oct. 1949).

Five years later his story “The Beautiful Brew” opened the eighth issue of Beyond Fantasy Fiction (Sept. 1954). Here’s how it starts:

“The head on the schooner of beer was a beauty. The rest was even lovelier. Doris passed Jerry Blitz with the empty tray. She was small, dark, and plain.”

The Blitz boardroom talks around the obvious at the unveiling of their new brewmaster’s creation, a perfect beer. The only problem seems to be its head, its frothy foam sculpted into the shape of a beautiful, naked young woman.

Robert Lopresti, Mystery Writer and Digest Enthusiast

AHMM Jan/Feb 2014

AHMM Jan/Feb 2014

TDE: Most of your work has appeared in digest magazines. How long have you been reading them?

RL: “Probably around 1969, when I would have been fourteen, my family took a trip to Lake George, New York. The only reason I remember it was wandering into a newsstand and seeing an Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. I don’t think I had seen one of his movies yet but I had seen the TV show and read some of the children’s books of short stories (Alfred Hitchcock’s Ghostly Gallery, etc.).

“I bought the magazine and was hooked. The first issue I know I read was October 1969, because I remember the illustration that accompanied it—a dramatic drawing of a man falling out of a building—“Scream All The Way,” by Michael Collins.

“I subscribed and later added EQMM, but AHMM was always my first choice. I am sure that one reason I have sold 25 stories to AHMM and only two to EQMM is that the former helped shape my sensibilities (my, what a big word).”

Excerpt from the interview with Robert Lopresti in TDE2.

From Detective Fiction Weekly to the Mysterious Traveler

The Mysterious Traveler Mystery Reader #5 Sep. 1952

The Mysterious Traveler Mystery Reader #5 Sep. 1952

One of Robert Arthur’s pseudonyms was John West. He sold a story called “No Tears” to Detective Fiction Weekly for the May 13, 1933 edition. Almost twenty years later he changed the title to “The Weeping Woman” and ran it in The Mysterious Traveler Mystery Reader #5 (Sep. 1952).

Here’s the opening:
“Detective Sergeant Dudley, on his hands and knees, was peering at the wet grass with all the intentness of a pointer that has raised a quail. A slow and dismal rain made little rivulets of water on the gray rubber slicker that stretched across his back, and some of the water was running off onto his trouser legs. Paying no attention to the elements, Dudley clumsily picked off the ground, where it had been hidden by grass and mud, a round pellet the size of a marble.”

“The Weeping Woman,” a straight-up detective yarn with readers following the murder investigation right along with the detective. The big reveal may not be entirely unexpected, but it’s an entertaining expedition as the story builds to its final line.

Derek Künsken in Asimov’s Science Fiction

Asimov's July 2015

Asimov’s July 2015

Derek Künsken’s novella “Pollen From a Future Harvest” was both the final story and my favorite from Asimov’s Science Fiction (July 2015). One of Künsken’s lines actually describes his own story quite nicely, “It was astonishing and humbling, like looking at a work of art possessed of dizzying complexity.”

Here’s the opening:
“Major Okonkwo had never attended a meeting of the General Staff. The military police checked her ID, scanned her retinae and shut off her recording arguments. In a reception room, facing the steel coat-of-arms of the Sixth Expeditionary Force of the Sub-Saharan Union, she fought the urge to fidget.”

Although highly engaging, it’s not a light read, a tale with a little of everything—murder mystery, espionage, romance, politics and enough thought-provoking concepts to keep most any SF reader happy.

Excerpt from the review in TDE2.

How an issue of Nostalgia Digest evolves.

Nostalgia Digest Spring 2015

Nostalgia Digest Spring 2015

We asked Steve Darnall, editor and publisher of the Nostalgia Digest, how an issue comes together. His response:

“The goal for every issue of the Digest has always been to cover as wide a variety of topics and genres as possible. I don’t think Chuck* or I ever wanted this publication to be exclusively about old-time radio—or exclusively about anything, for that matter. Typically, that approach means sitting down almost immediately after the last issue has come back from the printer, looking over the articles we have on hand and seeing which ones would complement one another. There’s no formal checklist, but you try to include a little something from each of several different media: something about radio, something about movies, something about music or early television, hopefully a personal recollection or two from someone who remembers being part of this era.”

Excerpt from the full interview in TDE2.

*Chuck Schaden, founder and former editor and publisher

Mystery Scene Magazine #144

Mystery Scene #144

Mystery Scene #144

Issue #144 Contents
Catriona McPherson Whether it’s her Golden Age mysteries featuring Dandy Gilver or her contemporary novels of suspense, McPherson has an appreciative and growing audience.
 by Oline H. Cogdill
Philip MacDonald Once a bestselling author, as well as a prolific film and TV writer, MacDonald is sadly neglected today.
 by Michael Mallory
Mod Squad: Odd Squad Behind the scenes as a TV writer on one of the grooviest cop shows ever.
 by Rita Laki
The Hook First Lines That Caught Our Attention
Adrian McKinty Memories of his Belfast child- hood during The Troubles fuel McKinty’s fiction.
 by Oline H. Cogdill
Girls Like Us Female readers are increasingly demanding—and getting—crime fiction that reflects their lives and concerns.
 by Megan Abbott
Gormania A chat with Wallace Stroby, author of thrillers about professional thief Crissa Stone.
 by Ed Gorman
Publish & Perish: Judith Flanders The author uses her own background as a book editor to enrich her mysteries set in London’s literary world.
 by Cheryl Solimini

“Never Off Duty” Crossword by Verna Suit

At the Scene by Kate Stine
Mystery Miscellany by Louis Phillips
Hints & Allegations Anthony and Shamus awards, Hammett Prize, CWA Daggers
My Book Essays Reece Hirsch, Jon McGoran, Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Tara Laskowski

Small Press Reviews: Covering the Independents by Betty Webb
Short & Sweet: Short Stories Considered by Bill Crider
Very Original: Paperback Originals Reviewed by Lynne Maxwell & Hank Wagner
Sounds of Suspense: Audiobooks Reviewed by Dick Lochte
What About Murder? Reference Books Reviewed by Jon L. Breen
Mystery Scene Reviews

On newsstands or order direct from Mystery Scene.

Solar Pons: The Mysterious Traveler Mystery Reader

The Mysterious Traveler Mystery Reader #5 Sep. 1952

The Mysterious Traveler Mystery Reader #5 Sep. 1952

When August Derleth created Solar Pons his intension may have been to create a worthy tribute to Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. But Pons and Doctor Parker soon proved popular enough to earn their own legion of followers.

Pons and Parker are firmly rooted in a world very similar to their inspiration’s but with their own traits and travels. For example, Pons credits his Inspector Jamison with some intelligence and he’s not such a slave to logic as to dismiss at least the possibility of the supernatural.

“The Adventure of the Sotheby Salesman” first appeared in the anthology Re: Sherlock Holmes (Mycroft & Moran, 1945) and was reprinted in The Mysterious Traveler Mystery Reader #5 (Sep. 1952). Here’s the opening:

“It was a warm summer night in mid-August that the curious matter of the Sotheby salesman came to the notice of my friend, Solar Pons. Fortunately, Pons had no problem in hand; he and I had spent the greater part of that day in Soho, moving idly from one place to another. Shortly after 11 o’clock that night we returned to our lodgings in Praed Street and found the telegram which was to introduce us to the mystery at Sotheby.”

Pons soon uncovers a murderer through his uncanny powers of deductive reasoning. The story captures the tone of Doyle’s legendary series precisely melded with Derleth’s own writing talent.