Raymond Drennen’s Murder Town

youll die nowStories from Suspense Magazine #4 Winter 1952: “Murder Town” by Raymond Drennen

Drennen’s pulp fiction career spanned a neat ten years: 1947–1957. It began with Street and Smith’s Detective Story Magazine and ended with Terror Detective Story Magazine. “Himself a man of action, he’s shoved thousands of fellahin [Egyptian laborers] up and down the Nile, wrangled with Nazi agents in Cairo and worked on a hydrogen bomb project for the A.E.C. [Atomic Energy Com- mission], in North Carolina.”

His novelette for Suspense opens with “A rain of blood, a prevalence of corpses, and a deadly puzzle for Jim Brady made the sinful city of Jordanville into a . . . Murder Town.”

Jim Brady, private operative, catches wind of trouble in Jordanville on a routine background check for a client. He’s soon swallowed up in a racket that involves mobsters, crooked cops, a Treasury Agent, slot machines and opium. Drennen is a fine writer. His story is a fast paced, carefully plotted, action- packed mini-saga reminiscent of “Red Harvest.” My only quibble is the hero is so perfect, he pushes the boundaries of suspended disbelieve. The unlikely female Treasury Agent, Gloria Yale, sums it up, “Bill Shumate said you were good, Jim. Now I’ve been here six months, and it took you twenty-four hours to start from scratch and break it open.”

Drennen wrote at least two crime novels, You’ll Die Now (1953) and Murder Beat (1956). He died in 1967 in Philadelphia, at the age of 67.