Charles Beckman, Jr.’s A Hot Lick for Doc

beckmanA story from Justice Amazing Detective Mysteries #2, July 1955: “A Hot Lick for Doc” by Charles Beckman, Jr.

“Doc” DeFord, once a rising jazzman, lost his wife to his arranger, plunging him into a deep dive that winds up in Corpus Christie soaked in gin, surrounded by a handful of souls with similar hard-luck histories. Their lives entangle with Doc suspected of murder when he finds a dead drug smuggler instead of the pick-up he expected.

Beckman’s prose flows like a bluesman’s clarinet in this skid-row drama infused with jazz, drugs, sweat, and murder.

The scent of tamales and tequilla drifts in: “It came through the hotel window on a breeze that stirred a curtain faintly. The curtain brushed the nose of Doc Jim DeFord and woke him from a sodden, alcoholic sleep. He groaned and sat up, then grabbed at the bed post as his head swam off his shoulders and floated across the room.”

Pulpetti-Biblio has a long list of Beckman’s stories and pseudonyms.