Category Archives: Excerpts

Ellery Queen Selects

j26The grand plans for the Ellery Queen Selects series began in 1947. Jonathan Press J26, Stuart Palmer’s “The Riddles of Hildegarde Withers,” was numerically the second in the series.

The excerpt from Frederic Dannay’s introduction to J26 below refers to “First Edition Mysteries.” This was apparently an inside, working title, as the digests replaced it with “Ellery Queen Selects” displayed across the top of the covers.

“[W]e preserve in our noble experiment, our colossal publishing venture, and bring you the next in our series [starting with the Hammett collections] of First Edition Mysteries—“The Riddles Of Hildegarde Withers” by Stuart Palmer. Coming soon—watch for them!—will be John Dickson Carr’s never-previously-published book of short stories titled “Dr. Fell, Detective and Other Stories;” Roy Vickers’s never-previously-published “The Department Of Dead Ends;” and Margery Allingham’s “The Case Book Of Mr. Campion;” and unquestionably there will be additional First Edition Mysteries to follow.”

Robert Martin’s Husband’s Best Friend


Jim Felton writes on Mystery File: “One author quite worthy of being remembered is Robert Martin (1908–1976).” Martin’s story “Husband’s Best Friend” is the lead story, a novelette in the debut issue of Justice Amazing Detective Mysteries Vol. 1 No. 1 May 1955. Here’s the description from the back cover:

“This well-known writer, of whom the New York Times says, ‘Robert Martin gets better with every book,’ leads off this issue with the intriguing story of a detective who buys a suburban home to enjoy discreet bachelor weekends. He meets his new neighbors, suntanned Beth, her quiet husband—and the husband’s best friend. Strange things happen when jealousy, suspicion and death also move into the suburbs.”

The story’s detective is a PI named Lee Fiske, a series character who had appeared previously in pulps like 15 Story Detective.

Martin was a prolific author and wrote dozens of short stories, primarily for the pulps, as well as over 20 novels, many featuring his other series detective, Jim Bennett.

Image from Mystery File

The Casebook of Ellery Queen

bestseller_b59Bestseller Mystery B59, from 1944, featured “The Case Book of Ellery Queen.” “It contained five short stories reprinted from the collection The New Adventures of Ellery Queen, never reprinted in digest form, and three radio scripts unavailable anywhere.”

Excerpt from “The Riddle of the Ellery Queen Selects Series” by Steve Carper from The Digest Enthusiast book five, January 2017.

Ellery Queen’s Challenge to the Reader

mercury66Mercury Mystery #66 from 1943 reprints nine stories from the earlier hardback of the same name with 25. Queen’s challenge is simple:

“I’ll change the familiar names of the detectives to ones of my own invention, and I’ll challenge the reader to deduce who the detective is in each story. The only alteration of the original text will be the disguising of the detective’s name.

“[T]here will be clues galore . . . Clues created by the author of the story, lying right there in the author’s own text.”

Steve Carper explores this forgotten beauty and others in his article “The Riddle of the Ellery Queen Selects Series” in The Digest Enthusiast book five.

Art Taylor’s “A Voice from the Past”

eqmm_8_2009EQMM Aug. 2009 included Art Taylor’s “A Voice from the Past,” which he spoke about in this excerpt from his interview in The Digest Enthusiast book four:

“I wrote about half of my story ‘A Voice from the Past’ and then put it aside for several years, not sure where to go next with it. When I returned to it with fresh eyes, I came up with ideas about the rest of the plot, what seemed suddenly not just right but maybe inevitable, given all the seeds I’d planted in the first half.”

Art’s “Parallel Play” from the Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warming anthology, won the Agatha Award for Best Short Story in May 2017.

Irving Burstiner’s “Pardon My Terror”

msmm_2_1957_500Stories from Suspense Magazine #2 Summer 1951: “Pardon My Terror” by Irving Burstiner

Suspense Magazine editor Theodore Irwin wrote that submissions often seem to arrive in trends. A wave of “wife murders or ghost yarns.” For Suspense #2 there was a run on “fiends,” from which Irwin selected two, based on merit and because “. . . they serve to emphasize the vast differences writers can bring to the same theme.”

“Terror” is only just over three pages in length, yet Burstiner manages to add a clever twist to bring his story’s fiend to a satisfying end.

Burstiner also create a puzzle called “Find the Detective,” for Michael Shayne Mystery Magazine (Feb 1957).

Ron Fortier’s The Hideout


The Digest Enthusiast #4

Although The Digest Enthusiast is primarily a non-fiction series, we like to include a few short stories in each edition. After all, fiction is why readers are drawn to the digests we write about in the first place.

“The Hideout” is a Brother Bones short story featuring Ron Fortier’s iconic avenger. Here’s an excerpt from the story which appeared in The Digest Enthusiast book four, with illustrations by Rob Davis.

“Bones, you are needed.” Within the shimmering yellow flame he saw the tiny angelic face of his spirit guide; a teenage girl he’d shot to death in his previous life as gunman Tommy Bonello.

The origin of Betty Fedora

bettyfedora3Excerpt from “Digital Digest Magazines” from TDE4.

Kristen Valentine [editor/publisher/designer], began Betty Fedora, “Because the other crime fiction magazines out there, while very good, feature stories that are heavy in the noir tradition: men getting in fights, femme fatales, and that’s it. I wanted to explore stories featuring female characters as a starting point.”

To date there are three issues of Betty Fedora out, with issue four due in Fall 2017.

H.G. Wells Society Newsletter

wells_30Excerpts from Joe Wehrle, Jr.’s review of the H.G. Wells Society Newsletter #30 from TDE4:

“This may be a somewhat unusual entry in the catalog of digest-size publications, but I think the newly-redesigned H. G. Wells Society Newsletter certainly qualifies for inclusion. I recently received issue 30, Autumn 2015, with cover illustration by J. Begg, reproduced from the Illustrated London News of 25 January 1913.

“I find articles in the Wells Society publications to be very carefully researched and highly literate. A majority of the writers and the editorial staff have doctorates and associations with prestigious uni- versities. They tend to delve deeply into the subject matter, avoiding superficiality and the stereotypical.

“This newsletter is issued twice a year, and there is also a thicker, and very scholarly annual, The Wellsian.

“Subscriptions and general enquiries may be addressed to secretary Eric L. Fitch, 20, Upper Field Close, Hereford HR2 7SW, UK.”

H.G. Wells Society website