A selected story from Justice Amazing Detective Mysteries #1, May 1955: “Gift Wrapped” by George C. Appell
An unidentified con man give a first person account of his latest scam. Imitating a wealthy businessman whom he learned to mimic listening to speech over the Universal network, the con tricks a prestigious jeweler into delivering an expensive brooch right into his hands. It’s a twisted scheme that nearly worked.
Appell’s stories usually appeared in western magazines like Zane Grey’s, Western Monthly, and Western Magazine. Dan Stumpf (Mystery File) wrote in his review of one of Appell’s novels, Gunman’s Grudge, “Actually, this is surprisingly fine: a fast, remorseless and straightforward tale of violence and damnation in the manner of Jim Thompson and James M. Cain—yes, it’s that good.”
A selected story from Justice Amazing Detective Mysteries #1, May 1955: “Call Me a Liar” by Edward A. Herron
George Anderson is on the lam. From what, we don’t know, but he pitched his gun somewhere in the Mojave, so it can’t be good. He tries blending in with the crowd dining at the Starlight Rescue Mission, but when the cops show up they single him out in an L.A. minute. He figures his first person story is over by page two, but surprise, he’s wrong. Old man Silvester has singled him out for a job.
“It’s back in the desert country. Caretaker at one of the mines in the Saline Valley.”
Anderson takes the offer, and it does him more good than he deserves. He dries out, he maintains the idle Magnet Mine’s equipment, and he even begins to resemble a man who’s gone straight. But trouble finds him, and after what happens, any jury you pick would likely call him a liar.
This could well be Edward A. Herron’s final short story. He’d written a few earlier that appeared in Argosy, NorthWest Romances, and Adventure, but then apparently turned to non-fiction and wrote a series of books about Alaska.
John Bender wrote detective stories for the pulps throughout the 1940s. His first sale was “Sermon in Cell 15” for Detective Tales Feb. 1941. He placed stories with Strange Detective Mysteries, Shock, Dime Mystery Magazine, and plenty of others.
His final two stories appear to be sales to Justice. The first, “No Margin for Error,” ran in the debut issue of Justice in May 1955. It was followed by “Double or Nothing” in Oct. 1955, for the Justice #3.
In “Margin,” a concert pianist, Max, discovers his wife’s affair with “A thin, ill-dressed hack of a writer who wrote books that never sold and tried to persuade people that he was a liberal intellectual.” As the story opens, Max has already killed his wife, and contemplates what to do next.
“Think only of getting rid of the body, he commanded himself. Nothing else. Not of what it was like in the early years of marriage when you were a struggling music student. Not of what your life together might have been. That is finished. Think of how to dispose of a body.”
The twist ending helps raise “Margin” above the routine.
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
Justice Amazing Detective Mysteries made its debut on newsstands with Vol. 1 No. 1 dated May 1955.
“The pulplike covers and well-printed interiors were among the better of the many similar magazines appearing at the time . . .”
–Michael L. Cook, Mystery, Detective, and Espionage Magazines, Greenwood Press 1983