Tag Archives: Ken Dougan

John Bender’s No Margin for Error

No Margin for ErrorJohn 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.