Tag Archives: Suspense Magazine #4

Lorrie McLaughlin’s The Way Out

suspense_4Stories from Suspense Magazine #4 Winter 1952: “The Way Out “by Lorrie McLaughlin

The final story of the Suspense digests is a “storyette,” a filler for the final page. With only a single page to work with McLaughlin does a fine job setting up a desperate situation, planning its aftermath, and taking the fatal last step from which there is no return.

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.

James Robbins Miller’s Give Back the Dead

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Collier’s June 11, 1949

Stories from Suspense Magazine #4 Winter 1952: “Give Back the Dead” by James Robbins Miller

Inspired “. . . by a woman receiving a letter from a friend who had died a week before, in which he told of future plans.” Miller transforms the concept into an upscale melodrama good enough for Collier’s, where it first ran in 1949 as “Letters from Cairo.”

(Image from ebay)

Brett Halliday’s You Killed Elizabeth

mike_shayne_6_1957Stories from Suspense Magazine #4 Winter 1952: “You Killed Elizabeth” by Brett Halliday

The loyalty of two best friends is tested when the perfect woman comes between them. Halliday builds tension masterfully as romance blooms and the killer of the title is finally revealed.

Halliday’s most famous creation, Mike Shayne, starred in his own digest magazine for 337 issues from 1956 to 1985. Shown here is the cover to MSMM June 1957.

Dean Evans’ Hot Eyes

Stories from Suspense Magazine #4 Winter 1952: “Hot Eyes” by Dean Evans

A businessman, blinded on principle, can’t see the monumental abuse his wife heaps upon him until his loyal secretary bursts his illusions. His new found knowledge triggers an ability to spontaneously ignite the sources of his anger. Dean Evans was one of several pseudonyms used by Robert Arthur (of Mysterious Traveler and Three Investigators fame), and this yarn certainly seems to fit his MO. However, it was also a pseudonym used by George F. Kull, whom this story is attributed to at Galactic Central.

Ted Stratton’s Find the Witness

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Mobsters April 1953 with “Time to Kill” by Terry Spain

Stories from Suspense Magazine #4 Winter 1952: “Find the Witness” by Ted Stratton


Ed Emshwiller produced a striking scratchboard-style illustration that depicts the story’s witness watching a woman as she’s thrust over a balcony railing by her murderer. It’s a police procedural that follows the thin trail of the victim’s clues that eventually lead to the witness, the murderer, a potential romance and a satisfying conclusion. Stratton was a prolific crime fiction writer during the pulp era. He also wrote at least one story under the name Terry Spain.

Image from Galactic Central.

Duane Yarnell’s Ask No Quarter

Mantrap_backStories from Suspense Magazine #4 Winter 1952: “Ask No Quarter” by Duane Yarnell


The introduction to Yarnell’s story reports: “He sold his first seven stories before turning 21, and his slicks, pulps and network shows are legion.” Beyond Suspense Yarnell’s stories appeared in Five-Novels Magazine, Trapped, Detective Tales and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. But his main body of work was centered on sports—from team sports to hunting and fishing. Even his Suspense story is really a boxing yarn, with a twist ending that likely helped him place it here.

Yarnell wrote novels too, primarily sporting stories, but his novel for Crest, Mantrap (1957), appears to be genuine crime fiction. The back cover copy, written by the publisher, tells readers the book “packs a wallop like Mickey Spillane.”

Charles Lenart’s The Third Degree

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Enter a Detective Tales June 1951 with Charles Lenart’s “The Ninety-Nine Year Question”caption

Stories from Suspense Magazine #4 Winter 1952: “The Third Degree” by Charles Lenart


Lenart captures the patter of the hardboiled style beautifully, but the surprise ending of his yarn was
 none too surprising. I found only one other story credited to him that appeared in Detective Tales (June 1951). If it’s the same “Lenart” found online, his writing career focused on copywriting, and he died in Chicago in 2010 after a successful career selling copy.

Image from Galactic Central.

Dorothy Marie Davis’ And Never Came Back

suspense_4Stories from Suspense Magazine #4 Winter 1952: “And Never Came Back” by Dorothy Marie Davis

This cover story features a divorced woman and her daughter riding a train to a reunion with her ex-husband. Complicating matters is the second wife, also aboard, and a serious change of heart by hubby who now wants his ex and current wife to swap places. It may sound a bit forced, but Davis does such a fine job of characterization and storytelling, its one of the highlights of the issue. Davis wrote a handful of poems and short stories, starting in 1933, mostly for romance titles, a writing career that apparently ended with her story in Suspense.

Ray Bradbury’s The Screaming Woman

screaming-womanStories from Suspense Magazine #4 Winter 1952: “The Screaming Woman” by Ray Bradbury

Despite the announcement in Suspense Magazine #1, there were no Suspense radio scripts presented in issue #3 or #4. Bradbury’s piece here is a story, but it was first heard on radio (episode #316) as a script on November 25, 1948. The background on this popular story is conflicting. One source credits Sylvia Richards for adapting Bradbury’s tale for radio, yet its first record as a published story was in the Today magazine of the Philadelphia Inquirer on May 27, 1951, almost three years later. A second source credits Bradbury with the original script for Suspense, that he later adapted for print in Today, which seems more chrono-logical.

screaming-woman-2A young girl, through a neatly arranged set of circumstances, seems to be the only living person
to believe one of her neighbors has been buried alive. The story was dramatized for the EC comics line in Crime SuspenStories #15, Feb/ Mar 1953 and featured on The Ray Bradbury Theatre on television, on Feb. 22, 1986, with Drew Barrymore. On January 29, 1972, it aired as the ABC Movie of the Week, starring Olivia De Havilland in the title role—transformed from youngster to former mental patient— whom nobody believed either.