Tag Archives: Suspense Magazine

Lorenz Heller aka Larry Holden

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Suspect #1 Nov. 1955

Stories from Suspense Magazine #2 Summer 1951: “Criminal at Large” by Lorenz Heller

Heller was a novelist, short story writer and screenwriter who wrote dozens of shorts for detective magazines under the name Larry Holden from 1946–1959. He also wrote as Frederick Lorenz and Burt Sims.

“Criminal” sets up a tension-filled confrontation between a housewife and an escaped killer. Unlike many of the stereotypes in stories of this era, the housewife, Aunt Libby, could fend for herself: “She could fix anything. Last Spring, when the level-wind on my reel jammed, she fixed it in nothing flat, and still got more trout than Uncle Steve and me.”

The short-lived Suspect Detective Stories was a good market for Heller. His “Blood Money” appeared in the debut issue (Nov. 1955) under his own name, as well as “Death is Where You Find It” by Larry Holden. He returned in the second issue (Feb. 1956) as Holden for “One for the Hangman.”

Seaman Thomas Gilchrist

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Adventure Aug. 1949 with Thomas Gilchrist’s “Appointment with Fear”

Stories from Suspense Magazine #2 Summer 1951: “Survival” by Thomas Gilchrist

Three men adrift in a dinghy after their boat capsizes at sea, fight for survival as heat, hunger and thirst draw them closer to death every moment. It’s no surprise who maintains their humanity
as desperation rises between the wealthy boatman, an old man and a native Pacific islander, but Gilchrist does a beautiful job describing the tension as their plight worsens.

Thomas Gilchrist was a sailor who wrote sea adventures. His stories appeared in Adventure, Bluebook, and Suspense.

Image from Galactic Central.

Walter Snow’s “The Nightmare Face”

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Mike Shayne Sept. 1966 with Walter Snow’s “Who’s Afraid of Kathrine Mansfield?”

Stories from Suspense Magazine #2 Summer 1951

A newspaper journalist and pulp fiction writer, Walter Snow wrote mostly adventure and detective stories. The Walter Snow Papers, hosted by Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, reports: “Snow’s writing style is characterized by his ability to bring his characters to life.” Here’s an example from his story “The Nightmare Face” from Suspense Magazine #2:

“Carlotta flirts indiscriminately with eager sailors, pats their cheeks, blows them kisses. When they get too fresh she brandishes a baseball bat prankishly. It’s an act that keeps the bar crowded when the fleet is in. Brazenly, Carlotta sasses all her customers: ‘You’re stingy tippers. Me, I want a man with money.’”

Set in the Florida Keys, Carlotta’s brazen behavior ends suddenly when she turns up dead beside her suspected paramour in the wake of a hurricane. It’s up to local law enforcement to figure out if the storm had any help.

Snow’s work also ran in Gang World, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, Short Stories, and Suspect Detective Stories—and was anthologized in collections like 20 Great Tales of Murder and With Malice Towards All. He wrote two mystery novels The Golden Nightmare (1952) and The Gauguin Murders (1972).

Nathaniel Weyl’s “Blood Will Tell”

redstarovercubaStories from Suspense Magazine #2 Summer 1951

A brief, but tightly-plotted short with murder, blackmail and revenge tangled together just like its cast of characters. Nathaniel Weyl (pronounced “while”) was an economist and author of two books, Treason (1950) and Red Star Over Cuba (1962). In his youth, a member of the Communist Party of the United States (1933–1939), he later leaned conservative and became a vocal anti-communist. In 1952, he testified against Alger Hiss, a former State Department official, convicted of perjury, who served 44 months in prison. Weyl died in 2005 at the age of 94 in California.

John Wyndham’s “Operation Peep”

suspense_2Stories from Suspense Magazine #2 Summer 1951

Perhaps most famous for penning The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham contributes a “science satire” as the opener for Suspense Magazine #2, called “Operation Peep.” People from an alternate universe are popping into ours at inopportune moments. The story never takes itself too seriously and indulges a few gems like this bit of scathing commentary on the world’s stupidity: “We’ve got two ways of using inventions,” she said. “One is to kill more people more easily; the other is to help short-sighted goons make easy money out of suckers.”

But don’t worry, the hero saves the world from peeping eyes and gets the cynical beauty to boot.

John Gearon’s “Faces Turned Against Him”

persian-catStories from Suspense Magazine #1 Spring 1951

John Gearon’s fine novelette, “Faces Turned Against Him,” wraps up the first issue of Suspense Magazine on a high note. Gearon hooks readers with his characters, action and the magazine’s high-tension standard. Here’s one of several nice passages from the story:

“The windows were up and the heater was on. An hour after noon, cold weather had descended suddenly on New England. The road to Bridgeville and the county jail was like a ribbon of toothpaste squeezed snake-like across the dull brown landscape.”

John Gearon wrote scripts for both the Suspense radio and television programs. Under the pseudonym John Flagg, he wrote a series of thrillers for Gold Medal Books in the 1950s, including The Persian Cat, which was recently reissued as Black Gat Book #4.

John Dickson Carr and Cabin B-13

ellery_queens_mystery_194405Stories from Suspense Magazine #1 Spring 1951

From the story’s introduction: “Numbering its audience in the millions today, the CBS radio-television program series Suspense for a number of years has ranked as one of the finest dramatic programs on the air. It has brought to perfection a new type of high-tension presentation—in tune with our time, in harmony with modern concepts of gripping entertainment.

“In each issue, the magazine Suspense will present one of the distinguished scripts which have made broadcasting history. The initial choice, Honeymoon Terror, was originally given over the CBS network in November, 1943, under the title Cabin B-13, starring Margo and Phillip Dorn.”

“Cabin B-13” was one of the most popular episodes of Suspense, it was rerun in November 1943, but its original broadcast was on March 16, 1943. Even the script had an earlier printing, in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine May 1944.

Image from Galactic Central.

Theodore Sturgeon’s Ghost of a Chance

Stories from Suspense Magazine #1 Spring 1951

In Theodore Sturgeon’s “Ghost of a Chance,” a jealous spirit plays havoc on behalf of his living object of affection, on any and all males she may encounter casually or otherwise. The premise could have gone north or south, but in Sturgeon’s capable hands it’s a witty, engaging ghost story with a satisfying end.

The story was originally titled “The Green-Eyed Monster” when it appeared in Unknown Worlds June 1943.

Jennie and the Light Brown Cure

Stories from Suspense Magazine #1 Spring 1951

The curative properties of music are amplified by the Dynamic Sound Ray Case in “Jennie and the Light Brown Cure” by Alexander Samalman, a light-hearted science-fictiony romp. Samalman was editor of Thrilling Wonder Stories, Startling Stories and several other titles for the Ned Pines publishing empire.

Here’s what Suspense had to say about the author:
“A protégé of the illustrious Frank Harris, Samalman can turn out sly, biting satire quite worthy of his master—as this story demonstrates. Once renowned chiefly for his sophisticated love stories appearing in such magazines as Smart Set, in latter years he has been turning out equally sophisticated science-fantasy stories—most of which, in one way or another, have crept into the anthologies.”

Peter Phillips for Suspense

astounding_2_1949Stories from Suspense Magazine #1 Spring 1951

In “She Didn’t Bounce” by Peter Phillips, a cocksure suitor, enamored with a plump woman in his office plays a cheeky game of seduction in this surprisingly ribald entry in Suspense #1, that runs just three pages.

Phillips (1920–2012) was a UK writer and journalist, with nearly two dozen science fiction and detective stories published in US pulps and digests. His most famous, at least at the time of Suspense #1, was “Manna,” first published in the Feb. 1949 Astounding and “perennially reprinted in anthologies.”