Justice #2


Richard S. Prather’s Lie Down, Killer

Story splash page

The final story from Justice Amazing Detective Mysteries #2, July 1955, is billed as a “complete suspense novel.” It’s a reprint from the Lion Books edition, first published in 1952, one of only three novels Richard S. Prather wrote that does not feature Shell Scott.

“Lie Down, Killer” stars Steve Bennett, who it turns out is the perfect patsy to frame for a series of murders by crime boss Oscar Gross and femme fatale, Margo Whitney. It’s a carefully plotted mystery that unfolds rapidly with plenty of action and romance along the way. The brutal showdown between the villains and hero had me flying through the final pages to reach its satisfying conclusion.

With issues like this one, it’s particularly unfortunate Justice didn’t last longer than four issues.

Lion cover image from Pulp Serenade.

Lie Down, Killer cover of first edition

Edward A. Herron’s The First Man Hanged

Seventh story from Justice Amazing Detective Mysteries #2, July 1955:

Story splash page

Magnus Johnson is on trail for the murder of room steward, Rolf Pentecost. The victim allegedly molested Johnson’s wife, Cornelia, in her cabin on the Alaska Star, en route from Seattle to Juneau.

Herron’s capable prose includes moments that sparkle. Early on, Johnson declairs: “I killed the dirty rat, Judge. Why waste the Government’s money with a trial? I killed him, and I’m glad. Let’s get it over with.”

The defendant shot Pentecost at Johnson’s home, where the steward warned Cornelia he’d turn up after the ship docked. But what Johnson doesn’t know is that Pentecost was already dead, and one of the jurors, Paul, was the one in Cornelia’s bed, not the steward—at her invitation!

Fortunately, during her testimony at Johnson’s trial, Cornelia has a change of heart and Justice prevails.

Other crime stories by Edward A. Herron appear in 10-Story Detective Magazine (April 1948), Black Mask (July 1949), Mystery Tales (Dec. 1958), and a few others. He also wrote several nonfiction books about Alaska.

Ad Gordon’s Two Little Bullets

Splashpage from Justice #2

The sixth story from Justice Amazing Detective Mysteries #2, July 1955:

A beautiful, brilliant nuclear physicist is selling secrets to the Russians, with her husband as unwitting courier. She’s also a co-conspirator to murder and adultery. Elsewhere, a slippery career criminal has just snatched $200Gs from a bookie syndicate. By pure coincidence the two plots collide in Ad Gordon’s “Two Little Bullets,” and miraculously justice prevails, with hapless hubby saved from certain death, $200Gs to the good.

The story’s implausible plot is improved by Gordon’s writing: “He was a mild-mannered man, thin and round-shouldered, and his eyes, hair and clothes were all a tired gray. Still, he managed a mild curse as he climbed the three flights of stone steps in the apartment house building. Outside, the rain pelted the Washington, D.C. pavements.”

Galactic Central lists only two stories for Ad Gordon, this one and an earlier effort, “Justice is Blind,” that appeared in Justice #1 in May 1955.

Herbert D. Kastle’s Drifter

A story from Justice Amazing Detective Mysteries #2, July 1955: “Drifter” by Herbert D. Kastle.

“Sure, she was pretty, and a guy nearing forty didn’t get them that young—not unless he had a big office and she was his secretary or some kid out for the green stuff. But this wasn’t anything like that.”

It was much darker. Sid Tropp owned Jen and most of Ammerville. Sid set Jen up at Lady Sylvia’s, working off the debt he claimed she owed him. That’s where Jerry met her, where something clicked between them, and where they both got the bright idea that things could go somewhere other than south.

“Drifter” is a rock-solid noir that ends as it should, badly.

Herbert D. Kastle (1924–1987) wrote crime fiction for digest magazines like Manhunt, Trapped, and Sure-Fire. He also wrote for television and drew on this experience in the novels The Movie-Maker, Sunset People, and Cross Country. He also wrote some science fiction and served as the editor for the final two issues of Startling Stories.