- RSS Channel Showcase 1725704
- RSS Channel Showcase 8611232
- RSS Channel Showcase 4785883
- RSS Channel Showcase 4107853
Articles on this Page
- 11/17/17--05:00: _Forgotten Books: DE...
- 11/18/17--05:00: _YouTube Theater: T...
- 11/19/17--06:00: _Comic Gallery: THE ...
- 11/20/17--05:00: _Pulp Gallery: DUSTY...
- 11/21/17--05:00: _E.C. Gallery: INTER...
- 11/22/17--05:00: _The Battle of DAVY ...
- 11/23/17--05:00: _RAYMOND CHANDLER Br...
- 11/24/17--05:00: _Forgotten Books: A ...
- 11/25/17--05:00: _YouTube Theater: GU...
- 11/26/17--06:00: _Hear it here: RED N...
- 11/27/17--10:33: _ALTUS PRESS SALE - ...
- 11/28/17--05:00: _007 Soundtrack 1: D...
- 11/29/17--05:00: _John Wayne Adventur...
- 11/30/17--05:00: _Johnny Weissmuller ...
- 12/01/17--05:00: _SCOOP Gum Cards (1954)
- 12/02/17--06:00: _YouTube Theater: Le...
- 12/03/17--06:00: _MICHAEL LANDON SING...
- 12/04/17--05:00: _MANHUNT Detective S...
- 12/05/17--05:00: _Comic Gallery: THE ...
- 12/06/17--05:00: _HOPALONG CASSIDY Co...
- 12/08/17--05:00: _Forgotten Books: RE...
- 12/08/17--23:18: _YouTube Theater: Fl...
- 12/09/17--23:37: _The MOST IMPORTANT ...
- 12/11/17--05:00: _A Bill Crider Blog-...
- 12/12/17--05:00: _The Complete Crocad...
- 11/18/17--05:00: YouTube Theater: The CAPTAIN AMERICA you don't want to see! (1990)
- 11/19/17--06:00: Comic Gallery: THE SHADOW STRIKES! 1-4 (1989)
- 11/20/17--05:00: Pulp Gallery: DUSTY AYRES and his BATTLE BIRDS 10,11,12 (1935)
- 11/21/17--05:00: E.C. Gallery: INTERNATIONAL COMICS (1947)
- 11/22/17--05:00: The Battle of DAVY CROCKETT, Round 2: Fess Parker vs. Mac Wiseman
- 11/23/17--05:00: RAYMOND CHANDLER British Dust Jackets (Part 2)
- 11/24/17--05:00: Forgotten Books: A NOOSE FOR THE DESPERADO by Clifton Adams (1951)
- 11/25/17--05:00: YouTube Theater: GUNSMOKE Episode 2 - "Hot Spell"
- 11/26/17--06:00: Hear it here: RED NAILS by Robert E. Howard
- 11/27/17--10:33: ALTUS PRESS SALE - Final Day!
- 11/28/17--05:00: 007 Soundtrack 1: DR. NO (1963)
- 11/29/17--05:00: John Wayne Adventure Comics: "Sudden Death at Dragon's Peak"
- 11/30/17--05:00: Johnny Weissmuller as JUNGLE JIM
- 12/01/17--05:00: SCOOP Gum Cards (1954)
- 12/02/17--06:00: YouTube Theater: Leonard Nimoy in KID MONK BARONI (1952)
- 12/03/17--06:00: MICHAEL LANDON SINGS (sort of)
- 12/04/17--05:00: MANHUNT Detective Story Monthly
- 12/06/17--05:00: HOPALONG CASSIDY Comic Book Story: "The Poll Plot" (1948)
- 12/08/17--05:00: Forgotten Books: RED GARDENIAS by Jonathan Latimer (1939)
- 12/08/17--23:18: YouTube Theater: Flashgun Tracy in WOMEN ARE TROUBLE (1936)
- 12/09/17--23:37: The MOST IMPORTANT BOOK of the Century?
- 12/11/17--05:00: A Bill Crider Blog-O-Book: WILL THE PERSECUTION NEVER END?
In 1958, with Death Takes an Option, Ballard began a new series starring the private detective team of Tony Costaine and Bert McCall. And for reasons unknown (at least to me), he chose to write under the pen name Neil MacNeil.
While Costaine is your stock hardboiled P.I., being smart, tough, handsome, and flexible in the morality department, McCall is a free-spirited giant who talks like a hipster. He calls Costaine "Dad" (as in "Daddy-o"), and sums up philosophy with the line, "Three things I don't dig. Finks, falsies and fags."
This being 1958, Ballard wasn't worried about offending the LGBTQ community, and an effeminate thug and his partner are referred to as "Rosebud,""blond queen,""daisies" and "girls." There's also plenty for women to object to. Meeting the secretary Costaine is assigned, he immediately addresses her as "Kitten,""honey" and "sweet." There are also naked ladies in this book - and naked men, too - none of whom show the slightest inhibition.
The Costaine and McCall series continued for four more books, pictured here. In a 1979 interview conducted by Steve Mertz (you can read the whole thing HERE), Ballard said this about the series:
I developed the idea and editor Dick Carrol was enthusiastic. Then he died and Knox Burger took over. Burger was wary of the MacNeil byline because he knew the real Neil MacNeil of Washington. D.C., and my use embarrassed him although it was an honest family name for me. Knox did his best to kill the series. However, the books were popular and went back into reprint over which Knox had no control. It dragged on until Knox felt it was safe and then did kill both the nom and the series. I had no recourse. Knox left the house soon afterward, but the series was gone.
Two more of the many BODC releases of 1955. Fess Parker recorded the ballad at least four times, but this was the first released. His was the second biggest seller of the year, following Bill Hayes'. We'll hear Fess's other efforts further down the road. Mac Wiseman recorded another (and much smoother) version later, too.
HERE) (no relation to the song I don't like), we saw how "Tall" Cameron ran afoul of the scallywags and carpetbaggers ruling his Texas home town, rode the owlhoot trail under the expert tutelage of notorious outlaw Pappy Garret, and had his hopes of returning to his old life and love shattered.
It's now a month later. Tall is on his own now, and resigned to his fate. He hardly ever thinks of that little gal and that little Texas town anymore, except when he's forced to.
In the first book, Tall was riding all over creation, learning things and regretting things and killing people dead. But this time, except for a few forays into the desert, takes place in the little border town of Ocotillo, Texas, where all the habitants, aside from the ruling class of gringo outlaws, appears to be Mexican (or, in today's jargon, undocumented aliens).
The Boss of Ocotillo has a sweet racket. Granting refuge to wanted badmen (hence the presence of Tall Cameron) gets him a large and vicious gang ready to do his bidding - which is to ambush, rob and murder smugglers bringing stuff up from Mexico.
Tall, being a basically good guy, doesn't like it much, but has little choice. To make things tougher on him, he meets a rundown drunk who serves as his conscience, and a wide-eyed young Texan who idolizes him. Unlike Tall, this kid still has a chance to return to his gal and his law-abiding life.
He also meets a hellcat in the form of a hot young senorita. This femme fatale situation seems to be the typical Gold Medal temptress who leads the protagonist to his doom, but Adams twist expectations by giving Tall the determination to fend her off and use her for his own purposes.
While I enjoyed Desperado, I liked this one even better. That's likely because all the coming-of-age and apprentice-outlaw business was out of the way, and Tall could get right down to the tough stuff. It's also more cinematic. I felt like I was reading a movie. Desperado was made into a film, so why not this one? Attention filmmakers: It ain't too late!
This book is full of great hard-boiled lines. Some samples:
His lips were red and raw-looking, like an incision in a piece of liver.
Anger swarmed all over me like a prairie fire.
Looking into his eyes were like looking into the windows of a deserted house.
Bama's eyes were twin, silent screams for whisky.
Their heads turned toward the door as if they had been jerked on a string.
He looked about as excited as a dead armadillo.
His eyes popped out as if they had been punched from behind with a pool cue.
He was traveling the road to hell on a fast horse.
Somebody had gone to Austin and brought the capitol building to Arizona and tied it on my back.
He couldn't have been more pleased if I had handed him Texas with a fence around it.
Made me wish Adams had written more adventures of Tall Cameron. But he didn't. There are only these two, and they're available now from Stark House.
It took me a long time to reread and review all five books in the Bill Crane series. Not because I'm a slow reader (though I suppose I am), but because I wanted to savor each one, and spend some time anticipating the next. And I'm finally finished. And yeah, these books lived up to my first impressions (and then some) and were worth the wait. If anything, I'm more impressed with Latimer than I was on my first journey through his works, some thirty years ago.
That said, Red Gardenias is not his best book. I'm forced to rate it the least enjoyable of the series, which is to say it's not great -- merely good. For me, the series reached its highpoint of hedonistic hilarity with the previous entry, The Dead Don't Care. It's hard for me to imagine Latimer outdoing himself after that one, and I have to suspect he couldn't either. So instead he gave us a slightly more mature Crane -- or at least one feeling the pangs of maturity -- and allowed him to fall in love.
Crane still does a lot of drinking here, ably abetted by his detecting pal Doc Williams, but he doesn't enjoy it as much. Cherchez la femme, you might say, and you'd be right. The case sends him undercover, with his boss's daughter Ann Fortune pretending to be his wife. That begins well enough, but Ann soon starts acting like a real wife and criticizes his drinking. And as the story unfolds, Crane discovers he cares what she thinks of him and starts acting like a husband. A well-lit husband, to be sure, but still . . .
The case itself is certainly up to Latimer standards, as is the supporting cast. Crane's undercover role is an advertising copywriter for a family-run company that manufactures appliances, a job that would drive just about anyone to drink. One family member is dead, smelling of gardenias, and not everyone believes it was suicide. They believe it even less when the guy's brother dies under similar circumstances, and much of the suspicion falls on the vamp whose had her hooks in every man in the family, and is now sinking them into William Crane.
My takes on the earlier Crane books are here:
Headed for a Hearse
The Lady in the Morgue
Murder in the Madhouse
The Dead Don't Care