Bad news. Your husband refused to pay the ransom. He also wanted me to tell you it's not you, it's him.
A while back we moved Jonathan Latimer from the decent bin to the mandatory bin off the back of his crazy thriller Solomon's Vineyard. We're returning him to the decent bin. The Dead Don't Care is an okay book, but not top notch. Latimer wrote it in 1938, and it was the fourth entry in a detective franchise starring a boozy dick named Bill Crane, and an equally boozy sidekick named Thomas O'Malley. The two engage in such shenanigans as ordering double-triple bourbons and generally pickling their livers at every opportunity—which we totally respect‚ but the actual mystery, divorced from its comedic elements, is overly talky and populated by characters that tend to blend after a while.
Basically, Crane and O'Malley are called in when an upper crust woman is kidnapped, and someone is murdered. As usual in such books, the first murder isn't the last, and the second killing provides key clues to finally unmasking the eventual culprit. In all, it was meh. But it did well enough to spawn a film adaptation, 1938's The Last Warning, which we may watch at some point. We're in no way discouraged by The Dead Don't Care. We already know Latimer can write. But it isn't surprising he'd run into problems four entries into a series that would peter out after one more outing. We'll move on to his other books and do so eagerly. This MacFadden-Bartell paperback came in 1964, and the cover art is by Robert Schulz.
I'm down to my last few bullets! Throw those egg salad sandwiches we brought for lunch! Maybe those will slow them down!
When we first saw Eric North's 1955 sci-fi thriller The Ant Men the first thought we had— Well, actually, the second thought. The first thought was: “Oh, this is a must read.” Our second thought was: “Highly centralized, conscienceless, conformist hordes seeking to overrun everything in sight? Hmm, wonder what that's a paranoid metaphor for?” But the book doesn't really have the anti-commie thing. It's sci-fi played straight about six unfortunate people who stumble upon a city of giant ants in the dead heart of Australia. To make matters worse, there are more than just ants out there. It's reasonably fun at first, but North slowly drives his own narrative south with an impossibly annoying Aussie bush guide character who exclaims, “Mamma mamma!” probably fifty times. Five would have gotten the idea across. Before long we were hoping the ants would rip him to pieces and drag his sections down a hole to their queen. The fact that they don't is the book's biggest flaw. Aside from that it's decent, but certainly not among the better sci-fi novels of the period. This MacFadden-Bartell edition has art by Jack Faragasso.
Aren’t you a little old for this sort of thing?
Bernard Wolfe is known for several reasons, not least of them for being Leon Trotsky’s personal secretary in Mexico City, but he was also a novelist of wide-ranging interests. Come On Out, Daddy was his Hollywood book, about a New York author who moves out west to cash in on an easy screenwriting job. While making a couple thousand dollars a week for doing very little he runs into the usual assortment of jaded Tinseltown characters—from big stars to little wannabes—and trysts with an assortment of disposable beauties before of course meeting the woman of his dreams. It’s episodic due to it being partly cobbled together from short stories published in Playboy and Cavalier, but reasonably well regarded as a cultural satire. Life described it as “garrulously and surrealistically told by a huge cast of people in varying stages of corruption.” 1963 on the hardback, and 1964 on the above, with cool cover art by James Meese.
It doesn’t look like much now, but slap on some paint, scatter some knick-knacks around, and we can open a bed & breakfast and make a fortune.
Initially published in 1953 as House of Lost Women, Frank Haskell’s Boarding House acquired its new title in 1954 when re-published by Cameo Books, and retained the new name on the above 1969 edition from Macfadden-Bartell. Frank Haskell was a pseudonym for author Haskell Frankel, whose real name strikes us as a bit more literary sounding than his moniker, whereas the pen name sounds like it belongs to maybe a high school football coach or a union president. No artist info on this, but it’s unusual and we like it.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1931—Schmeling Retains Heavyweight Title
German boxer Max Schmeling TKOs his U.S. opponent Young Stribling in the fifteenth round to retain the world heavyweight boxing title he had won in 1930. Schmeling eventually tallies fifty-six wins, forty by knockout, along with ten losses and four draws before retiring in 1948.
1969—Stones Guitarist Is Found Dead
Brian Jones, a founding member of British rock group Rolling Stones, is found at the bottom of his swimming pool at Crotchford Farm, East Sussex, England. The official cause of his death is recorded as misadventure from ingesting various drugs.
1937—Amelia Earhart Disappears
Amelia Earhart fails to arrive at Howland Island during her around the world flight, prompting a search for her and navigator Fred Noonan in the South Pacific Ocean. No wreckage and no bodies are ever found.
1964—Civil Rights Bill Becomes Law
U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Bill into law, which makes the exclusion of African-Americans from elections, schools, unions, restaurants, hotels, bars, cinemas and other public institutions and facilities illegal. A side effect of the Bill is the immediate reversal of American political allegiance, as most southern voters abandon the Democratic Party for the Republican Party.
1997—Jimmy Stewart Dies
Beloved actor Jimmy Stewart, who starred in such films as Rear Window and Vertigo, dies at age eighty-nine at his home in Beverly Hills, California of a blood clot in his lung.
1941—NBC Airs First Official TV Commercial
NBC broadcasts the first TV commercial to be sanctioned by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC began licensing commercial television stations in May 1941, granting the first license to NBC. During a Dodgers-Phillies game broadcast July 1, NBC ran its first commercial, from Bulova, who paid $9 to advertise its watches.
1963—Kim Philby Named as Spy
The British Government admits that former high-ranking intelligence diplomat Kim Philby had worked as a Soviet agent. Philby was a member of the spy ring now known as the Cambridge Five, along with Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross. Of the five, Philby is believed to have been most successful in providing classified information to the Soviet Union. He defected to Russia, was feted as a hero and even given his commemorative stamp, before dying in 1988 at the age of seventy-six.
1997—Robert Mitchum Dies
American actor Robert Mitchum dies in his home in Santa Barbara, California. He had starred in films such as Out of the Past, Blood on the Moon
, and Night of the Hunter
, was called "the soul of film noir," and had a reputation for coolness
that would go unmatched until Frank Sinatra arrived on the scene.
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