Favorite Hard-Boiled Noir: Remaining Contingent

9781944520687 Tomorrow, Saturday, August 31st at 2PM on BookPeople’s third floor, we will be holding our Tough Guys and Dangerous Dames: A Discussion of Hard-boiled Fiction panel to celebrate twenty years of Stark House publishing and the release of the book, The Best Of Manhunt. Leading up to it this week, we’ve had all the participants list three or five hard-boiled favorites. We’ve heard from Stark House Press’s Jeff Vorzimmer and Rick Ollerman and from Nacogdoches, Texas’ Tim Bryant and Joe R Lansdale. All that is left is modern hard-boiled master Josh Stallings, author of the Moses McGuire series that follows an ex-biker turned bouncer on a war against sex traffickers, and Young Americans, a coming of Age heist tale. Also chiming in with his opinion, crime fiction coordinator Scott Montgomery who will be serving as moderator on the panel.


FINAL Josh’s Picks:

Dancing Bear by James Crumley

This isn’t country noir, it’s Montanan hard-boiled. It combines flavors of Raymond Chandler and Hunter S. Thompson with a poetry that is Crumley’s own. It also has my favorite last line, “I have learned some things. Modern life is warfare without end: take no prisoners, leave no wounded, eat the dead–that’s environmentally sound.”

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

Chandler writes like a drunken angel. I was 16 when this book started my lifelong love of hard-boiled fiction. Detective Philip Marlowe is a deeply flawed man fighting to do the best he can. Corruption, blackmail, dangerous dames, it is both of it’s time, and frighteningly timeless.

Already Dead by Charlie Huston

In the underbelly of New York lives a dark and dangerous world of blood suckers. Joe Pitt is a hard-boiled, vampire detective fighting to keep the world from falling into chaos. It is funny but never crosses into silliness. It is serious as dynamite, violent and brilliant. Huston creates characters worth giving a damn about.


Scott’s Picks:

The Glass Key by Dashiell Hammett

Hammett may have not invented the hard-boiled story, but he made it into something worth pursuing for authors. Often considered his most personal book, the story follows the right hand man of a political boss, trying to solve a murder that could ruin his boss while falling for his boss’s woman. Hammett delivers a cynical tale featuring a tarnished hero with a code and a strong male friendship at it’s center. A huge influence on The Coen Brother’s Millers Crossing.

Blue City by Ross Macdonald

Before his sensitive PI Lew Archer, Macdonald wrote this tough as nails postwar tale (originally under his real name Kenneth Millar) about a soldier who returns home to find his father, the town fixer, murdered and few, including the sheriff and his step-mother, giving a damn. He hunts down those responsible with the help of a sex worker and leftist bookstore owner. You know it’s a hard-boiled novel when the hero’s name is Johnny Weather.

The Outfit by Richard Stark (aka Donald Westlake)

I had to include a book about professional robber Parker and this heist novel with about a half dozen heists. To bring things to a head with the organized crime outfit he’s been at war with, Parker goes on a crime spree and tells his peers if they know of an outfit place to rob do it, it will be pinned on him. Westlake wrote the Parker books with a precision that created diamond hard books with no fat.

Unknown Man #89 by Elmore Leonard

One Leonard’s early and grittier Detroit-based novels about a process server with a reputation of tracking down anyone, is hired to locate a man for a sleazy guy who deals in stocks. Others are also on the hunt with deadly aim. Great examples of Leonard’s sense of character and dialogue in a darker story than he was later known for.

Two Bear Mambo by Joe R. Lansdale

Also had to have a Hap and Leonard. This one has the boys going into a racist town to find out what happened to Hap’s ex, a lawyer working on a case.  Funny, with great action and a great male friendship at it’s center, this and the other books in the series show how an author takes his or her influences and makes them his own.


Don’t forget about our hard-boiled mystery fiction panel happening on BookPeople’s third floor this Saturday, August 31st at 2PM featuring a bevy of Crime fiction’s best.

Favorite Hard-Boiled Noirs: Nacogdoches Contingent

9781944520687 For our Tough Guys & Dangerous Dames: A Discussion of Hard Boiled Fiction Panel on Saturday, August 31st, at 2PM, we have two literary stalwarts from behind the pine curtain in Nacogdoches, Texas driving in to join us. Tim Bryant owns The Bosslight, the towns’ independent bookstore and is one of those writers more people need to know about, with a great private eye series featuring postwar Fort Worth detective Alvin “Dutch” Curridge and a western one with John Wilkie Liquorish, a very dubious frontier hero. Joe R. Lansdale is a legend in practically every genre outside Harlequin romance, best known for his Hap and Leonard series that took the hard-boiled crime genre in several weird and wonderful directions. Here are their list of five favorite hard boiled novels.


tim-bryant-official-author-pic-1-219x300 Tim’s Picks:

1. Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze

This is a hell of a ride, one where you never know what’s coming around the next corner. But it has the South in it, including my beloved New Orleans, a beautiful dream/nightmare of a woman along for the trip, and a protagonist named Tim who’s living with hellhounds nipping at his heels and he’s not looking back.

2. The Nothing Man by Jim Thompson

The Nothing Man isn’t usually considered one of Thompson’s best, but I’ll stick up for it. It’s as dark and violent and alcohol-fueled as you would expect, but it will also make you giggle and squirm in spite of yourself. All of Thompson’s protagonists are missing something important, but morality tale of male impotence makes it all too literal.

3. Cockfighter by Charles Willeford

Willeford has that unflinching eye, putting the reader ringside on the cockfghting circuit in the dirty South. You might see a lot of things you don’t really want to see, but Willeford paints it in such a stark and beautiful way, you can’t look away.

Author Photo Joe Lansdale Credit Karen Lansdale (3) Joe’s Picks (descriptions by Scott):

Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliot Chaze

The book that pops up most often on our panelist’s lists. When people use the term fever dream, this is a fine example. All the elements of a hard-boiled noir, a cad narrator, femme fatale, and armored car heist.

Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
Chandler had a huge influence on Joe’s phrasing and use of humor, both of which are in prime example in this, the second of the Phillip Marlowe books. Both authors also share the idea of using regional dialect as part of their literary style.
Double Indemnity by James M Cain
Joe has always described Cain as a clean writer in his narrative approach, which is reflected in this tight no holds bar novel that has a very different ending from the classic film

All Shot Up by Chester Himes
It’s easy to see Joe taking the humor and absurdity, as well as use of place that Himes developed and grafting it to his own work. They also share the ability for social examination through an entertaining genre novel.

Murder is Not an Odd Job by Ralph Dennis

Dennis’ Hardman series featuring unlicensed Atlanta PI Jim Hardman, assisted by his former pro football  back up, Hump, served as one of the influences on his Hap and Leonard series.


Be sure to join us to hear Tim and Joe talk more noir when they stop by the store on August 31st at 2PM for a panel celebrating twenty years of Stark House Press.

“A Constant Process Inside my Head”: Scott Butki Interviews David Lagercrantz

9780451494344_a5a17

Like many I really loved the Millenium Series both for the plot, but even more so, for the characters of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. The series was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Author Stiegg Larsen’s books received great reviews and became best-sellers…but there was a problem: He had died in 2004 and his books were published after his death.

In 2013 author David Lagercrantz was commissioned to continue the series. Resuming a series started by another is a tough challenge. Some, like Ace Atkins, who has done an awesome job continuing the Spenser series after Robert Parker died, have done it well. But it’s not an easy task. Since being commissioned, Lagencrantz continued the series with The Girl in the Spider’s Web in 2015 and The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye in 2017.

Which brings us to his new book, the latest entry in the series, The Girl Who Lived Twice. Lagencrantz will be speaking at Book People on Friday, August 30 at 7pm.

Lagencrantz was kind enough to allow me to interview him for this book.


Scott Butki: What inspired your newest novel, The Girl Who Lived Twice? Where did you first get the idea for this story?

David Lagencrantz: I first got the idea when I caught sight of a beggar sitting not far from my home. Suddenly I felt that I really saw him, and started wondering about his life, his story. I began to think of a way to tell the story of his life alongside a story of absolute power in society. I carried an old dream of depicting the whole structure of society in one mystery. I also knew from the beginning that this book would contain the final battle between Lisbeth and her sister.

S.B.: Your books are very complex. Do you write from an outline?

D.L.: No, actually I don’t ever do that. It is a constant process inside my head. I never take notes. I imagine that the best ideas will make themselves clear, and will be refined as I keep writing.

S.B.: Tell us about the moment you learned you were inheriting Stieg Larsson’s infamous series. What did that feel like?

D.L.: That was explosive! Crazy. I was terrified, scared to death and could not wait to get started. All at the same time.

S.B.: Do you worry about straying from Larsson’s tone and style, or at this point, do you feel comfortable making changes and incorporating your own voice?

D.L.: At this point I feel free and confident, comfortable to use my own voice within Larsson’s framework.

S.B.: What do you hope readers will take away from these books?

D.L.: I hope that they will have great fun. And that the books will make readers aware of the horrifying threat that fake news and disinformation is to our society.

S.B.: You have made some incredible donations from the profits of your books to literacy and journalism nonprofits in Sweden. Why are these organizations important to you?

D.L.: Both literacy and journalism are based on freedom of speech and the free word. Free speech is fundamental in a democracy, and we all must do our utmost to protect it. That is why I support Swedish PEN and the Swedish Reading Society.

S.B.: What are you working on next? Another Lisbeth novel, or something else?

D.L.: I am very excited to tell you I recently signed a contract for a crime trilogy! I cannot wait to get back to my writing.


Be sure to come by BookPeople on August 30th at 7PM to hear David in conversation with local author Chandler Baker to discuss all things The Girl Who Lived Twice.

Sometimes Straight Up Stockholm Syndrome: An Interview with Rob Hart

The Warehouse August’s MysteryPeople Pick Of The Month, Rob Hart’s The Warehouse, has been a much talked about book this summer. A thriller set in near future corporate workplace environment, The Mother Cloud Complex, where the workers live in the factory. It is viewed through three characters Paxton, a security guard new on the job, Zinnia, a corporate spy infiltrating The Cloud as a worker, and Gibson Wells, the CEO and founder of Cloud who mainly speaks to us through his blog. Hart has created a frightening real world of the one percent and those who work for them. We got in touch with Rob to talk about the book and the dystopian future he created. 


1.) How did you decide on your two protagonists, Paxton and Zinnia?

Right from the start I saw it as two driving voices. One would be the slightly naïve company man (Paxton) and the other would be the more skeptical person with an agenda (Zinnia). I think for a story as big as this, in order to examine the different facets—especially in terms of the work environment—it needed multiple points of view. But I really didn’t crack it until I added the third: the CEO, Gibson Wells. Because someone needed to take on the role of defending the company, and litigating the history of it. Because otherwise, it was too black-and-white.

2.) How did you go about building the world of The Mother Cloud Complex?

I had to draw a map! The MotherClouds are essentially small, self-contained cities, so the first thing I did was create a list of everything you need in a city (police, fire, transit, schools, hospitals, etc.). Then I drew a map. I was actually really struggling with the layout of the facility; I needed to see it before I could move forward with the story. I ended up referring back to it constantly, just to get a sense of geography. So in a sense, it was great—I could create whatever I needed to suit my storytelling needs. But at the same time, it was a lot to keep in my head.

3. Was there anything you had to keep in mind while writing in your world?

You hear a lot about show-don’t-tell, and that’s something I thought about a lot with this book. There was so much world-building, and I felt like it was important to reveal that all organically. Stopping the story every ten minutes to explain stuff would have pumped the brakes too much. Rather, I needed to figure out how to reveal the world through the experience of the characters, so you’re sort of seeing what they see, and processing it the way they would. That way I hoped it would feel more natural.

4. I really thought the way you portrayed Gibson Wells was interesting. You are sympathetic to him, since he is dying of cancer and his arguments on his blog make sense in the beginning, so you don’t know through his blog if he is misguided, rationalizing his actions, or he’s masking something evil. How did you approach him so he wouldn’t be the corporate fat cat stereotype?

The villain of the story never thinks they’re the villain. I just kept coming back to that. Gibson believes that might makes right; for as much as he’s accomplished, he obviously must be doing the right thing. How else would he have succeeded? As I mentioned previously, I think giving him that voice, and that opportunity to explain his side, really opened up the story and gave it the balance it needed.

5. You have the Cloud corporate speak of being “a team” down well. In fact, I couldn’t help but think of an Amazon help wanted ad I read. What is the key to doing that authentically?

Lots and lots of reading and research, plus calling on my own experience, working in jobs where there was a lot of groupthink and gaslighting and, frankly, sometimes straight-up Stockholm syndrome, where your employers treat you like shit and you rationalize it, because at least you have a job. The trick was not making it feel too cult-like. I didn’t want to go toward a sense of fantasy with it. For a while I considered having all the employees be forced to run through a group chant or exercise at the start of their shift. Which on one hand, feels completely absurd. But on the other hand, is a thing Wal-mart employees actually do. So it was also recognizing that, sometimes, the reality is so absurd people might not believe it.

6. Can you tell us what you have in store for us next?

I’m working on a book now that isn’t a direct sequel to The Warehouse — it’s more of a spiritual sequel. The Warehouse is about the way corporations treat us like disposable products, and it poses some questions that I hope this new book answers. And it’s about power. That’s all I want to say for now.


You can purchase a copy of Rob Hart’s The Warehouse from BookPeople in-store or online now.

Five Favorite Noir & Hard-Boiled Novels – The Stark House Contingent

9781944520687This Saturday, August 31st at 2PM we will be holding a discussion on BookPeople’s third floor to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Stark House Press and their release of The Best Of Manhunt, the premiere crime magazine of the fifties and sixties. Authors Tim  Bryant, Josh Stallings, and Joe R. Lansdale will being joining. We also have two representatives from Stark House in on the discussion. Rick Ollerman is both an author at Stark House with books like Mad Dog Barked and Turnabout/ Shallow Secrets and well as their expert, contributing the historical and critical introductions to many of their reprints. Most can be found in the collection Hard Boiled, Noir, and Gold Medals, along with new essays. Jeff Vorzimmer is an author and editor, with The Best Of Manhunt being his latest project. We asked both of them to list five titles from their favorite noir and hard-boileds.


jeff Jeff’s Picks:

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

This was the book that got me hooked on Highsmith. Previously I’d only read Strangers on a Train, which, like Ripley himself, also features a psychopath. In Ripley, though we get an uncomfortably close view of a psychopath in a novel set on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, one of my favorite places in the world. It’s also been made into—not just one—but two great movies, one French and one American.

The Far Cry by Fredric Brown

Like most readers of pulp fiction, my introduction to Brown was through his science fiction, but I soon discovered his fantastic crime fiction. The Far Cry is a great crime novel set in Taos, New Mexico, in which Brown made use of his background as a skip-tracer. A man looking to get away from the city for a few weeks learns that a woman who stayed in the cabin he rents had disappeared eight years before and he quickly becomes obsessed with the case.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three by John Godey

The great New York City heist novel that’s been filmed twice. What an ingenious story line—hijacking a subway car! Whether you’ve seen either film, the book is well-plotted and well worth reading.

Swamp Sister by Robert Edmond Alter

I first came to Swamp Sister through Barry Gifford’s Black Lizard line of books in the 80s and I was instantly hooked, not just on Alter, but also the “swamp” subgenre of the 1950s and 60s crime fiction. Other great “swamp” books are Harry Whittington’s A Moment to Prey (Backwoods Tramp)—also published by Black Lizard—and Gil Brewer’s Hell’s Our Destination.

The Hot Spot (aka Hell Hath No Fury) by Charles Williams

Having read all of Charles Williams, I’m hard-pressed to pick one, but this one is a good example of his crime fiction. Williams was a Texan and, like many of his early books, this one is set in Texas. It features a heist and two love triangles and was made into a film shot in central Texas with Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen and the beautiful Jennifer Connelly in an unforgettable scene at Hamilton Pool.

obj692geo677pg2p22 Rick’s Picks:

The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

This is James M. Cain’s seminal noir work and when I apply my definition of noir (I know you’ve heard ad nauseum; you start out screwed and end up screwed-er) this is the book that I tell people to read when they ask, “So, what is this noir thing?”

Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze 

I’m not as much on the bandwagon with this book as some people, and Chaze’s surviving family feels he wrote better books than this, but it’s certainly a compelling example of the ups and downs in a well-told noir story that trend in a disastrous direction up until its inevitable sort of ending.

One for Hell by Jada M. Davis

Davis published only two books in his lifetime, opting instead to follow the corporate path and take the safer money and look out for his family. But this book is what you’d get if you sparkled some fertilizer on Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me and allowed it to grow inside a summer greenhouse for a season. When it comes out it would swallow the Thompson book whole. Interestingly, the other book Davis published (The Outraged Sect) is almost a mirror image of One for Hell and because of it offers a fascinating analysis of why noir works as a form of literature. Stark House has also published the excellent coming of age story The Midnight Road and–when I catch up even more–a very tasty Gold Medal-esque home run called So Curse the Day as the centerpiece of an upcoming anthology. Assuming Jeff doesn’t use up all the good stories in his collections….

The Name of the Game is Death by Dan J. Marlowe

It offers another terrific trip through the noir landscape. In this case, the protagonist picks a name that’s as good as any other, Earl Drake, as he plans and commits his string of crimes. Being noir, of course things get more and more away from him, all the way through the grisly climax. Almost by definition, a truly noir book defies a sequel and though the ending of this book seems to adhere to the rule, Marlowe actually makes an exception and follows this book with One Endless Hour. Rather than having burned to death as we had believed after Name of the Game, Drake not only survives but plastic surgery gives him a new face. The first third of this book is a recap of Name of the Game and actually serves to transition into the character not only becoming the owner of the “Earl Drake” name, but Marlowe also making him a full-fledged government agent in a series of men’s adventure books. As a sequence, it’s fascinating, as is Marlowe’s personal story (amnesiac, slowly regains his memory, works with a convict/ex-con on future books) but aside from all that, The Name of the Game is Death deserves its position on the noir shelf, especially as a single book. Stark House did an omnibus edition with both The Name of the Game is Death and One Endless Hour.

The Eye of the Beholder by Marc Behm

It’s the story of a private investigator with a missing daughter who is surveilling a female serial killer and how this becomes a tragic obsession with him. Behm is in the top rank of French noir writers and this book was made into a movie (very different from the book, in a nowhere-near-as-good way with Ethan Hawke) and more recently a number of Behm’s novels have been made into graphic novels as well as found their way into new reprint editions.

As a bonus from left field, I’ll give you a complete unknown and dark horse. It’s more contemporary than classic, being published in 2002, and it’s by Hugo Wilcken, called The Execution. The simplified plot is about a man losing his girlfriend but as the story goes on, you see that what’s going on is the main character’s slow descent into insanity. It is a disturbing read.


You can order (most of) these titles from BookPeople online and hear more from Jeff and Rick when we host them on August 31st at 2PM for our panel celebrating the 20th anniversary of Stark House Press. 

Tell a Great Story: An Interview with Greg Shepard

gregWe’re celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Stark House Press this month with a discussion of hard boiled fiction with Joe Lansdale, Tim Bryant, Josh Stallings, and Stark House editors, experts, and writers Rick Ollerman and John Vorzimmer. One person who can’t make it is Greg Shepard (pictured), Stark House’s founder and publisher, who has been bringing back great genre fiction gems from the past back in print. We took some time to talk to the man about his twenty years of his great work.


1. How did Stark House Press get started?

My dad, Bill Shepard, was a magazine and newspaper editor and writer for many years. In 1998, he had the idea to start a family publishing venture. Several of my family members joined in as artists and editors. Our first book was the hardback collection, The Oracle Lips by Storm Constantine. Unfortunately, it didn’t sell as well as we had hoped. One by one, family members drifted away, leaving me with the basis for Stark House Press. My brother, Mark, still serves as our graphic designer, and my wife Cindy runs our website. I also have several friends and associates who help with writing, proofing and occasionally suggesting authors.

2. What do you see as the mission of the press?

The main goal of Stark House Press is to act as a reprint publisher, bringing back genre fiction of the past, and specializing in mysteries and noir fiction. We will occasionally promote new authors, but roughly 80% of our business will continue to focus on reprinting gems from the past.

3. Much of the crime fiction you publish are from the fifties and sixties. What do you think was quintessential about that era?

The 1950s and 60s were the golden age of the paperback, a time when all those pulp veterans and fledgling crime writers had an opportunity to expand their ideas from magazine short stories into the novel format. Fostered by the generous advances of Gold Medal Books, many of the classic mystery authors we celebrate today—John D. MacDonald, Charles Williams, Gil Brewer, Peter Rabe, Vin Packer—could make a living doing what they did best: tell a great story. The post-war, boom climate of the 50s also generated a lot of angst, giving rise to some very dark fiction via authors like Jim Thompson, David Goodis and David Karp. It was just a very fertile time for crime fiction.

4. While you have some of the bigger names like Gil Brewer and David Goodis, you have also brought back some lesser known authors. Who are some that you wish more readers would know of?

Douglas Sanderson, who also wrote as Malcolm Douglas and Martin Brett, is a favorite of mine. I love his lean, mean prose. I’ve been hyping Elisabeth Sanxay Holding to the point where we’ve reprinting all but two of her mysteries, but I still feel she could be better well known. And I would love to see more sales of James McKimmey, Bill S. Ballinger, Richard Wormser and John Flagg to justify more reprints of their forgotten treasures. This year we have also added a lot more women mystery authors, like Jean Potts, Bernice Carey and Dolores Hitchens, with more to come. The list of “lesser knowns” could go on and on.

5. Who is an author or book you’d like to get back into print, but haven’t yet for whatever reason?

I’d love to get David Karp back into print but have yet to track down his heirs. Same goes for Don Tracy and Robert Edmond Alter. And then there are authors like Edward S. Aarons and Marvin Albert, whose heirs doesn’t seem interested. And authors like Cornell Woolrich and Geoffrey Homes, whose agents are just charging too much for the rights.

6. Where would you like to see Stark House in the next twenty years?   

I should live so long. Seriously, if Stark House is still in business in 20 years, I hope it’s still bringing back more great authors of the past. I’d love to see a wider range of genres by then—more science-fiction, horror, fantasy, westerns—and a lot better balance of both men and women authors on our list. More anthologies as well. But other than that, I hope Stark House continues to be known for reprinting the authors who deserve another shot in print. And I hope we continue to have the resources to keep books in print, as well as making them available as e-books. But in 20 years, who knows what new changes in the publishing business will have occurred.


To hear more about Stark House Press and from the contributors and editors of their latest publication, The Best of Manhunt, join us on BookPeople’s third floor on August 31st at 2PM for a paneled discussion headed by Crime Fiction coordinator Scott Montgomery. The talk will feature Jeff Vorzimmer, Rick Ollerman, Josh Stallings, Tim Bryant and Joe Lansdale. 

An Interview with The Best of Manhunt editor John Vorzimmer

9781944520687The Best Of Manhunt is a collection of 47 stories from the famed crime fiction magazine of the fifties and sixties. Editor John Vorzimmer put it together, giving us stories by big names like Mickey Spillane and David Goodis, newcomers at the time, Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake, as well as many forgotten authors that will be remembered. For a celebration of his publisher Stark House’s twentieth year and the book itself John will be part of our Tough Guys & Dangerous Dames: A Discussion Of Hard Boiled Crime on Saturday, August 31st with Rick Ollerman, Josh Stallings, Tim Bryant, and Joe Lansdale. Here we got him on his own.

 

 


  1. How did this project come about?

I’ve always been an admirer of Otto Penzler’s anthologies, especially his Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories. I always hoped he would do a similar anthology of Manhunt stories. I have always thought of Manhunt as the worthy successor to Black Mask, appearing as it did the year following that venerable magazine’s demise. After six years with no Manhunt anthology coming from anybody, I asked myself a question I often do, If I don’t do it, who will?

  1. Was there any criteria of picking the stories?

There was a previous anthology of Manhunt stories, The Best From Manhunt, in the late 50s, edited by Scott & Sidney Meredith, which I used as a starting point. All the stories included in that collection are included in mine. For the rest I turned to veteran anthologist Bill Pronzini, who, not only has edited over a hundred anthologies himself, but is a big fan of Manhunt. I also relied on other experts on certain authors who appeared regularly in Manhunt and solicited them for their favorites.

  1. Why do you think Manhunt was such a quality crime fiction magazine?

Manhunt was the brainchild of publisher Archer St. John and agent Scott Meredith. Both were experts who knew the right people to make Manhunt a great publication. St. John supplied the artists and layout people to create a great looking publication while Meredith and his brother, Sydney, provided editing duties and a steady flow of great fiction from their stable of writers.

  1. Who comes the closest to being the quintessential Manhunt author?

Tough question. I think there are several. I would have to say Evan Hunter, otherwise known as Ed McBain, who contributed 48 stories over the life of the magazine. In addition I would have to include Gil Brewer and Fletcher Flora.

  1. Is there a lesser known writer in this collection you hope writers will discover?

Oh, yes. Frank E. Smith, who wrote as Jonathan Craig, comes immediately to mind, along with Robert Turner and Clark Howard. Other than a couple of books by small, independent publishers, I don’t think these writers currently have much in print.

  1. What does crime fiction from this era have over it’s contemporaries?

A question loaded with potential pitfalls. I could say these authors worked at a time in which writers weren’t constrained by the fear of offending someone or some group. What they wrote actually reflected, for better or worse, how people behaved in the 1950s.


Don’t forget to join us on August 31st at 2PM on BookPeople’s third floor for a discussion with Vorzimmer and The Best of Manhunt contributors Rick Ollerman, Josh Stallings, Tim Bryant and Joe Lansdale. And while you’re at it, order a copy of The Best of Manhunt here.