Friday, September 11, 2015

FFB: ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S A HANGMAN'S DOZEN edited by Lisa Belknap (et al.?), Dell 1962

Having discovered for myself the results of Robert Arthur's industry in "Hitchcock" anthologies in 1974-75, my father had picked up this odd bird, Alfred Hitchcock's A Hangman's Dozen, for me among the front-cover-stripped paperbacks he'd buy at this shady display somewhere in Boston (the rest of us in the family still living in Enfield, Connecticut for that 1975-76 school year). Unlike the Arthur volumes, all the stories (rather than a few, mixed in with many from other sources) were from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, which by this time I'd seen around the Enfield Library, with oddly ugly covers and interior illustrations, but clearly something worth looking into. Meanwhile, this compilation wasn't quite as diverse nor horror-imbued as a typical AH Presents: anthology, but certainly close enough:

Contents:

  1. Bomb #14 by Jack Ritchie — from AHMM 2(8)
  2. The Forgiving Ghost by C.B. Gilford
  3. The Children of Noah by Richard Matheson — from AHMM 2(3)
  4. An Attractive Family by Robert Arthur
  5. Let the Sucker Beware by Charles Einstein
  6. Fair Game by John Cortez
  7. The Curious Facts Preceding My Execution by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake)
  8. Your Witness by Helen Nielsen
  9. Blackout by Richard Deming
  10. The October Game by Ray Bradbury — from AHMM 2(6) [as reprinted from Weird Tales magazine]
  11. Stop Calling Me "Mister" by Jonathan Craig
  12. The Last Escape by Jay Street
  13. Not a Laughing Matter by Evan Hunter
  14. Most Agreeably Poisoned by Fletcher Flora
  15. The Best-Friend Murder by Donald E. Westlake
The Gilford, as were many of his, was a horror story, and the Matheson and the Bradbury classic were as close as realistic suspense fiction tends to get...and otherwise this was an impressive selection of short work, and in a few cases introduction to the writers in question...I think I remember even this early exposure to Evan Hunter being among the weakest entries in the book. Two from Donald Westlake is rarely a bad thing, and I remember the "Stark" as being particularly full of gallows wit; contributor Charles Einstein, of course, being a notable journalist as well as fiction-writer and the older half-brother of Albert "Brooks" and Bob Einstein (once best-known as Officer Judy on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and as "Super Dave Osbourne" in many contexts in the 1990s), and, like them, the son of comedian "Parkyerkarkus". Put together while Lisa Belknap was editing the magazine (whether the recently active Florida-based editor is the same Belknap or perhaps her daughter, I'm not sure), it set a high bar that the magazine best-ofs only fitfully would match in my reading experience.

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

8 comments:

Jack Seabrook said...

Some good writers in that volume! Todd, do you know anyone who might be able to send me a copy of "Place of Shadows" by Robert C. Dennis from the January 1947 Crack Detective Stories? I haven't been able to find a copy at any library and it doesn't look like it was ever reprinted. I haven't even been able to find a copy for sale!

Todd Mason said...

I will query about, Jack.

Jack Seabrook said...

Thanks!

Jack Seabrook said...

Todd, I found a copy of the pulp I was looking for. Thanks for offering to help.

Todd Mason said...

Not at all. I asked on four lists for people to contact you via the BareBones blog if they could offer help...would that be your most direct route?

Todd Mason said...

Ah...now I have the wit to pull your email out of your Blogger account...glad you're squared away.

TracyK said...

This looks great, Todd. I will have to look around for a copy.

Todd Mason said...

I could use a copy that still has its cover...