RARA-AVIS: RE:Frank Gruber

From: Dick Lochte ( dlock@ix.netcom.com)
Date: 02 Feb 2001

> From: Juri Nummelin < jurnum@utu.fi>
> Gruber seems to be forgotten, but there is (at least was in earlier
> editions) an essay and a crime-oriented bibliography of him in "20th
> Century Crime and Mystery Writers" (now, of course, "St. James Guide").
> Gruber falls somewhere between the screwball comedy and hardboiled and
> there's no noir element in his writing, so maybe that's why he doesn't
> get mentioned any more.

Sorry to say, Juri is correct about Gruber being pretty much forgotten
(though, according to Amazon, most of his novels are available "on special order," whatever that means.) While the Fetcher and Cragg series mixes screwball comedy with action, the Simon Lash series (Simon Lash: Private Detective, The Buffalo Box, Murder '97) is very much in the hardboiled camp. Several of Gruber's later one-offs, like Twenty Plus Two, probably qualify as noir. But they're not as well-written or clever as the Fletcher and Cragg books which, to my way of thinking, are more entertaining than the Nero Wolfe books.

I think it's been mentioned here before, but Gruber's memoir, The Pulp Jungle, in which he discusses his years of writing for the pulps, is great fun. His Black Mask memories are of particular interest, his friendship with Carroll John Daly, an antagonistic encounter with Chandler, etc. Much of the book-long essay appeared in the Brass Knuckles collection.

Dick Lochte

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