RARA-AVIS: Four magazines, four stories, four stereotypes reaffirmed.

From: Todd Mason ( Todd.Mason@tvguide.com)
Date: 20 Mar 2001

Hello...thought I'd step forward with (I apologize) a cross-post. Glad to be here. Todd Mason

Before falling asleep the other night, I picked up four CF magazines from 1959-61 (the most popular four in the US at that time, I believe), and read the first stories in each issue. MANHUNT April 1959 leads off with utility-fictioneer Bryce Walton's "The Runaway," a decent if loosely plotted bit of guilt-drenched, id-driven despair, full of ugly details of slum life of the time. AHMM, January 1961, offers Henry Slesar's clever, bitter "The Case of the Secret Sorrow"--an insurance investigator manages to uncover the ugly truth behind an apparent accident. Noir attitude delivered with eyedropper versus Walton's ladle. EQMM, August 1960, begins with Frances & Richard Lockridge's "The Scent of Murder," which manages to take the form of a brief procedural but still be in the mode of the tale of a single clue which tips off our uniformed sleuth as he gathers the suspects in the study...well, the suspect in the kitchen. The stage-setting red herring, however, isn't completely forgotten, and adds a bit of human tragedy at the end. And THE SAINT MYSTERY MAGAZINE for February 1960 leads off with "The Saint and the Mug's Game," which, I was reminded by David Pringle when I posted this to the FictionMags list, was a reprint of a pre-WW2 Charteris short originally published as "The Mug's Game" ...a clever-enough and slightly surprising middling-good caper-story, one marred, in part, by an odd bit of business about Templar's reputation preceding him to what seemed to me an unlikely extent...as if the author had long since begun taking his series-stories for granted.

So, as one might anticipate, MANHUNT nihilistic existentialism, AHMM wry duplicity verging on gallows humor, EQMM technical sleuthing with a touch of literary humanism, and SAINT cleverness-above-all (and the only story without murder nor the threat of murder deployed).

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