RARA-AVIS: Re: RARA-AVIS Digest V4 #302

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 16 May 2002

In a message dated 5/16/2002 1:37:36 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Jeremy writes:

<< I have never seen any reference to Chet Drum anywhere
 at all. Are they in the same vein as Gall, Helm and
 Durrrell? Are they widely available? Are they any
 good? >>

I enjoy the Chester Drum series but would not rank them near the Gold Medal top rank. They are solid entertainments. From what you've commented on so far, I think you might enjoy them. Drum began as a Washington DC based PI but later in the series, most of the novels were based outside the US. After the original novel or two with standard titles like THE SECOND LONGEST NIGHT, The Drum novels settled into a pattern (and GM loved this sort of branding) of TERROR IS MY TRADE, MANHUNT IS MY MISSION, DANGER IS MY LINE, and on and on. At some point in the early 60s, the switch was made to DRUM BEAT--BERLIN, DRUM BEAT--MADRID with women's names used also as in DRUM BEAT--ERICA. At this point in Marlowe's life he was living in Europe.

Marlowe then re-invented himself as a writer with best-seller aimed novels published by major hardback publishers. The bios sometimes would say author of X number of novels and the number listed counted only those after re-invention.

He came to one Bouchercon and was a great storyteller and certainly did not seem ashamed of the PBOs he had written, as the later blurbs seemed to imply.
 He was a Richard Carroll recruit to Gold Medal and like several others did not take to the later editor Knox Burger.

To back up a few years, Marlowe was born Milton Lesser and was a well-known science fiction fan who broke into the SF pulps around 1950. His output increased and he needed other names and Marlowe was the name often used for mysteries, although it also was used on a few science fiction stories. While he was doing SF novels under the Lesser name, he published some mysteries for Ace Books in the mid-50s and launched the Drum series for GM. The Drum series took off and he was far more successful with the Marlowe books, although the Lesser name appeared on a few SF novels into the 60s.

He began using the Marlowe name in real life and eventually made the legal change.

Interestingly enough, this is somewhat similar to Evan Hunter, who was born S.A. Lombino. Both Lesser/Marlowe and Lombino/Hunter worked for the Scott Meredith Agency (although their time there as employees did not IIRC overlap) and were long time clients. Hunter, of course, also took his pseudonym for his legal name.

Lesser/Marlowe wrote other of interest to this list under other names as well, such as THE FALL OF MARTY MOON by Andrew Frazer (Avon 1960).

A lot more than you probably needed to know about Chet Drum. As for my time in Brussels, I officially switched back to my companies payrole at the start of 2001 but maintained my flat and spent two weeks a month there through March. I have been back on holiday. As for others on the list in Brussels, Etienne lives near Brussels according to a post in response to your first posting.

Richard Moore

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