From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 12 Jul 2002

Gary asked Doug:

 Is this the Puma Gault wrote about in SHAKEDOWN as Roney Scott, or the later
 version that appeared in the novel under his own name?

The Joe Puma in the Manhunt magazine stories is the same PI featured in the late 50s and early 60s novels such as THE HUNDRED-DOLLAR GIRL, SWEET WILD WENCH and NIGHT LADY. I checked my memory with a dip into "The Unholy Three" in the May 1956 Manhunt issue. Interestingly enough, the story opens with a kid coming into Puma's office wanting to hire him. This is the same concept he later used in the Brock (The Rock) Callahan novel COUNTY KILL (1962).

The Puma short story opens: "I was trying to figure how to pay seven hundred and forty dollars worth of bills with three hundred and twelve dollars I had in the bank when he walked into the office. It was almost dinner time and I was hungry."

The Callahan novel opens: "It was a HOT October afternoon when the kid walked into my office. I had finished a case that morning and had seventeen hundred dollars in the bank."

Although the Puma stories and novels never received the attention of the Callahan novels, I enjoy them more and these passages illustrate a key reason. Joe Puma was always scrambling to make a living. Hungry. Callahan had a bit of that feel in the very first novels but he moved from LA, married, and finally, inherited a pile of money and the character and the stories lost a lot of edge.

I really look forward to the new collection and let me add my congratulations to Doug for all that he is doing.

Richard Moore

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