RARA-AVIS: Turner stories

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 17 Feb 2003

Reading his memoir prompted me to read some Robert Turner stories. It turned out to be a nice way to spend some time during the blizzard we are experiencing.

"Crime Doesn't Play," (Dime Detective December 1947)--Turner loved punning titles. The blurb is a hoot: "Ed's green-eyed gal was playing secretary to the lady-luring nightclub rajah...earning herself a pearl noose." Let me translate: Our hero Ed's girlfriend Terry takes a job as secretary to the owner of a nightclub who has a reputation for aggresively pursuing women. Ed doesn't like it but Terry tells him its a free country and she can do what she wants. Later when she is framed for the murder of one of her new boss' girlfriends, she comes running to Ed for help. He saves her and she is all lovey-dovey but Ed turns her over his knee and spanks her--"He didn't let up until his palm stung from the steady rain of blows." After recovering from the pain, Terry tells him "You--you're a brute, but I love you just the same." The story is about average quality for a good pulp.

Manhunt magazine reprinted several of Turner's stories and annoyingly changed the titles of the story. So I have to list the later publication and guess at the original when the reprint is all I have.

"Sitting Duck" (Manhunt Oct-Nov 1966) This is probably "A Life For a Life" from Manhunt December 1954)--Cops lay in wait for escaped prisoner expected to visit his girlfriend and new baby in the hospital. One of the cops loves to loves to kill people. This is a good solid story.

"Field of Honor" (Manhunt October 1955)--This story of teenage girls meeting to do battle with beer can openers is a tight drama without an unnecessary word. "Remember, now, go for her breasts. That hurts awful, they say, and you get her there once, good, and it'll be over." This story is about as grim as they come.

"Breaking Point" (Chase, January 1964)--A businessman is on a raging drunk over a weekend, picking fights and drinking until no one will serve him. Something is haunting him but it's buried in a blackout period. We join the character in mid-drunk and follow him to a very stark finish. Another grim story told with economy and style. Chase was a short-lived mystery magazine edited by Turner's friends Jack Matcha and Charles E. Fritch. The publisher was Health Knowledge which about the same time was beginning the Robert Lowndes edited Magazine of Horror.

I read other stories by Turner today but these are representative. He certainly improved once Manhunt came along and the quality of his stories continued on a higher level even after Manhunt ceased to be a market for him.

Richard Moore

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