Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, May 27, 2021


 The Saint's Choice of Hollywood Crime, edited by Leslie Charteris (1946)

In 1945 and 1946, seven paperback digest anthologies were issued as "The Saint's Choice" series.  All were purported edited by Leslie Charteris, the creator of the popular Simon Templar, a.k.a. The Saint.  These were fairly thin volumes (128 pages) issued by Saint Enterprises, Inc. under the Bonded/Chartered imprints.  The penultimate in the series was The Saint's Choice of Hollywiod Crime and contained five short story reprints:

  • "Murder for Christmas" by "Anthony Boucher" (William Anthony Parker White)  (first appeared in Ellery Queen's Mysery Magazine, January 1943)  A "story within a story"concerning a jewel robbery, a Hollywood party, Mickey Mouse, and the German language.  A rather clever and unusual tale one would expect from Boucher.
  • "Funny Man" by Frank Gruber (first appeared in Black Mask, May 1939)  Featuring Gruber's character Oliver Quade, the "Human Encyclopedia" and his fuirst experience in Hollywood.  While quade is giving his spiel outside a Hollywood studio, An executive hears him and decides that qualye's was the perfect man to voice the cartoon character Desmond Dogg.  Almost immediately Quade stumles upon the murdered corpse of another studio executive.  Soon Quade finds hmself embroiled with a beautiful actress, an ex-con, a lawsuit, a blackmail plot, and "the world's greatest detective."
  • "The Phanton Bullet" by Robert Leslie Bellem (from Hollywood Detective, December 1945, as "The Book of the Phantom Bullet")  One of a zillion and one cases (actually, by my count , 357 [!] stories) for Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective, who began life in the second issue of Spicy Detective Stories (June 1934) ("Where no story went by without some pretext for reducing the leading lady's costume to a set of uniformly wispy underthings.")  and continued in his own self-titled magazine through October 1950.  The Turner stories are filled with innocuous and implied sex and are ladened with tortured jargon -- a combination  that made them irresistable to many male readers of the time. In addition to the Dan Turner stories, the prolific Bellem also wrote under 49 (!) pseudonymns, as well as additional stories under his own name.  In "The Phantom Bullet," Turner happens to be on set when an actor is killed during a stunt.  It appears that the killer could only be one of two people, but appearances don't neccesarily mean a thing to Dan Turner.
  • "I Want to Be Like Gable" by Steve Fisher (from Detective Fiction Weekly, October 26, 1938)  Todd and Mabel are trying to make it in Hollywood.  Todd knows he's better than Clark Gable, and Mabel...well, Mabel's one in a million, like Sonja Henie. the Walter Linstrom took advantage of Mabel, just as he had done for a hundred other pretty girls...
  • "Saint in Hollywood" by Leslie Charteris (born Leslie Charles Bowyer-Yin of Chinese-English parentage; he legally changed his name in 1926, selecting his surname from a telephone directory) (according to the copyright acknowlegement in this volume, the story comes from The Saint Goes West [1942], and Charteris states in his introduction to the story that it was written sometime in 1941.   The FictionMags Index, however, lists the story as appearing first in The American Magazine, October 1936.  Go figure.)  While in Hollywood, Simon Templar is contacted by Bryon Ufferlitz, a hot-shot producer and retired racketeer who wants to feature "the Robin Hood of Crime" in a motion picture.  The "epic," according to one of the screenwriters, will be "Art with a capitol F," and will be directed by the imperious Jack Groom.  Simon's leading lady will be the lovely April Quest.  But it not long before Ufferwitz is murdered and Simon wonders if April is involved.  But there are plenty of other suspects.  Simoon has to unravel the case, all the while amusing himself with the quirks and peculiarities of the Hollywood scene.
An interesting anthology.  Not ground-breaking by any means, but a relaxing way to spend an evening.  Sadly, copies of this particular anthology can run in the $40 to $85 range.

For those interested, here's the seven volumes of The Saint's Choice...
  •  #1  The Saint's Choice of British Crime (1945)
  •  #2  The Saint's Choice of American Detectives (1945)
  •  #3  The Saint's Choice of True Crime Stories (1945)
  •  #4  The Saint's Choice of Humorous Crime (1945)
  •  #5  The Saint's Choice of Impossible Crime (1945)
  •  #6  The Saint's Choice of Holywood Crime (1946)
  •  #7  The Saint's Choice of Radio Thrillers (1946)
I mentioned above that these anthologies were purportedly edited by Leslie Charteris.  At least one, The Saint's Choice of Impossible Crime, was ghost-edited by Oscar J. Friend.

1 comment:

  1. I've read a lot of SAINT books over the decades. But I don't recall seeing these paperbacks. Of course, I wasn't born when they were published so that might have some bearing on my ignorance. Once again, great post!