Monthly Key Word 2019 – Wrap Up

Not as productive as last year, but I managed something for every month.

2019 Monthly Key Words 2019-12-29

January: Helen Reilly – Mr. Smith’s Hat (1/9/19)
February: Eric Knight – You Play the Black and the Red Comes Up (2/16/19)
John Dickson Carr – He Who Whispers (2/22/19)
March: Lee Floren – Gun Luck (3/14/19)
Ellery Queen – What‘s in the Dark? (3/24/19)
April: Nelson Nye – Gun-Hunt for the Sundance Kid (4/30/19)
May: Clair Huffaker – Rider from Thunder Mountain (5/5/19)
June: Dan Temple – The Man from Idaho (6/23/19)
July: Richard Ellington – Shoot the Works (11/15/19)
August: Neil MacNeil – The Death Ride (9/1/19)
September: Georges Simenon – The Train (9/19/19)
October: Michael Gilbert – The Night of the Twelfth (10/27/19)
November: Helen Reilly – The Day She Died (11/27/19)
December: Robert Leslie Bellem – Roscoes in the Night (12/29/19)


Robert Leslie Bellem – Roscoes in the Night (2003)


Vintage Mystery Pulp collection
TBR #134 (74e, 60p)
Monthly Key Word: Night
Date Finished: December 29
, 2019

This collection of Dan Turner pulp stories, originally published between 1934 and 1950, contains 13 adventures that follow a standard pattern: Dan meets a girl, she loses some clothing, he is hit on the head, someone (usually the girl) turns up dead, he is suspected by police but escapes to find real killer before the police get him. The early stories from Spicy Detective Stores are a bit spicier before pressure was put on the publisher to clean things up. Later stories from Hollywood Detective and Speed Detective are longer, but aren’t quite as lively. A good collection but perhaps reading them back-to-back isn’t the best approach.

2019 Monthly Key Words 2019-12-29

Helen Reilly – The Day She Died (1962)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Where — At a Country House
Monthly Key Word: She
TBR #121 (72e, 49p)
Date Finished: November 27, 2019

A winter storm in the New Mexico desert has trapped a number of characters at a remote ranch house, where a wealthy and powerful woman has recently died. Among those trapped are Inspector Christopher McKee of New York Homicide, luckily enough since murder soon takes place.

Despite the seemingly random arrival of all the characters, they all end up being interrelated or connected somehow either in New York or in New Mexico. McKee’s isolation and struggles against nature help, if you can get past all of the coincidences that are required to set the story up.

Just the Facts Silver 2019-11-27

2019 Monthly Key Words 2019-11-27

Richard Ellington – Shoot the Works (1948)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: When — During a recognized holiday
Monthly Key Word: Works (July)
TBR #119 (72e, 47p)
Date Finished: November 15, 2019

Private detective Steve Drake is hired by a psychiatrist to supervise a young woman from a wealthy and powerful family who has some issues around sex. He is supposed to play up to her and keep her out of trouble, and keep the family name out of the papers, but some blackmailers are also hanging around, which leads to murder. It all ties up with an earlier murder in Florida, so Steve and others head there from New York City to straighten it all out.

I always enjoy Ellington’s writing and this one moves along nicely. Nominally set around Christmas time, it doesn’t play a big part in the story, other than the cold weather. The mystery and characters are typical hard boiled private eye-story types, but still this is very well done. Entertaining.

Edit: Oh, yeah. Also qualifies for a monthly keyword from back in July.

Just the Facts Golden 2019-11-15

2019 Monthly Key Words 2019-11-15

Michael Gilbert – The Night of the Twelfth (1976)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Where — At a school
Monthly Key Word: Night
TBR #116 (71e, 45p)
Date Finished: October 27, 2019

A killer is abducting and torturing young school boys. The police are on the trail, which has led them to a country boarding school. An undercover officer in a teaching position works to prevent the next crime and apprehend the culprit.

Some good suspense and action as this one develops quite well, despite being a bit slow in the early chapters focused on the school and activities of the boys. Once you get past the cricket matches, things progress quickly. Very good.

Just the Facts Silver 2019-10-272019 Monthly Key Words 2019-10-27

Georges Simenon – The Train (1961)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: When — Set during WWII
Monthly Key Word: Train
Date Finished: September 19, 2019

A man and his family flee the oncoming German blitzkrieg during the Battle of France, riding the train further south in France from their small town near the Belgian border, but when they become separated, the man finds life and experiences in other ways.

Not a mystery by an means, it is a stretch to count it towards the challenge, but some online call it a noir thriller. I wouldn’t even call it that, as it is more of a character study during a time of upheaval, than it is any sort of suspenseful story. Others call it Simenon’s masterpiece, but I think it falls short there, too. We’ll give it a shot and see if Bev counts it, or if I can find another WWII story.

Just the Facts Silver 2019-09-19

Neil MacNeil – The Death Ride (1960)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: What — Means of Murder in title
Monthly Key Word: Ride (August)
TBR #98 (60e, 38p)
Date Finished: September 1
, 2019

High-priced private detectives Costaine and McCall are called to California at the request of their old Army commander who is now running an amusement park on a pier. The owner’s sister is fronting a land development project backed by the mob and they want the cheap amusement park gone so it won’t drive down the land values. A number of deaths and accidents have occurred at the pier and the duo have to find the culprits in a hurry.

The death ride refers to a roller coaster accident that kills a number of innocent people, thus being the means of murder. Surprisingly the amusement park keeps operating and people keep coming to it, despite all the death. Costaine and McCall are still cartoon characters, but not nearly as bad as the previous book in the series, Hot Dam. Still, Todhunter Ballard, the author behind the Neil MacNeil pseudonym, wrote so many better books than this series that this one is a disappointment, though a somewhat enjoyable disappointment.

Just the Facts Silver 2019-09-012019 Monthly Key Words 2019-09-01

Dan Temple – The Man From Idaho (1956)


Vintage Western
Monthly Key Word: Man
TBR #71 (45e, 26p)
Date Finished: June 23, 2019

A gunman from Idaho arrives in a valley to find the rancher who hired him has been killed and his daughter and an Eastern businessman have taken over the ranch that dominates the valley. The remaining ranchers have been gathered together by an ambitious schemer and are causing trouble by tearing down fencing, burning buildings, and stampeding cattle. The gunman is caught between the two factions, refusing to leave town when told to do so, and eventually working for both sides before figuring out where his loyalties lie.

A rather stock situation with stock characters and action, this story is competently told by D.B. Newton, written under one of his pen names. It is enlivened mainly by the descriptions of the environment, painting effective pictures of the West.

2019 Monthly Key Words 2019-06-23

Clair Huffaker – Rider from Thunder Mountain (1957)

Huffaker Rider From Thunder Mountain Crest 193

Vintage Western
Monthly Key Word: Mountain
TBR #56 (37e, 19p)
Date Finished: May 5, 2019

A man raised by Apaches is hired by a gold hunting crew to get them through Indian territory to a mountain held sacred by the Kiowa, where there also seems to be an semi-abandoned gold strike. They come across a man and a woman in the desert, which leads to even more trouble after they join the crew. Greed, cruelty, cowardice all play into the tensions among the crew as they try to avoid detection by the Kiowas and get as much gold as they can.

This story moves along quite well. The story is almost cinematic, which fits in appropriately with Huffaker’s career, with the characters drawn as to fit typical 1950s western character actors. Imagine Clint Walker or George Montgomery as Larimer, Gene Evans or Leo Gordon as Tronco, Jack Lord or Henry Silva as Henry Coffin, Myron Healey as Jud, Mona Freeman as Lorna, Perhaps that makes some if it cliched, depending on your reaction to the many, many movies that fit this bill. Ok, it is cliched, but still fun.

2019 Monthly Key Words 2019-05-05

Nelson Nye – Gun-Hunt for the Sundance Kid (1946)

Nye - Gun-Hunt for the Sundance Kid Belmont 91-251

Vintage Western
Monthly Key Word: Hunt
TBR #54 (36e, 18p)
Date Finished: April 30, 2019

A lawman is sent in undercover to the newly opened up Cherokee Strip of Oklahoma to capture the Sundance Kid, a notorious hold-up man whose identity is unknown. Hooking up with another outlaw band that is being out-maneuvered by the Sundance Kid, the lawman has to prevent his identity from being known while also trying to discover the Kid’s identity.

This is certainly not the Robert Redford version of the Sundance Kid, as he largely remains at a far distance from this story, appearing only once while wearing a hooded mask. The story largely concerns the lawman’s work within the other outlaw band, which has two main factions and several individuals who may themselves be the Sundance Kid. Much of the story is internal dialogues of the lawman as he examines various scenarios, with very little action. Nye also uses various dialects, accents, and poor grammar for the various characters, making smooth reading very difficult. I don’t remember being this disappointed with other works by Nye, but this one was a big letdown.

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