This morning I wasn't in the mood to jump into a novel or novelette or even a standard short story. So I picked up "No Match for Murder," by Julius Long, in the September 1943 issue of Black Mask because it looked like something I could read in 5 minutes. You all remember this issue; I've been reviewing stories in it for the past few weeks. I'm almost done with the entire magazine, save for the Erle Stanley Gardner story, "The Gong of Vengeance," which Ed Hulse tells me is the last pulp story Gardner ever wrote. Whether or not that increases the value of the copy, I don't know. I doubt it. But it doesn't matter, because I'm not selling it.
Anyway, getting back to No Match for Murder. It's a pretty mundane story about a defense attorney Jake Manders. The story begins:
Without moving his lips, Jake Manders whispered: "Wipe that guilty look off your face! Do you want to convict yourself?"
His client seemed not to hear his warning. Marion Ward, ash-blond show girl on trial for the murder of her wealthy play-boy husband, seemed hypnotized by the voice of Lew Brice, district attorney, whose every word seemed to bring her a step nearer to the electric chair.
When I first read that, I thought, Ooo, she's got something for the district attorney. Now that would be a good story. Sorry, folks, she doesn't.
Marion apparently claims that her little revolver went off when she dropped it taking it out of her purse and shot her playboy husband. D.A. Brice doesn't think so, however, and claims there is overwhelming proof that the gun in question could never go off accidentally. When Manders gets up to present his closing argument, he walks over to the exhibit table and picks up the gun in question before anyone, including the judge, can object. Manders accidently drops the gun and it goes off.
Manders, of course, had jimmy-rigged the gun with blanks so it would go off, unbeknownst to everyone, including Marion. The story just kind of rolls along from there, in which Manders goes back to Marion's apartment to collect his fee (a tidy one hundred thousand dollars) only to have Marion object. No way is she paying that amount of money. Finally, she relents when Manders tells her why the gun discharged and Manders goes to get her checkbook.
It's a neatly tied up ending, a total of 5 1/2 pages, and with nothing really to say. Julius Long, who, from what I gather, was an experienced pulp writer all through the 30s and 40s writing for magazines such as BM and also Dime Detective and the UK versions of those, probably wrote this in his sleep.
But it did get me interested in him and on the trail to find out more about him. Sleuthing after these lesser known pulp writers is turning into a lot of fun.
By the way, wanted to tell you all about the Fiction Mags Index. I don't know how accurate it is, but it seems to be fairly comprehensive. On the Table of Contents page is a substantial list of other indexes you can find online. And then it breaks down each issue of say, Black Mask, and gives you the stories, the authors, and a scan of the cover. Nice. Here's one cover that I love and I know a lot of my writer friends will too.
A good source, but I need to check with my "experts" to find out how reliable it is. Like most things historical that you read about pulp magazines, check and double check and triple check the "facts" before you repeat them.
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