The Good Old Stuff is a selection of thirteen of John D. MacDonald’s best mystery stories written between 1947 and 1952, at the beginning of his career. While many readers know about MacDonald’s success from recent books such as Cinnamon Skin, Free Fall in Crimson and The Empty Copper Sea, few but the hardcore mystery addicts remember when MacDonald wrote for magazines.
The Good Old Stuff has been chosen carefully to give readers a taste of his early best and to show the range of his abilities in the mystery genre. “The Simplest Poison” is a straight detective story, “Miranda” psychological suspense, “Noose for a Tigress” a real thriller. “Murder for Money” gives us an early glance at the Travis McGee prototype. In “Breathe No More” and “From Some Hidden Grave” you will see an even more recognizable Travis McGee hero in Park Falkner.
Contemporary MacDonald readers and Travis McGee fans will delight in recognizing these precursors to Travis McGee; and mystery readers who remember them when they first appeared will remark on that extraordinary talent for storytelling, which is as apparent in his early stories as it is in his recent novels.
The End of the Night is a journey into a world of fear and violence carried to their logical extreme — murder.
Not the kind of murder that society understands, the murder that comes from passion, or hatred, or love, but the murder that shakes the very foundations of our civilization — the pointless, gratuitous, casual act of killing.
This is the grim and powerful story of the “Wolf Pack” murders: a group of three young men and a beautiful girl, who roam the country, killing without any apparent motive. They are caught; they are tried; they are executed.
But who were they, really? Why did they do it? And who were their victims?
With the skill of the master storyteller that he is, Mr. MacDonald leads us into the little hell where four people, from very different backgrounds, take refuge from the world that they do not understand, that has no meaning for them. Sander Golden, the leader of the group, is a displaced intellectual, intelligent but without real talent. Kirby Stone is a college boy, a young man from a “good” family who has been thrown into the world of adult passions before he is able to cope with them. Hernandez is a simple brute, held in check by his admiration for Golden. And Nan Koslov is the catalyst. the smoldering spark of sexual desire that ignites their brutality.
Theirs is a private, dangerous world, a world of sex, narcotics. jealousy and envy — but it is theirs. Together, linked by their common frustrations, they move back and forth on the endless roads, from cheap motel to cheap motel, in a succession of stolen cars, spreading violence and death.
The End of the Night is a novel of suspense and passion. It is also a remarkable attempt to probe the motives that lie behind this senseless and shocking outburst of violence. Mr. MacDonald examines the past of the young killers, looking for the cause of their revolt. He analyzes the processes of the law, right up to the moment when the State exacts the supreme penalty. And he shows how circumstances provide the victims, as accidentally as the roulette wheel chooses a number.
It is a book the reader will no be able to put down until the very end; and it is one he will not forget quickly.
This volume is the nineteenth annual collection of the best stories from Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Every year since the anthology’s inception, it has been acknowledged No. 1 in its field, and this current one is no exception. The stories here range from pure detection to suspense, horror and psychological grue. Regardless of the reader’s taste, he will find a fulfilling and diverting repast offered by these writers: John D. MacDonald, James M. Ullman, L. E. Behney, Michael Gilbert, George Sumner Albee, Helen Nielsen, Roy Vickers, Borden Deal, Fletcher Flora, Avram Davidson, William O’Farrell, Norman Daniels, Hugh Pentecost, Victor Canning, Helen McCloy, John Reese, Holly Roth, Edward D. Hoch, Gerald Kersh, Fred A. Rodewald & J. F. Peirce, Lawrence Treat, Stanley Ellin.
Pulp fiction has been looked down on as a guilty pleasure, but it offers the perfect form of entertainment: the very best storytelling filled with action, surprises, sound and fury. In short, all the exhiliration of a roller-coaster ride. The 1920s in America saw the proliferation of hundreds of dubiously named but thrillingly entertaining pulp magazines in America: Black Mask, Amazing, Astounding, Spicy Stories, Ace-High, Detective Magazine, Dare-Devil Aces. It was in these luridly-coloured publications, printed on the cheapest pulp paper, that the first gems began to appear. The one golden rule for writers of pulp fiction was to adhere to the art of storytelling. Each story had to have a beginning, an end, economically-etched characters, but plenty going on, both in terms of action and emotions. Pulp magazines were the TV of their day, plucking readers from drab lives and planting them firmly in thrilling make-believe, successors...
Francie held the secret the Red Spies wanted. Would she destroy the man she loved or sacrifice the safety of her country?
Four people, plucked out of time at the instant of dying, become hunted beings in a grim game whose object is their second death!
That’s why these parents bribed their children to wait. It was a gamble, but it seemed the only way to stop them...
Ginny sobbed, “You’re making a prisoner out of me!” Maybe you’d have solved the crisis better, but three people tried.
He was four thousand dollars short, and the cops had it figured out. They said he’d wrapped the bills and shoved them across the counter to the girl.
The writer who has been called “the John O’Hara of the suspense story” spins a weird and frightening tale of modern voodoo in the Congo that’ll raise the hair on your scalp.
How does a smart cop outguess a smart criminal? Take the case of Sergeant Argen and the young girl, so sweet, so blameless, so undefended... who had been left for dead.
He was young and inexperienced, but was saltier than these two soreheads realized — in more ways than one.
Behind every man of adventure stands a woman. She can inspire him to reach the stars, or she can chain him with doubt and fear and indecision. And if he is a 500-mile-an-hour pilot, she can literally worry him to his death.
Only three times in my life have I heard as much horn as Buck blew those nights. We didn’t know why until it was all over.
Here’s a man who set out to be the perfect husband. It almost broke up his marriage!
It seemed utterly senseless, that accident which made superfolk out of the folk on the bus — but was there a larger pattern behind it?
A robot detective? Yes Sir! And something very special, both as a robot and a detective.
I love my wife, Betty, and the children she gave me. They are my only defense against a memory that otherwise I could not possibly live with.
A surprising story about a girl who took a terrific gamble...
Five in six weeks it had been: Rape and murder in the deserted park. When would the next one happen?
A hard-boiled young production expert finds himself saddled with a man of vision from Washington — and sparks fly fast.
A great invention — it enabled a man to think with perfect clarity, his thoughts unclouded by emotions. And did that make trouble!
This was one secret his mother should never find out.
This was the big one he had to enter — the most important one of his life. It wasn’t to be held on a golf course, and just by entering he had to win.
Science fiction, and our own experiments, had prepared us for visits from monsters — or something — in space ships. But we never expected these devastating beings who operated outside the laws of Nature.
He knew he had one more race left in him; he was good for one more crack at the Indianapolis classic. But he needed a car. To get one, he had to amuse Bander son — who thought death was fun.
Stoney Wotnack was a tough city kid on his first visit to the country. He taught the Baker family that chivalry can take strange and violent forms.
Or, what is one little bride against so many dropper-inners?
The incredible words in the diary stood — clearly accusing: Last night I sharpened the kitchen knives for her. When I finished the largest carving knife she took it and held it so tightly her knuckles showed white. “This is my pet,” she said. “I call it Mr. Killer”.
Fearfully Carol waited, knowing Max was being judged as a husband as well as an artist — judged by another woman.
Marriage wasn’t for her; she was happy with her career and her secluded retreat. But if one man believed her, another didn’t.
Whitey Edison had grown a little too old for the racing game, that’s all — or so Bob Oliver believed. But sooner or later the kid had to learn the truth.
Even in their most intimate moments Carol couldn’t forget that not so long ago he’d held another woman in his arms.
They were alone... with plumbers, carpenters, plasterers — and a bulldozer in the bedroom.
It took more than a beautiful girl to sweep George off his feet. It took a pair of skis.
To the tough tax man the lovely widow was fair game. But he scented money — not murder.
Nowhere this year, we think, will anybody come across a sweeter, gentler, more enchanting short story. This is for reading now — this afternoon or tonight BY JOHN D. MACDONALD.
Their specialty was spotting the soft deal, the shrewd angle, and giving the business to whoever interfered. But what happens when you make a fool of the wrong guy?
Walter wondered if his daughter really knew this poised and terribly polite young man.
First love, with lightning swiftness, ended Mark’s boyhood. No longer could he walk in his father’s shadow; he was a man.
After we had been married a year, I realized two things. One: There was no mystery left — she had become totally predictable. Two: I had passed up the opportunity to use my marriage to business advantage.
A geometric figure is sometimes more complicated than it looks.
The whole town’s still talking about the day Kilty Morrow grew up...
What are the ingredients of a hard-boiled detective story? “Savagery, style, sophistication, sleuthing, and sex,” said Ellery Queen. Often a desperate blond, a jealous husband, and, of course, a tough-but-tender P.I. the likes of Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe. Perhaps Raymond Chandler summed it up best in his description of Dashiell Hammett’s style: “Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it... He put these people down on paper as they were, and he made them talk and think in the language they customarily used for these purposes.” Hard-Boiled: An Anthology of American Crime Stories is the largest and most comprehensive collection of its kind, with over half of the stories never published before in book form. Included are thirty-six sublimely suspenseful stories that chronicle the evolution of this quintessentially American art form, from its earliest beginnings during the golden age of the legendary pulp magazine Black Mask in the 1920s, to the arrival of the tough digest Manhunt in the 1950s, and finally leading up to present-day hard-boiled stories by such writers as James Ellroy. Here are eight decades worth of the best writing about betrayal, murder, and mayhem: from Hammett’s 1925 tour de force “The Scorched Face,” in which the disappearance of two sisters leads Hammett’s never-named detective, the Continental Op, straight into a web of sexual blackmail amidst the West Coast elite, to Ed Gorman’s 1992 “The Long Silence After,” a gripping and powerful rendezvous involving a middle class insurance executive, a Chicago streetwalker, and a loaded .38. Other delectable contributions include “Brush Fire” by James M. Cain, author of The Postman Always Rings Twice, Raymond Chandler’s “I’ll Be Waiting,” where, for once, the femme fatale is not blond but a redhead, a Ross Macdonald mystery starring Macdonald’s most famous creator, the cryptic Lew Archer, and “The Screen Test of Mike Hammer” by the one and only Mickey Spillane. The hard-boiled cult has more in common with the legendary lawmen of the Wild West than with the gentleman and lady sleuths of traditional drawing room mysteries, and this direct line of descent is on brilliant display in two of the most subtle and tautly written stories in the collection, Elmore Leonard’s “3:10 to Yuma” and John D. MacDonald’s “Nor Iron Bars.” Other contributors include Evan Hunter (better known as Ed McBain), Jim Thompson, Helen Nielsen, Margaret Maron, Andrew Vachss, Faye Kellerman, and Lawrence Block. Compellingly and compulsively readable, Hard-Boiled: An Anthology of American Crime Stories is a page-turner no mystery lover will want to be without. Containing many notable rarities, it celebrates a genre that has profoundly shaped not only American literature and film, but how we see our heroes and ourselves.
Last Sunday’s bull had been bad, but it was the thought of the coining Sunday which made jelly of Pablo’s knees.
They had him on the spot, this clean, big boy who knew his day in the ring had passed and wanted to hang up his gloves. But Big John had one friend who wouldn’t hesitate to match a rotten deal with equally shady trickery to right a wrong!
“You’re back in the bushes, kid, with one of your spikes in a rookie’s grave and one still touching a big league rubber. You can go back either way — but one is called a comeback!”
“All I can say is, if this should be the world’s and, it’s a real black color...”
With their backs to coffin corner and a hundred impossible yards to go, a team without a heart found its fight — an echo of a conflict bigger than—
The guys you lick don’t make you a champ, kid — it’s the guys who lick you... whose red leather roars till that final gong—
Only a fool would risk his life to please a mob of crazy peons. But only a coward could refuse the challenge of this greatest bull of all.
Trapped by a desperate hunted man, Susan — at any cost to herself — had to warn the children. Could she find the strength, the calm she’d need to outwit him?
The hook-shot kid was no longer part of the desperately battling quintet he had once sparkled to glory... but for one hurricane half, he had one more thing to give them — a downcourt miracle that could turn a five-star false alarm into—
Enterprise and resourcefulness — two great assets when dealing with the east.
Exotic captive of a power-mad barbarian, Latmini bartered a blood-soaked Buddhist treasure for the wares of a ruthless merchant of death.
If you’ve faced shell fire, football’s easy — should be, that is!
Three men had toyed her — and died violently... I was the next target — for a malignant, phantom boy-friend.
Tale of strange and exotic love.
From out where the pale emotions of civilization are lashed into fury by primitive passions, come this tale of weird abandon and exotic love.
This fascinating story of unconventional love by John MacDonald round out this collection of great stories by truly great writers.
I’m a card cop. I can spot a shark’s trick after one hand... then I ran into ordinary citizen Carl Breton. With him I had to first meet his wife.
When the season died out to just one more down — one more play — ten guys put their chips on a back field clown who won with a grin, lost with a laugh — and fought for eleven men’s dreams!
A has-been with a prayer... a fresh kid with a birdie... and magic on the eighteenth — the green where champions are made!
Hunting strange game in his underwater jungle, Pierson knew the terrible odds against himself — and ignored them.
For the first and last time, he was up there on the lightning green, where some have a prayer — some have a putt — and some, unbelieving, snatch greatness from another man’s victory!
This is the story not of a hero but of a heel. As such, it’s a bit out of line for an Adventure yarn, where the main character usually turns out to be a pretty good joe, at least in the end. Maybe we should label it an off-the-trail story, a phrase that has been used in this magazine for many years to describe an unusual piece of fiction. Anyway, it was too good to pass up — hero or heel, we thought you’d want to meet the inimitable Major Stacey Barnett.
Jimmie Ratchelder wasn’t out merely to win this tournament. His main purpose was to see that Tommy Suragachi lost, and his reason wasn't the most honorable.
It did not take the American reporter long to sense the mystery aboard the freighter plodding eastern seas.
Calcutta, the fabulous city, plays host to this strange adventure of an American man of science and the mystery of the notched ears.
It’s a good class — the light-heavy. It’s seen fighters like Bob the Fitz, Tunney, Greb, Siki and Slapsey Maxie. But never before one like Junior Franklin.
Alien ships landing on Earth could mean but one thing: invasion. But as men watched in fear, a strange thing happened.
Among the mutants on Arcturus, Pol and Lae see themselves as others see them!
Some backs are born to glory — some achieve it — but sometimes, in the heart-testing minute before the final gun, only never-quit cleats will run the man down!
The auctioning of the five planets marked the end of one part of life, the beginning of a new, for Timothy Trench.
One glimpse of her and he knew his life would never be the same again.
A man-eater champ — an out-of-the-hinterlands challenger — a fight where hate rides every punch — and only sudden death can name the winner!
It was up to Bus Bannister to climb into a rocket ship presumably headed for the Moon, or else...
They flew from Ceylon to Bombay — and with considerable mystery.
Every ring champ knows the time when he’s too slow, too tired — too old to win. For those who can’t quit, there’s only one thing to do — lean into the storm of red leather and keep on trying for—
The three of them were spawned in the same ugly slum — the Sink, where crime was commonplace, and all the sordid, brooding streets led to dead ends.
But these three were hard. They managed to get through the No Exit sign...
It teas the strangest bedtime story ever told — told when all Earth’s children were asleep — in a night that held no dawn!
Lonely, bewildered, lost in the maelstrom of the ages, he roamed — to be cruelly shared by worlds other than his own — and yet—
Explorer Gowan Mitchell battles to conquer the challenge of the strange mountain — and make it reveal its secrets!
Harry Varney’s big phony front didn’t help him much — when he rode down a pedestrian.
When an author turns out several stories a month — and they’re all first-rate, which is unusual — you’d think, rightly, that he’d been in the game a long time. But that’s not the case with John D. MacDonald. Even though he falls into the first category, he definitely doesn’t fall into the second, because he’s only been writing about a year. Never even wanted to be a writer.
In that precise, antiseptic, post-war society, thirteen hell-raising old space-warriors were as obsolete as brass knuckles in a debate... and somewhat more of a nuisance.
So brass-bands played, and brass-hats brayed... and a coffin ship left for the stars...
The Howler was a nice boss, but he earned his nickname. He’d stand in the middle of his big restaurant kitchen, flapping his arms and screaming, while the help waited for him to burst. Noisy? You’d be noisy, too, if you knew what he knew! You’d scream bloody murder!
Sooner or later, a gent who’s dying for war — meets a hombre who’s killing for peace!
His thirsty, home-made knives and his savage, warped soul made men hate — and fear!
He’d been a big shot yesterday — he’d make tomorrow’s headlines. But this was today... the day he had to prove himself to ten gents — who were hell on heroes!
Painting, foreign climes, girls who were fresh, tweet and young... all could be his; now to get rid of Myra!
At bay against his dissolving skies he fought — the last champion of a star-spanning dynasty which never existed — save to die!
Sometimes, when it’s goal and seconds to go, a bruised and battered eleven who’ve been playing by the coach’s charts have got to throw away every play — and gamble for paydirt on the one called heart!
With murder — or worse — in his little black bag he roamed the underworld — the timid little salesman of eternity who gagged at killing — yet killed for a gag!
To a young boy there is nothing more tragic than to be left out of things — even the wrong things.
He could take him alive with a bullet in the shoulder — but four inches and four thousand dollars to the left was the throat.
Sonia needed help and Bill was just the guy for a lady in distress. Then came the boomerang...
Reminiscing over the past sometimes changes a fellow’s plans for the future — especially when a girl like Alice is involved.
Ex-army intelligence officer Kestrick had nothing to live for — until he got baited by a trouble-bent beauty, mauled by the tin-god politico’s musclemen... and railroaded to jail.
No one remembered Singer Washburn now; the years had chugged by, and the old grey train had carried him far past the time when he’d be champ, past the time when he’d be retiring. Then he saw this kid Joe, with a mean streak in him, and knew that Singer Washburn wasn’t useless yet — there were a few things he could do, and maybe doing them would somehow make up for what he’d lost...
When I first arrived at Ballantine, where I am the mass market managing editor, we were just undergoing a daunting task: repackaging all of John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee novels. We were giving him a brand-new, beautiful look; ingeniously, we used a deep blue color for THE DEEP BLUE GOOD-BY, a gold color for A DEADLY SHADE OF GOLD, a lavender hue for THE LONG LAVENDER LOOK, etc. But as I worked on the actual stories themselves, I realized that as colorful as these books now are on the outside, they're even more colorful on the inside. In order to prepare these books, we had to have them retyped from scratch; some of these books are so old that the plates had died, so we had nothing to print from. So all the books had to be proofread as if they were new books, and what a joy it was working on them. I unexpectedly rediscovered an author and character I knew very little about. Travis McGee is one of the great characters in crime fiction, and John D. MacDonald a fascinating storyteller. You never know what either is going to do next, or say next; what is going on in their minds is as important, if not more so, then what is going on outside Travis's boat. All of which add up to a heckuva fun series.
Mark Rifkin, Managing Editorial