Wednesday, November 2, 2016

"Then, Without a Flash of Warning, He Drew an Automatic from His Coat Pocket and Began Firing"

MILO RAY PHELPS was one of a legion of pulpsters churning out fiction as fast as they could for Depression-era pay rates; a lot of their work is formulaic and forgettable, but now and then the reader might come across a little gem. As always, we leave it to you to decide which ones are the gems and . . .

According to FictionMags, Phelps created two series characters: Fluffy McGoff, who made thirty-four appearances in Detective Fiction Weekly between 1931 and 1937, the year of Phelps's death (no data on when he was born); and Murray Magimple, seven appearances in DFW from 1935 to 1937. We couldn't find any Fluffy McGoff stories online, but we did locate a stand-alone ("Out of the Frying Pan") and one with Murray Magimple ("The Big Cast Myster-y"); here from FictionMags is a list of Magimple's adventures:

   (1) "Meet Murray Magimple," Detective Fiction Weekly, July 6, 1935
   (2) "Double Exposure," Detective Fiction Weekly, March 28, 1936
   (3) "Rub-a-Tub Dub," Detective Fiction Weekly, June 13, 1936
   (4) "The Big Cast Mystery," Detective Fiction Weekly, December 12, 1936
   (5) "All Under Cover," Detective Fiction Weekly, February 20, 1937
   (6) "Shirt Trails," Detective Fiction Weekly, May 8, 1937
   (7) "There’s Always a Dame," Detective Fiction Weekly, October 30, 1937.

"Out of the Frying Pan."
By Milo Ray Phelps (?-1937).
First appearance: Detective Fiction Weekly, November 21, 1936.
Short story (10 pages).
Online at UNZ (HERE).
"For Years Dr. Karl Garnet Planned a Perfect Murder and Getaway—Straight to a Hillside Tomb of His Own Making"
A crime plotted down to the last detail—but the last detail has a mind of his own . . .

Principal characters:
~ "The Skipper":
   "Charlie's mouth gaped open in mighty awe. This man had gone suddenly insane, mur-dered two people, and been officially drowned in the Golden Gate. Yet here he was on Blue Mountain. Furthermore he had donned his, Charlie Martin's clothing, and now looked enough like him to fool his own mother. Now what course could you steer from a chart 
like that?"
~ Charlie Martin:
   "With clenched fists he started toward the cabin; then slowed reflectively to a stop. No, that wouldn't do—something might go wrong. Spill the whole story to the sheriff? No, that might prove bad too. He'd spent some critical hours of yesterday in the city. They might somehow pin those murders onto him! There was surely some way to handle this, but it would take some sharp steering, he could see that."
~ Dr. Karl Garnet:
   "Wildly blowing his horn; swerving insanely in and out of traffic; ignoring stop lights; narrowly missing machines and pedestrians, he careened north at breakneck speed."
~ Dr. Franklyn Rice:
   "Dr. Rice and his wife entered the room side by side. Garnet advanced with a smile of greeting and warmly shook hands. . ."
~ "Half-steam" Olson:
   "Interestin' piece just come over the news. Some fella named Martin was diggin' a mine when he struck a rich pocket, and the shock sent him clean off his top."
~ ~ ~
"The Big Cast Mystery."
By Milo Ray Phelps (?-1937).
First appearance: Detective Fiction Weekly, December 12, 1936.
Short story (11 pages).
Online at UNZ (HERE).
(Note: Text in poor—but readable—shape.)
"No Man Knows Whether Murray Magimple Relies on Science or Blind Luck—but Many a Man Suspects!"
A murder at a cast party in a burlesque theater, too many suspects with a motive, a murder weapon that doesn't match the fatal bullet, a public relations disaster—it all has the Captain pulling his hair out; but in the end it'll be Magimple's pedal fascination that strikes gold and catches the culprit bare . . . footed.

Main characters:
~ Sol Goodman:
  "We've had a—a accident."
~ Lola Gay:
   "One look tells the story. Face upon the floor lies Lola Gay, star of the show, a dark purple stain spreadin' down her left side through the folds of her blue silk dressing gown."
~ "Shorty" Pepper, the narrator (who employs the present tense singular, vernacular mood):
   "Empty the house and put some one you can trust on both doorways. None of your compa-ny is to leave. Do you understand?"
~ Murray Magimple:
   "But you can see it's an inside job, and I know these actors like a book. Have an answer for you in no time."
~ Mrs. McCarthy:
   ". . . an old hoofer which gin and swollen ankles has put off the boards. She collapsed 
after the discovery of the body, and is only abroad now by grace of a pint of restorative 
which she's clutchin' with one hand under her apron."
~ Fritzie Cooper:
   ". . . I don't rate a maid like the illustrious star. Maybe you don't know it, but the less you wear the more careful you gotta be putting it on."
~ Betsy Pringle:
   "Flushin' scarlet, Pringle springs forward and clutches Murray by the lapels. 'Listen,' she cries; 'she's just half off her nut, with the show closin' and all.'"
~ Cap'n Allen:
   "In all my life I never seen the like of this! You were right there at the scene of the crime, and you've bungled it from first to last. We'll be lucky if we aren't sued for false arrest."

The bottom line: "Did you ever get the feeling that the world is a tuxedo and you're a pair of brown shoes?"
George Gobel

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