Monday, October 10, 2016

Norman A. Daniels—Nearly Forgotten Uberpulpster

AMAZINGLY PROLIFIC is the best way to describe pulp master Norman A. Daniels, whose total short story and novelette output takes up six full pages in the FictionMags listing (with over fifty of the stories starting with the word "Murder"). Like Erle Stanley Gardner, he created his own series characters, but he also contributed to stories about other authors' creations, among them characters that most of us have never heard of:
Rex Parker (The Masked Detective); Captain John Fury (The Skipper); Jerry Wade (The Candid Camera Kid); Dan Fowler; Neal Burton; Tony Quinn (The Black Bat; see HERE); Richard Curtis Van Loan (The Phantom Detective); Boxcar Reilly; Dynamite Dolan; Robert Clarke (The Crimson Mask); Jim Stanley; Guy Peyton and Slugger Jack Brady; Boris Renouf; Alex Malloy (story HERE); Bill Donovan; Jeff Shannon (The Eagle); Johnny Wells; Rick Trent; Smiths; and Hank McTurk and Jeff Patrick.
From the early '30s to the late '60s, Daniels placed stories in all the important detective publications, including EQMM and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Magazine, and even did a couple of novel tie-ins to The Avengers TV series. The IMDb (HERE) has his dozen or so screen credits.

Here are just two of Daniels's massive output, separated by a quarter of a century: "Murderer's Fee," which saw publication in DFW during the heyday of pulp crime 
fiction magazines, and "Left Hand of Justice," the product of a later era.

"Murderer's Fee."
By Norman A. Daniels (Norman Arthur Danberg, 1905-95).
First appearance: Detective Fiction Weekly, September 19, 1936.
Short story (10 pages).
Online at UNZ HERE.
(Parental caution: Strong language.)
"Why Was It That Dr. Evans, of the Coroner's Office, Found Clues That Crack Dicks of the Homicide Squad Couldn't See?"
When a medical doctor who is about to be tried for corporate malfeasance is found dead, the police and most of the world assume he's committed suicide with one of his own operating knives; only the assistant coroner sees the clues that point to it being murder and sets out to find the real killer, even if it means doing an end run around the police, being kidnapped at gunpoint, and getting coshed on the cabeza . . .

Principal characters:
~ Stephen Granard, M.D., the deceased:
   "The man was about forty. Buried within two inches of its entire length, a gleaming scalpel protruded from his breast directly over the heart."
~ Sergeant Abbott of the Homicide Squad:
   "Now listen, doc, you're not going to tell me this wasn't suicide, are you?"
~ Dr. Emory Evans, Assistant Coroner:
   "Dr. Granard didn't kill himself. He was murdered and I'll stake my professional reputation on it. There are two distinct clues right in front of you."
~ Pete, Shane, Mugs, and Zamora—desperados all:
   "How will you take your fee, doc—in the heart or the head?"
~ ~ ~
"Left Hand of Justice."
By Norman A. Daniels (Norman Arthur Danberg, 1905-95).
First appearance: Bestseller Mystery Magazine, March 1960.
Short story (14 pages).
Online at UNZ HERE.
"The lonely island had been a source of peace and seclusion for Ben Slade, until he found himself sole witness to a murder—the only justice available in the form of a madman with a rifle, whose sole thought was of revenge . . ."
Ben Slade is enjoying the simple life on a five-mile-long sliver of an island off the coast of Maine, until, quite by accident:
The ugly scene developed quickly, the characters in it unaware of Ben's pres-ence. He didn't know the people involved and had to identify them only as the murderer and the victim. It was done very cold-bloodedly and deliberately. The murderer merely said, 'Charley,' and the victim turned around, saw the gun and tried to run for it. The bullet got him in the back of the neck. He was in full flight when it struck and he kept going another three or four steps before he seemed to lunge forward, like a man taking a dive into shallow water. He fell on his stomach, arms and legs outspread. The murderer quietly moved out of sight and that was all.
For Ben, as THE eyewitness to the crime, catching the killer shouldn't be a problem, but he hasn't reckoned on the interference of arrogant and wealthy Walt Langdon, who owns everything but Ben's tiny part of the island, and on how Langdon aims to deal with the situation, choosing instead to play what Ben calls "a madman's game" in a warped plan to dispense "left-handed justice" . . .

Main characters:
~ Ben Slade:
   "If this were anything except murder, I'd tell you to go to hell."
~ Walter Langdon:
   "Any one of you could conceivably get away with murder simply because you have all this money. At the very least, you could stall and dicker and finally come out of it with a whole skin, and maybe just a short prison term."
~ Karen Langdon, Walter's daughter:
   "The emperor. My father's the emperor of this island. So you report to him."
~ Dave Harmon:
  "He wants the murderer dead. That's his ego asserting itself, but he bows to it and he'll have his way unless . . ."
~ Evelyn Harmon:
   "Mr. Langdon means it, you know . . . about making certain whoever killed Charley will die right here on the island."
~ Harry Trevor:
   "You're tough, my friend. Usually, a man who gets clobbered as hard as I hit you, stays out for an hour or so."
~ Paul Griswold:
   "There has to be a motive for a killing like that and whatever it is, it will be seized upon by every big newspaper in the world."

Typo: "the Victorian house which dominated the isand"

- Bibliographies and background on Norman A. Daniels are on Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), the GAD Wiki (HERE), and the ISFDb (HERE).

The bottom line: "She lowered her lashes until they almost cuddled her cheeks and slowly raised them again, like a theatre curtain. I was to get to know that trick. That was supposed to make me roll over on my back with all four paws in the air."
Raymond Chandler

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