Tuesday, October 27, 2020

"You—A Doctor Who Is Supposed To Heal, Not Kill"

"Medical Murder."
By Norman A. Daniels (born Norman Arthur Danberg, 1905-95).

Artist unknown.
First appearance: Popular Detective, December 1945.

Short short story (7 pages).
Online at Archive.org (HERE).

     "In fact, coincidence had nothing to do with it unless it waltzed around in the shape of a wizened little guy who didn't look where he was going."

A very ill man dies while under Peter Frayne's care, which would normally not excite too much comment, but in this case the deceased is someone Frayne has said publicly that he wouldn't mind seeing dead, with all the circumstantial evidence pointing towards murder by lethal injection. You don't need much imagination to see how the police view things, so it's up to the doctor to effect his own cure before he becomes a victim of the state . . . .

Main characters:
~ Allard:
  "Me, I'm just a big lunkhead never looking where I'm going."
~ Jack Whiting:
  ". . . was dead. Very, very dead."

~ Robinson:
  "I'm no doctor, but I think I know a dead man when I see one."
~ McCauley:
  ". . . was known to be one of the shrewdest and most relentless men on the force."
~ The detective:
  "This guy a patient of yours, Doc?"

~ Elaine:
  ". . . had chosen the easier road."
~ Martha:
  "She phoned you, Lieutenant, and set the stage for this."
~ Dr. Peter Frayne:
  "You don't think I'm a good doctor, but I think I'm a pretty good detective."

Typos: "stethescope" [twice]; "I'm coming to"; "the cheap litle hotel".

References and resources:
- "an overdose of morphine": A useful drug that has acquired a bad reputation because of chronic abuse: "Morphine is a pain medication of the opiate family that is found naturally in a number of plants and animals, including humans. It acts directly on the central nervous system (CNS) to decrease the feeling of pain. It can be taken for both acute pain and chronic pain and is frequently used for pain from myocardial infarction and during labor." (Wikipedia HERE).
- If you've never heard of Norman Daniels (which would mean you've managed to miss an awful lot of good pulp fiction), then see the standard background sources: Wikipedia (HERE), the SFE (HERE), the GAD Wiki (HERE), and the ISFDb (HERE). Daniels might have intended Dr. Peter Frayne to be a series character, but we don't know of any other stories featuring him.
- We've had several encounters with uberpulpster Daniels (e.g., HERE and HERE) and anticipate many more. (Note: Any links to the Pulpgen website are problematic at best.)



  1. I wonder if Better Publications engaged in that common practice of having stories written to go with artwork, rather than having artwork done to go with stories?

    I could see the editor coming up with the title, "Medical Murder," then assigning one of the artists he employed to come up with an appropriate illustration. Hence, the stethoscope, the hypodermic needle, the doctor's black bag, and a prone patient.

    The next step, on the day that writers were seen at the office, the early-arriving writers would get their choice of illustrations to work from--to use as writing prompts, while the late-arrivers would have to make do with whatever was left over. Or at least that's how it went over at Ziff-Davis, from what I've read.

    1. Mark - I've heard that that was a practice with some publishers. What's nice is the entertainment value of the stories staff writers produced as a result, better in many cases than you might anticipate from that approach.

  2. Mike,

    The entertainment value of collaborative fiction and commercial fiction is not only better than one might anticipate, but often superior to that in works produced by a lone writer working in isolation, working to impress literary critics instead of the everyday reader who reads for pleasure rather than some sort of enlightenment.

    Schools should include in their literature classes lessons on reading for the sheer pleasure of it.

  3. Mark - I couldn't agree with you more. If the author has a message to send ("working," as you say, "to impress literary critics"), that's fine; just tell a good story first and foremost and work the message into the story line. Doing it the other way around spoils everything.