The Great Detectives: Remembering Yesterday’s Legends
Hidden gems patiently waiting to be rediscovered
Today we are paying tribute to the Remembered Gems of the mystery genre. These are the kinds of hidden gems you might find at a used bookstore, or hidden in the back of your great aunt’s bookshelf, or in a box of old books at a yard sale. They’re a few decades old, or are sometimes out of print, loved but neglected. But the stories and characters are still compelling, and they wait patiently for their moment to be rediscovered.
George Harmon Coxe was born in 1901. In the 1930s and 1940s, he wrote a total of 63 books, getting his start with the renowned Black Mask Magazine. His most famous series starred the hard-boiled Boston news photographer Jack “Flash Gun” Casey. Flash was big, hot-tempered, fiercely loyal to his friends, and a great sleuth. In the first novel, Silent Are the Dead, Flash attempts to unravel a murder. Before long, he’s involved with beautiful women, a New York gangster, cops, shootouts, fistfights, blackmail, a shady private eye, and a shocking ending.
Peter King’s own life would be a great setting for a mystery series. Born in England, King became a world traveler; he operated a tungsten mine, oversaw the establishment of South America’s first steel processing plant, and prospected for minerals around the globe. He eventually ended up in Florida, where he worked as a metallurgist and led the design team for the Apollo rockets. He also trained as a chef at the famed Cordon Bleu culinary school. In the mid 1990s, King started writing the Gourmet Detective culinary mystery series, about a chef turned culinary sleuth. With typically British tongue-and-cheek humor, the detective solves cases and shares his view on cooking, wine, and music.
Ron Goulart is the most famous science fiction and mystery writer you’ve never heard of. He is the mastermind and ghost writer behind many of your favorite genre books—but we can’t tell you which of those books he’s written. What we can talk about are the books that do have his name on them. Goulart has been hailed as the next Kurt Vonnegut for his slapstick, sometimes bizarre humor and keen writing style. He has also written comic books, including a series featuring Groucho Marx, as well as the more mainstream Flash Jordon and the Phantom comics. His John Easy mysteries, set in 1970s Los Angeles, feature a hip P.I. who drives a battered VW and has a major turtleneck collection. His books will make you laugh, and maybe you’ll even recognize his style from somewhere else . . .
Another overlooked but highly recommended author is Stephen Marlowe, who created the Chester Drum mysteries. Drum is a tough-talking, globe-trotting detective who travels everywhere from Mecca to Rio to solve cases and chase crooks. Like his protagonist, Marlowe lived much of his life abroad, and he uses that experience to add local color to the exotic locales.
Crack the covers of these terrific, timeless mysteries and make these vintage reads cool once more!