Created by James M. Fox
(Pseudonym of Johannes Matthijs Willem Knipscheer)
A pair of Californian Nick and Nora wanna-bes, JOHNNY and SUZY MARSHALL appeared in a slew of books by James M. Fox in the forties and fifties.
They even had an Asta-like canine partner to help/hinder them with their cases — a sometimes-ferocious, sometimes-playful Great Dane called Khan who figured rather prominently in some of the novels.
But whereas the cinematic Nick and Nora were rather urbane and urban sophisticates, constantly travelling from one troubled big city to another, martinis in hand, Johnny and Suzy were suburban all the way, beer-drinkers and homebodies, who never had to go very far, it seemed, to find trouble. It always found them, thanks to Johnny’s job as a private detective and Suzy’s efforts to wedge herself into every case..
The books were fun, and engaging, but relied too heavily at times on the cute factor, particularly the “kiss me, I’m stupid” ditziness of Suzy, a common problem among wives of these type of books of that era.
Great titles, though, and the Dell covers in particular were great!
As for the author, his real name was Johannes Matthijs Willem Knipscheer, which may be why he wrote as James M. Fox. He emigrated from Holland near the beginning of World War II, and promptly started writing hard-noiled detective fiction. He was a member of the MWA, and even struck up an unlikely friendship with Raymond Chandler.
- That friendship Fox struck up with Chandler? They apparently met at a party at mystery collector Ned Guymon’s house, and began a correspondance that that lasted for several years (and was later collected in a 1978 volume, Letters: Raymond Chandler and James M. Fox). Fox eventually dedicated his book Dark Crusade to Chandler, but the love, apparently didn’t always flow both ways. Turns out that Chandler considered him “almost a classic bore” and not much of a writer (according to a 1956 letter to his agent).
- THE FIFTH COLUMN NOVELS
Apparently, before he moved to the States, Fox wrote four novels featuring John and Suzy Marshall, although this John Marshalls was an American intelligence officer during World War II, a past hinted at in soime of the later novels.
- Don’t Try Anything Funny (1943) | Buy this book
- Hell on the Way (1943)
- Journey Into Danger (1943)
- Cheese from a Mousetrap (1944)
- THE JOHNNY & SUZY MARSHALL NOVELS
- The Lady Regrets (1947)
- Death Commits Bigamy (1948)
- The Inconvenient Bride (1948)
- Death Commits Bigamy
- The Gentle Hangman (1950)
- The Aleutian Blue Mink (1951; aka “Fatal in Furs”)
- The Iron Virgin (1951)
- The Scarlet Slippers (1952)
- A Shroud for Mr. Bundy (1952)
- The Bright Serpent (1953)
- “Start From Scratch” (1950, Four and Twenty Bloodhounds)
- Married to It!
Hitched! Married Eyes and Their Spouses…
- Chandler & The Fox
Curtis Evans pokes through the mid-century correspondence between the two writers, digging up some epistolary nastiness. (October 2020, CrimeReads)
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.