Manville Moon

Created by Richard Deming
Pseudonyms include Max Franklin, Emily Moor, Ellery Queen
(1915-1983)

MANVILLE “MANNY” MOON is one of the great series eyes that somehow slipped through the cracks, somewhere between the pulps of the late forties and the he-man crime digests and paperbacks of the fifties.

He’s tough, honest and handy with the wisecracks, as expected, but he’s a whole lot more. He’s undeniably got his roots in the pulps, but he also displays a surprisingly compassionate side that neatly anticipates Lew Archer, Dan Fortune et al. He’s even polite to the ladies.

Part of his empathy no doubt stems from the fact that he’s literally “walking wounded.” He’s got a grim contraption of cork, steel, aluminum and leather, where his right leg below the knee used to be, courtesy of his stint working for Uncle Sam during WWII, and a face a woman once referred to as “a battered Saint Bernard.”

Manny’s stomping ground is St. Louis, where he plies his trade, and keeps an eye on Fausta Moreni, the lovely proprietor of the El Patio Café. Silly me, for some reason I thought it was Buffalo, New York. But in Gallows in My Garden (1952), a suspect takes a ferry “across the river” to Illinois, which would certainly suggest St. Louis, and there are–I’m told–several direct references to downtown St. Louis streets, as well as frequent mentions of Union Station on Market Street.

Or am I confusing him with Deming’s other P.I., Barney Calhoun, who appeared in at least one book, Hit and Run? He definite;y (I think) came from Buffalo. It doesn’t help that Moon never actually names the town Moonville’s in, as far as I can recall.

Not that it actually matters–Deming’s depiction of a rough-and-tumble town with more than its share of hard edges–wherever the hell it is–is rendered with verve and grit, and the stories themselves have far more wit and style than you might expect.

Sure, Deming did a lot of hack work in his long career, but he also churned out some pretty solid stuff as well. He wrote for the pulps and digests, did several novels under the house pseudonym of Ellery Queen, and numerous tie-ins for such crime shows as Dragnet, Mod Squad, Charlie’s Angels, Vega$ and Starsky and Hutch, often under the penname of Max Franklin. A consumate pro, he re-wrote The Clue of the Broken Blade, one of The Hardy Boys adventures, and even dabbled in television.

UNDER OATH

  •  “Nimble–and breezy.”
    — Kirkus Reviews, on The Gallows in My Garden
  • “Deming is such a good writer… he keeps things racing along in a swift, smooth manner. The dialogue is good, Moon is a great character, and the mystery is fairly clued and seems to hold together pretty well.”
    James Reasoner (July 2021, Rough Edges)

SHORT STORIES

  • “The Juarez Knife” (January 1948, Popular Detective) | Kindle it!
  • “The Man Who Chose the Devil” (May 1948, Black Mask) | Kindle it!
  • “A Shot in the Arm” (July 1948, Black Mask; also 1990, P.I. Files) | Kindle it!
  • “No Pockets in a Shroud” (January 1949, Black Mask) | Kindle it!
  • “Big Shots Die Young” (July 1949, Black Mask) | Kindle it!
  • “Homicide, Inc.” (October 1949, F.B.I. Detective Stories)
  • “Five O’Clock Shroud” (November 1950, Black MaskKindle it!
  • “Pay Up or Die” (May 1951, Black Mask) | Kindle it!
  • “The Lesser Evil” (February 1953, Manhunt)
  • “The Frame and the Dame” (April 1953, Dime Detective)
  • “Man-Trap” (Summer 1953, Two Complete Detective Books)
  • “Die a Little” (August 1953, Dime Detective)
  • “The Six-Bit Fee” (January 1954, Manhunt)
  • “Death Sentence” (December 25, 1954, Manhunt)
  • “The Blood Oath” (January 1955, Manhunt; October 1961, The Saint Detective Magazine)
  • “Juvenile Delinquent” (July 1955, Manhunt)
  • “C Is for Culprit” (August 1956, Suspect Detective Stories)
  • “The Triple Cross” (October 1960, Web Detective Stories)
  • “The Shakedown” (1965, Come Seven, Come Death)

NOVELS

FURTHER INVESTIGATION

THE DICK OF THE DAY

  • July 25, 2021
    THE BOTTOM LINE: He left half his leg overseas, fighting for his country, but he returned Stateside, became a St. Louis P.I., and kicked some serious ass.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. The cover of The Gallows in My Garden (Dell, 1953) is by Bob Hilbert.

 

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