Joe Moran

Created by Dale Clark
Pseudonym of Ronal Kayser
Other pseudonyms include Clark Clayton

“She taught him the steps to a danse macabre.”
— the cover blurb of the 1955 paperback

Published as half of a 1955 Ace Double (D-109, for those who care about those kinda things), Mambo To Murder by Dale Clark follows former private eye JOE MORAN, who had his P.I. ticket yanked by the San Diego cops for his version of “two fisted justice.”

The cover illustration, by Samson Pollen, depicts poor Joe in a dumpy hotel room (with the obligatory neon sign glowing just outside the window) angrily confronting a blonde babe in an evening gown and jewelry, sitting on the bed, pointing his cigarette at her in an accusing fashion.

But well-dressed women in cheap rooms may be the least of Joe’s problems — some creepy, sap-yielding cop named Lieutenant Hoke hasn’t only yanked Joe’s license, but he’s also pulled his gun permit and told him to leave California. He also has to deal with — according to Joe, “An ex-carnie hardshot cracking a bullwhip, a deafie reading lips in a night club snooper (and) a Mr. Murder spinning the Hot-and-Cold running valves.”

No wonder “Joe and the cops found themselves dancing opposites in a fever-paced MAMBO TO MURDER!”

Obviously we all have to read this immediately! And it looks like we won’t have to look very hard for it — it was reprinted by the folks at Wildside Press.


Dale Clark was a pseudonym used by American author Dale Clark was born Ronal Kayser in Springfield, Minnesota in 1905. He married in 1930 and worked as an investigator for Chicago’s Juvenile Protective Association (he boasts in the intro to Mambo to Murder that he solved “the Cabrillo Freeway Skeleton thinga few years back’). Anyway, soon after, his early stories began to appear in Weird Tales under the pen name of Dale Clark, but by late 1934, they were appearing under his own name. But he soon turned to crime, so to speak,  pounding out hundreds of stories for Detective Story Magazine, Detective Fiction Weekly, Dime Detective and other mystery and detective pulps, under the “Dale Clark” pseudonym, drawing on his experience as an investigator. Many of his crime stories included  a scientific angle, oddball characters, vivid use of SoCal settings and a slightly satiric edge. He also managed to squeeze out several other novels, including Focus on Murder (1943), The Narrow Cell (1944), The Red Rods (1946), featuring P.I. Gillian Baltic, and Country Coffins (1961). Clark passed away in 1988 in La Jolla, California, where he’d lived for many years. In fact, in his 1959 novel Death Wore Fins (1959), which takes place there, he name drops several real life literary residents of that town, including Raymond Chandler, Jonathan Latimer and, uh, Dr. Seuss.



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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