Ralph Munroe

Created by Michael Hervey
Pseudonym of Mark Hockman
Other pseudonyms include Mark Hoffman


One of the first of the writers associated with the Mushroom Jungle  was Michael Hervey, an extraordinarily prolific pulpster, perhaps best remembered for a slogan slapped across the cover of many of his thrillers: “If you’re nervey–don’t read Hervey”

Apparently, nobody listened, because Hervey ended up writing a slew of books and stories, including a handful featuring hard-boiled private dick RALPH MUNROE.

Alas, like most mushroom pulp from that era, tracking down any of those slim booklets of murder, mayhem and nudge-nudge wink-wink would blow the humble resources of this site clear out of the water, so I’d be delighted if anyone out there can fill us in on any further insights on the character.


Michael Hervey was the pen name of  Mark Hockman, a British writer, publisher, entrepreneur, and hustler. Born in London in 1914, he allegedly went to sea at the age of nineteen, giving  up a promising career as a commercial artist (at nineteen?), signing on as a ship’s steward. Adept at foreign languages, he soon proved himself useful as an interpreter, but in 1939, with war looming on the horizon, he made his way back to England, where he worked for a few years as an editorial assistant in the Secret Publications Division, later becoming an editor for Everybody’s Books and a drama critic of The Observer. He also wrote. A lot. In a ten-year period, ending in 1951, according to one account, he produced “1,600 short stories, 62 novels, 23 plays, and about 230 non-fiction articles.” He also began to churn out a steady stream of short crime paperbacks, beginning with Murder Thy Neighbour in 1944, which introduced Ralph Munroe, and soon started to fly off the shelves. Inspired, he soon started up his own imprint, the Essex-based Hampton Press, which he claimed sold over four million copies of 60 titles. Hard to tell, though–going over his bibliography, it’s clear Hervey was a creative kind of publisher, regularly repackaging titles over and over.

In 1951, he and his wife, Lilyan, emigrated to Australia, where he continued to write, not just crime fiction, but also a number of stage and screen plays, radio shows and even, possibly a comic book or two. He also started up Mike Hervey Detective Monthly Magazine (later Mike Hervey’s Detective Monthly Magazine) to keep the brand alive. It was published by Transport Publishing Co., Sydney, an early imprint of Horwitz, and featured both regurgitated and new stories, all written by Hervey (including a few, possibly revised Munroe reprints).

In fact, it’s widely reported that Hervey earned himself a spot in the Guinness Book of Records for having written ” more short fiction than any other writer (3,500 stories in all).” He also edited the Sydney Examiner, and eventually received a British Empire Medal (B.E.M.) in 1970 for services to journalism.

Sounds like he was almost too wonderful, huh? And yet there’s no doubt Hervey left his mark on crime fiction, both in the U.K. and Australia. But the part about him I like is a story one British fan apparently related to Steve Holland, author of the non-fiction  The Mushroom Jungle (1933). According to this fan, Hervey had a “habit of carrying around with him small gummed labels with the legend IF YOU’RE NERVY DON’T READ HERVEY printed on them and he would stick these on trees, lampposts and the like wherever he went.”


  • Murder Thy Neighbour (1944)
  • The Silver Death (1944)
  • Better Luck Next Crime (1949)
  • Murder in Vain (1949, as by Michael Wallace)
  • Murder While You Wait (1949, as by Michael Wallace)


  • “Murder Thy Neighbour” (1953, Mike Hervey Detective Monthly Magazine #5)
    Possibly condensed from the novella.
  • “Death Tolls the Bell” (1944, Death Tolls the Bell; reprinted 1953, Mike Hervey Detective Monthly Magazine #8)
  • “Night in St. Helena” (1944, Murder at the Movies)
  • “Not That Dumb!” (1944, Death Tolls the Bell)
  • “Race Apart (1944, Cut Price Murder and Other Stories)
  • “Murder at the Movies” (1944; reprinted 1953, Mike Hervey Detective Monthly Magazine #4)


  • Death Tolls the Bell (1944)
  • Murder at the Movies (1944)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin burton Smith.




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