Created by Richard Himmel
Although he’s almost forgotten today, author Richard Himmel was tagged as one of the greatest hard-boiled crime writers of the Fawcett Gold Medal era, starting things off with his first book, I’ll Find You in 1950, only the second book GM ever published. But the book, which introduced his series character, trouble-magnet attorney JOHNNY MAGUIRE, took off, eventually becoming a multi-million copy bestseller that pretty much blew the paperback publishing biz wide open for Gold Medal.
A working class kid, Maguire’s never had it easy, and even a law degree didn’t seem to help. Over the course of five hard, tight novels, the wise-cracking, corner-cutting, booze-loving Chicago shyster somehow became entangled with Commie spies, murderous heirs, overly ambitious mobsters, troubled movie stars and, of course, the sexual advances of kinky blondes and numerous other treacherous but always seductive women.
Not that his attitude towards them was anything to write home about–in true Gold Medal fashion, his knuckles barely cleared the ground. Here he waxes poetic about being rejected by a woman he’s convinced he’s in love with:
“I was thinking about how I could have taken her last night. The hell with her tears… OK, so she might have fought. It would have been good that way. Maybe that’s what she wanted. Maybe she wanted to get messed up a little bit. Maybe that’s the way it was good for her.”
What a charmer, eh?
Himmel cranked out a steady stream of very hard, very tough and very popular potboilers for Gold Medal throughout the fifties. The kicker? Himmel was a full-time interior designer, and only wrote part-time. And by the mid-fifties, as good as his literary side gig was going, his reputation as an interior designer was going nuclear, with celebrity clients around the globe clamoring for his services, and he quit writing, only re-emerging in the late seventies with a trio of big, cheesy, sex-stuffed spy romps.
- The battered Underwood typewriter that Himmel once pounded out his books now sits on a shelf in the apartment of his son, John Himmel. According to John, his mother once said, it “should be washed out with soap.”
- “In its own twisted way, it’s a love story…with lots of raw emotion, with plenty of melodrama. And a really great final scene and line, very much in keeping with the character of Johnny Maguire.”
— Bill Crider on I’ll Find You
- “Slick…there is action, conspiracy, plenty of sex. Himmel knows how to keep everything at a boil.”
— Newgate Calendar (The New York Times)
- “(Himmel) has a really appealing style in this book, fast-paced, funny, almost breezy at times, with lots of excellent dialogue, but he also manages to work in some poetic bits from time to time and some angst and tragedy. I’m not sure I’ve read anything exactly like it before, and I can see why I’ll Find You was a big success. It really had me flipping the pages to find out what was going to happen.”
— James Reasoner (December 2020, Rough Edges)
- I’ll Find You (1950) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- The Chinese Keyhole (1951) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- I Have Gloria Kirby (1951) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Two Deaths Must Die (1954) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- The Rich and the Damned (1958) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Hard Law (2020) | Kindle it!
Collects all five Maguire books.
- The Complete Himmel (2020) | Kindle it!
Collects all 12 of the author’s novels.