Created by Nick Quarry
Pseudonym of Marvin H. Albert
Other pseudonyms include Mike Barone, J.D. Christilain, Al Conroy, Albert Conroy, Ian MacAlister, Anthony Rome
The series kicks off with a rousing start, with The Hoods Come Calling (1958), with Jake, after a couple of years in Chicago, returning to New York City, to finally pull the plug on his failing marriage to Carla.
“I didn’t love her anymore and I understood now that she was a tramp,” is how he sums up their marriage.
Unfortunately, Carla is murdered before Jake can reclaim the 1600 bucks he had left her, intending to use the funds to start up a detective agency. Naturally, Jake is the prime suspect. There’s some pretty brutal violence that falls just short of Spillane level along the way, a splash of 50s-era sex and a sucker punch twist along the way, but the book does a good job of setting Jake up for the rest of the series.
They were written by “Nick Quarry,” actually a pen name of the super prolific Marvin H. Albert, but many regard the half dozen Barrow novels Albert’s very best work. In many way, they’re not much different from other B-listers pulp fiction of the era, but they’re delivered fast and hard, with a lot of energy, some well-crafted action scenes and, predictably, plenty of garment-disadvantaged babes. There’s still a fair amount of cheese in all of Albert’s work (he occasionally wrote like he must have been wearing boxing gloves), but at least it’s good cheese.
Good enough, in fact, to give someone the idea to bring Jake to television. In 1968, a short, 15 minute- television pilot, Nick Quarry was produced although it was never actually broadcast. It was essentially an action-orientated demonstration reel, with music by celebrated film and television composer Jerry Goldsmith, no less. My guess is that they were hoping to cash in on the popularity of the 1967 Frank Sinatra flick, Tony Rome (based on another detective created by Albert) from the previous year, but casting Tony Scott as the private eye hero, not Ol’ Blue Eyes (I guess they figured nobody would know the difference). Supposedly selling the show was a hard gig, because of the violence. Still, the show lives on as an obscure footnote, mostly because Goldsmith did the music. He composed themes for TV shows like Perry Mason, Have Gun Will Travel, The Twilight Zone and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. before turning to film, where he scored everything from Patton and Planet of the Apes to Chinatown and Rambo: First Blood Part II. The books were out of print for decades, and the “pilot” was never aired, but the music for a show that hardly anybody ever saw was eventually released on CD in 2001.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marvin H. Albert wrote for newspapers, magazines, television and film, in numerous genres and under a slew of pen names. He created other P.I. characters, including French Riviera gumshoe Pete Sawyer, boatnik P.I. Tony Rome (later turned into two cheesy Sinatra flicks) and retro eye Harp under such pen names as J. D. Christilian and even Anthony (Anthony!) Rome. His Gold Medal westerns were supposedly also quite good, and he wrote adventure novels in the seventies as Ian MacAlister, as well as several film novelizations. August West has high praise for two other Gold Medals Marvin wrote under the name Albert Conroy: Nice Guys Finish Dead and Murder in Room 13.
In the early 1980’s, Albert moved to France, where he was widely admired, and lived there until his death in 1996. After his death, Requiem pour un muckraker, a collection of short stories by French crime writers was published, as a literary “hommage” to Albert. There was also a previously unpublished short story by Albert himself, and a postscript by Patrick Raynal, then the director of the Serie Noire, where most of Albert’s crime novels were published in France.
- “The action is swift, the writing is solid, and the plotting is a step above the usual… The Girl With No Place to Hide is the strongest of the Jake Barrow books.”
— George Kelley (Murder Off the Rack)
- “… over the course of the next few days and 180 or so pages, Albert really pours on the complications. You’ve got a murder involving a garment district tycoon, the death of a photographer, some brutal, corrupt cops, several beautiful women, and a bunch of gangsters and thugs and gamblers. Jake gets beaten up, tortured, and knocked out numerous times. But he always bounces back from whatever punishment the bad guys dish out and keeps digging for the truth.”
— James M. Reasoner on The Girl With No Place to Hide(September 2021, Rough Edges)
- The Hoods Come Calling (1958) | Buy this book
- The Girl with No Place to Hide (1959) | Buy this book
- Trail of a Tramp (1960) | Buy this book
- Till It Hurts (1960) | Buy this book
- No Chance in Hell (1960)| Buy this book
- Some Die Hard (1961) | Buy this book
- NICK QUARRY
(1968, 20th Century Fox Production)
Based on characters created by
Directed by Walter Grauman
Produced by Aaron Rosenberg
A 20th Century Fox Production
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Starring Tony Scotti as NICK QUARRY
Also starring Gena Rowlands
Possibly mistitled (the internet’s been wrong before), but this demonstration reel, essentially a teaser for a possible pilot, was possibly based on the Tony Rome film, but never aired.
- “No Chance in Hell” by Nick Quarry
Our review by August West.
THE DICK OF THE DAY
- September 4, 2021
THE BOTTOM LINE: Marvin H. Albert’s hard-boiled guy 50s era P.I. appeared in a half dozen fast, tough paperbacks. But Jake Barrow? Nick Quarry? Which is the pen name and which is the shamus?
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.