“No Chance in Hell” by Nick Quarry

A Review by August West

Marvin H. Albert used his Nick Quarry pseudonym for all six of his Jake Barrow private eye novels. We’re not breaking new ground here, but all the novels have hair-trigger action and are excellent. And No Chance in Hell, published in 1960, is one of the best from the series.

It starts off fast, with P.I. Barrow swiftly entering a tenement building in NYC. He’s looking for the daughter of a friend and ends up blasting a hole in a guy with his .357 Magnum. Then we flashback to learn that Barrow has to find and protect the girl from a ruthless killer. This killer has already shot two of his friends and Barrow wants to perform his own justice on the guy. He fights exhaustion and a couple of brutal beatings trying to located the girl and killer. There is an Mexican immigrant smuggling operation, a unbelievable escape scene in the NYC sewer system, and a wild cat- fight with Barrow letting the girls go at it. Barrow follows the trail to New Mexico, (the girl is Native American) ending in the desert buttes.

Jake Barrow is a hard driven P.I., tough, but likable. A little weak in showing some compassion for victims, maybe, but he is willing to get knocked around and will bounce back fighting. A good storyline and an excellent — and bloody — ending. Thought it was over, but Barrow managed to cram in two more murders.

Barrow uses the dialog of the era:

“Dark fog engulfed my brain. My arms and legs turned to jelly. Hanks heaved me off him. I sprawled to the floor, as limp and uncoordinated as a dropped bunch of rubber bands.”

I always thought Albert’s Tony Rome character (written under the pseudonym of Anthony Rome) had a lot of Jake Barrow in him. Just a different setting and social class, but same hard-boiled style. I prefer the Jake Barrow stories.

Marvin Albert wrote many quality novels. His Gold Medal westerns are very good and I was hooked in the 70’s on his adventure novels authored as Ian MacAlister. Used a few pseudonyms and wrote many novels and film novelizations. Two Gold Medal paperbacks written under the name Albert Conroy are exceptional, Nice Guys Finish Dead and Murder in Room 13.


  • No Chance In Hell
    By Nick Quarry.
    Gold Medal #1033
    Copyright 1960
    Buy this book
Report respectfully submitted by August West. First published n January 2008 on August’s amazing Vintage Hardboiled Reads. Used with permission.

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