“Beauty” Black

Created by Edward Ronns
Pseudonym of Edward S. Aarons
Other psedonyms include Paul Ayres

He may have been better known for his countless he-man Sam Durrell spy novels published by Fawcett Gold Medal under his real name, but Edward S. Aarons got his start pumping out fast-paced action short stories under various pen names for the pulps (mostly Detective Story Magazine), lending-libraries and second-tier paperback houses, including The Corpse Hangs High by “Edward Ronns,” published in hardcover by Phoenix Press in 1939.

Lee Server in The Encyclopedia of Pulp Writers, doesn’t hold this one in very high regard, gleefully relating how New Jersey private eye “BEAUTY” BLACK gets knocked unconscious in “a classic sub-Chandler riot of metaphors that verge on the ridiculous.” He then goes on to report this passage:

“A red, red nose blossomed before my eyes, spread out until it filled the universe, and then turned rotten and decomposed into a mountain of red worms that wriggled wildly away into the darkness.”


To his credit, Server does concede that “Aarons’s post-war work was better,” and notes that Aarons became one of the first writers for Fawcett’s Gold Medal, for whom he would eventually write the very successful Durrell series.

The Corpse Hangs High may have been considered a dud by Server, but Martin Goldman’s Timely-Atlas, which would eventually become Marvel Comics, saw fit to republish it in an abridged paperback version in 1943, as part of their “Best Detective Selection” line, with a great super-cheesy cover (pictured) by George D. Klein, a well-regarded comic book artist who would have a long and successful career with Marvel and later DC.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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