Friday, June 27, 2014
Forgotten Books: Hangman's Harvest - M.E. Chaber (Kendall Foster Crossen)
HANGMAN'S HARVEST is a book I read many years ago and remember fondly for several reasons, including the McGinnis cover with a dead ringer for James Coburn on it. That Coburn lookalike was featured on all the Seventies paperback reprints of the Milo March series. Despite that this one says, it's not the 16th in the series, it's actually the first, published originally by Henry Holt in 1952 and reprinted in paperback a year later under the title DON'T GET CAUGHT.
Another reason I recall this book is that I read it during the first trip I took with Livia, back in the summer of 1976. I enjoyed it a lot, but I realized even then that it was heavily influenced by Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op fix-up novel RED HARVEST, right down to the similar titles. In this one Milo March, who's an insurance investigator but functions basically as a private eye, comes to the fictional Aragon City on a case and proceeds to take on all the gangsters and corrupt politicians who run the town. It's a very violent, fast-moving tale and quite entertaining. The Milo March books are about all I've ever read by Kendall Foster Crossen, the prolific pulpster and paperbacker behind the M.E. Chaber pseudonym. Crossen wrote the oddball pulp novels about the Green Llama, all or most of which are currently available in reprint editions. I want to try those one of these days.