Friday, July 21, 2017

Bonus Forgotten Heist Novella: We Are All Dead - Bruno Fischer

I read this novella, which originally appeared in the May 1955 issue of the legendary crime fiction digest MANHUNT, after I’d reread the L’Amour novel and written my post about it. But “We Are All Dead” is good enough and fits the day’s theme perfectly, so I decided I’d do a second post.

I haven’t read a lot of Bruno Fischer’s work, but what I have read has been very good. “We Are All Dead” is the story of a payroll robbery and what happens afterward. As if the title’s not enough to establish what’s coming, the first line gives you a pretty good idea that things aren’t going to work out well for the guys involved: The caper went off without a hitch except that Wally Garden got plugged.

But it’s getting to that noir ending that matters, and Fischer takes us on a harrowing, suspenseful, very well-written ride with plot twists galore. I have to admit, I saw the final big twist coming, but that didn’t detract any from my enjoyment of Fischer’s pure yarn-spinning ability. This story has been reprinted at least once, in THE NEW MAMMOTH BOOK OF PULP FICTION, and it’s also available as an e-book from Amazon. It’s well worth seeking out, and it’s also made me feel like I need to read something else by Fischer in the near future.


Walker Martin said...

I collect MANHUNT and it is a big favorite with me. There were 114 issues, 1953-1967. It started the big interest in hard boiled, tough crime digests in the fifties. I collect all the titles but none of them come near the quality of MANHUNT. However there was a decline in quality and the issues in the sixties are not that interesting.

S. D. Parker said...

I like the first sentence enough to want to read the story. Is it available electronically?

Out of curiosity (since I'm reading a biography of Erle Stanley Gardner), what story of his was published in this issue?

James Reasoner said...

Yeah, the link at the bottom of the post is to the e-book edition.

The Gardner story in that issue is called "Protection", but that's all I know about it. I don't have that issue, just going by the listing in the Fictionmags Index.

Tom said...

I love that the story is available cheap on Kindle. Any effort to make hardboiled stories of the 1950s available to modern audiences is welcome. And, I agree, this was a great post-heist story.

Bruno Fischer was an interesting character. Politically, he was a hardcore socialist and even ran for New York Governor as the Socialist Party candidate. Many of his stories have the theme that "money is the root of all misery" although "We Are All Dead" is divorced from any ideology. It's just an essential story for genre fans.

Kindle has a lot of Bruno Fischer content available. Some of his novels and short stories have also been reprinted in the modern era by specialty print publishers and in short-story compilations.

Joe Kenney said...

What is Forgotten Books Heist week? I must've missed the memo as I've never heard of it. If it was some blogger thing, I could've posted my review of Len Levinson's "Inside Job" a little earlier, as I read it the other week and it's his version of a heist novel, so it would've been fitting. (And humorously he turns the genre around completely from the 3-act breakdown you outlined in your review of the L'Amour heist book...the characters in Inside Job spend a whopping 3 pages planning their heist!)

We Are All Dead was also in the original edition of Jakubowski's anthology, simply titled The Mammoth Book of Pulp Fiction (just titled "Pulp Fiction" in the UK edition). That "New" edition you mention is a 2014 revision that removes 8 yarns from the 1996 original and replaces them with 9 "new" ones -- Fischer's story remains in both. I posted a review of several Mammoth Pulp stories on my blog the other month; We Are All Dead was by far my favorite of all of them.

Oh, I think the story is also collected in the ebook "Noir Masters Volume 1."

Joe Kenney said...

Oh and sorry to hijack this thread, but Walker, I actually have one of those '60s Manhunts on the way (January 1964) and I'm looking forward to it...has a story by Charles Miron, the dude who gave the world the bizarre "Airport Cop" series several years later.

And I also finally got one of the Manhunt issues with a story by my man Herbert Kastle -- I'll be reviewing it eventually on my blog if you are interested, same as I will the one from '64.

Walker Martin said...

Joe, yes I am interested, especially in any articles or reviews of old fiction magazines. I'll be checking your blog for your reviews. Thanks.

S. Craig Zahler said...

In addition to the crime stuff, Bruno Fischer is one of the most consistent weird menace writers I've read (often as Russell Gray) and one of the nastiest ones, though quite not Donald Graham perverse. House of Flesh is also a solid Gold Medal paperback by him.

Bruce Harris said...

Bruno Fischer was a solid pro. His stuff always entertains. Glad to see him appreciated here.