Friday, June 12, 2020

Forgotten Novellas: The Man Who Chose the Devil (Manville Moon #2) - Richard Deming

Richard Deming’s private eye character Manville Moon makes his second appearance in “The Man Who Chose the Devil”, a novella originally published in the May 1948 issue of the pulp BLACK MASK (far past its glory days of the Twenties and Thirties but still publishing a lot of pretty good stories). This yarn opens with Moon getting in a brawl in a bar with a businessman who seems to be going out of his way to get thrown in jail. The reason for that becomes apparent when one of the guy’s business partners is murdered and all the evidence points to him, but that doesn’t seem possible since he was behind bars at the time. Of course, he hires Moon to find the real killer and solve another impossible crime, as in the series’ debut, “The Juarez Knife”.

When I read and reviewed that story a while back, I commented that it was more of a puzzle mystery than a hardboiled crime yarn. Deming certainly ramps up the hardboiled elements more in “The Man Who Chose the Devil”, but the story still revolves around how somebody could commit a murder and so successfully frame someone whose alibi is that he was in jail at the time. As in “The Juarez Knife”, the ultimate solution is maybe not as clever or convincing as it might have been, but getting to it is a lot of fun and Manville Moon (who has an artificial right leg because of injuries suffered in World War II) is a fine protagonist/narrator. I liked the two stories I’ve read so far well enough that I’ve bought all the other pulp yarns that are currently available as e-books, as well as the three novels that feature Moon. I’m looking forward to reading all of them.


Richard Moore said...

I discovered the Manville Moon novels first and searched down some of the shorter stories but not those you reviewed. I look forward to reading them. One other note on Deming, I recall his paperback novelizatiON Webb's Dragnet characters DRAGNET: THE CASE OF THE COURTEOUS KILLER (Pocket Pocket 1959) caught the pace and dialog of the show very well. He wrote another one that I don't recall reading. I remember not liking the Dragnet novel written by Richard Prather--DRAGNET CASE No 561 (Pocket 1956) as by David Knight. If I find them I should reread them as my tastes may have evolved over the last half century from the first readings.

Mel Odom said...

Sounds good. I've got the first one as well. Gotta get around to it.

Matte Blk, Catalyst4Christ said...

You're old, pops.
Think of Jesus yet
and not the TV ..??
Jesus is calling.
Gonna answer ..??
Make Your Choice -SAW