Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Murder Wears a Halo by John Evans




I was surprised to find this pulp 20-odd years ago, and surprised again when I found it in a box the other day. John Evans (aka Howard Browne) is the still-respected author of four Chandleresque novels featuring private detective Paul Pine. Those novels are Halo in Blood (1946), Halo for Satan (1948), Halo in Brass (1949), and The Taste of Ashes (1957).

But here's John Evans, in the February 1944 issue of Mammoth Detective, with an even earlier Halo title. I first assumed it was a pulp version of one of the Pine titles. But nope, it's a whole 'nother novel. And instead of featuring Paul Pine, the first-person narrator of this one is a pulp writer named Don Hearn.

"72000 Word Book-length Novel" the cover says, and that's no lie. The story fills 125 pages of this massive mag. Interesting that Evans/Browne was using Halo titles even before the Pine books came along. I have a 1945 issue of the same magazine with a 40,000 word novelette called "Halo Round My Head". It features still another first person narrator.

I've yet to read this one, but it's definitely on my list, and I'll have more to say when I finish. For now, I'll let you peruse the prose from the title spread on your own. A bit of googling informed me this novel was finally published in book form in 1997 by Brooklyn Gryphon.

(click to enlarge)

7 comments:

brokenbullhorn said...

Cool. I'll have to see if I can't scare up some of this work.

Evan Lewis said...

Thanks, Richard. I read that Brooklyn Gryphon was also planning a collection of Evans' pulp stories back in the 90s, so that may be out there too.

Laurie Powers said...

Wow, a lot of things in this great post. The novel was finished in 1997 - would like to see what went behind the scenes on doing that. I have two Mammoth Western issues and you're right - it's no lie, they are heavy suckers. I could use them as lethal weapons.

Barry said...

The only problem I have with Mammoth Detective is how much room the darn things take up on a shelf.

Evan Lewis said...

That's true. And this is one of the earlier issues, that looks like a phone book.

Barry Traylor said...

Your post made me go to the book room and check out some bound copies of Mammoth Detective that I bought years ago from Andy Biegel, Jr. He told me that they were some of Howard Browne's file copies. And sure enough they are stamped with his name and address at 4251 Forman Avenue North Hollywood, Calif.

Evan Lewis said...

Cool! I forgot to mention that the issue pictured above also contains a short story by "Howard Browne". He was a very busy guy.