Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gunshots in Another Room: The Forgotten Life of Dan J. Marlowe -- Charles Kelly

Dan J. Marlowe is in the top rank of Gold Medal novelists in my book, right up there with Jim Thompson, Charles Wiliams, John D. MacDonald, Harry Whittington, and Elliott Chaze. I was able to help Marlowe out a bit long years ago when he was looking for copies of his out-of-print novels, and I had a couple of short letters from him.  I knew a little about his life, but I'm always interested in learning more about my favorite writers.  So naturally I was glad when I discovered that Charles Kelly, a novelist and former reporter, had put his investigative skills to work and written a biography.

It turns out that Marlowe was quite a character, even more interesting than I'd thought.  I knew a bit about his amnesia, but now I know the whole story, or as much of it as we're ever likely to learn.  I knew about his association with writer and former bank robber Al Nussbaum, but Kelly gives much more information.  In fact, there's a great deal of material here on Nussbaum, and even some stuff about Nussbaum's associates.  If Marlowe was quite a character, you can double that for Nussbaum.  Or triple it.  There's a good bit here about Marlowe's collaborations, particularly with William Odell.  All of this was entirely new to me.

Marlowe was a hard-nosed professional, a working writer in every sense of the term.  I would've thought that his "Operation" series would have made him rich.  It didn't, and that's a real shame.  I never knew why the series ended, either, but not I have a much better idea.  

If you have any interest in Marlowe or in writers' lives, you should enjoy this book.  It's well-written, and it's a fascinating story.   Highly recommended.

Here's some more good news.  Next year Stark House will reissue two of Marlowe's best novels, The Name of the Game is Death and One Endless Hour in one volume with an intro by Kelley.  This one's a must-have.

11 comments:

jessethebassman said...

Cool! I'm with you all the way, Bill. These books knocked my socks off. Hardboiled, fast, chilling, amoral and fun as hell. Glad to hear that this book is out. I'll link to your story on my next blog, which will have other cool noir news items I've been saving. Hope you are well.

Anonymous said...

actually, this is my blog. I don't use google plus very much.

Bill Crider said...

Cool, Jesse. Glad to get the word out about this book.

Anonymous said...

This is definitely a must read for me. I recently discovered that I hadn't read ONE ENDLESS HOUR as I'd thought I had and picked up a copy.

Jeff

Jerry House said...

Marlowe was born in the mill city of Lowell, Massachusetts, as were Jack Kerouac, James Whistler, and my humble self. Lowell has a Whistler House Museum and a park and celebrations in honor of Kerouac. I can understand the city not acknowledging my birth, but I could never understand why it did acknowledge Marlowe's.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Love THE NAME OF THE GAME.

Jerry House said...

I see I left the words "did" and "not" out of my post. I'll let you guess where they belong. Stupid fumble fingers!

Mel Odom said...

Loved these books. Most of them are available as e-editions from Prologue Books on Amazon. A couple are missing that I hope they soon put up. But they're great reading.

George said...

You're right: must-have books! I'm ordering them now!

Charles Kelly said...

Bill, thanks so much for the great review. I found Marlowe a much more fascinating biography subject than I ever could have imagined. There still are mysteries about his life and people in the book--in particular a suspect in a murder--that I want to explore.

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge Dan Marlowe fan and had no idea this book was out...thanks so much for the heads up!