Friday, March 22, 2013

Forgotten Book: I'll Find You -- Richard Himmel

 Not many Gold Medal writers are forgotten, but Richard Himmel seems to be.  A brief Google search turned up next to nothing about him or his books.  I'm partially at fault here, since I've had a good many of them on my selves for well over 30 years and never read a one of them.  Why? Well, you can't read everything.  Anyway, I decided it was time to take a look at one.  Himmel, after all, sold millions of books.  His first one for Gold Medal was I'll Find You, and it was the second novel GM published. (The first was John Flagg's The Persian Cat, and Flagg is another GM writer whose work I've never read.  So many books, so little time.)

What did I learn? For one thing, the Gold Medal pattern was set from the very beginning. I'll Find You has just about everything that the later books from this publisher had.  The first-person narrator, Johnny Maguire, is a self-proclaimed punk, a night-school lawyer whose attitudes toward women are primitive at best: "OK, so she might have fought. It would have been good that way. Maybe that's what she wanted.  Maybe she wanted to get messed up a little bit. Maybe that's the way it was good for her." He says this about a woman he's fallen for, hard.  She's the first woman he's ever loved, though of course he's had plenty of sex.  Sex is big in the GM line.

As soon as Maguire falls for the woman, she disappears, an apparent suicide. Maguire doesn't think she's dead and decides to find her.  Hence the book's title.  And he does find her.  That's when things get complicated.  Gangsters are involved, and there's a murder, but this isn't really a crime novel. In its own twisted way, it's a love story in the Gold Medal vein, with the emphasis on speed, with lots of raw emotion, with plenty of melodrama.  And a really great final scene and line, very much in keeping with the character of Johnny Maguire.

Himmel had something going for him, and it's not a big surprise that the book was such a hit.  My guess is that he didn't plan to make Maguire a series character.  He wasn't cut out to be one.  The book sold so many millions, however, that bringing him back must have proved irresistible. In one of the sequels, Maguire is even an investigator for the State Department.  I guess I'll have to read another one to see how this came about.

8 comments:

  1. I've had some Richard Himmel's books, too. Maybe STARK HOUSE will reprint some of his GOLD MEDAL novels.

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  2. Anonymous9:50 AM

    I've never read Himmel either but I have read John Flagg's DEATH'S LOVELY MASK. It was 20 years ago but other than the fact of reading it, I have zero memory of the book.


    Jeff

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  3. I bought a mess of Himmel's books last year and did some research on him in preparation for a post that I wanted to do last year, but got sidetracked. Coincidentally, he happened to live in the Chicago area his entire life. When he died in 2000 the Chicago Tribune did a fascinating feature on him. Though he wanted to be a writer all his life and was fairly successful at it inth elate 40s and 50s he ended up in a career as far removed from pulp fiction as can be imagined. He made his primary living as a high-end interior designer with a number of celebrity clients. And he apparently was very influential in the Chicago design world.

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  4. Thanks for that great info. If you ever do that post, I'll be sure to read it.

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  5. I have a couple of his books, and it turn out I'm the only one on LibraryThing (the world's greatest website) that has either. I also read Flagg's Death's Lovely Mask. It was a good read, but the hero, the ridiculously named Hart Muldoon, wasn't very interesting. I have his Death and the Naked Lady on the shelf. Maybe it will be better. Especially if the naked lady isn't the one who is dead!

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  6. Lynne T1:46 AM

    Thanks, Bill, for the information on Richard Kimmel! My father, David Martin and Richard Kimmel were best friends at the University of Chicago in the late 30's (Kimmel succeeded my father as the Editor-in-Chief of the University's daily newspaper "The Daily Maroon" in 1940! They remained good friends until my father's death in 1960. Earlier today, after looking through a box of letter's that the two of them exchanged, I decided to Google Himmel and came across your blog! Thanks so much for the great information! I had no idea of Kimmel's success as a writer. I remember him coming to visit when I was a child, but knew nothing of what he did. Thanks again, Lynne TillmanMonday

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  7. Glad you ran across the blog. You could probably find Kimmel's books on abebooks.com if you wanted to read one.

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  8. Lynne T6:46 PM

    Thanks, Bill! I will do that. I still have a beautiful Steuben Crystal bowl that he sent to me as a wedding gift in 1965!
    Thanks again for the great info! ~Lynne

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