Tuesday, February 01, 2005

January 27, 1969

Everybody remembers where he was and what he was doing at some significant moment in his life. For example, everybody my age remembers where he was and what he was doing when he heard about the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

As for me, I also remember another day with startling clarity. It was January 27, 1969, when my daughter, Angela Antoinette Crider, was born in St. David's Hospital in Austin, Texas. In those days, in what I now think of as a more genteel and civilized time, fathers weren't allowed into the delivery room. Now, of course, they are, and they later invite friends and family over to the house for the showing of the full-color sound video they made of their children emerging from the womb. While I'm sure that's very enlightening for all concerned, I was quite happy to be shunted off to the waiting room to sit with other nervous fathers-to-be and wait until Angela was born.

So what did I do in the waiting room? I read a book, naturally, and I remember exactly which book it was: File on a Missing Redhead by Lou Cameron. A Gold Medal Book, as you might have guessed.

The other day on Angela's 36th birthday, in a fit of nostalgia, I pulled the book (sure, I still have it) off the shelf and read it again.

It was pretty much as I remembered it. Short, fast, and twisty. The narrator is Frank Talbot, a state trooper, which is kind of unusual when you think about it. He's investigating the murder of a redheaded woman found crammed into the forward trunk of a VW Beetle, and in the course of things he gets involved with the skip-tracing agency for which his former girlfriend (Hazel Collier) works. Hazel, as it turns out, dumped Talbot because he sent her current sweetie to the state pen. There are lots of entertaining details about skip-tracing in the novel (probably all outdated now, what with the Internet), and lots of nice CSI type stuff (also probably outdated). Plenty of procedural details, too. The violence is gruesomely described.

It turns out that the suspected killer of the redhead is being helped out by one of the agency's former workers, who knows all the tricks of the trade. And someone's trying to assassinate Talbot.

All this is wrapped up (maybe at a little too much length) in a surprising way. It even surprised me this time, on my second reading. And the final couple of pages were just great. I remember how much I liked them 36 years ago, and they're still satisfying today. Definitely not what you'd expect.

Cameron went on to create (and write a lot of books for) the Longarm series of adult westerns. I hope it made him rich. Posted by Hello


Ed Gorman said...

Lou Cameron could do the job when he wanted to. He did a couple of Lawrence Sanders First Deadly Sin knock-offs that were almost as good as the Sanders, whom I likd a lot. What a strange career Cameron had from being a comic book artist--he did some Classics Illustrateds plus adventure books--and then into pb originals. I remember one month buying a porno western, a gothic and a war novel all by him under pen-names. Then he had that long running series Captain Gringo, though I suspect he farmed out at least some of them. He had his own kind of nightclub-hip style that carried through just about every genre--except those gothics he wrote. They weren't all that bad either.

Unknown said...

Dang. I didn't know about the gothics. I do have some of the war novels under his own name, but not any others. Those Sanders knock-offs were published by Berkley, I think, and I have those. They all had cop names on the covers, like TANCREDI. Good stuff.

Anonymous said...


My favorite book that Lou Cameron wrote is "The Outsider," which -- by pure coincidence -- happens to be my favorite TV private eye show of all time. (Well, it's in the top five, at least.)

He also wrote two sexy (I presume) mystery novels under the Dagmar byline as well. I've never gotten any further than the front covers, but the titles were "The Spy Who Came in from the Copa" and "The Spy with the Blue Kazoo."

Besides the Longarm adult westerns, Cameron was responsible for (most of?) the J. D. Hardin "Doc and Raider" series as well.

I feel a checklist coming on, unless someone stops me, quick!

Steve Lewis

PS. My daughter was also born in 1969, and I was in the delivery room. The doctor wasn't in favor -- I think he thought I'd pass out -- but Lamaze was starting to catch on then, and no, I didn't. Funny thing is, it feels like yesterday.

Unknown said...

I have those Dagmar books, but they're in storage. I also have THE OUTSIDER, but I haven't read it. I guess I should.

The day my daughter was born seems like only a couple of weeks ago. How could a guy who's barely 36 himself have a daughter that age?

And as for the checklist, bring it on!

Anonymous said...


I was also born on January 27, 1969, but in Worcester, Massachusetts. I found this blog by looking up my birthday. My son was born on January 27, 1999, in the same hospital as I was born. I know, it's like a Twilight Zone episode! I have no idea who Lou Cameron is/was.

Anyway, I am sure your daughter is a fantastic woman. Thanks for writing about the impact of that day!!

Birthday Girl in Massachusetts

Unknown said...

Thanks for that comment, Birthday Girl!