Friday, July 15, 2011

Forgotten Books: Murder Isn't Funny -- J. Harvey Bond

I suspect that J. Harvey Bond is about as forgotten as writers get. It probably won't help much when I tell you that his real name is Russ Winterbotham, though some of you SF readers might recall him vaguely. I do, because when I was at an impressionable age, he published a novel called The Space Egg in an issue of Amazing Stories. I read it and remembered the author's name, if nothing else about the story.

That's not why I decided to read this book, however. I decided to read it because it's about the death of a comic-strip artist, and I thought it would be interesting for that reason alone. And I was right. There's a lot in the book about how comic strips were produced back in the '50s, about the syndication, about how the artist and the writer worked, and so on. The narrator is a newspaper reporter, so there's a good bit about newspapers, too. All of this will seem as foreign to a modern reader as if it were about drawing on cave walls or writing on stone tablets, but it was fun for me. Being an old guy, I can remember the way things used to be, and I have no trouble at all putting myself back in that time while I'm reading the book.

Bond's (or Winterbotham's) writing is nothing special, but it's smooth and professional. The plot involves not one, not two, but three beautiful women, and there are plenty of complications. Despite the latter, however, the killer was pretty easy to spot, even for me. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the book, though. I always enjoy a brief return to those thrilling days of yesteryear when life was a bit different from the way it is now.

Winterbotham wrote one other Ace Double under the Bond name. Maybe I'll even read it one of these days.


James Reasoner said...

I've read this one and liked it quite a bit.

George said...

I remember reading THE SPACE EGG at an early age, too. I'll have to give the "J. Harvey Bond" ACE books a try.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Funny reading this how many elements go into writing a successful book. Even a bad title can hurt you.