Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, April 17, 2015


We are still shaken by the death earlier this week of Ron Scheer (BUDDIES IN THE SADDLE) and here is a tribute from Brian Busby who notes books set or written by Canadian authors. Here is another by B.V.  Lawson. They are many more if you google his name. We will not forget him quickly or easily. I wanted to post a poem for him. Most poems had mention of religion and I'm not sure how Ron felt about it. But this one leaves it open. It is slightly altered. And next a poem by a famous cowboy poet, which also seems apropos.

The time has come to say
Good-bye to all my cowboy friends.
Though our trails may be many miles apart.
May our friendship never end.

This gather's going to be my last,
For soon I'm headed South.
When spring brandin' smoke's in the air
I'll shed a tear no doubt.

You all have meant so much to me,
Of my life you're now a part.
Each one of you has bunkhouse space
That's deep here in my heart.

Good-bye to you where ere we met
For you see I'm Prineville bound.
No more my pony's feet on rocks
They'll tread a softer ground
And though I'll never ride again.
Up here where the eagles scream
I'll ride forever with each of you
Through these mountains in my dreams!

by Kendra Tyler

And this: 

Now back to Friday business:
from the archives - 

Al Tucher is the author of over 30 stories about the delightful Diana. The newest one is in BETTY FEDORA.

LONESOME ROAD


By George Harsh.

Since 1986 I have worked as a cataloger at the Newark Public Library, which has existed since 1883. The library has some very deep collections, and exploring them is both my job and a perk of my job. A recent project in the biography section brought me into contact with Lonesome Road, a 1971 memoir by George Harsh.


In 1928 Harsh was a rich, arrogant, idle young college student in Georgia. He and other rich, arrogant, idle young men spent much of their time discussing their superiority over the masses and the uses to which they should put that superiority. This was only four years after the Leopold and Loeb case, but it seems part of the “superman” pathology to dismiss possible lessons from anyone else’s experience. The young men in Harsh’s circle decided that they were able and therefore obligated to commit the perfect crime.


For the thrill of it they began a string of armed robberies. When a store clerk resisted, Harsh was the one holding the gun and the one who fired the lethal shot.


The police easily caught the young supermen, and Harsh was sentenced to death. His codefendants received life sentences, and the prosecutor, troubled by the disparity, succeeded in having Harsh’s sentence commuted to life. Writing years later, Harsh is unsparing toward his young self. He deserved to hang, he says, but he received more mercy than he had shown with the gun in his hand.


He spent the next several years on a Georgia chain gang that was brutal even by the standards of the time and place. Eventually, he became a trusty with a job as an orderly in a prison hospital.


Here we encounter the first of several plot twists that only reality can get away with writing. When an inmate needed an emergency appendectomy, a freak ice storm kept the staff physicians from reaching the hospital. Harsh, who had assisted at several such operations, performed the surgery and saved the man’s life. The governor of Georgia pardoned him.


The year was 1940. George Harsh felt undeserving of peace and security while so much of the world was at war. He traveled north and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. Harsh flew numerous bombing missions over Germany. His luck ran out in 1942, when he was shot down. His captors sent him to Stalag Luft III.


Fiction writers, try getting away with that one. In the 1963 film The Great Escape, the character called Intelligence, played by Gordon Jackson, is based on Harsh. He was not one of the 80-plus POWs who made it through the tunnel before it was discovered, which was just as well. Only a handful made it to safety. The rest were recaptured, and the Gestapo summarily executed more than fifty of them.


Harsh survived a brutal forced march westward, away from the advancing Red Army. His narrative ends there.


His story does not. In 1945 he was in his mid-thirties and had spent mere days as a grown man neither incarcerated nor at war. In another twist that in its own way might be the strangest of all, he worked for a while as a publisher’s traveling sales representative. The experiment in freedom was not a success. The memory of his crime tormented him, and he attempted suicide. Later he suffered a stroke, and in 1980 he died.


No collaborator in the writing of this book is named. If it is Harsh’s work, it counts as a remarkable achievement. He knows when and how to make his writing as terse and urgent as Morse code in the night, and his meditations on freedom, imprisonment, violence and war come with a hard-earned authority.


Did George Harsh atone for his crime? It’s a tough call that will vary from reader to reader. Does his book deserve a place on the shelf? In my mind, beyond all doubt.

Sergio Angelini, CRIME ON MY HANDS, George Sanders and Craig Rice
Mark Baker, GRAND CANYON, Sandy Dengler
Joe Barone, PREY ON PATMOS, Jeffrey Siger
Les Blatt, DEATH AT THE PRESIDENT'S LODGING, Michael Innes
Bill Crider, DEATH ON THE CHEAP, Arthur Lyons
Martin Edwards, DEATH ON THE AGENDA, Patricia Moyes
Curt Evans, TOPER'S END, GDH Cole
Ed Gorman, BONJOUR TRISTESSE, Francoise Sagan
John Hegenberger, THE SOUND OF DETECTION, Francis M Nevins and Martin Grams Jr.
Rick Horton, BOUND TO RISE, Horatio Alger, Jr. 
Jerry House, SCALPS, Murray Leinster
Randy Johnson, TOUCHFEATHER, Jimmy Sangster
Nick Jones, THE CONDUCT OF MAJOR MAXIM, Gavin Lyall
George Kelley, THE FORERUNNER SERIES, Andre Norton
Margot Kinberg, THE CORPSE WITH THE SILVER TONGUE, Kathy Ace
Rob Kitchin, BLACKLANDS, Belinda Bauer
B.V. Lawson, MORSES' GREATEST CASE, Colin Dexter
Evan Lewis, FIVE BOOKS REVIEWED by Dashiell Hammett
Steve Lewis/William Deeck, THE GREEN ARCHER, Edgar Wallace
Todd Mason, SUPER WHOST, Margaret St. Clair
Patrick Murtha, BLIX, Frank Norris
James Reasoner, HOUSE OF LIVING DEATH, Arthur Leo Zagat
Richard Robinson, THE SAINT WANTED FOR MURDER, Leslie Charteris
Gerard Saylor, HEADS IN BEDS, Jacob Tomsky
RT. RED LIGHTENING, John Varley
Kerrie Smith, TRACKING NORTH, Kerrie McGinnis
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang A JADE IN ARIES, Tucker Coe
TomCat, THE CASE OF THE GOLDDIGGERS PURSE, Erle Stanley Gardner
TracyK, A SHILLING FOR CANDLES, Josephine Tey



6 comments:

RT said...

Late to the party -- as usual -- I offer this from Beyond Eastrod:

http://beyondeastrod.blogspot.com/2015/04/forgotten-book-friday-red-lightning-by.html

Todd Mason said...

Mine, which muscled out another review I was thinking of doing at the last minute, is I hope still coherent and informative enough, and Up. Thanks, Patt...and for drawing attention to some more folks' remembrance of Ron.

Richard said...

Patti, thank you for doing this, in the midst of packing and getting ready for your move. You're a star!

Al Tucher said...

I was just thinking about LONESOME ROAD!

And Patti, you forgot to mention your own terrific story in BETTY FEDORA: TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT MY WIFE.

nikidomino said...

And your remembrance, too...I, too, have picked up BETtY FEDORA #1. I think I don't read enough mediocre and worse/dumbass men's crime fiction to run across the women's estate in crime fiction as described by the editor/publisher...certainly it's hard to miss in crime drama.

Charles Gramlich said...

A lovely poem.