Friday, November 03, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, November 3, 2017

(From Kaye Barley in the archives)

The Pierre Chambrun series by Hugh Pentecost

Hugh Pentecost. I thought I had remembered the
PERFECT forgotten books. Perfect! Couldn’t wait to squeal about an author who I haven’t heard mentioned in forever. You can imagine how my chin hit the floor as I read Lesa Holstine’s November 28th blogwhen the name Hugh Pentecost jumped off the page at me.

But, Lesa and I do tend to enjoy a lot of the same books, so perhaps not too surprising. Except this was a series which ended in 1988! How ironic is it for the two of us to want to re-read and remember these books at exactly the same time, and want to bring them to “Friday’s Forgotten Books?” It gives even more emphasis to the fact that they deserve to be remembered. Lesa did her usual excellent job inbringing these books to life and stirring some interest.

If you haven’t already read the Pierre Chambrun series, I too encourage you to try to find them and give them a try. I
think my love of and curiosity regarding all things having to do with hotels must stem from discovering Kay Thompson’s ELOISE at an early age. I find myself drawn to books which have hotels as a “character.” Especially a luxury hotel, which is a world unto itself. Upon discovering this series, I was in heaven. I continue re-reading the novels and short stories simply to lose myself in the Beaumont Hotel.

Hugh Pentecost was the pseudonym of Judson Philips (1903-1989). Philips was a founding member of the Mystery Writers of America and served as its third president, in addition to being Grand Master in 1973. Pentecost’s luxurious Beaumont Hotel is the leading character in 22 books. When asked if the Beaumont was based on the Plaza, the Ritz, or another luxury New York City hotel, Mr. Pentecost replied that although he knew these grandhotels well, none of them were as well known to him, nor as well loved, as his own Beaumont, which was as real to him as his own home.

While we don’t ever find Eloise scampering the halls of the Beaumont, there’s a host of interesting characters with their own stories and secrets to keep us entertained. At the start of the series, which was begun in 1962, we’re introduced to Pierre Chambrun who is the much admired, well loved, lord and master over the Beaumont. We’re also introduced to a cast of supporting characters – most of whom arestill employed by the hotel when the series ends in 1988. The
re are few character changes; but the changes are important to the series, and I think perhaps one of the reasons for its successful, long life. They include replacing Mr. Chambrun’s original insignificant secretary with the intriguing Ms. Ruysdale. The involvement between Chambrun and Ruysdale is developed slowly and intricately during the series until the very last line in the verylast book leaving no mistake as to the nature of their relationship.

Another important change is losing a likeable key character, Alison Barnwell, public relations manager. Alison marries and she and her husband move away from the city to open their own hotel. By replacing Alison with Mark Ha
skell, the series gains its “voice.” Its through Mark that the rest of the stories are told. The relationship between Mark and Pierre is very much like that between Nero Wolfe and Archie. A relationship which would not have been as wholly believable with a female character during this time period. One additional recurring character who remains a favorite is the elderly Mrs.Victoria Haven. Penthouse resident. One time stage star, and legendary beauty. A woman of great dignity, intelligence, mystery and humor. My favorite booksin the series are the ones which include Mrs. Haven.Into this close, closed and tight knit community fall the adventures of the richand famous, infamous, innocent or not so, scrupulous or unscrupulous, always intriguing visitors with mysteries begging to be solved.

Sergio Angelini, I AM MARY DUNNE, Brian Moore
Yvette Banek, FREE FALL, Robert Crais
Brian Busby, WIVES AND LOVERS, Michael Milner
Bill Crider, KISS ME, SATAN, Victor Gischler
Martin Edwards, THE GOLD STAR LINE, Meade and Eustace
Curt Evans, NO BONES ABOUT IT, Ruth Sawtell Wallis
Richard Horton, UNDER THE RED ROBE, Stanley J. Weyman
Jerry House, TWO FABLES, Roald Dahl
Nick Jones, PERIL FOR THE GUY, John Kennett
George Kelley, THE ART OF THE PULPS, Douglas Ellis
Margot Kinberg, ABOVE SUSPICION, Lynda La Plante  
Rob Kitchin, MAP OF A NATION, Rachel Hewitt
Evan Lewis, TAI-PAN, James Clavell 
Steve Lewis, CHAIN SAW, Jackson Gillis 
Todd Mason, Favorite Little Magazines
Neer, THE FILM OF FEAR, Frederic Arnold Kummer Jr.
J.F. Norris, TO CATCH A THIEF, Daphne Sanders
Matt Paust, More Maigrets, Georges Simenon 
James Reasoner, BELLS OF DOOM, Maxwell Grant
Gerard Saylor, WHORESON, Donald Goines
TomCat, THE WINDBLOW MYSTERY, Edward Gellibrand
TracyK, SMALLBONES DECEASED, Michael Gilbert 
Westlake Review, DIRTY MONEY, Richard Stark 
Zybahn, THE SUPER HUGOS, Issac Asimov


Charles Gramlich said...

hugh Pentecost. What a great name!

Yvette said...

Good morning, Patti. My post is up. Hooray! :) And thanks yet again for your patience with bloggers who drag their feet.

Jerry House said...

I've read and enjoyed most of Phillips/Pentecost's novels. My favorite character of his is Uncle George, who appeared mainly in short stories, although there were five novels about him. Of his stand-alones, THE DAY THE CHILDREN VANISHED stands out; it features the hijacking of a school bus -- something that happened in the real world a few years later. Because he was so prolific for so long, some of his characters have not aged well, especially Julian Quist, a mod-dressing PR specialist who appeared in 16 books during the Seventies and Eighties

He is one author who deserves a publishing resurgence. (The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box has published two large -- and expensive -- volumes of his pulp stories about the Manhattan Hunt Club. I wish these and his other books were available in less expensive, durable editions.)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks for the info, Jerry. He is one of the gaps in my reading.

Chris said...

I had occasion to mention Judson Philips (and his pseudonym) on my blog, not long ago. Not to review his work (never had the pleasure), but to suggest Donald Westlake may have been a fan. Scattered clues suggest this possibility.

J F Norris said...

Thanks for including my post before I was done, Patti! I accidentally published a draft too early. Here's the actual post link if you can amend it when you get a chance:

To Catch a Thief by Daphne Sanders

P.S. So glad to back. Took me long enough, right? :^)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Great to have you back, John!

TracyK said...

I read many books in the Pierre Chambrun series when I was younger, and I would love to read more of them again. Thanks for including that review by Kaye Barley, Patti. And thanks, as always, for including the link to my post.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I like the Pierre Chambrun series, Patti! Hadn't thought of it in a while, but it's great. Thanks for the reminder. And for including my link.

Jenn Jilks said...

I like following individual writers!

Graham Powell said...

By coincidence I read the very first of these novels, The Cannibal Who Overate, just last week. It's my favorite of the few I've read. The characters were strong and the plot was excellent.

I've also read many of Pentecost's John Jericho short stories; I may have to pick up the book that collects them all, The Battles of Jericho.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am the one who is left behind with Pentecost. Obviously a big hole in my reading.

Mathew Paust said...

I'm further behind than you, Patti, embarrassingly so, not having known of Pentecost until now.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Never heard of him either. I lean on my cane behind Mathew as those who have full heads of hair should always be in front of me.

(who will have a review for FFB on 11/10)

Mathew Paust said...

Heh heh...damned whippersnappers anyhow!