Saturday, July 20, 2019

Alfred Hitchcock's The Best of Mystery: What Happened to Each Writer?

I just finished The Best of Mystery, culled from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine in 1980, the year Hitchcock died.  I thought it'd be interesting to excavate the careers of the writers included in the collection.  There are some names even someone like me who doesn't read a lot of mysteries will know, and then some that require a little more digging.  So let's begin!

Edward D. Hoch ("Winter Run," "Warrior's Farewell," "A Melee of Diamonds") Ended up best known for his short stories.

Henry Slesar ("You Can't Blame Her," "Happiness Before Death," "Case of the Kind Waitress") Wrote teleplays for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, among other projects.

Pauline C. Smith ("A Flower in Her Hair," "Linda Is Gone") Limited to Hitchcock publishing ventures.

Avram Davidson ("The Cost of Kent Castwell") Celebrated by hobbyists but never really broke out.

Lawrence Block ("Pseudo Identity," "With a Smile for the Ending") Wrote extensively, dozens of novels under a variety of names.  Easy to find.

Jack Richie ("That Russian!," "The Third Call," "#8") Later refined his name as Jack Ritchie; worked for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, had a short story adapted into a movie starring Walter Matthau.

Hillary Waugh ("Galton and the Yelling Boys," "Nothing But Human Nature") Dozens of novels, easy to find.

Charles Boeckman ("Blind Date") Known primarily for his earlier jazz career.

Roderick Wilkinson ("Pressure") Fairly obscure.

Bill Pronzini ("The Running Man," "Here Lies Another Blackmailer," "I Don't Understand It") Wrote extensively, best known for the Nameless Detective.

F. J. Kelly ("The Vietnam Circle") This particular name did not leave a legacy.  May have been modified later.

Ed McBain ("Sadie When She Died") Extensive work, easy to find, was once adapted by Akira Kurosawa.

Gilbert Ralston ("A Very Cautious Boy") Wrote extensively in Hollywood, including co-creating The Wild Wild West.

Borden Deal ("A Try for the Big Prize") His stories inspired work in both Broadway and Hollywood.

Robert Colby ("Voice in the Night") Never really broke out.

Ron Goulart ("Undertaker, Please Drive Slow," "News from Nowhere") Ghost writer of William Shatner's TekWar books.

Donald E. Westlake/Richard Stark ("Never Shake a Family Tree," "Just a Little Impractical Joke," "Come Back, Come Back...," "The Best-Friend Murder") The second most accomplished of the writers in the collection, with an extensive list of Hollywood adaptions to his credit, including recent examples Payback (1999), What's the Worst That Could Happen? (2001), and Parker (2013).  Probably better known recently as Richard Stark, creator of Parker, a character who has appeared in many films, often renamed, until the most recent one.

Lawrence Treat ("Dead Duck") Known primarily for his short stories.

John Lutz ("Games for Adults") Wrote the book that later became the film Single White Female.

James Michael Ullman ("Night of the Twisters") Best known for How to Hold a Garage Sale.

Patricia Highsmith ("Variations on a Game") The writer of The Talented Mr. Ripley, plus Strangers on a Train (later adapted as a Hitchcock movie) and what came to be known as Carol (also made into a movie).  Easily the most accomplished of the lot.

William Link & Richard Levinson ("Child's Play") Frequent collaborators worked extensively in television.

Jean Potts ("Murderer #2") Best known for her short stories.

Rufus King ("Damon and Pythias and Delilah Brown") Wrote a number of books.

Richard M. Ellis (Glory Hunter") Apparently best known for Hitchcock publications.

C. B. Gilford ("Frightened Lady," "Murder, 1990") Best known for his Hitchcock work.

James Holding ("Once Upon a Bank Floor," "The Montevideo Squeeze") Remains fairly obscure.

Wenzell Brown ("Death by Misadventure") Born in Portland, ME (of interest mostly to me), had some work adapted by Hollywood.

Charlotte Edwards ("Television Country") Wrote for television.

Dan J. Marlowe ("Art for Money's Sake") Wrote a number of books.

Paul W. Fairman ("Panther, Panther in the Night") Works adapted by Hollywood.

E. X. Ferrars ("Perfectly Timed Plot") Wrote dozens of books.

Bryce Walton (All the Needless Killing," "Doctor Apollo") Wrote a few episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Mary Barrett ("One for the Crow") Daughter of Irving Berlin.

Kate Wilhelm ("A Case of Desperation") Well respected for her science fiction work.

Paul Tabori ("An Interlude for Murder") Better known for other pursuits.

Eleanor Daly Boylan ("Death Overdue") Best known for her Hitchcock work.

Helen Nielsen ("Pattern of Guilt") Wrote for Perry Mason and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Donald Honig ("A Real, Live Murderer") Best known for writing about baseball.

Holly Roth ("The Pursuer") Remains fairly obscure.

Lawrence Page ("Final Arrangements") Significantly obscure.

David Ely ("Countdown") Best known for Seconds.

Nedra Tyre ("Murder Between Friends") Somewhat obscure.

Carroll Mayers ("Ghost of a Chance") Best known for Hitchcock work.

Margaret Chenoweth ("The White Moth") Best known for Hitchcock work.


  1. Lawrence Block is one of my favorites. He still writes mostly shorter works and edits volumes of short stories, but since he's in his mid-80s I guess he deserves to take it easy. I'd like to read Westlake's Parker series but they're so expensive on Amazon. Probably could get them cheaper in used paperbacks.

  2. I kind of wish I had more time to research some of these writers. But it's probably a better use of my time reading the bigger names among them.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...