Walk Softly, Sweetheart

walter stackpool larry kent 513 1960

It was just some casual curiosity that had me poking around Australian websites for more info on the “Larry Kent, Detective” series, and one of the chief illustrators of the books’ covers, Walter Stackpool. Now it’s turning into an obsession. A link’s below to a recent post about Stackpool, but there’ll be more to come about the 150+ radio show episodes and 400+ (!!!) novels and novelettes in the long running Larry Kent series, which began (on radio) as a former New York newshound who’d emigrated to Australia and set up shop as a freelance private eye. The books, I think, are all set in the U.S. Check out some covers online for yourself. Looks to me like the Australians had as good or better a handle on just how to depict 50’s-60’s era noir-ish and hard-boiled milieus than many of our own artists here in the States.

Above, Walter Stackpool’s cover art for Walk Softly Sweetheart from 1960, a not-so-good screen grab of the book below.


Walk Softly Sweetheart



Still More About Mavis…

Seidlitz And The Super SPy 1967 orig - spanish

Still more about Carter Brown’s female private detective, Mavis Seidlitz (see the preceding post):

Why did Carter Brown choose such an odd name for this character? Sure, many twentieth century names can seem a little clunky today: Bertha, Edna, Sophie, Norma, Bernice, Lottie and many others. But…Mavis? Mavis Seidlitz? Consider some of the 1930’s – 1960’s era women private detectives, cops and crime fighters from film, fiction and comics. Honey West. Torchy Blane, Sally O’Neil, Jill Trent, Starr Flagg, Tony Gayle. They have a little more zing to them, don’t they? Lets assume Yates settled on ‘Mavis Seidlitz’ to be cute. The clumsy name suited an often clumsy and ‘daffy’ character.

Mavis - France?

So, are the Mavis Seidlitz novels any good? Well, a lot of postwar era paperback original crime fiction is an acquired taste. The Carter Brown books are pretty slim, typically 128 pages, so more like novelettes by today’s measure. Mavis’ undercover work strains credibility in some cases. The mysteries can seem a little convoluted sometimes. Red Herrings abound. They may seem hastily written, with that vintage ‘first draft is the only draft’ feel. If you’ve read your share of the genre, you know what I mean. I won’t say that I like them. But I do plan on reading the rest of the series.

Still…120 million books.

Mavis Seidlitz won’t make V.I. Warshawsky, Kinsey Millhone or Ellie Stone nervous. But the character still commands an important place in the history of women detectives, cops and crime-fighters, particularly back in a time when any ‘stiletto gumshoes’ were woefully few and far between.

None but the lethal heart - aus - 1959 orig

Not I, Said The Vixen.

Vixen - Art

Always loved the cover art done by illustrator Bill Johnson for novelist and screenwriter Bill S. Ballinger’s 1965 legal drama Not I, Said The Vixen. Come to think of it, I really dig that title too. I used to have a horribly beat-up copy of this novel, but it vanished somewhere into the land of missing books. I never got around to reading it, and plan to order one soon if I don’t don’t stumble across a halfway sturdy copy somewhere…preferably priced for a reader, not a collector. As far as I know, the novel deals with defense attorney Cyrus March, struggling with a drinking problem that arose following the death of his wife, who now finds himself representing (and falling for) accused murderer Ivy Lorents, who admits to shooting a wealthy socialite, and may or may not have been having an affair with her as well. The lesbian theme, I’ve read, is subtle at first and more apparent as the story unfolds, perhaps a bit like Sharon Stone’s character in Basic Instinct. Sounds suitably vixen-ish for me.

Not I, Said The Vixen 1965 copy

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