Thursday, 20 August 2015

JONATHAN CRAIG - JUNKIE (1952)


Synopsis/blurb……

BY DAY-A PART-TIME SECRETARY BY NIGHT-A FULL-TIME PLAYGIRL "How long ago was that?" he asked. In the glow of the match her face seemed almost too angelic to be real. An angelic call-girl, he thought. "About a year ago," she told him. "But it seems longer." "How'd it all begin, Kathy?" he asked suddenly. She glanced at him quickly, then away. "They always ask that," she said softly. "Always." "I'm sorry," Steve said, meaning it. She pursed her full lips and blew smoke out slowly, gazing toward the river. "There was a man, of course," she said. "There always is."

Blogger fatigue kind of put me off making any notes on this one around the time I read it – at the back end of July. From memory, it was short and enjoyable enough.

Steve Harper is a jazz musician, a trumpet player with an on-off thing for Kathy. Currently off because he played around on her, which is something he deeply regrets. Kathy, with her chequered past is in trouble. She has been placed at the scene of a crime – the murder of musician, Wally Haynes. She has now gone missing and the cops are quizzing Steve over her whereabouts and ask for him to keep an eye out for her and help bring her in.

Steve, despite the circumstances refuses to believe she was capable of murder, starts asking around. If he can find her, he can save her and perhaps save them.

Bars, musicians, clubs, friendships, jealous husbands, previous beaus and liaisons, drugs, murder, a mysterious typing agency, another unexplained death, a trip outside the city, cops, lesbian love-action (not detailed!), obsession, insanity, resolution.

A lot to like – it was short, it was free (Munsey’s) and it had a fair few twists before we get things straightened out in the end.

Well worth an hour or two of anyone’s time.

One added bonus for the completist that I am – it was published in 1952 which was of course the only year I have missed thus far on Rich Westwood’s Crimes of the Century meme over at Past Offences. So I’m all caught up albeit 12 months after the event.

Jonathan Craig wrote more than a few novels in his time and you pick get hold of a couple of them for free at Munsey’s. Here

Craig was a pseudonym of Frank E. Smith, a Californian who also wrote gothic novels and westerns. He died in 1984. I'm unable to locate an author photo on the net.


Thanks to John Grant of Noirish for the heads-up on this one. 
John’s more coherent thoughts on Junkie are here.          

4 from 5

Munsey's freebie.

16 comments:

  1. It does sound like a solid read, Col. And it's got a music theme, which is always a 'plus' for me. Glad you thought it was enjoyable.

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    1. You do like your music Margot! Me too, though I couldn't lay claim to being a jazz fan. Interesting back-drop to the mystery though.

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  2. Glad (and mightily relieved!) you enjoyed this. I liked it as an example of real stripped-down hardboiled. Today's version would be 400 pages long and likely no more satisfying.

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    1. It was a busy little book, particularly considering the length. Maybe I'll try another by him!

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    2. I wasn't so impressed by his Red-Headed Sinners, if that's helpful to you.

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    3. Weird, I sort of liked _Red-headed Sinners_. I'd hoped to read a bit more of Craig, but it seems that Munsey's is down for the count. Sigh, back to Jane Austen...or something.

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    4. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'm disappointed Munsey's hasn't reappeared by now, so presumably it's gone for good. I've not tried any more from the author in the meantime.

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    5. I think I found the guy who used to run Munsey's. I sent him an email. If he ever responds, I'll let you know. Cheers!

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  3. Col, thanks for the link to Craig's work at Munsey’s. I have never read the author.

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    1. My first time Prashant. Maybe you can squeeze one of his into your reading schedule at some point.

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  4. I do hope to find this or another of his books to try. Love the cover.

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    1. Worth trying if you can find something at the book sale. There's always Munsey's otherwise....

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    2. Every time I click on that link to Munsey's nothing happens. I noticed in comments on another of your posts that others have noticed the same thing.

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    3. Yes, I just read that from John, Elgin and yourself...I don't know what has happened. Hopefully it is only temporary, but when sites take a break there's usually an announcement which there isn't in this case.

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