Having read all five issues of the Mysterious Traveler’s digest, this edition was my favorite, with just over half of the stories worthy of 5-Stars raHaving read all five issues of the Mysterious Traveler’s digest, this edition was my favorite, with just over half of the stories worthy of 5-Stars ratings (the others, save one, were all 4-Star yarns). A real standout, editor Robert Arthur’s own (presented under the Traveler’s byline), “Later Than You Think,” is one of only a handful in contention for best of the entire run....more
The third outing of The Mysterious Traveler Magazine features twelve stories of suspense (3), crime (1), detection (3), science fiction (1), mystery aThe third outing of The Mysterious Traveler Magazine features twelve stories of suspense (3), crime (1), detection (3), science fiction (1), mystery and the macabre (2), and strange stories (2). The five-star stories in this edition include the work of Cornell Woolrich, Dorothy L. Sayers, Richard Sale, (editor) Robert Arthur and Lou Houston. The remaining seven yarns were also quite good, so this edition is above average throughout....more
The debut issue of The Mysterious Traveler Magazine features a dozen stories of crime, suspense, mystery and the macabre. About half are original andThe debut issue of The Mysterious Traveler Magazine features a dozen stories of crime, suspense, mystery and the macabre. About half are original and half are reprints from 1948 or earlier. Some, like “The Big Money” credited to the Mysterious Traveler himself (actually written by editor Robert Arthur) are outstanding and nicely representative of the radio program that spawned the digest. Others don’t fit as well—still worthwhile, but not stellar. As with most anthologies, the weaker entries take the overall rating down a notch....more
Despite its exemplary early 1950’s paperback cover, Hill Girl goes far beyond its sexy sales pitch. It’s a brilliant charHill Girl by Charles Williams
Despite its exemplary early 1950’s paperback cover, Hill Girl goes far beyond its sexy sales pitch. It’s a brilliant character study of the relationships of two brothers shaped by their beliefs and reactions to circumstances they create or confront. Williams’ characters live within the rigid cultural roles of the era. The men must maintain a tough, unsentimental worldview, yet his prose skillfully reveals their underlying emotions and motivations, in plain, but indirect narrative and dialogue. It’s a story of unexpected depth and facility.
The catalyst that forces brothers Bob and Lee Crane to embrace or deny their adulthood is eighteen-year-old blossom, Angelina, smothered by an overprotective father whose unwittingly strict doctrines produce exactly the opposite effect he intends.
The setup in Hill Girl may sound like a familiar bawdy gag, but Williams takes it in unexpected directions, exposing character and driving action in a sort of perfect dark symmetry, making a fast read, even faster. Classified as country noir, Hill Girl, is a satisfying exploration of an out-of-balance mix of human flaws and virtues.
I reviewed Williams’ A Touch of Death, from Hard Case Crime, last year, and knew I wanted to read more of his work. Clark Dissmeyer read my review and sent me Hill Girl in response. Turns out, it was Williams’ breakout novel, published in 1950, with sales over a million copies. The copy Clark sent was the fourth edition, one of three printing in 1951 alone. Williams may not be well known today but he was considered one of the finest suspense writers of his day. His novels were the basis of a dozen movies and teleplays, including Dead Calm (1989) and The Hot Spot (1990).
The success of Hill Girl enabled Williams to write full time and he quickly followed it with Big City Girl and River Girl. Next was Hell Hath No Fury, perhaps his most well-known work, and on which Dennis Hopper’s The Hot Spot was based. In all, Williams published 22 novels during his lifetime. He committed suicide in 1975, at the age of 65. In my book, Hill Girl easily earns: ✪✪✪✪✪...more