Monday, January 17, 2005

Kate Wilhelm's short story and Paul Kruger

I've been reading some noir crime fiction from the fifties and sixties written by female authors. This is for an article I'm writing for Ruumiin kulttuuri, the magazine of Suomen Dekkariseura, the Finnish Whodunit Society (www.dekkariseura.fi). The article will deal with such renowned writers as Dorothy Hughes (whose books I don't personally like very much), Margaret Millar, Charlotte Armstrong and the like.

There will also be some lesser known writers. One is Paul Kruger, who was actually Elizabeth Roberta Sebenthal (1917-?). There are no Finnish translations from her, but as a private eye writer she caught my eye. I'm currently reading a paperback original by her, called "A Bullet for a Blonde" (Dell 1958). It's a competent, but not very original P.I. book, with a sympathetic, but little shallow and uninteresting man, called Vince Latimer, in the lead. It was Sebenthal's first novel as Paul Kruger. She wrote some dozen more and continued writing up till the seventies. Her series character was Phil Kramer. I haven't read any of those books many of which are hardbacks from Simon & Schuster.

Kruger's other pseudonym was Harry Davis, under which she wrote two novels in 1956. They came from a publisher called Greenberg, about which I've never heard. It has probably been a small publisher, if not a vanity press.

I also read last night a short story by a science fiction writer Kate Wilhelm. She's very respected in that genre, but she's had also some crime stories one of which ended up in the Finnish weekly fictionmag called Jännityslukemisto-Seikkailukertomuksia in the early sixties. The story was originally called "Murderer’s Apprentice" (Double-Action Detective and Mystery Stories, May 1959). It's a very strange story of a prediction that a young woman, married to a struggling writer, finds out about her. She has a curse she cannot hide - unless she won't have a baby. The translation could've been abridged, since all of it didn't make sense to me at first. I may have to read it again. But it was interesting to find this story in a Finnish mag and save it from obscurity. It was also interesting to see that the Finnish mags from that era printed also some more noteworthy material.

1 comment:

Bill said...

Several of the "Paul Kruger" books were reprinted in paperback, and I read them in the 1970s. Not bad, but not distinguised. I think "Kruger" also wrote half of one of the old Ace Doubles as well.