Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday's Forgotten Book: Hartley Howard: Put Out That Star

There's not much info on Hartley Howard, real name Horace Ognall, in the web. No one seems to be talking about his books. Still he was a popular crime writer in England from the fifties to the seventies, specializing in hardboiled private eye tales that are so popular in some blog circles. Well, seems like Howard wasn't as good as this game as some of the better known names in the field.

I've started slowly getting back to my book project on British paperback crime writers and been reading some Hartley Howard. I've read one or two of his novels earlier, now I read one of his novels under the pseudonym Harry Carmichael, called Put Out That Star from 1957. It stars the insurance detective John Piper, one of Howard's series characters. In Put Out That Star Piper gets to solve the mystery of a disappearing starlet. This is almost a locked-room mystery, but not quite. The first half of the book is set almost like a play and there's lots and lots of talk. This is pretty far from Howard's better-known Glenn Bowman series in which the hero is a bit like Mike Hammer. They are slow-moving too, though, so I guess this is typical to Howard's output.

Put Out That Star is not a bad book, but it's not very good either. It's safe to say it's mediocre. Howard's career with over 90 novels was so long though he shouldn't have to be so forgotten. I'll be reading more of his work during the coming weeks and months and will be posting about it.

Put Out That Star was published in Finnish under the title Huoneisto n:o 15 in 1959, in the publishing house Gummerus's Salama (= Lightning) series of paperback novels.

More Forgotten Books at Patti Abbott's blog here.


Kevin Burton Smith said...

Okay, Juri, you've got me hooked. I too read several of his books -- the libraries were full of his books in Montreal as recently as the nineties.

Though there may be a good reason for that. Turns out Howard may have been, in fact, Canadian, not British. He was born in Montreal, and worked as a journalist, presumably in Montreal, so it's entirely possible he knew more about New York, Americans and organized crime than people give him credit for. The investigation continues...

Juri said...

But he lived in England for the last decades of his life, didn't he?