Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday's Forgotten Book: Frank Struan: Murder's So Unpleasant (1954)

In my on-going, but sporadic study of British paperback crime fiction, I read, almost in a jiffy, a short booklet by Frank Struan, called Murder's So Unpleasant. The Finnish title translates literally as Murhat ovat epämiellyttäviä. It was published here in a cheapo paperback series called Max Strong.

Frank Struan's real name was Graham Fisher, and all I know about him is that he was born in 1920. I don't know if he's still alive; probably not. He used the Frank Struan pseudonym in a series of stories that were published in the legendary British magazine called Tid-Bits in the early fifties. I've never seen these, but I believe one story filled out an entire magazine. If I'm mistaken, do correct me. Fisher wrote some thrillers still in the seventies, but that's all on him.

Murder's So Unpleasant is a mock-American hardboiled crime novel with a private eye hero called Johnny July. If he's a series character, he should be included in the Thrilling Detective listing. I don't know that yet, but I'll check it out. In this outing, Johnny July is hired to guard a wealthy business man, but he dies - in a closed room! - before July gets a chance to make out just from whom the man's supposed to be guarded from. There are two beautiful women involved in the case, the young bride of the deceased and her sister who seems to be after the man's inheritance. Or some such. I wasn't actually paying much attention and it's been already days since I read the booklet.

And this is what this book was really about. It's an one-hour entertainment, nothing more. There are notable gaps in the plot and Johnny July isn't a very interesting character, but I didn't really mind as the stuff went on with some speed. There are many references to Chandler. The city of the story is Bay City, Chandler's fictional city, and Johnny July is mugged and taken to a mental institute to be held there just like Marlowe in Farewell My Lovely.

I'm not sure how easily one could obtain stuff like this. The Finnish translation is easily found and cheap, though. The Finnish edition's cover art is by Spanish Portada Noiquet.

More Forgotten Books here.

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