Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Sean Gregory's serial hero Mack Regan

I'm sure not many of you have heard of Sean Gregory, not even by his real name, Harry Hossent. He started out in the early 1950s writing cheap crime hardbacks for Hamilton under the house name Jeff Bogar. He went on to write more thrillers in the sixties under his real name. He seems to have dropped out of the publishing business in the early seventies.

As by Sean Gregory he wrote some short paperbacks for the Tit-Bits Books paperback series in the early 1950s. (At least I think they were paperbacks, but I'm not 100 % certain. Hope someone can confirm this. I believe the books accompanied the issues of the Tit-Bits magazine.) His stories in that series were for some reason or another translated in Finnish in a paperback series called Max Strong (who was an Australian series character, but that's another story altogether). I've browsed through the three stories, here's a lowdown.

All the stories came out originally in 1954. The hero, appearing in all three stories, is one Mack (short for Mackenzie) Regan. He's a Hollywood PR agent, but in what I believe was the first story in the series, Murder Bangs a Big Drum, he's still trying make his living in Ohio. He gets a phone call from a Hollywood producer, who asks Regan to come down to Hollywood to prevent a young actor's name appearing in headlines. Reason: he's disappeared. It all ties down to a hazy union job. In Murder Makes the Corpse Regan is asked to write a book on an undertaker firm. He agrees, but finds out soon there's something fishy about the outfit. Murder Is Too Permanent finds Regan working for a gangster called Ricky Vescino. He wants Regan to make way for his beautiful wife and escort her into high society, but at the same time his own life is being threatened as someone wants to blow up his car.

The stories are old-fashioned private eye fun, nothing more, but nothing less, though. As I didn't really read the stories, I can't say how well they hold up, but if you come across them, I'll advise to take a look. Seems, though, that the Tit-Bits Books are hard to come by.

One more thing: Harry Hossent-Sean Gregory came up with some strange names for his stories. This seems a staple in this kind of private eye stuff. There are Bats Moloney, Lex Hupner, Alvar Domonici, Rafe Engels, Bull Gregow and Jed Yurfy, and there's also a heavy called Griff, which is a nod to a house name of British mushroom jungle publishers.

Photos accompanying the post are the covers of the Finnish editions of Sean Gregory's stories.

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