“Richard Foster” was only one of several noms de plume employed by New Yorker Kendell Foster Crossen, an ex-insurance investigator, guide book contributor, screenwriter, and, incidentally, editor of the magazine Detective Fiction Weekly. (He also published criminal tales under the byline “M.E. Chaber”). I haven’t read either of his two books featuring “two-fisted Miami private eye” Pete Draco, but I should, because they both have knockout covers. The front of Too Late for Mourning (Gold Medal, 1960)--displayed above, on the left--was painted by Robert K. Abbett, whose work I have applauded previously on this page (see here, here, and here). As I noted, I haven’t read Mourning, but the pseudonymous Vintage45 has, and here’s a bit of what he/she has to say about it’s story line:
Pete wraps up a case involving the bugging of stables at the race track. He gets back to his office and two guys tell him to take a vacation and then work him over with a blackjack. Later he goes to the Hapsbug Hotel for a few drinks.You’ll find Vintage45’s full review here. And click this link to see the cover from Bier for a Chaser, Pete Draco’s 1959 outing.
He notices a good-looking brunette and the bartender fills him in. She’s Susan Sienna from New York. With her are Frank and Katherine Thorney. Katherine is decked out with expensive jewelry. Pete wants to make some moves on Susan, but instead Katherine makes moves on him.
Hours later Pete finally manages to get out and go home. The next morning he gets a visit from his friend Lt. Dick Weston. The D.A. wants to see him. Frank Thorney has been murdered and the jewelry stolen.
Everyone who’s been reading this blog from the beginning should be quite aware by now that I’m a fan of Frank Kane’s more than two dozen novels starring New York City private eye Johnny Liddell. Even though Kane wasn’t exactly Shakespeare, and he tended to repeat himself from book to book, he could really make a story move. And that’s just what he does in The Mourning After (shown above, left). A plot synopsis of this 1961 tale reads:
A hurry-up call from L.A. brought Johnny Liddell 3,000 miles to the sprawling Beverly Hills estate of TV star Dirk Messner. New York’s shrewdest private eye found the handsome playboy in the middle of a press conference. The reporters were asking questions. Messner didn’t feel like talking--and from the looks of the gaping hole in his chest, he wouldn’t feel like doing anything again. …It’s hard not to love a private-eye yarn that can be summed up in such punchy fashion. And the cover of this Dell paperback is no slouch, either. It’s by the great Harry Bennett, whose sexy paintings graced a number of the Liddell titles.