Wednesday, July 6, 2022

My Kind of Book: “Expectant Nymph”

Expectant Nymph, by “Hank Janson,” aka Stephen D. Frances (Gold Star, 1964). Cover illustration by Robert Maguire.

Amazingly, eight years ago I compiled a good-size post for this page about novels featuring “nymph” in their titles, but I missed including Expectant Nymph. It was one of the later books featuring Chicago-based newspaperman-cum-detective Hank Janson. The Nick Carter & Carter Brown Blog offers the following plot synopsis:
When Hank Jason is given a routine assignment to interview a retired gangster, he doesn’t expect to be de-panted by a mysterious young woman. And neither does he expect to go swimming in the raw with a beautiful international stripper who has been seen au naturel by an estimated 10 million men. But it’s all in a day’s and night’s work to the Chicago Chronicle’s ace reporter.
A curious thing: I have long understood that Stephen D. Frances (1917-1989), an English clerk turned journalist turned prolific author, created the Janson character and wrote the books in this once-popular series that were published between 1946 and 1953, making only occasional additional contributions from then until 1959. After 1953, I was told, others writers—among them D.F. Crawley, Harry Hobson, Victor Norwood, and James Moffatt—had continued Frances’ efforts, also under the Janson pseudonym.

The beautiful Expectant Nymph first saw print in August 1964, well after Frances is said to have retired. Yet all the online sources I find credit him with actually penning the novel. Is this simply a case of laziness, applying Frances’ name to books even after he had nothing to do with them? If anyone reading this can clear up the actual authorship of Expectant Nymph, please drop a note into the Comments section at the bottom of this post.

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