I'm hosting Friday's "Forgotten" Books for Patti Abbott today, and you can scroll down to the bottom of this posting for all the links to other book blogs with their weekly offerings. But first, a look at The Last Vanity by Hartley Howard.
Leopold Horace Ognall (1908-1979) was a prolific author with close to 90 novels under his two pseudonyms, Hartley Howard and Harry Carmichael. Thus it is rather surprising that it's so difficult to find anything about the author or his books.
He was born in Montreal, educated in Scotland and worked as a journalist before starting his fiction career. His primary series characters under the Harry Carmichael name are insurance assessor John Piper and crime reporter Quinn. The main focus of his Hartley Howard line are Philip Scott, head of a successful toy company and secretly the head of a British spy unit, and the New York private eye Glenn Bowman. The author once declared thirty-eight year old Bowman to be "the toughest wise-cracking private eye in the business."
One of the earliest Bowman novels is The Last Vanity from 1952, the third in that series. The novel opens with Edwin Newsome, a man worried about the health of his brother, Harold, fearing he may be the victim of steady poisoning by his brother's new—and much younger—wife, Moira. Edwin hires P.I. Glenn Bowman to investigate, and Bowman poses as an ex-con to get himself hired as a second chauffeur in the Harold's household. He soon discovers many under-currents beneath the surface involving family and staff alike, much more than a scheming young wife after her husband's wealth.
Hartley Howard's style is solidly in the Golden Age era, with the British author trying valiantly to emulate the American hard-boiled detective writing of Raymond Chandler and the others who followed in Chandler's footsteps. There are a few British-isms that creep in here and there, although they're relatively minor. The novel doesn't rise to Chandler's level, perhaps, but it's still entertaining and Bowman's character is sympathetic and engaging.
Although Ognall/Howard's books were apparently never published in the States and weren't even all that easy to find in the U.K. The Thrilling Detective site notes that Howard at some point moved to Italy during the Sixties and his Glenn Bowman private eye books were very popular among Italian readers during that period. They apparently did well in Germany, where almost his entire output was translated.
Both Leopold Horace Ognall and his books appear to be largely forgotten (save perhaps his novel Assignment K, made into a movie starring Stephen Boyd as spy Philip Scott), but the author's son Harry became a high court judge and conducted the hearings regarding former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet.
Here are this week's Friday's Forgotten Books links:
- Sergio Angelini – The Key to Nicholas Street (1952) by Stanley Ellikn
- Yvette Banek – Suddenly, at His Residence (1946) by Christianna Brand
- Joe Barone – Murder by the Book (1951) by Rex Stout
- Les Blatt – The Lake District Murder (1935) by John Bude
- Bill Crider – Wolf House (2002) by Jack Lynch
- Martin Edwards - Last Will and Testament (1936) by G.D.H. and Margaret Cole
- Curt Evans – The Obstinate Murderer (1938) by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
- Shonna Froebel - Things Fall Apart (1958) by Chinua Achebe
- Ed Gorman – Three Novels by Peter Rabe (1956-57)
- Brian Green – The Baby Doll Murders by James O. Causey
- Rich Horton - Housekeeping (1980) by Marilynne Robinson
- Jerry House - The Selected Letters of Ellery Queen, 1947-1950, edited by Joseph Goodrich (2012)
- Allen Hubin via The Mystery File – A Mouthful of Sand (1989) by M.R.D. Meek
- Randy Johnson – Lover Man (1987) by Dallas Murphy
- Nick Jones – The Rainbird Pattern (1972) by Victor Canning
- George Kelley – Big Damn Sin City by Frank Miller
- Margot Kinberg – The Bomber by Liza Marklund (1998)
- Rob Kitchin - All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Eye by Christopher Brookmyre (2005)
- Marv Lachman via The Mystery File – Eye of Osiris (1911) by R. Austin Freeman
- Evan Lewis – Cry at Dusk (1952) by Lester Dent
- Todd Mason - The Story of Story Magazine (1980) by Martha Foley
- Neer - Fear Stalks the Village (1932) by Ethel Nina White
- Peggy Ann - The Man in the Queue (1929) by Josephine Tey
- John O'Neil - Pavane (1968) by Keith Roberts
- John F. Norris - The Hollow (1946) by Agatha Christie
- David Rachels - Watch Your Back! (2005) by Donald E. Westlake
- James Reasoner - Lust Victim (1962) by Don Elliott (a/k/a Robert Silverberg)
- Karyn Reeves - The Case of the Four Friends (1956) by J.C. Masterman
- Peter Rozovsky - "I'm A Stranger Here Myself,” Manhunt (1954) by Craig Rice
- Charles Rutledge – Time Warriors (1991) by David North
- Gerard Saylor – Stopping for Strangers (2011) by Daniel Griffin
- Ron Scheer – The Western Writings of Stephen Crane (1979)
- Jack Seabrook - "Beggars Can Be Choosers" AHMM (1961) by Henry Slesar
- Bill Selnes - The Art of Fielding (2011) by Chad Harbach
- Craig Sisterson – Light Speed by David Frame (1996)
- Kerrie Smith – Christine Falls (2006) by Benjamin Black
- Kevin Tipple/Patrick Ohl – The Singing Bone (1911) by R. Austin Freeman
- TomCat – The Third Bullet (1954) by John Dickson Carr
- TracyK - The Ivory Grin (1952) by Ross Macdonald
- Rich Westwood - The Puritan Pleasures of the Detective Story (1972) by Erik Routley
- James Winter – Don Quixote (1605) by Miguel de Cervantes
If I've missed anyone, please let me know in the comments or shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com