Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Donald Cresswell

Here's another of my "mysteries that have me mystified" columns: Donald Cresswell was a prolific writer of crime novels under the pen-name Ross Angel in the 1950-54 period, writing primarily for Scion Ltd., who had a top-flight range of gangster writers (Vic Hanson, Dail Ambler, Bevis Winter, Michael Barnes). I'm pretty sure Cresswell, who was writing a book a month for Scion, used other pen-names or had his work tucked away under house names (created by the company and used by a number of different authors). Pierre Cresson was a Cresswell pen-name; he definitely also wrote at least one novel under the Nat Karta house name and I have a notion he may have also written as Hans Vogel and Bram Casson.

So, a prolific writer. But come the collapse of the paperback market in early 1954 he disappears as a novelist. A big surprise was to find him tucked away in the pages of Tarzan Adventures, the comic, a few months later. Tarzan is probably best-remembered as being the title that young Mike Moorcock took over editing in 1957, but Cresswell's handful of tales—three in all—predate that, appearing between July and September 1954.

After that, nothing. The appearance in Tarzan makes me think that he was looking for new markets for his writing... but where did he go? Maybe the romance market where he was disguised under a female pen-name, or the anonymous world of D. C. Thomson's many magazines.

So there are a number of mysteries here: for starters, I've never been able to find out anything about Cresswell—he seems to have left no trace at all; I'm sure there are novels that he wrote that have never been identified as his work; and what happened to him after the collapse of the paperback market?

From the evidence of the couple of Ross Angel novels I have, he was a reasonably slick writer of gangster yarns. And with at least thirty-two novels under his belt, one wouldn't expect him to quit writing. But despite many, many hours spent looking, I cannot find a single trace of him.


Novels as Ross Angel
Tomorrow—the Chair. London, Scion, 1950.
Dead Easy. London, Scion, Jun 1950.
KO for Keeps. London, Scion, Oct 1950.
Over My Dead Body. London, Scion, Oct 1950.
Smile Baby—Smile. London, Scion, 1951.
Hot Ice. London, Scion, Mar 1951.
Excuse My Gun. London, Scion, Mar 1951.
I’ll Fry Yet!. London, Scion, Mar 1951.
It’s Murder She Says. London, Scion, Apr 1951.
Bullet Proof. London, Scion, Jul 1951.
Mister Forty-Five. London, Scion, Jul 1951.
Drop That Gun!. London, Scion, Aug 1951.
Let’s Sort This Out. London, Scion, Aug 1951.
So-Long, Johnny!. London, Scion, Sep 1951.
Lugar Lullaby. London, Scion, Oct 1951.
To Sleep No More. London, Scion, Nov 1951.
Give Me a Gun. London, Scion, Jan 1952.
Get Out and Stay Out. London, Scion, Mar 1952.
It’s All Yours. London, Scion, Mar 1952.
You Don’t Die Twice. London, Scion, Mar 1952.
The Dame Came Late. London, Scion, Aug 1952.
Live Till You Die. London, Scion, Aug 1952.
Jail Bait!. London, Milestone, Dec 1952.
Call Me Sometime. London, Scion, Jan 1953.
Dame Trouble There (by Pierre Cresson, in English by Ross Angel). London, Scion, Feb 1953.
Dames Don’t Dictate. London, Scion, Feb 1953.
One-Way Trip. London, Scion, Apr 1953.
Voice of Vice. London, Scion, Oct 1953.
No Percentage in Death. London, Scion, Nov 1953.
Misguided Angel. London, Scion, Jan 1954.
Reckless. London, Scion, Feb 1954.

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