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Saturday, April 10, 2010

William Maconachie

William Maconachie is another of my "mysteries that have me mystified" authors but with an interesting twist to his career. Most fans who collect the tough gangster yarns that appeared in cheap paperbacks in the late 1940s and early 1950s will admit that the bulk of the books aren't worth a dime... or even the 1/6 they actually cost. They certainly wouldn't have passed muster in the USA where Gold Medal books was leading the way in hardboiled crime novels.

Well, Maconachie's novels actually made it to America and were reprinted in greater numbers than any other gangster writer in the UK. His Bart Carson novels were picked up by a company called Universal and nine were reprinted in their Uni-Book series; two more were printed in a back-to-back volume as a Universal Giant. The major difference was that the books appeared under a new byline, Steve Harragan, and the name of the hero was changed to Harragan in all bar one (The Shayne Dame).

The early backlash against these tough, sexy novels here in the UK meant that Hamilton & Co. dropped some of their regular bylines in 1951, launching a new series called "Crime Does Not Pay" to signal the fact that they were not condoning crime. Maconachie briefly switched to writing westerns as Larry Ellis and crime novels as Ray Stahl before the Bart Carson byline returned in 1953 for a further handful of novels under Hamilton's Panther Books imprint.

But what happened to William Maconachie? I have no idea where he came from, whether he wrote anything else besides the novels listed below or anything about his life or career outside of these novels. The books are scarce—I don't have a single one of his 28 known novels in my collection—but information about their author is even more scarce, so if the name rings a bell, drop me a line and help solve another mystery.

Novels as Bart Carson
No Dice Sister. London, Hamilton & Co., 1950?
Curves Mean Danger. London, Hamilton & Co., 1950?; as The Shayne Dame. New York, Uni-Books 52, 1953.
Dames Scare Easy. London, Hamilton & Co., 1950?; as Kiss of the Damned by Steve Harragan, New York, Uni-Book 47, 1953.
Champagne and Choppers! London, Hamilton & Co., 1950?; ?as Dope Doll by Steve Harragan, New York, Universal Giant 4, 1953.
Death Wore Scanties. London, Hamilton & Co., 1950?
Red Head Rhapsody. London, Hamilton & Co., 1950?; as Sin is a Redhead by Steve Harragan, New York, Uni-Book 44, 1952.
Lady Behind Bars. London, Hamilton & Co., 1950?
Hedy - Like Wine. London, Hamilton & Co., 1950?; as The Bigamy Kiss by Steve Harragan, New York, Universal Giant 4, 1953.
This Way, Sister. London, Hamilton & Co., 1950?; as Side Show Girl by Steve Harragan, New York, Uni-Book 42, 1952.
Sugar - You’re Poison. London, Hamilton & Co., 1951?
Ten Grand Story. London, Hamilton & Co., May 1951.
Phone for a Hearse. London, Hamilton & Co., 1951?; as Smuggled Sin by Steve Harragan, New York, Uni-Book 46, 1953.
Murder Matinee. London, Hamilton [Panther Books 53], Mar 1953; as Carney's Burlesque by Steve Harragan, New York, Uni-Book 54, 1953.
Cuban Heel. London, Hamilton [Panther Books 54], Apr 1953; as by Steve Harragan, Uni-Book 64, 1953.
Torment was a Woman. London, Hamilton [Panther Books 62], Jun 1953.
The Lady is a Spitfire. London, Hamilton [Panther Books 76], Aug 1953.
She Died Downtown. London, Hamilton [Panther Books 87], Sep 1953.
There Could Be Trouble. London, Hamilton [Panther Books 99], 1953 (Feb 1954).
Bread for the Dead. London, Hamilton [Panther Books 100], Mar 1954.
The Late Demented. London, Hamilton [Panther Books 119], Jul 1955.

Unidentified titles as Steve Harragan
The Queer Sisters. New York, Uni-Books 43, 1952.
Three Bad Girls. New York, Uni-Books 57, 1953.

Novels as Larry Ellis
Greenhorns at Greenhide Gulch. London, Hamilton & Co., Nov 1951.
Law-Man from Calfneck. London, Hamilton & Co., Mar 1952.
Rustlin' Fools. London, Hamilton & Co., Mar 1952.
Claim-Jumpers. London, Hamilton & Co., Jun 1952.
Suckers at Silver Falls. London, Hamilton & Co., Jun 1952.
Bad-Men of Chebucto. London, Hamilton & Co., Oct 1952.

Novels as Ray Stahl
Death Stalks the Wild Goose. London, Hamilton & Co., Mar 1952.
Murder Mayhem. London, Hamilton & Co., Apr 1952.

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