Noir novels in Doubleday Doran Crime Club

 

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Jonathan Latimer, Red Gardenias, New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1939

The Doubleday Crime Club was one of the most famous  Crime Series. It started in 1928 and thus was  an exact contemporary to European Series  Le Masque (Librairie des Champs Elysées) and  Giallo Mondadori . Like both Le Masque, in France and Giallo, in Italy, it went on to publish  well over 2000 titles, over more than six decades.  It found immediate success, thanks to the popularity of Edgar Wallace’s books, which it introduced in America and of which it sold 5 millions in its first year.  The Series rank among the most beautifully designed  editions of Crime Fiction hardbacks.

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The Series was a firm promoter of the mystery novel and of classic detective fiction.  An Article in Publisher’s Weekly (February 1941)  was titled ” Just Mysteries, and Proud of it !”. It could have served to sum the editorial policy.  It stressed, contrary to Chandler’s “Simple art of Murder” which had been published just months before, and with little recognition for Hammett,  which it unfavourably alluded to, that ” confirmed Scotland Yard chess-puzzle mystery readers […] will have none of your “Thin Man” stuff”.

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Anthony Berkeley (Anthony Berkeley Cox), The Silk Stocking Murders, New York, Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1928

It might then appear as a surprise to find that Doubleday Crime Club still published from 1935 to 1939 several novels by hardboiled author Jonathan Latimer (1906-1983).  The novels feature alcoholic private eye Bill Crane who, as a critic pointed out, does most of his detecting “in a giddy, stuporous fog”.

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Jonathan Latimer, Headed for a Hearse. Garden City, NY, Doubleday, Doran, The Crime Club, 1935.

The title page for Headed for a Hearse presented the novel thus : “With the aid of a lime squeezer, a monkey wrench, a stop watch, and a deep-sea diver, Bill Crane saves an innocent man from the gallows”.

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 Jonathan Latimer, The Lady in the Morgue, Garden City NY, Doubleday, Doran & Co. for the Crime Club, 1936, 1st

Edition, Hardcover.

His novel, The Lady in the Morgue predates Chandler’s 1943 The Lady in the Lake. Latimer was one of the key American Authors published in France in  the  first  years of the Série Noire. Three novels of his were translated there in 1949. The first one  was translated by Marcel Duhamel, the founder  and director of the Série Noire:
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Jonathan Latimer, La Corrida chez le Prophète,  (Solomon’s vineyard), Translated by Marcel Duhamel, Paris, Gallimard, Série Noire, 1949, (S.N. 42)
Jonathan Latimer, Les Morts s’en foutent, (The Dead don’t care), Translated by Gilles Malar, Paris, Gallimard, Série Noire,1949
Jonathan Latimer, Quadrille à la Morgue (Lady in the morgue) Translated by Minnie Danzas, Paris, Gallimard, Série Noire,1949
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Jonathan Latimer, Comme la romaine ! (Headed for a hearse), Translated by Maurice Azoulay and J.-G. Marquet, Paris, Gallimard, Série Noire, 1951
For a discussion on Latimer’s significance as a hardboiled author, see John Frazer : http://www.mysteryfile.com/Latimer/Latimer.html
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