Best known for hard-boiled novels Mickey Spillane writes a fantastic mystery – or does he?
In a previous article I talked about how Robert Leslie Bellem had attempted to blend Science Fiction with a murder mystery before Isaac Asimov. In a different article I talked about how Mickey Spillane had written stories for the comics, some of them even Science Fiction. I guess it should be no surprise then that Spillane and Asimov should come up again. There were a number of writers who had tried to blend the two genres including Robert Bloch and Frank Belknap Long. That Mickey Spillane was another shouldn’t be such a surprise, I suppose.
“The Veiled Woman” by Mickey Spillane appeared in Fantastic #3 (November-December 1952). Like Bellem’s attempt for Fantastic Adventures, the editor seems to have been involved in Sci-Fying things up an otherwise ordinary Mystery tale. This time it is Howard Browne, not Ray Palmer. Browne would edit the magazine until October 1956. Browne himself was no stranger to Mystery fiction, having written four novels about the Philip Marlowe-esque Paul Pine under the pseudonym, John Evans, including Halo in Blood (1946), Halo For Satan (1948), Halo in Brass (1949) and The Taste of Ashes (1957) as well as the non-Pine novel Murder Wears a Halo (1944). Browne would eventually go on to write 125 scripts for television.
Spillane’s reputation as a maverick could be a problem for any magazine with something to lose. This intro tells it like it is: “No modern-day writer is more widely cussed and discussed than Mickey Spillane. Critics regard him as most of us regard the atom bomb, leading magazines dissect him with unloving care. Why? Because the Spillane emphasis is on sex and sadism, his milieu the boudoir and the underworld, his men ruthless, his women svelte, passionate and immoral. That’s why everyone hates Spillane — except his millions of readers and his banker! The editors of Fantastic take pride in presenting the first science-fiction story by Mr. Spillane.”
That last bit is a lie, of course. Spillane wrote “The Man in the Moon” back in 1942 as well as other short two-pagers for the comics. I guess they don’t count. And about that pride — hm — no cover mention. Yah, lots of pride. The only Mystery name to be blazoned on the cover is “Cornell Woolrich” who appeared in the same issue with “The Moon of Montezuma”. This tale is more of a suspense piece set in modern Mexico, but haunted by the ancient past. Woolrich had no interest in becoming Isaac Asimov though he did write a couple of Weird Tales style stories such as “The Kiss of the Cobra” and “Dark Melody of Madness” for Dime Detective Magazine.
“The Veiled Lady” begins with Karl Terris waking from sleep because his wife has heard a burglar downstairs. You know these aren’t ordinary folk when Spillane mentions the wife’s name is Lodi and she grew up in the jungle. Naked, armed with a pistol, Karl goes downstairs to find a man trying to crack his safe. Terris has no compulsion about blowing the top of his head off. After the shot, he finds himself surrounded by enemies, Russian spies who want the strange device he brought from Africa. Their leader is a beautiful blonde. Terris says there is no device but the spies knock him out and run off with his wife as hostage.
Terris is a rich businessman and he puts his staff to work searching for clues, unravelling the identity of the blond. Karl figures out she is Ann Fullerton, a woman supposedly killed in a warehouse fire. The Feds also want Terris’s device and try to hold him. He won’t be held and goes off in search of Lodi. No one will listen to Terris, that there is no device, but Spillane hints once or twice that Lodi always wears a veil. The secret lies there.
There is more to this article and more illustrations featured in the third issue of Dark Worlds Quarterly. The magazine is chock full of other amazing stuff and it is available as a FREE download from Rage Machine Books.
Click below for your free download: