Thursday, January 27, 2011

FORGOTTEN BOOKS: THE FIRE MARSHALL BEN PEDLEY NOVELS!



FORGOTTEN BOOKS: THE FIRE MARSHALL BEN PEDLEY NOVELS!

STEWART STERLING

Stewart Sterling (one of several pseudonyms belonging to pulp writer Prentice Winchell) created two underrated and overlooked series characters – Private eye Gil Vine and Fire Marshall Ben Pedley. I’ve not read any of Vine’s adventures, but if the Pedley stories are anything to go by, I’m going to have to make the effort to find a couple.

Pedley is a solid, reliable, character who solves his arson related crimes while relying on his training and experience. He is both driven and tough with a surprising compassion. What struck me most about the two of the nine novels I’ve read in the Fire Marshall Pedley series was the attention Sterling pays to the actual investigation of fires. While not perhaps gaining the insight Wambaugh had into cops, Sterling nevertheless does an admirable job of getting the fire fighting/investigating details right and not just giving the reader a ripping yarn with no substance.

And Pedley himself is the real deal. He makes mistakes, which he is determined to overcome. He is human, not superhuman, in one instance relying on bennies to get him through a case before he collapses. He gets injured and is slowed down as a result. All of this makes for a solid characterization.

There are two Pedley books currently available from Amazon as inexpensive e-book downloads. If you are looking for something to put on your Christmas Kindles, The Hinges Of Hell and Alarm In The Night would be good places to start.

FIRE MARSHALL BEN PEDLEY NOVELS:

FIVE ALARM FUNERAL 1942

WHERE THERE’S SMOKE 1946

ALARM IN THE NIGHT 1949

NIGHTMARE AT NOON 1951

THE HINGES OF HELL 1955

CANDLE FOR A CORPSE 1957

FIRE ON FEAR STREET 1958

DYING ROOM ONLY 1960

TOO HOT TO HANDLE 1961

3 comments:

Mel Odom said...

Hadn't heard of these. Picking them up on the Kindle and giving them a read. Thanks1

Kerrie said...

Hello Paul. This week's Friday's Forgotten Books is now up on MYSTERIES in PARADISE. Thanks for participating.

Evan Lewis said...

I have a bunch of those Pedley books in hardcover. Good stuff. Sterling also had a lot of stories in Black Mask in the 40s.