By William G Bogart
G-Men Detective, January 1943
MURDER ON SANTA CLAUS LANE
by William G. Bogart
With a Blackout in Hollywood, Rookie Patrol Car Cop Johnny Regan Does Some X-Ray Work to See Through Crime!
Murder on Santa Claus Lane combines two of my typical December reading trends: Christmas mystery and crime noir/pulp fiction. My love for Nero Wolfe has me slowly branching out to similar noir pieces and I found this short story through Barnes and Noble. Murder on Santa Claus Lane has been publish in e-book format by Peril Press, an independent publisher based in Portland, and was initially printed in the January 1943 issue of the G-Men Detective Magazine. This publication featured ‘G-Men’ crime stories and was produced from 1935 to 1953. William G Bogart was a prolific crime novelist who worked on the Doc Savage novels. (Note: Limited research was involved so please feel free to correct me if I am wrong!)
Johnny Regan is a rookie patrol cop in Hollywood. He is stuck working the streets over the Christmas holidays and is disappointed that air raids have the city blacked out. He isn’t even able to enjoy the Christmas lights on patrol. But, all thoughts of holiday cheer are forgotten when he and his partner, Big Ben Slattery, get tangled up in a holiday robbery.
Murder on Santa Claus Lane is a fun short story full of that classic noir flavor. Regan is a young buck who is headstrong, cocky, and quite fond of shapely blondes. Big Ben is his always-cheerful mentor. Together, they scour the less wealthy streets of Hollywood for crime. The passages just dripped with the raw imagery of the genre. My imagination put me right there in the middle of the grainy black and white scene as the copper raced to help his cornered partner… I love this genre!
Surprisingly, the story, and characters, are just a tad too flat for me. Bogart was missing some essential descriptive language and I was left feeling that this was a short story he pinned for some extra dough and exposure. I just couldn’t really connect with any of the characters and that is essential for short stories. You want your readers invested by the end of the first paragraph. There were a few continuity errors that forced me to re-read parts. Just small things that left me thinking, “Where in the world did that flashlight come from?” The story composition was just rough.
Murder on Santa Claus Lane is worth checking out if you are a fan of the genre. I suggest something a tad bit more polished for those starting out in crime noir. Hardboiled crime/crime noir is a rugged pulp fiction style that is definitely an acquired taste. I love it! The grittiness, clichés, and language push me to read more of the genre. Any hardboiled crime/crime noir fans out there? What is your favorite book?