Friday, July 8, 2016
“Hangman’s Hat” by Paul Ernst: Pocket Books, 1953. As good as his “The Bronze Mermaid” in 1952 was, this novel is even better. Paul Ernst, the pulp author famous for such series as THE AVENGER, writing as Kenneth Robeson, is writing paperback mysteries now, and is good at them. In “Hangman’s Hat” we have two Army buddies from WWII, one from the East Side, the other from the Gravy Train – in particular, the Leighton Soup Empire. William Harper (yes, I caught the name of Doc Savage’s aide) is from the East Side, while Brooke Leighton is the son of soup king, Junius Leighton. After the war, old man Leighton wants Bill Harper to continue looking after his wayward son, keeping him out of trouble. Harper is the only man big and tough enough to keep the big boy under control. Then one night it all comes tumbling down. One of his girlfriends is found murdered, and witnesses claim to have seen Brooke at her apartment. And he isn’t anywhere to be found. Then rumor mentions a second person may have been with Brooke, throwing suspicion on Harper. With Lt. Ryan keeping a close watch on Harper, he and Brooke’s little sister, Shirley do some snooping, trying to find her brother and force him to turn himself in. They don’t believe he’s guilty, even if everything points to him. A $60.00 hat may bring the case to a close, but not before a second murder, and several bumps on the head. This was a fun story, and one of the best up to this point. I only had part of the mystery figured out, and at times doubted my own suspicions.