One of Hard Case Crime’s latest, post-Dorchester, is an old Silverberg crime short novel Blood on the Mink, originally published in 1962, in the last days of Trapped, as Too Much Blood on the Mink by Ray McKensie.
Silverberg provides an afterword and notes that he had forgotten about this one until publisher Charles Ardai found it and wanted to reprint it. Silverberg had written the 45,000-word tale in 1959 originally for a crime pulp companion of Fantastic Universe, around a series character other writers would write about (but only RD did) a federal agent named Nick and his many undercover jobs. The magazine folded before publishing it and Silverberg dug it up when Trapped changed format in 1962 to feature a novel each issue and market it in paperback format. He was paid twice for the work — paid three times now with this reprint.
One must keep in mind that this is from a very young Silverberg so has a lot of flaws. It certainly is not the best of his earlier pulps, but not the worst either. Nick is undercover here for the Reasury Department, taking on the personality of a known Los Angeles-based counterfeiter to catch some funny money thugs in Philadelphia. Things get tricky when a thug who knows the real guy sees him and knows something is funny. Double-crosses, backstabbing, shootings and gangster dames wanting out mix into the story, sometimes to confusion and you are not sure what is going on,and what Nick’s real agenda is.
To round out the book, included are two short stories: “Dangerous Doll” and “One Night of Violence” both from Guilty.
I am wondering why the first Nick Undercover agent story, “Bridegrooms Scare Easy,” was not included.
The two tales are fun: “Dangerous Doll” is about a Syndicate delivery guy who transports plates for counterfeit money and how he is set-up; and “One Night of Violence” is about an everyman traveling salesman who finds himself caught in the middle of a gang battle. They are in the vein of the Mark Ryan Illicit Affair and David Challon Campus Hellcat books from Bedstand.
A collection of Silverberg’s old crime tales, or the best of, seems to be in order next.