Jack Vance, sorted by year written
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They drove south with the sun phosphorescing through a high mist that swirled in across the bay from San Francisco. At San Jose the mist was gone and the sun was yellow. At Monterey a wind blew in off the Pacific from the direction of Hawaii, twisting the black cypress, flecking the face of the ocean with whitecaps.
By nightfall San Giorgio seethed with sensation. Two mutilation murders in the week, a maniac at large! Sheriff Hartmann felt blind, baffled, helpless. He had no suspects to question, no leads, no idea of where or how to begin. A single course of inquiry presented itself, stemming from Carr Pendry’s half-dazed identification of Robert Struve. It was a poor piece of evidence. But it was a lead, and he had no others.
Under the pseudonym Peter Held according to this article.
Republished The Flesh Mask, Spatterlight, 2012.
Comment: A mystery set in Morocco. Foreverness writes that it is based on traveling Morocco in 1957. [ref] The novel was awarded the prestigious Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America in the category “Best First Novel by an American Author”. Actually Vance had published two mystery novels earlier, but used for those the pseudonyms Peter Held and Alan Wade respectively, while The Man in the Cage was published under his full name John Holbrook Vance.
The Man in the Cage has a number of favorable user reviews on Amazon. [ref] Hector DeJean writes that Vance had a knack for exotic cultural settings and gives a sketch of Morocco that is “...enough to keep hold the story together, without being excessively wordy. [ref]
Republished as The Man in the Cage, Spatterlight, 2012.
Summary from jackvance.com:
Welfare worker Paul Gunther is killed when he looks into the blackmailing of some of his cases. Lieutenant George Shaw leads the murder investigation, which touches on the jazz community and beatnik culture of Oakland in the early 1960’s.
“I see.” She straightened the pleats in her skirt. “I was telling you about the party where I met Paul. It wasn’t a very hip party although certain people there probably qualified. I guess you’d call it a middle-class Bohemian group: Graduate students, artists, writers, people connected with the University. I don’t go with that crowd very much, mainly because of Father. He thinks they’re all Communists and homosexuals. Anyway Jeff knew the fellows who gave the party. I forget their names, but they seemed nice enough.” Barbara snorted with sour laughter. “Jeff is something of a stuffed shirt, and he thought this party was a lark, a slumming expedition. Of course it wasn’t. The people there just had more brains than Jeff. Jeff went out into the kitchen to get us a drink; when he came back I was talking to Paul.” Barbara smiled sadly. “I noticed Paul when I came in. He stared at me as if he knew me. I was puzzled, because I didn’t know him. I thought he looked interesting dark-haired, pale, just a bit dissipated, if you know what I mean...Well, it developed that Paul had fallen in love with me at first sight.” Barbara laughed. “Naturally I don’t believe in that not too much anyway. But I couldn’t help but be interested. He’s a very interesting person he was, I should say.” Barbara frowned, and Shaw saw that her eyes were wet and luminous. She shook her head angrily. “If I wanted I could feel very badly about Paul’s death...But I’m not going to.”
Republished by Spatterlight, 2012: The House on Lily Street.
From the book’s blurp:
In the aftermath of World War II, 8-year old Luellen Enright is orphaned and shipped to San Francisco and the care of a covetous aunt, over-friendly uncle, and adolescent male cousins.
Her only friend is a neighbor boy—the sickly and eccentric “Chickweed”, who writes in his “Book of Dreams” and makes home movies.
In the year 1907 a curious adventure befell Harry Botham, partner in the firm Botham and Brewer, Commercial Factors of Shanghai.
Returning early from a party Botham surprised a trio of robbers in the act of looting his house. His small daughter Flora lay trussed and gagged as a preliminary to kidnapping; the amah huddled on the floor moaning. By the wall stood the house-boy, a dagger pinning his ear to the woodwork.
Lulu dressed swiftly in a neat gray suit, drove across the bridge, to San Francisco. She followed the Embarcadero past Fisherman’s Wharf into the Marina, and presently parked on Sherwood Street. A single block downhill from Belvedere, with its fashionable mansions and green old gardens, Sherwood Street was unabashedly lower-middle class.