I wrote a single 4000-word introduction to the two volumes, along with a spoilerfiffic afterword to Tall Man Walking/The Attic Room--so make sure you read the afterword indeed after you've first read all the words of the two tales. For the Coachwhip cover designs, which I think are quite smashingly done, see the bottom of this blog piece. Links to Amazon for each book can be found here and here. They also are available at Amazon.co.uk.
|two strolling players|
turned crime writers
Marian and Earl Scott
After graduating from Topeka High School and a local business college Marian became a stenographer, her many jobs including a stint as a desk clerk for the Kansas State Senate. However, Marian had bigger plans in mind for herself that extended beyond the plains of Kansas.
Spurred on by her local drama class teacher, Marian in 1914 decided to move to Chicago and enroll in the Lyceum Arts Conservatory with the hope of becoming a performer in circuit Chautauqua: traveling shows that played in thousands of venues across small-town America and included lectures, oratory, music acts and performances from famous plays.
|Earl W. Scott|
In 1927 the Scotts retired from circuit Chautauqua and settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they turned to the writing of pulp crime fiction for a variety of magazines, including the fabled Black Mask. (They named their adobe cottage Crooks' Nook.) Occasionally the Scotts wrote stories jointly, but for the most part they published their work independently. The pair was extremely prolific in the short fiction vein, publishing some 200 known stories.
In 1932 Marian Scott published, under the slightly obscuring pseudonym Marion Scott (the name she signed to her pulp fiction), her first detective novel, Dead Hands Reaching, which introduced her series detective, police detective Courtney Brade. He would go on the appear in The Attic Room and Death's Long Shadow, these latter two novels published under the more hoity-toity pseudonym "Katherine Wolffe."
|Marion Scott, mistress of pulp fiction|
"The Whistling Beast" was just
one of scores of stories the author
published in pulp crime magazines
Marian Scott's Tall Man Walking, also published under her Katherine Wolffe pen name, was her most highly-praised work of fiction. (Her fascinating memoir Chautauqua Caravan was also much lauded.) Detailing the vicious stabbing murder of a hateful woman on her wedding day, Tall Man Walking emphasizes psychological over material clues, foreshadowing the mid-century crime novels of Margaret Millar, Charlotte Armstrong, Ursula Curtiss, Shelley Smith, Celia Fremlin and other post-WW2 suspense writers.
Appropriately, Scott dispensed with the services of her series detective, replacing him, for the duration of this one novel only, with suave psychiatrist Kenneth Borden (the "tall man" of the title).
|Marian Scott after she had|
become "Katherine Wolffe"
Meanwhile, in the United States, the talented crime writer and mystery reviewer Todd Downing deemed Tall Man Walking "one of the trickiest and and most intelligent yarns of the season" and pronounced that "Katherine Wolffe is a name to be watched in mystery fiction."
Unfortunately, "Katherine Wolffe" was forgotten, as was Marian Gallagher Scott, but four of her crime novels now are back, after many decades, for the modern mystery reader's delectation. Enjoy!