Two noir mystery classics from 1960 and 1955, the first a comic caper set in the world of the music industry, the second a hardboiled story of a young gangster with high aspirations whose life is made complicated by a very headstrong woman.
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Peter Rabe was born in Germany as Peter Rabinowitsch in 1921, immigrating to the U.S. with his brother in 1938 to escape the Nazis. He enrolled at Ohio State University and received his Ph.D. in psychology from Western Reserve in Cleveland. Married, he began his writing career by turning in a humorous story about the birth of his first son. Soon after, he began submitting hardboiled stories to Gold Medal where he found an enthusiastic editor and a ready market. After three divorces, health problems and the death of the paperback original, Rabe eventually quit writing and took up teaching psychology at California Polytechnic State University in the late 60's. He died in 1990 at his home in Atascadero, California.From Booklist:
*Starred Review* Rabe wrote pulps but with a style and sense of adventure that belied the lurid paperback covers. And though his quality varied during his short but prolific writing career, his best books--with surprising points of view, settings, and plots--were terrific. The Box/Journey into Terror [BKL Mr 15 04] was a fine one-two combo, and this one is like a jab leading to a knockout punch. In Murder Me for Nickels, Jack St. Louis is a wiseacre with an eye for the ladies and an ear for well-played jazz. The right-hand man of a jukebox kingpin, he finds himself taking shots from all sides when another mob tries to take over his boss' turf. Benny Muscles In seems to start out as a hoodlum Horatio Alger tale, then takes a tire-squealing left as Benny Tapkow, a never-say-die comer who kidnaps his former boss' daughter to ingratiate himself with a rival gangster, instead develops a complicated relationship with the girl. Where Murder features hilariously deadpan humor and film-worthy banter, Benny delivers tooth-grinding tension in a classic noir milieu. It's a crime that Rabe isn't better known. Keir Graff
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