(Gat — Prohibition Era term for a gun. Shortened version of Gatling Gun)
Wally Conger and I chat on FB about our common interests in books, movies, and TV/streaming shows. We’re even co-Admins on a FB group dedicated to hardboiled/noir, and another one about Solar Pons. He’s also a big fan of the extremely talented James Scott Bell, so I was really happy when Wally agreed to write an essay about that author’s pulp series starring Bill Armbrewster! Take it away, Wally:
Hollywood and hardboiled noir will be forever intertwined. And James Scott Bell, a winner of the International Thriller Writers Award, writing teacher, and creator of at least four entertaining thriller series of books that I can think of (including the delightful Kick-Ass Nun stories), has recently underscored that fact with his ebook Trouble Is My Beat: The Bill Armbrewster, Hollywood Troubleshooter Mystery Novelettes in Classic Pulp Style.
Admittedly, that’s a mouthful of a title, but it’s good marketing. It describes exactly what this gem is. The year is 1945. The war’s just ended, the boys are marching home, and Hollywood is grinding out movies faster than Rita Hayworth is plowing through husbands. Bill Armbrewster is the “troubleshooter” for National-Consolidated Pictures — in other words, he works to keep the studio’s image, and the images of its “people properties,” squeaky clean.
That might entail keeping young actresses out of the clutches of unscrupulous con men or helping an Errol Flynn type keep his nose clean and out of the drunk tank. In one yarn in this collection, Bill even helps Bette Davis fight off a potential blackmail plot.
There are six pulpish novelettes here — “Blonde Bombshell,” “Tough Guy,” “Nabbed,” “The Bat Lady,” “Dancing Feet” and “Blackmail” — and each one smoothly builds from the last, introducing series “regulars” (a very appealing girlfriend, for instance) and fleshing out Armbrewster’s character. And a fun character Bill Armbrewster is, particularly for hardboiled fans like me.