News reaches us at Fedora of a terrific rediscovery, the Edgar-winning misadventures of Augustus Mandrell, the creation of Frank McAuliffe. The first three volumes are now, after decades of neglect, to be returned to print on both sides of the Atlantic by Ostara Publishing, The three volumes are out later this month and are:
- Of All the Bloody Cheek (1965)
- Rather A Vicious Gentleman (1968)
- For Murder I Charge More (1971)
I hope to be reviewing the first of these shortly, but in the meantime, here (below) is a word from Top Notch Thrillers series editor Mike Ripley:
Meet Augustus Mandrell – if you dare! He is totally anonymous and yet he is an international scourge. He is a master of disguise – the more ludicrous the better – and something of a connoisseur of girls … and carpets. He is a passionate lover of money and loyal only to himself. He is a professional killer for both fun and profit, but if you hire the services of ‘Mandrell Limited’ be careful – he rarely leaves witnesses …
On first publication, the adventures of this totally ruthless international man of mystery were described by American reviewers as ‘brazenly outrageous gallows humor’, ‘hilariously offbeat’ and‘ingenious’. The Cleveland Plain Dealer went so far as to say that‘Mandrell combines the gallows humor of the first grave digger of Hamlet, the elusiveness of the scarlet Pimpernel, the deductive powers of Sherlock Holmes, the assassin soul of James Bond,and the raffish charm of Raffles’. The legendary American critic Anthony Boucher called them ‘Audacious and amusing’.
Unavailable in the UK for many years, the three volumes of Augustus Mandrell stories, published between 1965 and 1971, are cult classics of American crime fiction. Narrated by the mysterious Augustus Mandrell himself in a florid over-the-top style which one critic has likened to ‘P.G. Wodehouse having turned to the Dark Side’, many American readers automatically assumed they had been written by a cynical Englishman; a deception Augustus Mandrell would certainly have approved of.
MALACHI FRANCIS (always FRANK) McAULIFFE (1926–1986) was born the eldest of eight children of Irish immigrants in New York. After service in the US Coast Guard and dropping out of college, he wrote his first novel, a Western, in 1957. In 1962 he moved his family to Ventura, California and worked for General Dynamics before becoming a civil servant, as a technical writer for the US Navy. He spent most of his spare time writing fiction and for the third of his Mandrell books, For Murder I Charge More, he won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for best paperback original. On accepting the award, McAuliffe began his response to the MWA with the words: “Ladies and gentlemen, you have impeccably good taste.”
A fourth volume of ‘Mandrell Commissions’ was published posthumously as Shoot the President, Are You Mad? in 2010
Full details of all titles can be found on www.ostarapublishing.co.uk.