GLENN LOW, by James Reasoner, Bill Pronzini & Steve Lewis
James: Lurking behind this rather mediocre soft-core porn cover is actually a pretty good rural crime novel. Published in 1961 by Beacon Books, The Barn features many of the same elements that can be found in a lot of backwoods novels. In this case, the dumb but likable hero visits the Kentucky farm owned by his fiancee’s family and finds that he’s stumbled into a lot more trouble than he expected. There’s the fiancee’s oversexed little sister, her hoodlum brother, assorted other criminals, and a lot of action and danger. There are so many plot twists that it gets a little silly after a while, with the characters running around the farm like Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam chasing each other in and out of a bunch of different doors. Most of the story takes place during one eventful night, and that non-stop pace kept me flipping the pages even though the story got more and more implausible. These flaws keep The Barn from approaching the level of the backwoods novels written by authors such as Harry Whittington and Charles Williams, but it’s also suspenseful and fun to read.
Glenn Low had some stories in the Western and detective pulps during the Forties and Fifties, and he wrote quite a few books for Beacon, Novel Books, and other soft-core publishers during the early Sixties. I enjoyed The Barn enough so that I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another of his books if I came across it at a reasonable price (this one was three bucks in Half Price Books’ nostalgia section), but I probably won’t be scouring the Internet for his work, either.
Steve: The book is not listed in the current version of Crime Fiction IV, but I sent James’s information to Al Hubin just as he was closing up the manuscript for the revised edition. In it went.
As James says, Glenn Low wrote a number of other sexy paperbacks for the soft-core publishers during the 1950s and 60s, but without examining them hands-on for their content, only a partial bibliography of his crime fiction has been completed at the present time. Luckily, some dealers on ABE add a phrase or two to describe the content of their offerings. On the basis of these statements, many taken directly from the covers, three additional books by Low have been accepted for inclusion in the revised CFIV. One book described by Bill Pronzini at the end of this article may contain marginal crime content.
GLENN LOW (pseudonym of Glenn Dale Lough, 1906-1991)
Glenn Dale Lough was born March 4, 1906, at Weston, Lewis Co, WV, and died March 27, 1991, at Fairmont, Marion Co, WV. From statements made in his obituary, Lough also worked in radio, both in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and he was a regular contributor to both the western and mystery pulps. Lough was said to have written some 300 short stories and 60 novels, both in magazines and in paperback. Besides the pulp magazines, anecdotal evidence posted by Rick Toothman on the Yahoo WesternPulps group suggests that he also wrote for such men’s magazines as Rascal, Best for Men, and Men’s Digest, all published out of Chicago.
Al Hubin has discovered that he also published a book of local history (Marion County) and elsewhere found him described as a historian and
“a prolific writer of western and mystery pulp stories and old time radio programs.”
From Steve Holland and a note also posted on WesternPulps: “Glenn Lough also wrote for Softcover Library under the name John Furlough. I wonder what other adult pseudonyms he used?”
Thanks to Juri Nummelin, who discovered the postings above in the WesternPulps archives.
None of the “Furlough” books appear to be criminous in nature, and they will not be included in the listings below. No one has yet reported any knowledge of additional pseudonyms, but the odds are high that there are. Given the combined known output of books published as by Low and as by Furlough, well under the 60 novels reported above, some of them have to have been published as by someone else.
The bibliography consists of three parts. First, the books which will now be included in the revised edition of Crime Fiction IV, along with the one marginal entry. Secondly, a complete list of the fiction published as by Glenn Low in the detective pulps. And finally, the known works of western fiction published as by Low, including one “adult” paperback western. Bill Pronzini will have more to say about the latter after the bibliography which follows:
The Barn (Beacon B438Y, 1961)
Honey Blood (Novel Books 5030, 1961) “An adult, sleazy novel about a killer.”
Marks of Lust (Novel Books 5024, 1960) “Three virile men wanted her overdeveloped body – but even more they wanted to know the name of the killer a dying man had tattooed on that passionate body of hers while she was dead drunk.”
Reckless Virgin (Beacon B420B, 1961) “The sadistic masher, the twisted Peeping Tom, the brutal attacker – she had tempted them too far, and now they were stalking her!”
Sin Eater (Novel Books 5009, 1960) “Who was the 6 foot 6 inch fiend that set out to rape every woman in an entire town – the brilliant, incredibly brutal killer known only as sin eater?”
? Forbidden Love (Novel Books 3508, 1960). See Bill Pronzini’s comments below.
Pulp detective fiction
By the Mourn’s Early Light, Ten Detective Aces, Dec 1946
Clue of the Slow Death, Ten Detective Aces, Apr 1947
Dead Man’s Code, Ten Detective Aces, Mar 1946
Deuces Dealt for Death, Ten Detective Aces, Nov 1945
Doom Boom, 10-Story Detective, Nov 1946
Fangs of the Purple Snake, 10-Story Detective, Mar 1947
Frozen Food–For Thought, Mammoth Detective, Jan 1947
● Reprinted in 100 Sneaky Little Sleuth Stories (1997)
Hot Justice, Mammoth Detective, Nov 1946
● Reprinted in 100 Menacing Little Murder Stories (1998)
Merchant of Vengeance, 10-Story Detective, Apr 1946
Murder in Cold Mud, 10-Story Detective, Sept 1946
The Music Box Murders, Ten Detective Aces, Oct 1946
Sandman of the Long Sleep, 10-Story Detective, Feb 1946
Terror of the Talking Tree, 10-Story Detective, Jul 1947
A Wrong Way to Remember, 10-Story Detective, Dec 1945
Western fiction (partial)
Curse of the Hidden Hoard, Western Aces, June 1947 (cover billing) FOOTNOTE.
The Ghost of Gallow Bend, Western Trails, Oct 1947
Gun Answer from Boot Hill, Western Aces, Oct 1946
Gunsmoke from an Empty Saddle, Western Aces, Jan 1948 (cover billing)
Sheriff, Hang Your Son!, Western Aces, Nov 1947
King of the Stolen River, The Avon Book of New Stories of the Great Wild West [Donald A. Wollheim, ed.] Avon #194, 1949.
Virgin Bounty (Novel Books 3503, 1959)
Western fiction as by G. DAVISSON LOUGH (partial)
Hunger of the Hawkby, West, August 1952
Hang ’em and Weep, Texas Rangers, March 1953
FOOTNOTE: Thanks to bigdave11243 (at) aol.com for supplying this entry. Dave also says: I haven’t read this work, but the TOC tagline implies a crime connection: “To untangle a murder mystery, the young lawman first has to solve his own pistol problem.”
Dave continues: Incidentally, in this issue gets cover billing on art by A. Leslie Ross, as well as on the Norman Saunders cover of the January 1948 issue. This might suggest a relatively high degree of readership recognition, if not literary prominence of the period (or for that publication).
Bill Pronzini: I know how Low he can go, having read (or I should say skimmed) a couple of his novels. While I don’t know anything about him personally, I have two titles that you may wish to add to his bibliography:
Forbidden Love (Novel Books 3508, 1960). “The smashingly frank story of a man with an unspeakable lust trying to conquer his torturous impotency.” Ah, they don’t write blurbs like that anymore!
They don’t write first lines like this anymore, either: “He lowered his head until his face was deep in the cleavage of her bosom and he thought, I wish to God I’d never been born...” Despite the foregoing, or maybe because of it, this is a crime novel of sorts.
Virgin Bounty (Novel Books 3503, 1959. “The odds – three hired killers, a sadistic sex maniac, and a pair of greed-ridden prostitutes – were heavy against Rand McKeever. But the stakes were even bigger. Reward. Revenge. And 118 pounds of pulsating, naked Virgin Bounty.”
This is billed as an “Adult Western,” which is a misnomer in more ways than one since Low’s knowledge of the Old West was virtually nil. It is also an alternative classic of major proportions; I dissected it at some length in Sixgun in Cheek, quoting such anachronistic and awful lines as this speculation by the “hero” about the 118 pounds of pulsating, naked Virgin Bounty:
Wow! What a figure! What bubbies! What hips! Is she putting out? How much does she get? ...What’s the matter with girls like that? Cold-natured? Frigidity? Hummmmmm... Is that what it's called?
William G. Contento, The FictionMags Index
William G. Contento, Mystery Short Fiction: 1990-2004
Cook & Miller, Mystery, Detective and Espionage Fiction (Garland Press, 1988)
YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME.
James Reasoner’s portion of this article first appeared on his blog Rough Edges, January 29, 2006, and is copyright © 2006 by James Reasoner. Bill Pronzini’s closing comments copyright © 2006 by Bill Pronzini. All other material copyright © 2006 by Steve Lewis.