AN INQUIRY ABOUT MARVIN ALBERT.
October 7. An inquiry from Hector Miguel Chavez arrived today:
I read Bill Crider’s article about Marvin Albert, and I wonder if you could help me. I have been trying to find a book by this author that appears to exist only in a Spanish version (something that is not very logical considering that Albert is an English author).
The name of the book is La familia Falcone, and it is written under the name of Marvin H. Albert. You can see it in this page together with The Medusa Complex, or El Complejo Medusa in Spanish, http://www.todocoleccion.net/lote.cfm?Id_Lote=1727491, and in this other page, http://dogbert.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?y=0&tn=familia+falcone&x=0. I have not found anything about this book in English. It looks as if Albert never wrote it. I’m very frustrated with this and would appreciate any help you could provide.
Steve again. I suggested that it might be one of the two Mafia books that Albert wrote as by Nick Quarry, The Don Is Dead or The Vendetta. When I asked Bill Crider, his reply was no, he didn’t think so, there being no Falcones in either book. His thought was that it might be Crazy Joe, the movie tie-in Albert did as Mike Barone. Since that book is about the career of real life gangster Joe Gallo, it doesn’t seem likely to me. So far all we have is guesswork. Are there any other ideas?
Step One. Replies from Sarah Johnson and Dennis Lien. Both are academic research librarians, and each came up with essentially the same information, Sarah from WorldCat and Denny from the Index Translationum database:
La familila Falcone, Marvin H. Albert, 1982, Spanish. Translation of The Corsican; tr. P. Elías.
The problem with this is that Albert is not known to have written a book called The Corsican. As it happens, Bill Ballinger, an author also known for his mystery fiction, did write a book with this title, but further investigation in this direction revealed that it was published in hardcover in 1974 (probably too early), and the main character is named Cesar Satisanni (not Falcone). Any further search in that direction was quickly abandoned.
Step Two. A response from Roger Martin in France struck the equivalent of paydirt.
There are other possibilities: a book in the Soldato series or something more curious. Such as the fact that Marvin told me he had written a book called The Night of the Falcon as by James Oxford. Later, as he had other projects to work on, he hired a ghost-writer. (By the way, he did the same with Gil Brewer for two books of the Soldato series.)
As soon as I have a moment, I’ll see if it isn't another book published in Switzerland or France with no US edition. (For instance Le Corse, a story about the French Corsican Mafia in Corsica and Marseille.)
This was extremely promising, even though no entry for Le Corse, a direct translation of The Corsican, could be found in WorldCat. On the other hand, several copies of the book could be found on ABE. Another reply from Roger was awaited. The delay was worth it:
I’ve been unable to find my copy of Le Corse, published in 1982 by Editions Encre in France, and I believe also in Germany. But it is surely the Falcone book.
Your bibliography seems very complete, but you may add Becoming a Mother, by Marvin H. Albert and Theodore R. Seidman (Fawcett/Premier Books, 1958, with many editions). Seidman was a doctor, and the book tells all that a mother must know after having a child.
The Golden Circle was first published in Switzerland under the title La Marchand d’armes. According to Marvin, his original title was The War Makers, then The American Lady.
Scarlet Woman was to have been the first of a series. Marvin had written 85 pages of notes for the second book, and his widow asked me to write it. I was unable to do this kind of writing...
For Soldato, Marvin told me another writer did two of the titles. As this author was still living, Marvin, who was a gentleman, refused to give his name. I learned it after the death of Gil Brewer. For The Night of the Falcon, it is a very funny story. A writer who had signed a contract for the book asked Marvin to write it, and he said yes. But Marvin got other work and hired another ghost-writer himself. I do not know either of the two others!
For your filmography, Marvin was the scenarist for DUEL AT DIABLO, ROUGH NIGHT IN JERICHO, LADY IN CEMENT, A TWIST OF SAND (but he confessed to me that he had totally forgotten his part of the work) and THE DON IS DEAD.
The Bounty Killer has been transformed into an Italian-Spanish western, EL PRECIO DE UN HOMBRE aka THE UGLY ONES in the US. Film from Eugenio Martín, with Richard Tyler, Tomas Milian, Ilya Karin, and Hugo Blanco (1966).
Two films for TV have been made in France: À CORPS ET À CRIS (1989), from Nice Guys Finish Dead, and ADIEU MARIN! (1993), from Murder in Room 13. French producer Pierre Grimblat has also worked on a project about the Pete Sawyer adventures. David Soul was seen as Pete Sawyer.
For Mr. Lucky, Marvin told me it was a novelization, but that his story was totally original.
The first issue of Hard-Boiled Dicks was devoted to Marvin, and Requiem pour un Muckraker was the homage published in 1999, with 22 short stories by French writers, each title being that of a book by Marvin translated into French.
Hector’s original question has not been answered with 100% surety, but the evidence so far strongly indicates that the book was first published in France, and there never has been an edition in English.
The self-help book about motherhood was published first in hardcover by David McKay in 1956, and it will be added to the bibliography.
It is nice to know that Scarlet Woman, the first adventure of street-smart private eye Harp (New York City, 1871) was to be first of a series, but it is also frustrating to know that there will never be a second.
The information about the screenplays Albert worked on has prompted a complete revision of the bibliography in the relevant sections.
Here are a couple of Roger’s concluding remarks:
By the way, I’m tired of commentaries about Tony Rome being inspired by Travis McGee. The first Tony Rome (living on a ship) was published in 1960, before the first Travis McGee, which was 1964.
Also!!! What about a book in 1974 with the title A Mafia Kiss (Nick Quarry). I’m not sure if it has been published ?
In the Soldato series, Marvin told me about two other titles: The Return of Johnny Morini and The Hour of Johnny Morini. Perhaps only projects? But I’m not sure ???
Unless they appeared under different titles, there is unfortunately no information to indicate that these books exist. It would be quite acceptable to be proven wrong, of course.
NOTE: The following email from Jeff Falco was sent soon after the original inquiry was made, but unfortunately I did not see it until he recently asked me about it. That I did not know about it until now was due to some ineptitude on my part, I am sorry to say, and I have apologized. Even though Jeff covers some of the same ground as above, and he comes to the same conclusion, there is enough detective work going on here, in a literary fashion, that I believe the entire email is worthy of your attention. –Steve
A good way to approach this question is to apply Sherlock Holmes’ supposed dictum with some modification: we have to eliminate the impossible and then accept the improbable as the truth. Except that in this case, we will eliminate some of the possibles, by acquired knowledge and research, proving that most of what is possible did not in fact occur and, hence, is impossible, leaving only one improbability to fall back on.
One possibility is that La Familia Falcone is a book by Marvin Albert published in America under a different title, I mean a completely different title than the obvious back-translation of The Falcone Family. There is, of course, no Marvin Albert novel with this title, so one must read each of his novels or be familiar enough with them all to know the one that has characters named Falcone. Since I have not read all of Albert’s novels, I will rely on Steve Lewis and Bill Crider to assure me that there is no character Falcone in any of Albert’s novels. So this is one possibility proved impossible. (To be thorough, I must mention that there is a character called “Falco” in Crazy Joe.)
Another possibility is that this book was not written by Albert, but by someone else, and published under his name by accident or design. If you look at the image of the book in one of the links Steve provides (which, unfortunately, seems to be dead at this moment), you can see that the book is about “corsos,” or Corsicans. And if one investigates the matter further, one will discover that the copyright page of La Familia Falcone states that it is a translation of a book in English titled “The Corsican.” Nice clue!
Since we are investigating the possibility that this is a book written by someone else, we should look for books with that title and try to find out what the names of the characters are. William Heffernan wrote a book by that title, but it was published two years after La Familia Falcone and is way too long anyway and the main characters are not Falcones. Bill S. Ballinger also wrote a book titled The Corsican, but the main character is one Saltisanni. And that’s it. There are other books with “Corsican” as a part of the title (e.g., Don Smith’s The Corsican Takeover), but that does not seem to be a useful path to pursue: the original title was, simply, The Corsican.
Wait! Albert’s The Don Is Dead has a character called the “Corsican,” but he is a minor character, so that ends that.
A little more research reveals that this mystery book, The Corsican, was translated into other languages: into French as Le Corse and into German as Der Korse. The subtitles of these translations are interesting: “Der Europäische Pate” (The European Godfather) for the latter, and “La Véritable Histoire Du Milieu” (The True History of the Underworld) for the former. All editions of these titles, to repeat, state that the original title of the book is The Corsican, and some use that phrase that I cannot help but think quaint, “translated from the American.” The plot revolves around the two Falcone brothers who build a mafia empire in Europe. To me, this sounds Marvin H. Albert, so I will simply pronounce that it is an impossibility that he did not write the book.
This then leaves us with the improbable truth: that Marvin Albert wrote a book for the European market that was never published in America. This seems all the more likely when one takes into consideration the total European nature of the plot.
BILL CRIDER -
Now that all this has come up again, I seem to recall that Harry Whittington published one or two novels in France that were never published in America. One of them was a novel called Mink, if memory serves, as it so rarely does these days.
Steve: It would be interesting to learn how many books by – let’s call them “Gold Medal writers” – came out in Europe but were never published in this country. I’m willing to wager that there were quite a few.
And speaking of Serie Noire, I’ve become fascinated with the series, at least in the abstract. My French, sorely neglected since grad school, is far from being capable of handling anything as either literary or colloquial (or both) as these books are bound to be.
Which is not to say that some coverage of the series will not appear in Mystery*File in the near future.
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