Rediscovered: Steinbeck, Classical Puzzle Mystery Writer

Brian Wallace pops in a link to a long article from the Los Angeles Review of Books covering a crime novel — with werewolves, kind of — John Steinbeck wrote at the start of his career.

It was 1930 and Steinbeck was writing this stuff, while Hammett was publishing The Maltese Falcon.

I think good old Steinbeck was lucky he couldn’t sell Murder at Full Moon, else you can more easily see the scenario by which he might have become just another Ellery Queen type instead of the author of Of Mice and Men (and company).

Some writers, of course, have gone slumming into knock-off crime novels without ruining their careers — I think of Gore Vidal with his mysteries written as by “Edgar Box.”

And it’s always interesting to see alternative courses various writers might have taken — I was just mentioning the other day that the San Francisco poet George Sterling probably could have swung a solid Tarzan imitation.

Hey, you never know, but it’s fun to get these sneak peeks into the What Might Have Been.

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