Forgotten Book: Hazzard by Frederick C. Davis

Hazzard, the Complete Series by Frederick C. Davis, Altus Press 2016 trade paper

This 282-page trade paper edition includes all six of Davis’ pulp-length novels (really novelettes) featuring District Attorney Mark Hazzard.

Davis was fairly prolific, writing stories featuring The Moon Man, Nick Carter, Keyhole Kerry, Bill Brent, The Flying Phantom, the Sky Pirates, Secrets Incorporated (led by Clay “Oke” Oakley), Ravenwood, the occult detective appearing in Secret Agent X, which is where these Hazzard stories originally appeared in 1935 and January 1936.

Davis wrote stories for many other pulps as well, prominently Dime Detective, but also Air Stories, X,, Dime Mystery, Aces, Ace Mystery Magazine and others.

Mark Hazzard, District Attorney of King County (somewhere in the Eastern U.S.), is a red-headed, hot tempered fighter for Justice, even if sometimes, or all the time in these stories, it doesn’t match with the Law. When the technicalities of the courtroom fail to convict the guilty, Hazzard swings into action on his own. He is helped by his friend Dan Carey, an escaped criminal – an ex-cop railroaded by a “Boss” into actions which framed him – hiding from the authorities in an apartment over Hazzard’s garage. But there’s more. Hazzard is himself an escaped criminal, falsely accused and convicted of murder. Years later, after remaking himself, he has become a Distirct Attorney who wants nothing more than to convict those who frame and get convicted the innocent.

Hazzard’s nemesis is Inspector Trencher, head of police operations. They should be working together (think of D.A. Hamilton Berger and Lt. Tragg in the Perry Mason books), but instead, Trencher mistrusts Hazzard and is convinced there is something he is hiding. Soon he suspects the truth, and tries to trick the D.A. into confessing. All this is laid out in the first novel, Coffins for Two, and becomes the overreaching plot line while each of the rest of the novels have their own story of Hazzard solving a case against a criminal, often in order to save himself in some way.

In each of the novels, Hazzard’s real identity is nearly discovered, or if known, proved. But each time Hazzard slips out of the trap, to the frustration of Trencher. Sure, there’s a good bit of formula in these stories, and in each the history of Hazzard and Trencher is repeated, and in each Hazzard gets into a bind that threatens his job and security. But the two-fisted, hot-headed D.A. fights his way to solving the case and finding justice. Pretty fun pulp stuff.

One shortcoming of this collection is the lack of an introduction.

Contents:

  • “Coffins for Two” August 1935 issue of Secret Agent X
  • “Juggernaut Justice” September 1935 issue of Secret Agent X
  • “Corpses’ Court” October 1935 issue of Secret Agent X
  • “The Murder Crypt” November 1935 issue of Secret Agent X
  • “Terror Tribunal” December 1935 issue of Secret Agent X
  • “The Death-Chair Challenge” January 1936 issue of Secret Agent X

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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12 Responses to Forgotten Book: Hazzard by Frederick C. Davis

  1. Jeffrey Meyerson says:

    This sounds pretty interesting. I’very read some stories by Davis and considered buying other collections, so this is a possible.

  2. Jerry House says:

    Another one for my gotta buy real soon list, Rick.

  3. I’ve enjoyed all the Frederick C. Davis stories I’ve read. For a few weeks, I considered traveling down to Pittsburgh to attend PULPFEST where Altus Press was supposed to have a major presence. Events conspired against my plans…maybe next year. But, I’m planning on buying more Altus Press books in the months ahead. After your strong review, HAZZARD goes on my BUY list.

  4. tracybham says:

    I like novellas, this might be a good choice for me.

  5. James Reasoner says:

    I really enjoyed these. It would have been okay with me if there had been more in the series. The more I read of Davis’s work, the more he becomes one of my favorite pulp authors.

    • I think it would have been cool if he’d wrapped up the Trencher-Hazzard duel by solving the original case and proving Hazzard innocent, but that didn’t happen. Perhaps he intended to write more of these stories. I have some other Altus Press collections of his stuff unread, James. After a SF break, I go to another.

  6. Evan Lewis says:

    Sounds pretty good. Never read a Hazzard story. Sadly, I own zero copies of Secret Agent X. I have a Hanos and paperback reprints,but they contain only the lead novels.

  7. J F Norris says:

    He sure wrote a lot! In addition of to all those short stories he cranked out forty novels in his lifetime. Interestingly the first of his Cyrus Hatch mystery novels (many of which I’ve enjoyed) is called COFFINS FOR THREE. I’ll have to keep a eye out for this volume.

  8. Todd Mason says:

    Barely have read Davis…shall look to see what I might have in an anthology or so…

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