Books by Edward Wellen

PERPS by Edward Wellen
Released: April 1, 2001

"By and large, though, this collection has no spark, no edge, not much reason for being."
The 26 stories in this drab collection—most of which appeared first in Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock, and other mystery magazines between 1958 and 2000—are so uniform in construction that they might have been stamped out in a machine-shop. Since they represent a culling from over 350, the author is obviously a prolific exponent of the O. Henry school of surprise endings. Character and plausibility are seldom issues in a Wellen short. What matters is the manipulation that sets up the climactic zinger, which invariably dies on the vine from lack of engagement. In "Final Acquittal," for instance, a murderer is tricked into a confession. The trick is old hat, and nothing about the murderer is easy to believe. As a result, the obligatory surprise falls flat. In "Inside Evidence," a detective and a junkyard owner conspire to do in a rapist-murderer. But again the puppeteer's strings are fully visible, the characters nothing more than transparent plot devices. One glance at some valuable stamps is enough to turn a heretofore blameless citizen into a savage—for the sake of the biter-bit finish in "Fair Exchange." And so on down a lusterless list. Only in "From Parts Unknown," the longest story here, does Wellen attempt to stretch the form. His enigmatic, single-minded central character, bent on vengeance, is deeply enough conceived to compel attention. And because that's true, the snapper ending actually has some snap to it.Read full book review >
AN HOUR TO KILL by Edward Wellen
Released: June 9, 1993

Passing through Miami after completing a hit, assassin-for- hire Mal (a.k.a Harry Pace, Philip Oom, etc.) sees beautiful Marita Garcia being roughed up by Felipe Diaz, younger brother of south Florida drug kingpin Ramon, and in an inexplicable—for him—moment of chivalry, Mal kills the creep. Now he's got big trouble: Miami cops Vogelsang and Shanley are after him; the feds also want him; and Ramon has ordered a nationwide manhunt. To smoke him out, the good guys charge Marita with murder, figuring she must have been his accomplice, and the bad guy not only offers major money for news of his whereabouts but makes deals with other gang leaders to double-cross him. The bodies pile up as Mal, still strangely chivalrous, tries to get Marita off the hook and hopscotches from L.A. to Vegas to Manhattan, finally winding up in Key Biscayne for a confrontation aboard Ramon's yacht. Rendered with pulp-fiction zest and lots of black-and-blue action sequences. Still, Wellen's hardcover debut (after the paperback Hijack, 1971) does have you rooting for his antihero—and his escape into the bay does have you wondering whether he'll pop up again. Read full book review >