Norbert Davis

Pseudonyms: Harrison Hunt, Cedric Titus

Norbert Davis was a prolific writer of pulp fiction and although his hardboiled stories tended to run to the humorous, there was also a toughness to his style.

A more complete overview of Norbert Davis as well as a checklist of his work can be found at the bottom of this page.

Norbert Davis stories can be difficult to find, so you may be more successful in tracking down the pulps in which he was published such as Black Mask, Detective Fiction Weekly, Dime Detective, Detective Tales, Double Detective, New Detective, Phantom Detective, Pocket Book Detective, Strange Detective Mysteries, Street & Smith Detective Story Magazine.

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A Brief Overview of Norbert Davis

Norbert Davis was one of the great tragic figures among the pulp writers of the thirties and forties. He never quite got the recognition he deserved and today still, it’s only the most dedicated of pulp fiction fans that would go looking for his work. Mostly because he abandoned his forte, a humorously hard-boiled crime hybrid he had perfected in the pulps, for a chance to write for the more lucrative market of the slicks. And it certainly didn't help that he committed suicide at the age of forty.

Mixing humor with murder is always a hard sell, and it was doubly hard for hard-boiled writers. Of the several hundred short stories Davis wrote, only a dozen or so ever made it into the legendary Black Mask. It is said that the editor of the magazine, Joseph Shaw found Davis’ work too whimsical to fit into the action pattern of Black Mask. His first story in Black Mask was "Reform Racket' in the June 1932 issue.
Fortunately for Davis, and for fans, he was able to sell his stories to a variety of other pulps, including Double Detective, Detective Fiction Weekly, Detective Tales and Mask's rival, Dime Detective, where he perfected his whimsical hybrid of humor and hard-boiled. But crime wasn't all Davis wrote. In his short pulp career he wrote it all: adventure, war stories, romance and westerns (his sole film credit was based on one of his westerns).

So he remains in a strange in-between place in the ranks of the creators of P.I. fiction, caught in the no-man's-land between the fact that only small bits and pieces of his output are available (he only wrote five novels, and only a handful of his short stories have ever been reprinted) and the fact that he has been, in the words of Pulp Mystery Adventure, "praised to the skies by critics of pulp magazines."

The legacy he left behind of delightfully eccentric detectives is well worth hunting down: the oddball pairing of small dick and Great Dane Doan & Carstairs, the shady screwball private eye Max Latin, the wise-cracking bail bondsman Bail Bond Dodd, the chronically fatigued trust company investigator Just Plain Jones, and a host of others live on in old pulps and the occasional stories reprinted in anthologies.
The commonly heard advice is that if you see a story written by Norbert Davis, so what you can to read it.

A Norbert Davis Checklist - Short Stories

"Paroled to Murder" (April 1932, Detective Tales)
"Reform Racket" (June, 1932, Black Mask; Dan Stiles)
"Kansas City Flash" (March, 1933, Black Mask; Mark Hull)
"Red Goose" (February 1934, Black Mask; Ben Shaley)
"Four Drops of Blood" (February-March 1934, Frontier Stories)
"The Price of a Dime" (April 1934, Black Mask; Ben Shaley)
"The Gin Monkey" (January 15, 1935; Dime Detective; Max Clark)
"Hit and Run" (April 1935, Black Mask; Jake Tait)
"Black Death" (May 18, 1935, Detective Fiction Weekly; Sarr)
"The Girl with the Webbed Hand" (August 24, 1935, Detective Fiction Weekly; Slattery)
"Trip to Vienna" (October 19, 1935, Detective Fiction Weekly)
"The Devil's Scalpel" (November 1935; Dime Detective; Bill Ray)
"One Man Died" (January 18, 1936, Detective Fiction Weekly)
"Dancing Dimes" (February 1936, Public Enemy)
"The Missing Legs" (February 22, 1936, Detective Fiction Weekly)
"Blue Bullets" (March 13, 1936, Argosy)
"Diamond Slippers" (March 14, 1936, Detective Fiction Weekly; Simon Saxton)
"Reprieve from Death" (April 1936, Detective Tales)
"Hell's Freight "(April 1936, Public Enemy)
"The Rag-Tag Girl" (May 1936, Phantom Detective)
"Clues on Crutches" (June 20, 1936, Detective Fiction Weekly)
"Public Defender" (June 27, 1936, Detective Fiction Weekly; Michael)
"Satan's Doll Shop" (August 1936, Detective Tales)
"Upside-Down Man" (August 1936, Ace-High Detective)
"Murder Harvest" (September 12, 1936, Detective Fiction Weekly; James Michael)
"Murder Medicine" (October 1936, Detective Tales)
"Come Home and Die" (November 1936, Detective Tales)
"The Case of the Greedy Guardian" (October 3, 1936, Detective Fiction Weekly)
"Black Bandana" (November 21, 1936, Argosy)
"Death's Medal" (December 1936, Pocket Book Detective)
"Bad Actor" (February 1937, Pocket Book Detective)
"5 to 1 Odds on Murder" (February 6, 1937, Detective Fiction Weekly)
"A Gamble in Corpses" (March 1937, Detective Tales)
"Death Stops the Show" (April 1937, Detective Tales)
"Something for the Sweeper" (May 1937; Dime Detective; Just Plain Jones)
"Top Hat Killer" (June 26, 1937, Detective Fiction Weekly)
"Letters from Home" (June 1937, Pocket Book Detective)
"Death Sings a Torch-Song" (July 1937; Dime Detective; Dennis Lee)
"Beauty in the Morgue" (July 31, 1937, Detective Fiction Weekly; John Mark)
"Cubes of Blackmail" (August 1937, Detective Tales)
"Trail of the Talented Butcher" (September 1937, Detective Tales)
"Trail of the Talented Butcher" (September 1937, Detective Tales)
"Indian Sign" (September 18, 1937 , Detective Fiction Weekly)
"Judge of the Damned" (October 1937, Detective Tales)
"Idiot's Coffin Keepsake" (October 1937, Strange Detective Mysteries)
"Mountain Man" (October 2 1937, Detective Fiction Weekly; Saul Jarret)
"Medicine for Murder" (October 1937, Black Mask; Dr. Bruce Gregory)
"Underworld Judge-and Jury" (November 1937, Detective Tales)
"Beware Death's Tolling Bell" (November 1937, Strange Detective Mysteries)
"Devil Down the Chimney" (December 11, 1937, Detective Fiction Weekly; Dan Crail)
"Murder in Two Parts" (December 1937, Black Mask; Brent)
"Charge it to the Corpse!" (January 1938, Detective Tales)
"Cat's Claw" (January 8, 1938, Detective Fiction Weekly)
"String Him Up!" (February 1938, Double Detective)
"Noose Around Your Neck" (March 1938, Double Detective)
"Murder Buried Deep" (March 12, 1938, Detective Fiction Weekly)
"Murder Walks Tonight" (April 1938, Detective Tales)
"Corpse on the Hearth" (May 1938, Detective Tales)
"The Judge Looks at Death" (June 1938, Detective Tales)
"Mad Money" (Part One) (June 25, 1938, Argosy)
"You Listen!" (July 1938, Double Detective; with Dwight V. Babcock)
"Mad Money" (Part Two) (July 2, Argosy)
"Mad Money" (Part Three) (July 9, 1938, Argosy)
"Mad Money" (Part Four) (July 16, 1938, Argosy)
"Mad Money" (Part Five) (July 23, 1938, Argosy)
"For They Would Gladly Die!" (September 1938, Detective Tales)
"Murder on the Mississippi" (October 1938, Double Detective)
"Marriage is Murder" (October 15, 1938, Detective Fiction Weekly)
"Jail Delivery" (October 22, 1938, Argosy)
"My Client, the Corpse" (December 1938, Detective Tales)
"Hex on Horseback" (January 1939, Street & Smith Detective Story Magazine)
"Death of a Medicine Man" (February 1939, Double Detective)
"Ideal for Murder" (February 11, 1939, Detective Fiction Weekly; Tom Grey)
"Oasis of Dying Men" (March 1939, Detective Tales)
"Sand In the Snow" (Part One) (April 1, 1939, Argosy)
"Sand In the Snow" (Part Two) (April 8, 1939, Argosy)
"Sand In the Snow" (Part Three) (April 15, 1939, Argosy)
"Sand In the Snow" (Part Four) (April 22, 1939, Argosy)
"Sand In the Snow" (Part Five) (April 29, 1939, Argosy)
"The Lethal Logic" (April 29, 1939, Detective Fiction Weekly; Prof. Carlson)
"Death Asked for Golden Slippers" (May 1939, Detective Tales)
"Murder Highway #1" (July 1939, Detective Tales)
"A Vote for Murder" (July 15, 1939, Detective Fiction Weekly; John Gaul)
"Children of Murder" (September 1939, Detective Tales)
"Back Road to Death" (October 1939, Detective Tales)
"Model for Murder" (October 1939, Double Detective)
"Mud in Your Eye" (October 14, 1939, Detective Fiction Weekly; Craig)
"Trip to Vienna" (October 19, 1939, Detective Fiction Weekly)
"Never Say Die" (November 11, 1939, Detective Fiction Weekly; Les Free)
"Drop of Doom" (December 1939; Dime Detective; Dale)
"The Corpse Lottery" (January 1940, Detective Tales)
"Murder Down Deep" (February 1940; Dime Detective; Bail Bond Dodd)
"Murder in the Red" (April 1940; Dime Detective; Bail Bond Dodd)
"Watch Me Kill You!" (July 1940; Dime Detective; Max Latin)
"Dance for the Dead" (July 1940, Street & Smith Detective Story Magazine)
"This Will Kill You!" (August 1940; Dime Detective; Bail Bond Dodd)
"Fear House" (September 1940, Detective Tales)
"You'll Die Laughing" (November 1940, Black Mask; Dave Sly)
"No Miracles in Murder" (December 1940, Detective Tales)
"Holocaust House" (Part One) (November 16, 1940, Argosy; Doan & Carstairs)
"Holocaust House" (Part Two) (November 23, 1940, Argosy; Doan & Carstairs)
"Hang Him High" (Part One) (May 17, 1941, Argosy)
"Hang Him High" (Part Two) (May 24, 1941, Argosy)
"Hang Him High" (Part Three) (May 31, 1941, Argosy)
"Hang Him High" (Part Four) (June 7, 1941, Argosy)
"Hang Him High" (Part Five) (June 14, 1941, Argosy)
"Hang Him High" (Part Six) (June 21, 1941, Argosy)
"Come Up and Kill Me Some Time" (October 1941; Dime Detective; Bail Bond Dodd)
"Don't Give Your Right Name" (December 1941; Dime Detective; Max Latin)
"Crime at Hudson's Rill" (January 1942, Street & Smith Detective Story Magazine)
"Murder: Do Not Disturb" (February 7, 1942, Argosy)
"Have One on the House" (March 1942; Dime Detective; Bail Bond Dodd)
"Walk Across My Grave" ( April 1942, Black Mask; Sheriff Jim Laury)
"Don't Cry for Me" (May 1942, Black Mask; John Collinsi)
"Give the Devil His Due" (May 1942; Dime Detective; Max Latin)
"The Tale of the Homeless Corpse" (June 1942, Detective Tales)
"Bullets Don't Bother Me" (August 1942, Black Mask; Sam Carey)
"Who Said I Was Dead?" (August 1942; Dime Detective; Bail Bond Dodd)
"Doctor Flame's Murder Blackout" (September 1942, Detective Tales)
"You Bet Your Life" (September 1942; Dime Detective; Bail Bond Dodd)

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