I’m a fan of the STARK HOUSE “Black Gat” series of reprints. The latest book in the series is Bert and Dolores Hitchens End of the Line, one of the railway detective mysteries from the 1950s. The Lobo Tunnel disaster, a deliberate “accident” where the train hit an obstruction in the Tunnel, remains an unsolved case. Two unlikely railway cops, John Farrel–a veteran detective with a drinking problem–and Calvin Saunders–a talented but inexperienced investigator–are assigned to the Lobo Tunnel cold case six years after the incident. Farrel and Saunders focus on the conductor, Parmenter, who has just served a five year sentence in a Mexican prison.

I enjoyed the detailed description of Peg Parmenter, the conductor’s troubled teen-age daughter. Peg wants to reconnect with her father, but senses that he is withholding information from her. As Farrel and Saunders unravel the sabotage scheme, the suspense ratchets up. From Page One End of the Line stays on track to take the reader on a wild ride. GRADE: B+
F.O.B. Murder (Doubleday CC, 1955); UK: 1957, American Bloodhound no. 154
One-Way Ticket (Doubleday CC, 1956); UK: 1958, American Bloodhound no. 193
End of Line (Doubleday CC, 1957); UK: 1958, American Bloodhound. no. 216
The Man Who Followed Women (Doubleday CC, 1959); UK: 1960, American Bloodhound no. 332
The Grudge (Doubleday, 1963); UK: 1964, American Bloodhound. no. 466

6 thoughts on “FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #502: END OF THE LINE By Bert & Dolores Hitchens

  1. Jeff Meyerson

    Good one. Back in the ’80s (I think) I was looking for these books but my library didn’t have them and I never did find the first one at a reasonable price. Then they fell off my radar. I’m glad this is available. By the way, an aside: T. V. Boardman, in Britain, was the publisher of those Bloodhound Books. In my years of searching bookstores that had all fiction lumped together, I was more than once helped in finding a possible purchase by Jackie noticing a Bloodhound on the spine of a Boardman book. (I think she called them “dog books.”) She’d get bored waiting for me to finish looking and would scan the shelves for something she recognized. They reprinted some in paperback, but a bunch of them were actually paperback originals, many with really nice, colorful colors. I picked them up whenever I saw one, and most of them sold really well. I’ve enjoyed most of the other railway mysteries I’ve read over the years, so will definitely check this one out.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, I’ve had Bert and Delores Hitchens’s railway mysteries on my shelves for years. But now I’ve finally gotten around to read one. Now, I want to read more!

    1. george Post author

      Rick, the STARK HOUSE “Black Gat” series of stand-alone novels features good stories and bibliographic information on the authors. I think they’re a bargain at the price!


    FWIW, I think that the Lobo Tunnel wreck was a fictionalization of the 1939 wreck of the Southern Pacific’s CITY OF SAN FRANCISCO near Hanvey, NV. It was an act of sabotage, but it was never solved. I often wondered if Bert Hitchens might’ve been one of the railroad cops assigned to that case, and, not being able to solve it in real life, prevailed upon his wife and collaborator to solve it in fiction.

    This book is probably my favorite of this five-book series. It is also the one that introduces John Farrel, who will go on to become the “first among equals,” in the squad of rotating railroad detectives, He headlines this book, and the two following, always as the senior partner to a rookie detective.

    1. george Post author

      Jim, thanks for the information on the Southern Pacific wreck. Bert Hitchens brings a lot of insights into the investigation. I suspect Delores Hitchens wrote the sections dealing with the teenage girl and her aunt. They were very convincing. I have copies of a couple of the other railway mysteries…the trick is to find them in the basement!


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