Back in the 1960s, I was a voracious reader of paperback novels. Carter Brown, Mike Shayne, and Gold Medal books appealed to my teenage tastes. One of my favorite series was Stephen Marlowe’s Chester Drum private eye novels. Marlowe was a world traveller and he poured a lot of his international experiences into the Chester Drum books.

In 2006, Stark House published Violence Is My Business/Turn Left For Murder. Violence Is My Business (1958) is the 7th book in the Chester Drum series. Drum reluctantly accepts a case concerning a married college professor who is seeing a call girl. But the case involves political dimensions that bring Drum a savage beating, a near-death experience, and the prospect of losing his Private Eye license.

Max Allan Collins wrote: “The opening chapter of Violence Is My Business…should be force-fed to anybody who is even thinking of writing suspense fiction. It’s a masterpiece of atmosphere, plot, and genuine anxiety.” It would be a rare reader who doesn’t experience genuine anxiety as Chester Drum confronts killers in the harrowing wilds of Canada–outnumbered and out-gunned. Violence Is My Business sparkles with crisp writing, intense action, clever plot-twists, and plenty of menace. GRADE: A-

Stephen Marlowe wrote Turn Left For Murder in 1955 and it was published as half of an ACE Double. Norm Fisher, a young man who mades some Bad Decisions, is a recent army veteran who returns to his familiar New York suburbs. Norm’s wife is pregnant and Norm’s involvement with The Mob creates the kind of trouble that could get Norm, his wife, and his new baby killed. Marlowe ratchets up the tension on the reader as he shows how an average guy can enter a noirish world and struggle to get free. If you’re looking for suspense and action, here are two novels that will take you to worlds where noir rules. GRADE: B

Chester Drum novels (as Stephen Marlowe):

  • The Second Longest Night (1955)
  • Mecca for Murder (1956)
  • Killers Are My Meat (1957)
  • Murder Is My Dish (1957)
  • Trouble Is My Name (1957)
  • Terror Is My Trade (1958)
  • Violence Is My Business (1958)
  • Double in Trouble (with Richard S. Prather) (1959)
  • Homicide Is My Game (1959)
  • Danger Is My Line (1960)
  • Death Is My Comrade (1960)
  • Peril Is My Pay (1960)
  • Manhunt Is My Mission (1961)
  • Jeopardy Is My Job (1962)
  • Francesca (1963)
  • Drum Beat – Berlin (1964)
  • Drum Beat – Dominique (1965)
  • Drum Beat – Madrid (1966)
  • Drum Beat – Erica (1967)
  • Drum Beat – Marianne (1968)


  1. wolf

    This reawakes so many memories …
    Probably have written about this already, but …
    Don’t remember Marlowe at all but I have to admit that Carter Brown somehow fascinated me. Every morning when I passed that bookstore on my way to university in the early 60s I’d look for a new Carter Brown or Mickey Spillane novel – and bought it if I had enough money …
    Luckily for my pocket money there weren’t more than one or two a month.
    With Milton Lesser as author a lot of very juvenile SF appeared in German in real pulps. I got many authors second hand and often wondered how abrupt the stories ended – until I realised that they had to compress everything into the standard format of 64 (!!!) pages, ok these pages were larger than the typical US and could contain more text, but still …
    I soon stopped reading those juvenile stories, just too boring, predictable and not really SF.

    1. george Post author

      Wolf, like you I used to scan the spinner racks (remember them?) of paperbacks and end up buying a Carter Brown, Mike Shayne, or Chester Drum adventure. It was a golden time for paperbacks!

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    For some reason, when I was reading John D. MacDonald and Donald Hamilton and Richard S. Prather and Mickey Spillane and others of that era, I never read a lot of Marlowe. I have been picking up a few of his reprinted Chester Drum books on Kindle. I did read a collection of his science fiction stories a few years ago (under his real name of Milton Lesser).

    Good choice.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, the international settings of the Chester Drum books differentiate them from other private eye novels that are mostly based in large U.S. cities. Bill Crider was a fan of Milton Lesser’s SF, too.

  3. Jeff Meyerson

    It was JOHNNY MAYHEM: THE COMPLETE STORIES by Milton Lesser (originally published as by C. H. Thames in Amazing Stories between 1955 & 1958.

    1. george Post author

      Dan, you’ll love VIOLENCE IS MY BUSINESS/TURN LEFT FOR MURDER! I’m thinking about finding my other Chester Drum paperbacks and reading them soon.

  4. Michael Padgett

    Haven’t read Marlowe but he sounds like someone I should try. For some reason I’ve had him confused with Edward S. Aarons, who I’ve tried and didn’t care for.

    1. george Post author

      Cullen, I’m a big fan of STARK HOUSE and have reviewed over a dozen of their wonderful books. I have more STARK HOUSE books in my READ REAL SOON stack so there are more reviews coming!

  5. Patti Abbott

    The hard-boiled books I read as a kid were the ones my library bought. They bought John D and Ross mostly. My mother outlawed Mickey Spillane. It wasn’t until half a century later I came to a lot of these writers. I still have not read Marlowe although I have tried most of the rest.

    1. george Post author

      Patti, the Chester Drum books vary from John D. MacDonald, Ross Macdonald, and Mickey Spillane novels by having Chester Drum travel the world in the course of his investigations. Stephen Marlowe loved to travel so all of the depictions of foreign settings ring true.

    1. george Post author

      Rick, I vaguely remember reading some of the Chester Drum paperbacks back in the 1960s. I bought them whenever I ran across them in later years. Reading VIOLENCE IS MY BUSINESS reminded me of how much I enjoyed the series decades ago. I’ll search for my copies and you may see more Chester Drum reviews in the coming months.

    1. george Post author

      Carl, I confess I bought a lot of paperbacks in the 1960s and 1970s simply for the cover artwork. During the 1980s and beyond, paperback artwork declined.

    1. george Post author

      near, Stephen Marlowe wrote many paperback novels in the 1950s and 1960s. Sadly, many of them are out-of-print although some of them are available as e-books. The Chester Drum series, with its emphasis on international settings, always appealed to me.


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