Robert Finnegan. Many a Monster (1948) 220 pp.
San Francisco newspaper reporter Dan Banion is “a sucker for people in trouble.” This time out it is Rogan Lochmeister, a World War 2 vet who had a nervous breakdown and suffers from blackouts—both as a result of the horrors he experienced. He has been tried and convicted of a series of murders of young women. While being transferred to a prison for the criminally insane, the police transport is involved in an accident. Rogan escapes and returns to San Francisco, the scene of the crimes, where Banion gets on the case. After meeting Rogan’s sister, Florence, Banion starts to question Rogan’s guilt. The evidence against him was circumstantial and Rogan’s fragile mental condition made him an easy target to take the blame for the killings. As more murders are committed, Banion is determined find Rogan before either the police or a Fascist vigilante group of “two-bit Hitlers” can flush him out of hiding. Robert Finnegan (whose real name was Paul William Ryan) wrote three Dan Banion novels, two of which take place in San Francisco. Under another pseudonym, “Mike Quin,” he worked as a “rank-and-file journalist,” authored several Communist Party tracts, and documented the 1934 San Francisco General Strike (including The Big Strike (Olema Pub. Co., 1949), the definitive contemporary account). He was also a founding member of The Yanks Are Not Coming Committee, a group advocating for the United States to stay out of World War 2. He died at the age of forty-one in 1947.