In “Names in the Black Book,” Steve Harrison, a tough detective, finds himself embroiled in a sinister plot involving a list of doomed individuals in a dangerous and mysterious quarter of the city. The story intertwines fear, intrigue, and dark forces as Harrison confronts a familiar enemy thought long dead.

Howard’s agent, Kline, received this story on January 1934. The story sold for $100 and Howard earned $85 after Kline Agency had their share.


“Names in the Black Book” begins with detective Steve Harrison and Joan La Tour discussing a series of unsolved murders in River Street’s Oriental quarter. Joan, fearing for her life, reveals that Erlik Khan, a powerful criminal lord presumed dead, has returned and is targeting those once loyal to him. Joan shows Harrison a black book listing five names marked for death, three of which have already been killed under mysterious circumstances, and the last two names are hers and Harrison’s.

Harrison investigates the unusual deaths, connecting them to Erlik Khan’s past dealings. Despite doubts about Erlik Khan’s return, he uncovers deeper conspiracies as more people associated with the case die in bizarre ways. Joan’s life is threatened multiple times, linking back to the black book. The plot thickens with Joan receiving ominous threats and nearly falling victim to booby-trapped cigarettes and a venomous scorpion.

Harrison, with the aid of Khoda Khan, a trustworthy Afghan with a personal code of honor, delves into the shadowy world of the Oriental quarter. They race against time to protect Joan and uncover the true extent of Erlik Khan’s influence and his chilling plot to control the city’s underworld and possibly its governance.

The climax unfolds at Erlik Khan’s secret lair, where a deadly confrontation ensues. Harrison and Khoda Khan fight fiercely against Erlik Khan and his henchmen. The story reaches a critical point when Khoda Khan sacrifices himself to eliminate the threat Erlik Khan poses by triggering a massive explosion. In the aftermath, Joan and Harrison survive, but they are left to deal with the physical and emotional scars of their ordeal.


  • Steve Harrison – The main protagonist, a tough detective committed to solving the mystery of the black book and protecting Joan from imminent danger.
  • Joan La Tour – A former affiliate of Erlik Khan, she is a target in the black book and plays a crucial role in unveiling the plot and motivating Harrison to investigate.
  • Erlik Khan – The antagonist, a criminal mastermind who was believed dead but has returned to exact vengeance and re-establish his control over the criminal underworld.
  • Khoda Khan – An Afghan warrior and ally to Joan, instrumental in the final showdown against Erlik Khan, showcasing loyalty and bravery.
  • Li-chin – A Chinese merchant and one of the first victims listed in the black book, killed under mysterious circumstances.
  • Ibrahim ibn Achmet – A Syrian curio dealer, another victim of the black book, found dead from a cobra bite.
  • Jacob Kossova – A Levantine exporter and the third victim from the black book, killed by a knife in a back alley.
  • Ali ibn Suleyman – Mentioned in flashbacks, he previously attempted to kill Erlik Khan, leading everyone to believe Erlik was dead.

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