As previously noted, Australia wasn't exactly welcoming pulp fiction with open arms in the post-World War II years, actually noting on their own web site that "during most of the 20th century Australia was one of the strictest censors in the western world" frequently banning "what was considered suitable reading in England, Europe and America."
So the fact that Once Upon a Crime (1953) by Mike Kerrigan, a quickie pulp novella put out by London's Milestone Publications and obviously aiming to ape the American hard-boiled style, was seized by customs officials in Sydney in August 1954 shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone.
What does make it interesting is that, thanks to the Australian National Archives' great Banned web site, we actually have correspondence from a G. Foster, apparently an Australian customs inspector, who helpfully summarized the plot of the book for us before making his recommendation:
"Mike Kerrigan, a struggling investigator, is hired by Wendy Lane to find out the true story of the killing of Fats Balfour. On circumstantial evidence her father is incriminated. Kerrigan eventually, after a sucession of escapades, traps the killer. The story is brutal with the killer, Lola Laine, supplying the usual sex angle. Prohibition is recommended."
The entry concludes by noting that "Customs placed an import ban on the novel on 22 November 1954."
Not that it probably made much of a difference -- "Mike Kerrigan" was almost surely a house name and the book was most likely instantly forgettable.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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