Milton K Ozaki

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AKA Robert O. Saber

Milton K. Ozaki (June 14, 1913 – November 7, 1989) was a Japanese American writer of pulp fiction mysteries. He also wrote under the name. Robert O. Saber.

Life Story

Ozaki was born in Racine, Wisconsin to a Japanese father (Jingaro Ozaki, who later changed his name to Frank) and an American mother, Augusta Rathbun. He lost a leg as a young child. In addition to his work as a writer and journalist, he operated a beauty parlor (the Monsieur Meltoine beauty salon, in the Gold Coast section of Chicago). Ozaki and his wife Dolores B. Ozaki lived at 6314 Fifth Avenue in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In the 1970s, he operated phony mail-order colleges, including the Colorado State Christian College and Hamilton State University, and he was also involved in a company marketing a device fraudulently claimed to increase gas mileage. He died in Reno, Nevada.

Writing Career

Ozaki was the author of approximately two dozen popular mid-20th century detective novels under both his given name and the pseudonym Robert O. Saber, and was one of the first American mystery writers of Japanese descent. His novels are set in the fictional, mid-sized southeastern-Wisconsin city of Stillwell, Wisconsin, which is actually a barely disguised Kenosha.

He started at the bottom of the publisher ladder at the time with Phantom and Handi-Books, moved to Graphic, then to Ace, and finally to Gold Medal.

He was a secretary of the Chicago Fiction Writers Club, and a member of the Authors League of America and the National Writers Club. Ozaki's novel "The Ram of Aries" was the cover story for the final issue of Mammoth Detective in 1947.

Quotes from his Work

From City of Sin (1952):

   Lee’s eyebrows did a startled rumba.  
   [She] went tripping ahead of us down the hall on her high heels, with her hips waving a saucy goodbye.
   Her mascaraed lashes came down over her green eyes and did a little dance, like long rows of black-stockinged legs doing the can-can.
   . . . the words spilling out of her mouth like pebbles from a torn bag.
   . . . her hot, fetid breath in my face and my chest rolling around on her bosom as though on gigantic ball bearings.

From Murder Doll (1952):

   [His heart] wasn’t beating – and his lungs were as still as a piece of cheese.
   I’ve been all around and busier than an ant in a bunch of grapes.

From The Affair of the Frigid Blonde (1950):

   “. . . he’s been as busy as an ant in a new pair of pants.”
   . . . his eyes became as cold and blue as a pair of frozen grapes.
   With a face like that, Frank Laughton had about as much chance of avoiding recognition as a one-legged midget on crutches.

From Maid for Murder (1955):

   Lisa Lincoln looked . . . as worn and haggard as a Sunday school picture of the wages of sin.
   She looked at me with eyes which were as uncommunicative as a pair of bottle caps.

From Never Say Die (1956):

   It was 7:30 in the p. m. and the sands of time were pouring out like little potatoes through a broken bag.
   . . . with the reckless abandon of a bank president wasting a paper clip.
   I touched his hand, then dropped it.  It was like clasping a handful of warm chitterlings.

Novels

Title Year Published as Notes
The Cuckoo Clock 1946 Milton K. Ozaki Ziff-Davis, hc, Handi-Books #100, pb 1950, as Too Many Women. Featuring Professor Androcles Caldwell and Bendy Brinks, amateur sleuths, along with Lt. Phelan of the cops.
A Fiend in Need 1947 Milton K. Ozaki Ziff-Davis, hc, Handi-Books #116, pb, 1950. Featuring Professor Androcles Caldwell and Bendy Brinks, amateur sleuths, along with Lt. Phelan of the cops.
The Ram of Aries 1947 ???
The Black Dark Murders 1949 Robert O. Saber Handi-Books #96, pbo, 1949.  (PI’s Phil Keene and Hal Cooper) Ramble House, trade pb, 2004. Also published under the title "Out Of The Dark" (1954)
The Affair of the Frigid Blonde 1950 Robert O. Saber Handi-Books #108, 1950.  (PI Bob Stille) Also published under the title "The Deadly Blonde" (1953)
The Dove 1951 Robert O. Saber Phantom #502, pbo, 1951.  (PI Carl Guard; Handi-Books #130, pbo, 1951. Pyramid #90, pb, 1953, as Chicago Woman.
The Deadly Lover 1951 Robert O. Saber Phantom #502, pbo, 1951.  (PI Carl Guard) 
The Scented Flesh 1951 Robert O. Saber Handi-Books #124, 1951. (PI Carl Guard)
The Dummy Murder Case 1951 Milton K. Ozaki Graphic #33, pbo, 1951. Featuring Professor Androcles Caldwell and Bendy Brinks, amateur sleuths, along with Lt. Phelan of the cops.
The Dove 1951 Robert O. Saber Also published under the title "Chicago Woman" (1953)
No Way Out 1952 Robert O. Saber Phantom Books 512, 1952. Also published under the title "Borrowed Time" (1955)
Murder Doll 1952 Robert O. Saber Phantom Books 510, pbo, 1952.  (PI Carl Good) Berkley D2016, pb, November 1959, as by Milton K. Ozaki.
The Deadly Pickup 1953 Milton K. Ozaki Graphic #57, pbo, 1952. Graphic #92, 2nd pr., 1954. Berkley D2038, pb, 1960.
Murder Honeymoon 1953 ???
Chicago Woman 1953 Robert O. Saber Pyramid #90, 1953.  Reprint of The Dove.
City of Sin 1952 Robert O. Saber Lancer Double 72-628, pb, 1962.  Original Novels #722, pbo, 1952.  (PI Pete Mallary) Carnival Books #922, pb, 1953. Lancer Double 72-628, pb, 1962, as by Milton K. Ozaki.
 Previously appeared as by Robert O. Saber. [Paired with DAY KEENE Joy House.]
Dressed to Kill 1954 Milton K. Ozaki Graphic #79, pbo, 1954. (PI Rusty Forbes) Graphic #141, 2nd pr., 1956. Berkley D2007, pb, 1959.
Too Young to Die 1954 Robert O. Saber Graphic #90, 1954.  (PI Carl Good) Graphic #150, 2nd pr., 1957.
Shake Hands With The Devil 1954 ???
Maid For Murder 1955 Milton K. Ozaki Ace Double D-135, pbo, 1955.   (PI Carl Guard) [Paired with JAMES HADLEY CHASE Dead Ringer.]
A Dame Called Murder 1955 Robert O. Saber Graphic#111, pbo, 1955.  (PI Max Keene)
Marked For Murder 1955 ???
Model for Murder 1955 ???
Sucker Bait 1955 Robert O. Saber Graphic #99, 1955.  (PI Carl Good) Graphic #156, 2nd pr., 1957.
Never Say Die 1956 Milton K. Ozaki Ace Double D-167, pbo, 1956.   (PI Bob Wherry) [Paired with JOHN CREIGHTON Destroying Angel.]
A Time For Murder 1956 Robert O. Saber Graphic #123, 1956.  (PI Max Keene)
Case of the Deadly Kiss 1957 Milton K. Ozaki Gold Medal #715, pbo, November 1957. Unibooks, pb, no date.
The Case of the Cop's Wife 1958 Milton K. Ozaki Gold Medal #795, pbo, August 1958.
Wake Up and Scream 1959 Milton K. Ozaki Gold Medal #879, pbo, May 1959.
Inquest 1960 Milton K. Ozaki Gold Medal #981, pbo, May 1960.
Too Cute To Kill Unknown

Games

Milton K. Ozaki also designed a dice game, Murder Dice, which was similar to Yahtzee and was based on the events in a murder trial.

Other Links

Mystery File