ROBENS, Howard

Howard Robens and Jack Wassermann met when their wives shared an office at a New York college. Both were born in Germany and raised in Israel. Robens visited Vancouver in 1967 to collaborate with Wassermann on a science text. They co-authored a based-in-Vancouver thriller, Hambro's Itch, about a Pentagon-devised virus designed to decrease Third World populations and thereby limit the potential for outbreaks of nuclear war. Robens, a Vancouver high school teacher, was born in Mulhausen in 1931. Wassermann (not to be confused with the popular columnist Jack Wasserman) is a Vancouver editor, born in Dusseldorf in 1919.

[BCBW 1992]

Hambro's Itch

The most prescient West Coast crime story is easily Jack Wassermann and Howard Robens' co-authored Hambro's Itch (New York: Doubleday, 1979; New York: Signet, 1980), about a Pentagon scheme to spread a deadly, sexually transmissible virus ('Hambro's Itch') to Third World countries via Vancouver. Written prior to the knowledge of AIDS, it's a bizarre and twisted tale that reads better with age.

Hammond Innes' 29th book, High Stand (1985), culminates in B.C., as does Dick Francis' The Edge (1988). Crime fiction currently receives a good deal of attention in B.C. from the Vancouver Sun book page editor, Peter Wilson, himself an aspiring crime writer.

[Summer/BCBW 1989]