Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Marvel Science Stories, August 1938

You couldn't ask for much more out of this debut issue of MARVEL SCIENCE STORIES. You've got a cover by Norman Saunders, and inside are three stories by Henry Kuttner (two under pseudonyms), plus yarns by Arthur J. Burks and Stanton A. Coblentz. I don't have this issue (the scan comes from the Fictionmags Index), but I'll bet it's great. I love this era of science fiction.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: West, October 1945

Another good cover by Sam Cherry starts off this issue of the long-running Western pulp WEST, which started out at Doubleday but by this time was part of the Thrilling Group. The lead story is "The California Ranger" by A. Leslie, who was really A. Leslie Scott, who wrote about Texas Rangers and Arizona Rangers, so why not California Rangers, too? Also in this issue is one of the late Zorro stories by Johnston McCulley, plus stories by Harold Cruickshank, Cliff Walters, and Tom Parsons, a Thrilling Group house-name.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Forgotten Books: The Melting Death - Curtis Steele (Frederick C. Davis)

Jimmy Christopher, Operator 5 in the American Intelligence Service, is back to save the country from complete and utter destruction, rescue his kidnapped girlfriend/plucky girl reporter Diane Elliott, and demonstrate a magic trick to his ward, scrappy Irish lad Tim Donovan. And if there’s any time left over, he’ll worry about his dad, former intelligence operative John Christopher, who has a bullet lodged near his heart that might kill him any time if he exerts himself too much. The devastating menace this time around is a super-corrosive agent that melts almost everything with which it comes in contact, making the title of this novel, THE MELTING DEATH, particularly apt. It’s the fourth yarn in the Operator 5 series, originally published in the July 1934 issue of OPERATOR #5 MAGAZINE. (Why does Jimmy Christopher refer to himself as Operator 5, when the title of the magazine is Operator #5? I have no idea, but I’ve wondered about that sometimes.)

This one starts with the dedication ceremony for a magnificent new bridge spanning the Mississippi River. If you can’t guess right away that the bridge is going down, causing massive death and destruction, you haven’t read any of the other Operator 5 novels. Or any pulp hero novels, for that matter. I mean, the title of the novel is THE MELTING DEATH, for cripe’s sake. Jimmy Christopher is on hand for the dedication and manages to rescue as many people as he can. Then he’s immediately ordered by his superiors, all the way up to the President, to find out who’s responsible for this atrocity. A group of European warmongers known as the Purple Shirts are believed to be connected with the attack. One of their spymasters is somewhere in the country, so Jimmy Christopher quickly gets on his trail.

The melting death attacks continue, with military installations and skyscrapers being destroyed. Jimmy Christopher races from place to place, trying to thwart the plans of the evil plotters who are trying to scuttle the disarmament movement and not so coincidentally take over the American steel industry and become filthy rich at the same time.

Eventually Jimmy Christopher emerges triumphant and the hidden mastermind is exposed, just in time to prevent the destruction of the United States Capitol. Now he can catch his breath, enjoy spending time with Diane, and maybe show Tim another magic trick. But this respite won’t last long, because the very next month there’ll be some other horrible threat to the country that only Operator 5 can deal with.

As I’ve said before, don’t get me wrong. This series lends itself to a little gentle ribbing, but man, is it fun. Frederick C. Davis, who wrote these early entries under the house-name Curtis Steele, really knew how to spin a yarn. Jimmy Christopher and his supporting cast are very likable, and the action seldom lets up for more than a page or two. I’ve read enough of the later ones to know that in some ways they get even better as they go along. I’m going to continue reading the series in order, including the ones I first read in paperback reprints decades ago, and I fully expect to continue having a great time. Operator 5 is one of my all time favorite pulp hero series.

A Middle of the Night Music Post: A Shot in the Dark - Jimmy Haskell

I used to have the CD this is from and played it a lot while I was writing.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Now Available: Death in Dark Places

Six full length detective novels with a mix of longtime bestselling mystery authors and some new to the genre.

This set includes James Reasoner’s legendary debut novel TEXAS WIND. Originally published in 1980, TEXAS WIND has been acclaimed as one of the finest private eye novels ever written.

DEVIL IN A CAGE is a classic private eye novel by renowned action/adventure author W.L. Fieldhouse. Featuring a compelling protagonist in John Weller, a complex plot, sheer storytelling energy, insightful social commentary, and a vivid portrait of Las Vegas that could only be provided by an insider like Fieldhouse. A powerful novel of crime and detection.

Multi award winning novel WILD NIGHT is a historical detective novel. In the 1920's Lucas Hallam was something of a legend: a Texas Ranger turned Pinkerton agent turned Hollywood P.I. And when the occasion arose, Hallam mounted up again and rode with Tom Mix, William S. Hart, and the other famous movie cowboys of the silent era. He didn't think of his past often, and it was the furthest thing from his mind when he went into Chuckwalla, California, hoping to turn the ghost town into a movie set . . . even when the two men started shooting at him.

SOME DIE HARD is legendary mystery and thriller author Stephen Mertz's first novel, originally published in paperback nearly forty years ago and long out of print. Part hardboiled private eye yarn, part classic novel of detection (with a locked-room mystery unlike any other), SOME DIE HARD is pure entertainment.

In TRIPL3 CROSS, veteran author John Hegenberger spins a yarn that is both an exciting thriller and a compelling piece of "noirstalgia", expertly recreating a sense of late-Eighties paranoia and double-dealing and painting a vivid picture of Washington and Cuba during that era, as well as saving a shocking twist for the very end.

Acclaimed, bestselling historical novelist James J. Griffin makes a stunning debut as an author of contemporary thrillers with MURDER AMONG THE CLOUDS. Fast-paced, populated with compelling, intriguing characters, and filled with fascinating police procedure and breathtaking suspense.

A Middle of the Night Music Post: Will You Be Staying After Sunday? - Peppermint Rainbow

Yeah, they look a little silly all these years later, but I still like the song and miss those days.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Ten Detective Aces, January 1940

What a great bizarre cover by Norman Saunders on this issue of TEN DETECTIVE ACES. I wonder if the story by G.T. Fleming-Roberts lives up to it. He was a pretty good writer most of the time. Other good writers in this issue are Lawrence Treat and John A. Saxon, plus a number of other authors I haven't heard of.