So far I've read several of the stories in the David Goodis collection, BLACK FRIDAY, but a couple of them really stand out.
"The Case of the Laughing Queen", a novelette that originally appeared under the pseudonym Lance Kermit in the October 1942 issue of the pulp 10 STORY MYSTERY, begins with the death of a man wearing a king's crown whose body is found on a barge towed into New York from the Atlantic. In the ice coating the barge's deck is scratched the dying message, "The queen was smiling." Then a former prizefighter dressed like a priest is found murdered on the steps of Grant's Tomb. The murder weapon is a 500-year-old spear that once belonged to a Spanish conquistador. Put in charge of solving these murders is Ricco Pasquale Maguire, an Italian/Irish millionaire playboy who's also a homicide cop. (Shades of Amos Burke!) Then . . . things get weird.
This story is as crazed and over-the-top as it sounds, and not like anything else by David Goodis that I've ever read. The plot never makes a whole lot of sense, but that doesn't really matter. It's still highly entertaining.
"Caravan to Tarim", although written for a slick (COLLIER'S, October 26, 1943), is very reminiscent of the sort of straight-ahead adventure story that usually appeared in, well, ADVENTURE. Or ARGOSY or BLUE BOOK or one of the other general fiction pulps. The hero is a two-fisted American who works for an Arab merchant bringing caravans of trade goods across desert wastes where Bedouin raiders are always a danger. There are double- and triple-crosses, gun battles, camels, and sand dunes. What else do you need in a story like this? Not much, when it's told in such a smooth, hardboiled style as Goodis employs here.
Working The Trapline — Lift. Run. Shoot.
3 hours ago