I don't think the art is great on this issue of ACE-HIGH WESTERN STORIES, but the scene has a really dynamic feel to it that I like. And since this is a Popular Publications pulp, you know there'll be some good authors inside and some memorable story titles (most of them come up with by the editor, no doubt). The authors in this issue include Ed Earl Repp, Barry Cord (Peter Germano), Gunnison Steele (Bennie Gardner), Jim Kjelgaard (of juvenile dog novel fame; one of my favorite writers when I was a kid), Rolland Lynch, Dabney Otis Collins, Ralph Berard (Victor White), and Jack Bloodhart. As for titles, you've got "Steel Tracks Through Hell", "The Gun-Cub's Turn to Howl", and "That Die-Hard Texan!", among others. I'd read those.
Ed Lacy, whose real name was Leonard Zinberg, was one of the
top hardboiled writers of the Fifties and Sixties. His novel LEAD WITH YOUR
LEFT was published first in hardback in 1957 by Harper and reprinted in
paperback by Pocket Books. It’s being reprinted, along with another Lacy novel
called THE BEST THAT EVER DID IT, in a new double volume from the always
excellent Stark House.
The protagonist/narrator of LEAD WITH YOUR LEFT is Dave Wintino, former boxer
and army vet and, as the book opens, the youngest detective in the NYPD. He
looks even younger than he really is, which leads people to underestimate him,
but despite his relative lack of experience, Dave is a dogged investigator. He
has problems at home, though, with an ambitious wife who doesn’t like him being
a cop and wants him to take a job with her uncle, who runs a freight business.
Dave is part of the team investigating the murder of a retired cop who worked
as a messenger for a brokerage house. The case goes nowhere, and Dave gets
somewhat distracted working on a complaint from an attractive young female
writer who’s being harassed. Then the former partner of the retired cop who was
killed winds up being murdered, too, and Dave is sure that the case is even
bigger than it appears to be. So sure that he starts working on it despite
being ordered to drop it, risking his career, his marriage, and ultimately his
Lacy really keeps things zipping along in this one, which, with its Italian
protagonist (Italian/Jewish, actually) and abundance of police procedure, reminded
me at times of Steve Carella and the 87th Precinct. Dave Wintino has
more domestic drama to deal with, though, than usually crops up in the 87th
Precinct novels. Lacy does a good job of tying all the strands of the plot
together and the solution to the murders is a satisfying one.
LEAD WITH YOUR LEFT is a very good hardboiled novel from an era that
specialized in them. I enjoyed it a great deal and if you’re a fan of the
genre, this new Stark House edition is well worth picking up.
I was too young for the Golden Age of radio drama (although
I’ve heard plenty of great Old Time Radio as an adult), but I was right on time
for the Golden Age of Top 40 radio. I don’t know exactly when FM radio became
popular, mostly in the late Sixties and early Seventies, I think, but in the
late Fifties and early Sixties, we were all about AM radio, baby. That was the
only band on our car radios and the little transistor radios we carried around
in our hip pockets. The sound quality may not have been great, but we listened
to them all the time anyway.
My favorite station was KXOL, 1360 on your radio dial in Fort Worth. There were
two popular Top 40 stations in Fort Worth, the other one being KFJZ, 1270 AM.
You had your KXOL guys, and you had your KFJZ guys. I was a KXOL guy, through
and through. There was also a Top 40 station in Dallas, KLIF, but to be honest,
I didn’t know anybody who listened to it. Maybe their signal didn’t get over
into our part of the country very well.
KXOL had some history to it. George Carlin and Jack Burns worked there as DJs.
Bob Schieffer was part of the news department. A couple of national number one
hit songs, “Hey Baby” by Bruce Channel and “Hey, Paula” by Paul & Paula,
were recorded at a nearby sound studio and had their debuts on KXOL. Paul &
Paul were actually named Ray Hildebrand and Jill Jackson and became Christian
music artists later on. I saw them perform live at the church I attended, and
I’m pretty sure they still sang “Hey, Paula”.
I didn’t always get to listen to what I wanted, though. My dad was a TV
repairman, and sometimes I’d go with him when he made his service calls. He
listened to a country music station, KBOX (I don’t recall the frequency), and
of course the announcers pronounced it just as you’d expect, kaybox, except
when doing official station IDs. I didn’t really mind, though. I’ve always been
able to listen to just about any kind of music.
During the summers, I spent a lot of time at my aunt’s house in Blanket, Texas,
and while I was there I listened to KBWD out of Brownwood. It still exists, but
it’s a country station now instead of Top 40 like it was in those days. I
remember sitting on the porch of her house with a transistor playing “Light My
Fire” or “If You’re Going to San Francisco” while I was reading paperbacks or
going through my aunt’s old copies of THE SATURDAY EVENING POST and reading all
Another summer, I pretty much lived at my sister’s house, and that was the year
I started listening to “Music ‘Til Dawn”, the all-night Easy Listening/Adult
Contemporary program I did a blog post about several years ago. Like I said, I
enjoyed many different kinds of music and loved what I heard on that program on
KRLD out of Dallas.
One thing I liked to do during that era was to turn down the sound late at
night, press the radio to my ear, and slowly go through the dial, trying to see
how many stations I could hear, and from how far away. When I caught the signal
skip just right at night, I was able to hear St. Louis and Chicago pretty regularly,
and of course XERF came blasting in from across the border in Mexico. It was
all English-language programming, mostly religious, but it didn’t have to abide
by FCC regulations.
Along about the same time, I became a fan of WFAA, a Dallas station that was
Adult Contemporary during the day and talk radio at night. It was a sister
station of WBAP, a country station in Fort Worth, and they had an odd frequency-sharing
arrangement. Part of the day, WFAA was at 570 and WBAP was at 820. Then, after
a certain number of hours, they would switch frequencies. I never knew why they
did this. I’m sure there was some sort of business or regulatory reason. But it
made keeping up with them a little difficult. Eventually, WFAA settled into the
570 frequency, and WBAP took over the 820 frequency permanently, where it still
is, I believe. WFAA radio is long gone. But I was a regular listener,
especially during college, when I seldom missed the late night talk show hosted
by Ed Busch.
Radio lost a lot of its charm once I got older and the FM band dominated the
industry, although I was a fan of KOAI (“the Oasis”), a smooth jazz station
that was in Dallas for a while. And when our daughters were young and I was
driving them to school and various activities during the Nineties, I listened
to a lot of Top 40 again, only it was their
Top 40, not mine. I liked quite a few of the songs, though. These days, we have
satellite radio in the car, and I listen to smooth jazz, New Age, classic rock,
metal, whatever I’m in the mood for at the moment. Music doesn’t play nearly as
big a part in my life as it once did, but still, when the right song comes on
the radio, I turn it up. And now and then . . . if I’m by myself . . . and if I
hear the opening chords of Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World” . . . yeah,
that’s me bellowing out “Jeremiah was a bullfrog!” at the top of his lungs like
an idiot. A happy idiot.
EXCITING MYSTERY lasted only three issues (this is the third and final issue), but it looks pretty darned good. I like this cover, and with stories inside by Norman A. Daniels, Sam Merwin Jr., and some Thrilling Group house-names, I'll bet it was pretty entertaining.
I've seen some goofy covers on SPICY WESTERN STORIES, but this is one of the goofiest. It's eye-catching and I like it, though. Inside are stories by Laurence Donovan, Edwin Truett Long (as Edwin Truett and as Dale Boyd), Allan K. Echols (as T.V. Faulkner, a reprint of "Brother's Keeper", a story from ROMANTIC WESTERN, January 1938, published under Echols' real name), Victor Rousseau (as Paul Hanna, a reprint from ROMANTIC WESTERN, November 1938, of "Woman in Yellow" as by Lew Merrill), William Decatur, and Max Neilson (both house-names). The reprint info comes from the Fictionmags Index, as does the scan, and was provided originally by the legendary Glenn Lord, who knew more about the Spicies than just about anybody else, in addition to all his great work with Robert E. Howard's stories.
Since today is Pearl Harbor Day, it seems appropriate to write about this anthology of alternate history stories that came out in 2001. Its full title is A DATE WHICH WILL LIVE IN INFAMY: AN ANTHOLOGY OF PEARL HARBOR STORIES THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN. I was a regular in Marty Greenberg's anthologies then, since I was writing a couple of novel series for his Tekno-Books, including the World War II series THE LAST GOOD WAR. So I was a natural to be included in this book. For my story, "The East Wind Caper", I brought back Nicholas Lake, a private detective character I'd used one time in a story for MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE many years earlier. In this one, I had him doing business in Honolulu and gave him an assistant/sidekick, a Hawaiian nightclub comic, and played the whole thing pretty much fast and lightweight. I haven't read the story in years, but I recall that one of Lake's cases somehow allowed him to prevent the attack on Pearl Harbor. I hope it holds up, but like I said, it's been a long time since I read it . . . As for the other stories, it's been even longer since I read them, but I remember I thought it was a really good bunch of yarns. You'd expect that with authors such as Ed Gorman, Brendan DuBois, William C. Dietz, Barrett Tillman, and William H. Keith Jr. There are also several essays about Pearl Harbor by Brian M. Thomsen (who edited the book along with Greenberg), William R. Forstchen, Paul M. Thomsen, and Allen Kupfer. If you're interested in alternate history and/or World War II, it's a book well worth hunting up.
I've never read any of the Jim Anthony stories, not the early ones by Victor Rousseau writing under the house-name John Grange, or these later ones by Robert Leslie Bellem and W.T. Ballard where he's more of a standard hardboiled detective. But knowing Bellem and Ballard's work, I'll bet the stories are at least entertaining. The cover of this issue of SUPER-DETECTIVE is certainly eye-catching. There are three short stories in this issue as well, all of them under Trojan Publishing Corporation house-names, so there's no telling who actually wrote them.
See, that's why I don't like to shave. It gives them dern bushwhackers a chance to sneak up on yuh! But I do like this cover painted by Joseph Dreany. 5 WESTERN NOVELS MAGAZINE was mostly a reprint pulp. All five of the lead novelettes in this issue were publishing originally in THRILLING WESTERN and THRILLING RANCH STORIES during the Thirties. But with a line-up of authors like Ray Nafziger, Lee Bond, T.W. Ford, Larry Harris, and whoever wrote the story as Jackson Cole, I wouldn't mind the reprints. There are also three short stories, evidently new, by Noel Loomis, Dupree Poe, and John C. Ropke.