Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Double Detective, March 1939

We've got a gun-totin' clown and a monkey in this Rudolph Belarski cover from DOUBLE DETECTIVE, which means, of course, that I like it. It would be even better if the monkey had a knife, but that's just me, I guess. This issue also has a great line-up of authors inside: Richard Sale, D.L. Champion, Philip Ketchum, Donald Barr Chidsey, John H. Knox, Edwin Truett Long, Wyatt Blassingame, and G.T. Fleming-Roberts. That's some high-powered stuff.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Speed Western, June 1944

That poor horse! This cover from SPEED WESTERN reminds me of the movie stunt called a Running W that resulted in the deaths of many horses during the B-Western era. And the girl looks like she's about to get pretty shaken up, too. But inside are stories from some top-notch pulpsters, including Laurence Donovan (once as himself and once as Larry Dunn), James P. Olsen (once as himself and once as James A. Lawson), H.A. DeRosso, and house-names Walter Cook (probably also Donovan, since the story under the Cook name in the magazine has Donovan's name on it on the cover) and Stan Warner, who may well have been Donovan, too, or possibly Olsen.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Forgotten Books: Tough As Nails: The Complete Cases of Donohue - Frederick Nebel

I first encountered Frederick Nebel’s work in the iconic 1965 anthology THE HARDBOILED DICKS, which made me a fan of hardboiled pulp crime fiction ever since. Editor Ron Goulart included one of Nebel’s Kennedy and MacBride stories, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. But then for years after that, I didn’t read much by Nebel since there just wasn’t a lot available. Half a dozen of his stories were collected in the paperback SIX DEADLY DAMES, but I never came across a copy of it.

That’s changed a great deal in recent years as dozens of Nebel’s stories have been reprinted by various presses that specialize in pulp fiction. He was a very prolific writer, turning out Northerns, aviation yarns, and straight adventure stories in addition to his mysteries. His first big success with a series character came with the hardboiled private eye Donohue, who appeared in fifteen stories in BLACK MASK from 1930 to 1935. All of these stories have been reprinted in TOUGH AS NAILS: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION OF DONOHUE STORIES. And what a wonderful collection it is. I’ve been reading these stories between other books for a while now and finally finished them.

"Rough Justice" (November 1930) is the first Donahue story, but it finds him in St. Louis on the trail of a fugitive, instead of his usual bailiwick of New York.

The next three stories are linked novellas that form a short novel of sorts: "The Red-Hots" (December 1930), "Gun Thunder" (January 1931), and "Get a Load of This" (February 1931) find Donahue solving several murders and scrapping with a wide variety of characters, including a couple of beautiful women, as everybody tries to get their hands on a diamond worth $90,000 that was stolen in Europe and smuggled into the States.

“Spare the Rod”, from August 1931, finds Donahue back in St. Louis, hired by a crusading lawyer to recover evidence incriminating some local gangsters, but of course, things don’t go exactly like Donohue expects them to.

In “Pearls Are Tears” (September 1931), Donahue is hired to be the go-between in the recovery of a valuable stolen necklace, but as anybody who’s ever read any private eye fiction knows, such exchanges never go off as they’re supposed to. In this one, a cop winds up dead, and Donahue has to track down the killer.

“Death’s Not Enough”, from October 1931, opens with Donahue relaxing at home. You know that’s not going to last. Sure enough, a guy with two slugs in his belly shows up on Donahue’s doorstep and promptly dies. Recognizing the victim as a crusading newspaper columnist, Donahue figures finding his killer will be good publicity, so off he goes on a wild chase that features several blazing gun battles.

The next three stories are connected, and the sequence forms another short novel. Donahue actually has a date in “Shake-Up” (August 1932), but as it turns out, there’s nothing romantic about it, the shady lady in question is actually a witness in a case Donahue’s working on. And when she gets murdered (no surprise there), of course Donahue sets out to find the killer, even if the search makes him some dangerous enemies. “He Could Take It” (September 1932) is a direct sequel, starting just a few hours after the previous story ended. Even though Donohue solved the murder, the case isn’t over, as several new angles crop up. Also in this story, we learn that Donohue’s actual first name is Ben, even though all his friends call him Donny. “The Red Web” (October 1932) is set three weeks later and wraps things up as a danger from the past comes back to threaten a young woman Donohue has met in the previous story.

In “Red Pavement” (December 1932), Donohue feels unusually generous and picks up a drunk out of the gutter to help him get home. Naturally, there’s a lot more to it than Donohue expects, and almost before he knows it, he’s dodging bullets and setting out to do a job given to him by a dying man.

The next three stories, “Save Your Tears” (June 1933), “Song and Dance” (July 1933), and “Champions Also Die” (August 1933) form a short novel in which Donohue gets involved with the boxing racket. He solves the murder of a fight promotor, saves a champion boxer from the wiles of a femme fatale, and tackles the murder of another champion and a boxing manager.

The final Donohue story, “Ghost of a Chance” (March 1935), is also the longest in the series, almost a short novel by itself. Donohue is approached by a potential client about a simple messenger job—somebody is supposed to pick up and deliver some money—but then a hotel house detective gets murdered, the potential client disappears, and things get complicated. The plot in this one is very good, but the story is weakened by the fact that it’s obviously a rewritten story that originally featured Nebel’s other series private eye, Cardigan, whose adventures appeared in DIME DETECTIVE. I’m not sure why the original version was rejected—like I said, it’s a pretty good story—but Nebel didn’t do a great job of rewriting it and it just feels a little off as a Donohue yarn.

That said, the little glitch at the end doesn’t keep TOUGH AS NAILS from being a superb collection. Nebel was just a fantastic writer and everything I’ve read by him has been tough and fast and very involving for the reader. This is the type of hardboiled private eye fiction I grew up reading and loving, and I’m glad I didn’t dig deeply into Nebel’s output until now, because I still have plenty by him to read. TOUGH AS NAILS is easily one of the best books I’ve read so far this year, and I give it my highest recommendation. (Below are the covers of some of the BLACK MASK issues where these stories were published originally.)

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: A. Merritt's Fantasy Magazine

This is another science fiction and fantasy reprint magazine like FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES and FANTASTIC NOVELS, but A. MERRITT'S FANTASY MAGAZINE lasted only a handful of issues. It published some good authors while it lasted, though. This issue featured two stories originally published in ARGOSY in 1939 and 1940, "The Ninth Life" by Jack Mann and "The Little Doll Died" by Theodore Roscoe. I've never read any of Jack Mann's work (I believe his real name was E. Charles Vivian), but everything I've read by Theodore Roscoe has been excellent. And this cover is by the always top-notch Norman Saunders.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Western Action, March 1957

For some reason, I've always liked the scene in Western movies where the hero goes diving across the screen with a gun in each fist, blasting away. Here we have the pulp cover equivalent of that scene, and not surprisingly, I like it, too. Gordon D. Shirreffs is the top author in this issue of WESTERN ACTION, but there are also stories by Lon Willliams, A.A. Baker (never read his work, that I recall, but he was prolific), E.E. Clement (who was actually editor Robert W. Lowndes), and someone named Warner Austin, who I never heard of. By 1957, WESTERN ACTION was one of the few Western pulps left. I would have read it. (I was around then, but I hadn't learned to read yet.)

Friday, September 20, 2019

Forgotten Books: Stampede - Yukon Miles (Dan Cushman)

A little background is in order on this one before I talk about the book itself. I generally pick up any vintage Gold Medals I don’t have when I run across them and the price isn’t too high. So when I found this one in a used bookstore for three bucks, I didn’t hesitate to buy it even though I’d never heard of the author. At the very least, it has a nice A. Leslie Ross cover.

Then, a while after I’d bought it, I got to looking at it and read that back cover copy: “A novel of the daring men who grow only in the Great Northwest, by Yukon Miles, an author who lives there himself.”

My first thought was there was no way the author’s name was really “Yukon Miles”. That just screamed pseudonym to me. Something about the combination of the title, the name, the cover, and the 1951 publication date made me think, “Hmm, that’s about the time Dan Cushman started selling novels to Gold Medal, and Cushman wrote a lot of Northerns for the Fiction House pulps . . . and I know he expanded at least one of his Armless O’Neil novellas for JUNGLE STORIES into a novel for Gold Medal . . . I wonder if STAMPEDE could be an expansion of one of his Northerns!”

A little Internet research led me to a site claiming that “Yukon Miles” was indeed Dan Cushman, but there was no information about the genesis of this particular novel (which seemed to be the only one ever published under that by-line). There was only one site making that Miles/Cushman connection that I could find, however, so I wasn’t completely convinced. So I took the next logical step.

I read the book.

Which is what I should have done in the first place, because all the answers fell into my lap on the very first page. As soon as I read about how three drifting cowboys—Jonathan Calhoun Colter, better known as Johnny Colt; Big Bill Spooner; and José Julio Santiago Perez Garcia y Bolivar Murphy, called Josie—rode into the cowtown of Maverly, I knew beyond a doubt that Yukon Miles was really Dan Cushman, as well as where this particular novel came from.

I should back up a little more. Dan Cushman was a prolific contributor to the Fiction House pulps in the Forties and early Fifties, a star writer for LARIAT STORY, NORTHWEST ROMANCES, FRONTIER STORIES, ACTION STORIES, and JUNGLE STORIES. As the Fifties went on, he became a very successful novelist for Gold Medal, Dell, and Ace, turning out mostly adventure yarns set in Africa or the Far East, as well as the occasional Western. He wrote STAY AWAY, JOE, a hardback mainstream novel about life on the Indian reservations in Montana that netted him a movie sale (with Elvis Presley in the title role) and the enmity of certain political factions in his home state. He produced some historical non-fiction and then sort of faded out of the publishing scene for many years, before making a comeback in the Eighties and Nineties with some well-received Western and Northern novels for Walker and Five Star. He died in 2001.

Now that you know that, I can talk some more about STAMPEDE and its origins. That line on the cover “An Original Novel—Not a Reprint”? Well, not really. You see, in 1950 Popular Publications, one of Fiction House’s rivals, hired Cushman to create and write a series of short novels for a new Western pulp called THE PECOS KID WESTERN. The magazine would feature the adventures of a trio of trouble-seeking, gunswift hombres in the Old West: William Calhoun Warren, better known as the Pecos Kid; Big Jim Swing; and Hernandez Pedro Gonzales y Fuente Jesus Maria Flanagan, called Butch.

I trust you see where I’m going with this?

THE PECOS KID WESTERN ran for only five issues before succumbing to poor sales, but decades later all five Pecos Kid novels were reprinted by Leisure Books, two per paperback volume, except for the final one which appeared along with two stories featuring another of Cushman’s series characters, the road agent known as Comanche John. I had read the first four Pecos Kids and knew immediately that STAMPEDE was a rewrite/expansion of one of them, with the names of the three protagonists changed and the story beefed up a little. It took looking at the reprints to determine which pulp novel supplied the source material. Turns out it was “Three for the Deadwood Drive”, from the September 1950 issue of THE PECOS KID WESTERN. It’s not even much of an expansion. A lot of it is word-for-word except for the character names.

Once I’d determined all this, I almost put STAMPEDE aside without finishing it. After all, I’d read the original version, and to be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of those Pecos Kid stories. They weren’t bad, they just didn’t grip me the way I want a pulp yarn to. But it had been more than a decade since I’d read “Three for the Deadwood Drive” (which was reprinted under the shorter title “The Deadwood Drive”), so I thought why not? and stuck with STAMPEDE.

And I’m glad I did. It’s really odd, but I liked this version a lot better. The characters are more appealing, the action is better, and the pace flows along just fine as Johnny Colt and his pards try to help out an old friend by driving nine hundred head of cattle to Deadwood through Indian country. The problem is, those nine hundred head are part of a combined herd and the hard-nosed Texas cattleman who’s heading up the drive is determined to own all of the cows, no matter what brand is on them, by the time the drive is over. It’s a simple story without any plot twists, really, but well told with some excellent gunfights and, yes, a few stampedes along the way.

Since this book came out in 1951, Cushman must have done the rewrite almost as soon as he was finished with the original. I’m not sure why he didn’t start with the first Pecos Kid story unless he just liked this one better. For all I know, he planned to turn all of them into “Yukon Miles” books. Why there’s only one is a mystery. It’s possible that someone at Popular Publications got wind of what he was doing and told him to stop. They owned the copyright on the original version, after all. Or Cushman could have abandoned the idea himself when his other books for Gold Medal (including that Armless O’Neil rewrite) sold extremely well. He may have wanted to devote his energies to them rather than rewriting more Pecos Kids.

Either way, we’re left with STAMPEDE, which is a pretty darned good book. I enjoyed reading it, and I like uncovering a little bit of pulp and paperback history. Seems to me that it was well worth the three bucks. And if you happen to have a copy of STAMPEDE on your shelves and are a Western fan, it’s worth reading, whether you know its history or not.

Which, I guess, you do if you’ve read this far. I hope I didn’t ruin it for you.

(Note: All five of the original Pecos Kid novels are available as inexpensive e-books. NO GOLD ON BOOTHILL contains the fifth Pecos Kid novel plus two Comanche John stories, as mentioned above.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Florida Man - Mike Baron

Mike Baron was one of the top comic book scripters for many years and these days is a very popular, critically acclaimed mystery and horror novelist. His latest book, FLORIDA MAN, is a bit of a departure. There’s crime in it, but it’s not really a crime novel. It’s more a wild, fast-paced comedy that manages to be dark, profane (it even says so right on the cover), very well-written, and very funny.

The title character is Gary Duba, a perpetually down on his luck Florida redneck who lives up to all the stereotypes, right down to the trailer house in which he lives (held down by giant chains called House Suspenders by Gary, who believes he’s invented the perfect hurricane protection system). Needing money to bail out his girlfriend, who’s gotten arrested for fighting with a Waffle House manager, he sets out to sell one of his prized baseball cards, and when that doesn’t work, he takes on some work for a sleazy attorney that makes him an unofficial private detective. (This isn’t a private eye novel, either.)

Of course things go wrong, and Gary runs into a multitude of characters who are just as colorful and eccentric as he is, and wild adventures pile up . . . until the plot takes an abrupt turn that would seem to indicate Gary’s luck has finally changed for the better. Some things never change, though, including Gary’s devil-may-care approach to life.

FLORIDA MAN is filled with sex, drugs, violence, politically incorrect humor, and gators. The best way to describe it is this: FLORIDA MAN is a hoot. I had a great time reading it and give it a high recommendation.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Overlooked TV Movies: Goodnight for Justice - The Measure of a Man (2012)

THE MEASURE OF A MAN is the second of three movies Luke Perry made for the Hallmark Channel in which he played a character he created, frontier judge John William Goodnight. In this one, Goodnight arrives in a small Wyoming settlement to hear some cases, and while he's there he not only meets an old flame of his, he's also on hand when a gang of outlaws that's been plaguing the area shows up to rob the bank. A shootout occurs, leaving one of the outlaws dead in the street and another captured. The prisoner, a young man, insists that the gang leader will come back to rescue him. Instead, we get a not too surprising plot twist that finds Goodnight setting out to hunt down the desperadoes.

This movie has many of the same drawbacks as the first one, GOODNIGHT FOR JUSTICE, such as the overall cheap look of it and that drab Canadian Western town that never looks authentic to me. However, I liked it better because the script is more tightly focused, rather than wandering around all over the place like the first one, and there are some decent lines here and there. Perry again gives a solid performance and seems to be enjoying himself, and there's some effective scenery chewing by an actor named Teach Grant as a despicable villain. One oddity is that the Goodnight character seems to have lost his touch when it comes to handling a gun. He was a crack shot in the first one but can't seem to hit much of anything this time around.

These movies aren't going to make anybody a Western fan who isn't one already, but there are enough nice moments that I enjoy them. I thought the ending of this one worked well, and I'm sure it won't be long before we watch the third and final film in the series.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Fantastic Novels, September 1948

FANTASTIC NOVELS was another reprint pulp that brought back stories from the very early days of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. This issue features A. Merritt's novel THE CONQUEST OF THE MOON POOL, originally published in ALL-STORY WEEKLY in 1919 as a six-part serial. I don't know if this version is abridged, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was. THE CONQUEST OF THE MOON POOL is the sequel to Merritt's novella "The Moon Pool", and I believe both stories were combined to form the novel THE MOON POOL. I seem to recall reading that Merritt did a lot of revising to his original stories when they were combined and/or expanded in later versions, but I'm far from an expert on Merritt and his work. He's one of those authors I've enjoyed, but I haven't read much by him and always intend to read more. I own most of his work in one edition or another. What I do know is that I like this cover by an artist usually billed simply as Lawrence, real name Lawrence Sterne Stevens. I mean, a good-looking blonde with a raygun and a bunch of spear-toting humanoid frogs . . . what's not to like?

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Giant Western, August 1950

That's a nice cover by George Rozen on this issue of GIANT WESTERN, and some pretty good authors inside, too. Jim Mayo was Louis L'Amour, of course, and a few years later he expanded his novella "Showdown on the Hogback" into the novel SHOWDOWN AT YELLOW BUTTE. Then there's W.C. Tuttle, one of my favorites, with a story featuring his character Cultus Collins (I haven't read any of this series). Also on hand are Leslie Scott, another favorite, writing under his pseudonym A. Leslie, old-timer Charles Alden Seltzer, Arch Whitehouse, better known for his aviation stories, and house-name Charles Alan Gregory.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Forgotten Books: The Case of the Glamorous Ghost - Erle Stanley Gardner

Most of the Perry Mason novels by Erle Stanley Gardner have been reprinted numerous times, some by several different publishers, and there are many, many cover variations. However, for me the most iconic editions are the ones published by Pocket Books during the late Fifties and early Sixties in the short paperback format, often with covers by Robert McGinnis. Those and the cheap hardback reprints from the Forties published by Triangle Books were my introduction to Perry Mason.

THE CASE OF THE GLAMOROUS GHOST, published in hardcover by William Morrow in 1955 and reprinted by Pocket as part of its Cardinal line in 1957, doesn’t have a McGinnis cover, but the one on this edition by Charles Binger isn’t bad. (That’s my copy in the scan.) It’s also, mostly, a very good novel.

It opens with Della Street, Mason’s secretary, handing him a newspaper containing a story about a beautiful young woman who caused havoc in the local lover’s lane by appearing almost nude, in some sort of diaphonous get-up, and distracting the couples parked there from their necking. I’m not sure how ghostly that is, but we can allow Gardner that stretch for the sake of a good title. Not surprisingly, Mason winds up representing the young woman, who claims she has amnesia when she’s picked up by the cops for disturbing the peace.

In no time at all, of course, the case becomes a lot more complicated, involving a hurry-up marriage in Yuma, Arizona (or was there actually a marriage?), jealous girlfriends, the international jewel trade, and a dead body found in the vicinity of the same lover’s lane where the beautiful “ghost” was cavorting. Mason’s memory-impaired client quickly goes from being charged with disturbing the peace to being on trial for murder. In fact, the entire second half of the book is taken up with the trial, in courtroom scene after courtroom scene, which is a good thing because nobody ever did a better job of writing those than Erle Stanley Gardner. They really kept me turning the pages.

My only real quibble is that while I’m used to complicated plots in a Gardner novel, this one becomes ludicrously so with a lot of elements hauled in late from left field. It all makes sense, but Mason seems to pull a lot of the solution out of thin air.

However, I realized a long time ago that the actual appeal of the Perry Mason novels doesn’t lie in the plots, although some of them are more interesting and well-constructed than others. What I really enjoy about this series is the friendship and banter between Perry, Della, and Paul Drake, and seeing Hamilton Burger get his courtroom comeuppance yet again. Burger is in fine form in this one. He accuses Mason of being on a fishing expedition, blusters about his grandstanding, and at one point even says, “Your Honor, counsel is trying to turn this court room into a carnival sideshow!” Classic stuff that puts a grin on my face every time. Some readers might call it formulaic, but it’s exactly what I want from a Perry Mason novel, and THE CASE OF THE GLAMOROUS GHOST does a good job of delivering the goods. I’ve been reading Gardner for more than fifty years now (I actually started with one of his Donald Lam/Bertha Cool books) and don’t intend to stop any time soon.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Famous Fantastic Mysteries, October 1941

FAMOUS FANTASTIC MYSTERIES was primarily a reprint pulp, bringing back science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories originally written and published before such genres truly existed as we know them now. I seem to recall reading that some of the reprinted novels were abridged, but I don't know that for a fact. FFM was also noted for its good covers, many of them by Virgil Finlay including this one. As you can see, the lead stories in this issue are "The Colour Out of Space" by H.P. Lovecraft and "Palos of the Dog Star Pack" by J.U. Giesy, neither of which I've ever read. There's also a short story by L. Patrick Greene, better known as the author of the African adventure series featuring a character called The Major, and a poem, apparently original in this issue, by Robert W. Lowndes. I really ought to read more of this stuff.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Best Western Novels, January 1949

I think the expression on that girl's face may be more dangerous than the six-shooter in the cowboy's hand. This is another great cover from Norman Saunders. There are only three stories in this issue of BEST WESTERN NOVELS, two from top-notch authors Dean Owen and William Heuman and one from Lee Floren, a writer I've come to appreciate more in recent years even though I still wouldn't call him a favorite. I love novella-length Western yarns, so I'm sure I'd enjoy this issue.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Forgotten Books: Gambling Man - Clifton Adams

Clifton Adams had a short but solid career in the Western pulps, lasting about five years in the late Forties and early Fifties. I assume the reason he stopped writing short fiction is that he became a successful paperback novelist and eventually moved on to more success and Spur awards as a regular author for Doubleday’s Double D Western hardcover line. He was also well-regarded as a hardboiled crime novelist, although not nearly as prolific in that genre.

GAMBLING MAN is one of his early novels, published by Gold Medal in 1955 and never reprinted, as far as I know. Despite the title and the cover, this is actually a coming-of-age novel, and a really superb one, at that. Twelve-year-old Jefferson Blaine lives in the small Texas town of Plainsville, which lives up to its name as far as Jeff is concerned. Once a cattle town, it’s now mostly a supply center for farmers and a pretty boring place. Jeff lives with his aunt and uncle because his mother died giving birth to him and his father left right after he was born.

Then one day Nathan Blaine comes back to town to see his son, and Jeff is surprised to discover his father is a gunman, a gambler, and quite possibly an outlaw. His aunt and uncle don’t like Nate and don’t want Jeff to have anything to do with him, but of course that’s not the way things play out. Then the situation takes yet another turn, and a tragic one, when the local bank is robbed and Nathan Blaine goes on the run again.

This takes up the first half of the book, and it’s absolutely compelling reading, rich in characterization and very well written. Halfway through the book there’s a time jump of five years, to the point when Jeff Blaine is nearly grown and getting a bad reputation himself, just like his father. Then more outlaws show up in town, which has gotten wild again since the railroad arrived, and bring unwelcome news of Jeff’s father, news that threatens to make him finally cross the line and become a real owlhoot himself.

The second half of GAMBLING MAN doesn’t quite live up to the first half, but it’s still very, very good and builds to an exciting, emotional climax. Adams’ writing is hardboiled and top-notch all the way. This is a very solid traditional Western and gets a high recommendation from me.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Stillman's Gun - Peter Brandvold

The arrival of a new novel by Peter Brandvold is always cause for celebration among Western fans, and that’s certainly true where STILLMAN’S GUN is concerned. Sheriff Ben Stillman was the first of many series characters created by Brandvold, who has been chronicling the sheriff’s adventures for twenty years now. In this one, Stillman is on a manhunt that nets him not only a bank robber prisoner but also a small fortune in the loot the robber was carrying. Complicating the situation is the fact that the outlaw is an old acquaintance of Stillman’s.

Given these circumstances, a lesser man might be tempted to keep the money and let the robber go, but Stillman is determined to bring both back to civilization, despite the danger of transporting that much money through wild country where plenty of hardcases will want to get their hands on it. Then there’s another twist involving a beautiful woman and the vengeful cattle baron who’s pursuing her. As usual, Stillman has his hands full with trouble from all sides.

Nobody in the business writes better action scenes than Brandvold, and he’s a master of setting and character as well. If you’re a Western fan and haven’t read his work, you really need to. If you’re a long-time reader like me, you’ll want to grab this one up. STILLMAN’S GUN gets a high recommendation from me.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Coming From Stark House: Warped Desires/The Strangest Sin - Kay Addams (Orrie Hitt)


It has to be this way every weekend, Laura said as we lay side by side. How can it be? My father will be home. After he has gone to sleep I can come to you. What if he should catch us? He won't catch us. We'll be smart. He's a sound sleeper but if that doesn't work out we can always take a ride into the country. I sighed and closed my eyes. This was my father's wife. And my lover....


Sharon Doyle felt dirty when she woke up in Jimmy Slade's bed, but that wasn't unusual. She always felt dirty after a night of passion in Jimmy's cheap room... Sharon owns a bar and too often ends up blotto at the end of the evening, letting Jimmy take her back to his place. Her neighbor Carl Evans is a nicer guy, but he won't make a move. Between them is Bert Robinson, the local racketeer who wants Sharon all to himself, no matter what it takes. But Sharon is tired of them. She finds herself more attracted to her bartender, Lucy, who keeps the local guys satisfied in a room upstairs. It's a lit-fuse situation, and all it takes is a single act of violence to set it off.

I wrote the introduction to this double volume from Stark House that will be out later this fall, and I'm proud to have done so. Both novels are top-notch tales from a great storyteller, and I give this collection a very high recommendation.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Gold Seal Detective, April 1936

That's a pretty brutal cover on this issue of GOLD SEAL DETECTIVE, a short-lived pulp that appears to have featured mostly stories about G-Men. The lead novella is part of the Rough 'Em Up Radigan series by "Clark Aiken", who was really Frederick C. Davis, so you know it's got to be pretty good. With five of these novellas running in GOLD SEAL DETECTIVE, I wonder if the series would be a good candidate for reprinting. I don't know about you, but I'd buy THE COMPLETE ADVENTURES OF ROUGH 'EM UP RADIGAN. Norman A. Daniels is also on hand in this issue, twice, in fact, once as himself and once as David A. Norman. James Perley Hughes and Darrell Jordan are the best-known names among the other authors, and they're best remembered for their work in the aviation pulps. But I think this issue would be worth reading just for Davis and Daniels.