Saturday, February 29, 2020

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Western Action, June 1940

That's a nice dramatic cover on this issue of WESTERN ACTION. I don't know the artist, but I like his work here. Inside are two stories by Charles N. Heckelmann, one as himself and one under the house-name Mat Rand, a story by house-name Cliff Campbell, and three well-known Western pulpsters, Wayne D. Overholser, Stephen Payne, and C. William Harrison, to go along with lesser-known authors Clem Barton, Dick Robson, and Duane Yarnell. Some of those may be house-names, too, for all I know.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Forgotten Books: Lone Rider From Texas - Peter Dawson (Jonathan Glidden)

(This post originally appeared in different form on May 18, 2005.)

I just finished reading LONE RIDER FROM TEXAS, a Thorndike Large Print collection of seven of Peter Dawson's pulp Western stories:

"Manhunt in Malpais", WESTERN STORY, February 4, 1939
"Lawman of Latigo Wells", COWBOY STORIES, September 1936
"The Boom-Camp Terror", DIME WESTERN, June 1937
"A Renegade Guards the Gold Stage", STAR WESTERN, January 1938
"Bushwhack Heritage", WESTERN STORY, April 2, 1938
"This One Good Eye" (as "Owlhoot Nemesis"), WESTERN STORY, July 30, 1938
"Lone Rider From Texas" (as "Lone Raider From Texas"), WESTERN STORY, March 11, 1939

There are the usual informative story introductions by Jon Tuska. Although it doesn't say so anywhere, this is sort of a theme anthology. Most of the stories deal with outlaws going straight or trying to keep their shady past from catching up with them. All of them are excellent. Peter Dawson (Jonathan Glidden, the brother of Frederick Glidden, who wrote as Luke Short) was one of the best writers in the Western pulps and always kept the purple prose to a minumum, although it sometimes creeps in during the gunfight scenes (not necessarily a bad thing). This is my favorite of the Dawson collections I've read so far. It'll probably turn up eventually as a Leisure paperback, and if it does, it'll be well worth picking up.

(This collection did indeed appear as a Leisure paperback, as you can see from the cover above. It's even still available as an inexpensive e-book from Amazon, if you've never read Peter Dawson's work and would like to check out one of the best Western pulpsters.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Commando: Hunt the Killer - Eric Hebden

Down, down, down screamed the Hurribombers, their pilots letting the bombs go only at the last possible second. Their target was a chateau which sheltered Brigadefuhrer Helmut Groot, the Nazi killer whose very name put shivers down the spine of all who heard it.

And in case the bombs failed, Captain Steve Simpson and a small band of men were playing a desperate game of “Hunt the Killer”. They all hated Groot so much they were praying the bombs would miss so they could settle the score in their own way.

(A friend of mine who's read a lot more of this series than I have recommended issues with art by Gordon C. Livingstone. This is one such issue, and I can see why my friend recommended it. The art is excellent, reminding me at times of John Severin and at others of Neal Adams. And the script by long-time COMMANDO author Eric Hebden is fast-paced and interesting. The edition I read is actually a reprint. This story was published originally in 1968, in the early days of the COMMANDO series, under the title "The Worst Enemy". This is acknowledged inside the book, so the publisher isn't trying to pass it off as a new one. But it was new to me, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.)

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Overlooked Movies: Border River (1954)

BORDER RIVER is another Western movie I somehow missed seeing on TV when I was growing up. The river of the title is the Rio Grande, of course. As the movie opens, a little prologue explains that the river's shifting course has created a no man's land known as Zona Libre (the "free zone") which is ruled by a Mexican military tyrant played by Pedro Armendariz. The time is the last days of the American Civil War.

A Confederate agent played by Joel McCrea arrives in Zona Libre to buy guns, ammunition, and supplies for the Confederacy, using gold stolen from the mint in Denver. The set-up results in double-crosses and intrigue between McCrea's character and the general, as well as a romantic triangle involving the two of them and Yvonne De Carlo, playing the beautiful co-owner of the local saloon. There are some other shady characters on hand, including Alfonso Bedoya, chewing the scenery with his usual entertaining gusto as the general's main henchman. Nobody ever played roles like that better than Bedoya.

McCrea is a likable and solid hero, as always, and De Carlo is pretty good, too. The action scenes are okay but a little lackluster at times. The script is very predictable. But there's quicksand, and as Crider's Law states, any movie is better with quicksand in it. That's true here. BORDER RIVER is a very average Fifties Western, but it passed the time pleasantly enough and I'm glad we watched it.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Private Detective Stories, January 1945

That's a nice cover by Richard Lillis, an artist I'm not familiar with, on this issue of PRIVATE DETECTIVE STORIES. There's so much red and yellow on there I almost feel like I'm looking at a Western pulp cover. This issue is kind of an oddity in that there are no stories by Robert Leslie Bellem. However, the lineup of authors is still a good one: Roger Torrey, Wyatt Blassingame, Howard Wandrei (as Robert A. Garron), Victor Rousseau (as Lew Merrill), and lesser known writers Geoffrey North, Rex Whitechurch, and Donald C. Cameron.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Exciting Western, July 1951

This is a pulp that I own and read recently. The scan is from my copy, and the cover art is by Sam Cherry.

W.C. Tuttle’s series about range detectives Hashknife Hartley and Sleepy Stevens is justifiably more famous and successful than his series about another Mutt-and-Jeff pair of range detectives, Tombstone Jones and Speedy Smith, which ran for more than three dozen novelettes and novellas during the Forties and early Fifties, mostly in EXCITING WESTERN. I’ve always found the Tombstone and Speedy yarns reliably entertaining, though. Unlike Hashknife and Sleepy, Tombstone and Speedy are not, shall we say, the sharpest rowels on the spur. But while they may not be smart, they’re top-notch when it comes to fighting with gun or fist, and they solve plenty of complicated cases with a combination of luck, instinct, and cow country savvy. In “Six-Gun Cyclone”, the novelette in this issue, they’ve been fired by the Cattleman’s Association that usually employs them, but despite that they wind up in the middle of a case involving rustling, brand blotting, and a bank robbery, and of course they win their jobs back by bringing the bad guys to justice after a fast-paced blend of action and broad humor. Some of Tuttle’s stories are better than others, but I don’t think he’s ever let me down and this one is great fun.

Noel Loomis is best remembered these days as a science fiction author, but he wrote a considerable number of Westerns, too. His story in this issue, “Pitchfork Country”, is about a young couple trying to establish a farm in Colorado and clashing with their brutal cattleman neighbor. The history is a little shaky in this one, but it’s well-written and there’s an unusually violent fight at the end.

The novelette “No Peace for a Prodigal” is by Leslie Ernenwein, one of the old pros in the Western genre, and is a reprint from the First July Number, 1945 issue of RANCH ROMANCES. Like a lot of stories from RANCH ROMANCES, there’s not much actual romance in this one but plenty of action. A small rancher gets caught between the two sides in a range war, is framed for a murder, and has to fight his way out of trouble and expose the actual bad guys. This is a good, hardboiled Western action yarn by an author who knew how to keep a story moving along.

The next story, “Belled Cunning”, is by an author I don’t really care for, Harold F. Cruickshank, and is an animal story, with no human characters, and I’m not fond of those, either. So . . . I passed on this one.

“Jerk Line” by Willard Luce is a railroad yarn, and I do like those, so I enjoyed this tale of bank robbers trying to use a train for their getaway. This is a reprint and originally appeared in the January 1946 issue of RIO KID WESTERN.

Samuel Mines is best remembered, if at all, for being the editor of STARTLING STORIES and THRILLING WONDER STORIES for a while, but he also wrote a good number of Western stories, including a few of the Jim Hatfield novels in TEXAS RANGERS. His novelette in this issue, “Run, Sheep, Run”, is also a reprint, originally appearing in the May, 1944 issue of POPULAR WESTERN. It’s a very traditional cattlemen vs. sheepherders yarn, with the protagonist being the government man caught between the two factions, trying to resolve their differences without an all-out range war. The elements may be familiar, but Mines handles them well and the action scenes are very good.

When I started attending the Western Writers of America conventions on the mid-Eighties, Francis L. Fugate was one of the elder statesmen of the organization. He and his wife also wrote a well-regarded book about Erle Stanley Gardner. Unfortunately, his story that wraps up this issue, “Son of a Gun Stew”, about a chuck wagon cook’s encounter with an old enemy, never really caught my interest and I didn’t finish it.

Overall, I’d say this is an average, or maybe even slightly below average, issue of EXCITING WESTERN. The stories by Tuttle, Loomis, Ernenwein, and Mines are good but not outstanding, and the others range from just okay to didn’t-finish level. As always, though, I’m glad I read it.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Forgotten Books: Tears Are For Angels - Paul Connolly (Tom Wicker)

Journalist Tom Wicker, best known for writing about politics, wrote three hardboiled crime novels for Gold Medal in the early to mid-Fifties under the pseudonym Paul Connolly. I didn’t know about this until last year when the great Paperback Warrior blog reviewed the middle one of that trio, TEARS ARE FOR ANGELS.

The protagonist and narrator, Harry London, is like a lot of Gold Medal protagonists: he’s not having a good day. In fact, he’s had a bad couple of years because of a tragedy that took his wife’s life and left him full of hatred and thirsting for vengeance on the man he blames for her death. That incident cost Harry his left arm, too, so he’s left crippled, drunk, nearly broke, and living in a shack on a worthless old farm somewhere in the South.

Then a beautiful young woman shows up, and yep, just like in a lot of other Gold Medal novels, Harry’s life suddenly changes. But since he finds himself caught up in a plan to murder the man who caused all his troubles, it’s up for debate whether that change is actually for the better . . . or if it’s going to cost Harry his life, too.

A typical Gold Medal plot this may be, but Wicker’s prose is so smooth and vivid that it elevates TEARS ARE FOR ANGELS into the top rank of books from that iconic publisher, a worthy companion to the best novels by Harry Whittington, Charles Williams, John D. MacDonald, and Day Keene. The first half of the novel is, frankly, a little slow, but the second half races by, especially the last 40 or 50 pages. Wicker really had me flipping the pages to see what was going to happen, and that’s about the highest compliment I can pay to a book. This is top-notch hardboiled fiction and will soon appear in a reprint edition from Stark House’s excellent Black Gat line. I give this one a high recommendation. If you’re a fan of hardboiled crime fiction, you need to read it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Commando: Ramsey's Raiders - Ferg Handley

They were a motley bunch - two Scotsmen, one Englishman, one Welshman, one Irishman and an Australian. Led by the unconventional Captain James Ramsey, they were known as the Special Raiding Force, and their job was to operate behind enemy lines in North Africa. They wrote their own rules, and their specially armed jeeps packed a real punch.

They were good at their job - very good - and the Germans had every reason to fear Ramsey's Raiders!

When I was a kid, I loved the TV series THE RAT PATROL, as well as the paperback tie-in novels based on it. When I was writing my World War II series years ago, that was a big influence on parts of those novels, as well. As you can see from the description above, this Commando comic, RAMSEY’S RAIDERS, uses a similar premise, and does a great job of it as far as I’m concerned. Written by Ferg Handley, with art by Ian Kennedy, I found it to be a very enjoyable yarn. There are several more Ramsey’s Raiders stories in the Commando series, and I plan to read them all.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Sons of Ringo: The Great Spaghetti Western Heroes - Fred Blosser

I’m not sure which Spaghetti Western was the first one I ever watched, but I think it may have been A PISTOL FOR RINGO, which came out in 1964 and starred “Montgomery Wood”, actually Italian actor Guiliano Gemma. I remember watching it on TV at my sister’s house in 1969 or ’70. But whether that was the first one or not, I’ve seen plenty of ’em since then and nearly always enjoyed them. Sure, they’re not at all realistic, but neither are the American B-Westerns that I love so dearly. The Spaghetti Westerns have different but interesting sensibilities and traditions.

You won’t find a better examination of the genre than Fred Blosser’s new book SONS OF RINGO: THE GREAT SPAGHETTI WESTERN HEROES. Blosser knows these movies very well and probably has seen more of them than anyone else I know, and he writes about them extremely well, discussing the actors, writers, and directors who made them and tracing the evolution of the genre over the years of its popularity. What you get is a very readable volume that’s both informative and entertaining. This book makes me realize there are still a lot of Spaghetti Westerns out there that I haven’t seen yet and really makes me want to watch them. I suspect I’ll be doing so soon. In the meantime, if you’re a fan of these movies, you can’t go wrong with SONS OF RINGO. I give it a high recommendation.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Adventure, November 1, 1928

Gangway! I'm not sure why I like this cover by L.J. Cronin, an artist I'm not familiar with, but I really do. It just seems dynamic to me. And of course, ADVENTURE had some pretty dynamic authors in its pages, too, including in this issue Talbot Mundy, with a story featuring a character named Ben Quorn (also unfamiliar to me), Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, Allan Vaughan Elston, Thomson Burtis, Bill Adams, and Warren Hastings Miller, among others.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Wild West Weekly, November 26, 1938

Waal, this ranny shore has plenty uh problems. Not only is he bein' shot at, he's about to fall off thet durned cliff right behind him, and them buzzards are jist a-circlin', waitin' to feast on his carcass an' peel the meat right off'n his bones!

You think I couldn't have sold to WILD WEST WEEKLY? All week long and twice on Saturday!

But I've wandered off into the weeds here. To get back to business, that cover, which I like a lot, is by the prolific and dependable H.W. Scott. Inside this issue are some prolific and dependable authors, as well: Walker A. Tompkins with an Arizona Thunderbolt story (I'm not familiar with the Arizona Thunderbolt, but what a great name for a Western pulp character), T.W. Ford with a Silver Kid yarn, C. William Harrison (a Devil's Deputy story), Samuel H. Nickels (a Hungry and Rusty story), and non-series stories from Chuck Martin and Dean Owen. No serials! That sounds like a really good issue to me.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Forgotten Books: Rider From Nowhere - Joseph Chadwick

The first novels I read by Joseph Chadwick were Jim Hatfield novels in TEXAS RANGERS and Steve Reese novels in RANGE RIDERS, and I didn’t like any of them very much, didn’t feel like Chadwick had a good grasp on those well-established characters. However, in recent years I’ve read some of his stand-alone novellas in various Western pulps and enjoyed them a lot. So I didn’t hesitate to try RIDER FROM NOWHERE, a 1952 Gold Medal that’s the first stand-alone novel by Chadwick that I’ve read.

It starts out great. Ed Hazzard (good name) is a saddle tramp but once was the ramrod of a big ranch owned by an Eastern syndicate, before a cheating wife led to his downfall. When his horse dies under him and he’s set a-foot, he “borrows” a mount belonging to the great Espada ranch in New Mexico Territory, which is owned by ruthless cattle baron Matthew Kirby. Hazzard really does intend to work off the loan of the horse, but when he’s caught by some of the Espada cowboys, Kirby orders him tied to a wagon wheel and whipped (the aftermath of which you can see in the cover above, scanned from the copy I own and read). That’s Kirby’s beautiful redheaded daughter Flame on the cover, looking aghast at her father’s brutality.

Hazzard vows vengeance on Kirby and everybody else on Espada, of course, and for a while it looks like that’s what this book is going to be about. But then Chadwick cleverly brings in several other plot elements, including competing Spanish land grants, legal wrangling, hired gunslingers, several beautiful women, stampedes, and a prairie fire. Whew! Unlikely alliances are formed, good guys turn bad, bad guys turn good, and Chadwick juggles everything expertly, pacing out the plot twists with action scenes and nicely handled characterization.

There’s nothing ground-breaking in RIDER FROM NOWHERE, but Chadwick does such a good job with the traditional elements that this is a very solid hardboiled Western novel. It’s maybe a little bit leisurely at times (it probably would have been better as a 160 page paperback, rather than a 190 page one), but I still enjoyed it a great deal. I have several more Westerns by Joseph Chadwick on my shelves, as well as some Ace Double mysteries he wrote under the name John Creighton, and I look forward to reading them.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Digest Enthusiast, Book Eleven - Richard Krauss, ed.

Interviews with Janice Law (Madame Selina series AHMM), Paul D. Marks (Bunker Hill series EQMM), and Jeff Vorzimmer (The Best of Manhunt).

Peter Enfantino summarizes 1954's final issues of Manhunt.

Vince Nowell, Jr. grapples with Beyond Infinity.

Richard Krauss spotlights Leo Margulies Giant of the Digests

Steve Carper dissects a Classic error.

Ward Smith quantifies Astounding's formats.

New fiction by John Kuharik, Vince Nowell, Sr., and Joe Wehrle, Jr. with artwork by Rick McCollum, Marc Myers, and Michael Neno.

Reviews of Homicide Hotel from Gary Lovisi, Tough 2, and Paperback Parade No. 104.

Plus nearly 150 digest magazine cover images, News Digest, cartoons by Bob Vojtko, first issue factoids, and more.

Cover by Rick McCollum, 160 pages, published by Larque Press.

The Digest Enthusiast--now in full color!--continues to be one of the very few magazines I read and one of my absolute favorite publications, bar none. This is a spectacular issue, and I haven't even finished going through it yet. Fans of the classic crime digest MANHUNT shouldn't miss this issue, with Peter Infantino's continuing series discussing the stories published there (I don't always agree with Peter's opinions, but they're sure fun to read!) and an interview with Jeff Vorzimmer focusing on his work on the great collection THE BEST FROM MANHUNT, as well as Jeff's other work with Stark House including the Orrie Hitt double for which I wrote the intro. Add in some fine reviews, a great article by editor Richard Krauss about Leo Margulies that brought back a lot of memories for me as both a reader and a writer, and plenty of other features, and there's no doubt that this new issue of The Digest Enthusiast gets a high recommendation from me!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Commando Comics by Brent Towns

(My friend Brent Towns is a bestselling Western and thriller writer from Australia, and recently he's added comic book author to his list of achievements, becoming one of the regular writers on the long-running COMMANDO series of war comics published in England. He has six out so far, with more in the pipeline. I've read all of them in the past couple of months and really enjoyed them. Great action and characterization. I grew up reading OUR ARMY AT WAR, OUR FIGHTING FORCES, and SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS, so I'm really glad to have some top-notch war comics to read again on a regular basis. For a long time it was difficult to get issues of COMMANDO in the States. When my friend David Whitehead, also a fine writer, was scripting them, he sent me some, and you can find used copies of print collections on-line. But the publisher is now making some of them available digitally, and that's the way I've been reading them. If you want to read some excellent action comics, check out the titles by Brent below. While I'm waiting for his next one to come out, I've also picked up e-book editions of several COMMANDO issues by other authors and will be reading them as well.)

Norway fell to a German invasion in 1940, and when they did, the Nazis gained access to a factory that could manufacture a component vital to the creation of nuclear weapons. The SOE and the RAF were in agreement, the factory must be flattened at all costs. There was only one man for the job -- only she wasn't a man. Nancy Peacocke was regarded as one of the best female pilots in Britain. Her precision skill with an aircraft was exactly what the RAF needed to destroy the factory. But before she could drop the bomb, she had to get through the FLAK RUN!

Deep in the thick, muggy jungle, Sergeant Ted Jones and his squad of raiders trudged on. Eaten alive by insects and wet with sweat, they closed in on their target -- a Japanese radio station. The lone radio operator had no idea what had hit him until it was too late. But as they made their escape, a searchlight blinded them and they froze. Ted's cobbers covered their retreat, but one by one they fell, until only one man walked out...

Trapped in the confines of the Selarang Barracks, Sergeant Pete Mellion couldn't be further away from his turbulent past -- that is until his old nemesis, Lieutenant Reg Williams, is assigned the same work detail building the Thai-Burma Railway. Slaving away in the intense heat of the jungle, can these two foes put aside their feud in order to escape? Or will Hellfire Pass consume their very souls?

In 9 CE, over twenty-thousand men of the Roman Legions were on a perilous mission in the heart of Germania to consolidate the Roman Empire. But they didn't count on the betrayal of one of their own... And now the survivors must retrieve their eagle, all amidst the fall of the LEGIONS OF THE DAMNED!

A monster is lurking in the shipping lanes north of Port Darwin -- the size of which no-one has ever imagined. Freighter after freighter sink without a trace and the only ones who can stop the beast have fought their way into a jail cell! The Wombat and The Tiger crews are fierce in a bar fight -- but Captains Griffin and Beaumont must put their differences aside if they are to take on this devil from the Far East.

In mid-1944, Hitler launched his vengeance weapons. These evil V-1 rockets struck at the heart of Britain's cities, killing innocent people in their thousands. But Hitler wasn't going to have it all his way, as his V-1 rockets began being caught in the talons of a squadron known as the Peregrine Falcons -- experts in taking out the buzz bombs. But there was a saboteur in the nest, one that Squadron Leader Henry Abercrombie never saw coming.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Tarzan, Conqueror of Mars - Will Murray

As I’ve mentioned here before, my introduction to the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs was the 1963 Ace paperback reprint of A FIGHTING MAN OF MARS, loaned to me by my sister’s boyfriend. Shortly after that, I bought the Whitman edition of TARZAN OF THE APES, and by the time I was finished with those two, I was a Burroughs fan for life. If I had to choose between his two best-known series, I’d have to say that I prefer the Mars books to the Tarzan novels, but only by a whisker.

So beyond any shadow of a doubt, I am, through and through, the target audience for the new novel by Will Murray, TARZAN, CONQUEROR OF MARS. And just as I would have expected, this crossover between the two series is great.

This is the third of Murray’s novels authorized by the Burroughs estate to feature Tarzan and his first crack at John Carter. He captures both characters just about perfectly, and the sections of the book narrated by John Carter are so good I want to see a solo novel starring the Warlord of Mars. The plot finds Tarzan transported to Mars in the same mysterious fashion that John Carter was in A PRINCESS OF MARS, the first book in that series. The first half of this book is a travelogue of sorts, a staple of early science fiction, as Tarzan encounters first the great white apes of Barsoom (as its inhabitants call Mars) and then the fierce, four-armed green men, while exploring the planet and searching for some way to get back to Earth. Then this storyline intersects one featuring John Carter . . . and things do not go well.

Murray makes great use of the concepts created by Burroughs and adds some of his own, coming up with new threats to menace our heroes and expanding the geography of Barsoom. The real virtues of this novel, however, are the great action scenes and the way Murray so vividly recreates Burroughs’ style and voice. TARZAN, CONQUEROR OF MARS really does read as if ERB himself wrote it. Reading it transported me back to those great days when I was first discovering so many authors who became life-long favorites. Simply put, this is great stuff, and I’m grateful to Will Murray for writing it and Altus Press for publishing it.  

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Thrilling Wonder Stories, Winter 1944

What a great cover by Rudolph Belarski on this issue of THRILLING WONDER STORIES. It's got everything: a space babe, a raygun, guys with knives, and a giant green Medusa. And inside are three stories by Henry Kuttner (one under his own name and one each as by Scott Morgan and Kelvin Kent), as well as yarns by Oscar J. Friend (writing as Ford Smith), Ross Rocklynne, and Robert Arthur. That's good stuff. This issue is available to read on-line at the Internet Archive.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Dime Western, January 1938

This cover has several of the things I love about Western pulp covers: a pretty girl, some action (there's gunsmoke coming from the muzzle of the cowboy's revolver), and great story titles. I want to read "Fugitive From Boothill's Ghost Legion". Better yet, I want to write that story! There are plenty of great authors in this issue of DIME WESTERN: Walt Coburn, Harry F. Olmsted, and Ray Nafziger are three of the top Western pulpsters, and backing them up are old pros Rolland Lynch, John G. Pearsol, and Lloyd Eric Reeve. I don't know the cover artist for sure, but I think it's Tom Lovell.

Also, I wanted to mention that I got curious and looked back to see if I could find when I started this series of posts. I had posted Western pulps covers before, but as far as I can tell, the first one that was called Saturday Morning Western Pulp was on February 5, 2011. I didn't realize I'd been doing it for that long. Since February 5 was last Wednesday, I'm going to count this as the ninth anniversary post. I've missed a weekend here and there, and it's possible I could have inadvertently posted the same cover more than once, but even so I figure I've posted more than 450 Western pulp covers in this series. Maybe I can remember and come up with a special tenth anniversary post next year, if I'm still at it (which I plan to be).

Oh, and the first Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp was June 10, 2012. I plan to mark that occasion, too.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Forgotten Books: Dead Horse - Walter Satterthwait

I first encountered the work of Raoul Whitfield in the great 1967 anthology THE HARDBOILED DICKS, which included one of his Jo Gar stories published in BLACK MASK under the pseudonym Ramon Decolta. I’ve read other stories by Whitfield over the years, as well as his novel GREEN ICE, and enjoyed all of them. I didn’t know about the mysterious suicide—or was it?—of Whitfield’s second wife, beautiful heiress Emily Vanderbilt, until Bill Crider reviewed Walter Satterthwait’s novel about the case, DEAD HORSE, several years ago. Did I say several years? Try a little more than twelve years! Man, time flies, doesn’t it?

But ever since reading Bill’s review, I’ve wanted to read Satterthwait’s novel, and as it turns out, Stark House is going to be reprinting it in the very near future, so you can read it, too. It’s a dandy, as you’d expect from Satterthwait, who’s a consistently fine writer.

Original edition (2006)
Whitfield was one of the most successful of the early hardboiled writers, publishing prolifically in the pulps and enjoying considerable success with his novels. When he married his second wife, Emily Vanderbilt, they moved to a ranch called Dead Horse outside Las Vegas, New Mexico, and lived the high life there as Whitfield’s ability to write, or at least his willingness to write, dried up. That, along with his wandering eye, caused trouble between the couple, and they separated. Then Emily died of what was ruled a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

All that is factual, and presented with Satterthwait’s usual meticulous research. The fiction comes in as he uses flashbacks to fill in the details of the relationship between Whitfield and Emily, and then, following her death, he invents the character of the local sheriff who investigates the case, a man who has a tragedy of his own in the past.

Satterthwait’s prose is as smooth as can be, and his dialogue and characters are vivid and compelling, making DEAD HORSE a great pleasure to read. It flows right along, and if not everything is wrapped up in a neat, pretty bow, well, neither is life. This is a very good book, and the Stark House edition includes the usual fine introduction by Rick Ollerman, who writes about hardboiled fiction and authors as well as anybody around these days. I give DEAD HORSE a high recommendation, and I’m glad Stark House is bringing it back into print.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Spicy Adventure Stories, January 1935

This is an early issue of SPICY ADVENTURE STORIES. I'm not good enough with artists to know if this cover is by Parkhurst or Ward, but it's probably one of them. Robert Leslie Bellem, as you'd expect, has two stories in this issue, one under his real name and one as by Ellery Watson Calder. The other authors seem to be actual people, not house-names, although they're all pulpsters who are little known these days, such as Ben Judson, Tom Kane, Ken Cooper, and C.C. Spruce.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Ace-High Magazine, May 1937

Artist Tom Lovell may have featured this iconic trio on more Western pulp covers than anyone else, and here they are, rushing into battle: the Stalwart Cowboy, the Old Geezer, and the Angry, Gun-Toting Redhead. Actually, the redhead's not toting a gun on this cover, but you just know she either recently was or will be very soon. This issue of ACE-HIGH MAGAZINE (also known as ACE-HIGH WESTERN MAGAZINE at various points in its existence) features the usual stellar lineup of authors: Walt Coburn, Harry F. Olmsted, Gunnison Steele, Art Lawson, John G. Pearsol, Foster-Harris, and Robert E. Mahaffey.