Blog: Writing about all things pulplish

TMM #8: Return of the Gray Ghost

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, July 21, 2017 in Pulp, The Shadow, Two-Minute Mystery
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

TMM #8: Return of the Gray Ghost
A series of puzzlers starring a classic pulp figure

A series of puzzlers starring a classic pulp figure

It’s time for another in my rotating series of The Shadow two-minute mysteries. Or maybe three minutes. Can you solve the mystery along with The Shadow? That may take more than two minutes. Just look at the clews (or “clues,” as it’s spelled these days), and test your sleuthing skills.

This mini-mystery originally appeared on my old Shadow in Review website. Perhaps you’ll remember it, and remember the solution, as well. Perhaps your memory is better than mine…

This mystery is based upon the original pulp character, The Shadow and his aides. Black cloak, slouch hat… you know.

The solution, not necessarily the only solution, but the one the author had in mind, will appear (below) next Friday. That gives you time to mull over the crime.

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‘Lost’ Shadow radio shows — found!

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, July 14, 2017 in Old Time Radio (OTR), Pulp, The Shadow
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

‘Lost’ Shadow radio shows — found!
New CD set of The Shadow!

New CD set of The Shadow!

The Shadow, my favorite pulp hero, first appeared on radio on the CBS weekly Detective Story Magazine. That was 1930, and at that point, he was just the host/announcer, like the 1940s Whistler program. The Shadow appeared in the pulps in 1931 with the first of his 325 magazine stories, “The Living Shadow.” But the radio version of The Shadow that we all remember so well — that of Lamont Cranston and his power to cloud men’s minds so that they could not see him — didn’t appear until fall 1937 when Orson Welles portrayed the crime fighter. And for the next 17 years, The Shadow radio adventures could be heard at 5:30 p.m. Sundays on the Mutual Broadcasting System.

Today we still remember The Shadow, in large part, because of the recordings of those radio shows which have survived. Yet out of over 600 broadcasts between 1937 and 1954, just a little over 200 recordings survived for fans to enjoy today. Sadly, 400-some adventures of The Shadow can’t be heard by listeners. It is a matter of celebration, then, when new recordings are discovered. Well, break out the fireworks, folks. It’s time to celebrate. Eleven new adventures of The Shadow have been uncovered and are available right now!

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The Spider #32: ‘Slaves of the Dragon’

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, July 7, 2017 in Pulp, The Spider
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

The Spider #32: ‘Slaves of the Dragon’
The Spider cover — lurid as always!

The Spider cover — lurid as always!

“Slaves of the Dragon” was originally published in the May 1936 issue of The Spider Magazine. White slavery, the loathsome traffic in women’s bodies, was stripping America of wives, sisters, and sweethearts. Richard Wentworth, valiant champion of human rights, knew that an Oriental master criminal was captaining the slavery syndicate, guessed the unspeakable purpose behind those wholesale abductions. But with Nita van Sloan hopelessly lost, with G-men harrying him relentlessly, can The Spider outwit his most formidable foeman and save America’s doomed womanhood?

Here’s another slam-bang “Yellow Peril” story of The Spider. It has all the things you’ve come to expect in a Spider story. Plenty of fast-paced action. And although written by Norvell Page, the story doesn’t have the quick, and annoying, wrap-up at the end. Yes, it ends quickly, but somehow it seems more complete and doesn’t seem almost arbitrary, as some of Norvell’s Spider stories do. There are still a few loose ends, but not many.

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Perry Mason novels: #41 and #42

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, June 30, 2017 in Old TV Shows, Perry Mason, Pulp
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Perry Mason novels: #41 and #42
Erle Stanley Gardner - I guess he did have a sense of humor.

Erle Stanley Gardner – I guess he did have a sense of humor.

Perry Mason. You remember him from the TV series starrring Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale. Readers will remember that even before that, Perry Mason appeared in a series of mystery novels by Erle Stanley Gardner. A mind-boggling 86 Perry Mason novels, and just about all of them were adapted for the TV series. Before Gardner started writing the Perry Mason series, he wrote for the pulp magazines.

Erle Stanley Gardner wrote for the pulps for a dozen years before he did his first Perry Mason book. He was published in some of pulpdom’s greatest magazines: Black Mask, Top-Notch Magazine, Sunset, Fawcett’s Triple-X, Argosy, Flynn’s Detective Fiction, Clues, Ace High, Dime Detective, Double Detective… and there’s more.

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TMM #7: The Death Token of Kublai Khan

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, June 23, 2017 in Pulp, The Shadow, Two-Minute Mystery
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

TMM #7: The Death Token of Kublai Khan
A series of puzzlers starring a classic pulp figure

A series of puzzlers starring a classic pulp figure

Here is another in this rotating series of The Shadow two-minute mysteries. Okay, so it may take a bit more than two minutes… but it’s close. Read it, then test your sleuthing skills to solve the mystery.

This mini-mystery originally appeared on my Shadow in Review” website. The one presented here today was one of those. Did you read it the first time? Do you remember the solution?

This mystery is based upon the original 1930s pulp character, The Shadow. Not the radio version. No clouding men’s minds, here. Just a black cloak and slouch hat.

The solution, not necessarily the only solution, but the one the author had in mind, will appear (below) next Friday. That gives you time to mull over the crime.

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The Spider #28: ‘The Mayor of Hell’

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, June 16, 2017 in Pulp, The Spider
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

The Spider #28: ‘The Mayor of Hell’
The pulp cover — a bit less lurid, this time.

The pulp cover — a bit less lurid, this time.

“The Mayor of Hell” was originally published in the January 1936 issue of The Spider Magazine. Combined forces of the Mayor of Hell — the crooked Law and the vengeful Underworld — besiege Richard Wentworth, otherwise known as The Spider, nemesis of criminals! Mourned as dead, The Spider must start life anew, without friends or funds or hidden refuge, so that the Mayor of Hell’s bloody-handed henchmen may find their just reward — in death!

This is a respectable Spider outing, but it lacks the “wow” factor that makes The Spider tales so iconic. There are no living mummies… no dissolving humans… no plague of spiders and snakes. It’s just a straightforward story of The Spider battling against one master criminal who called himself “The Mayor of Hell.” As usual, The Spider can trust no one except for his close-knit group of assistants. Everyone is suspect, the Mayor of New York, the governor, the legislature, and, of course, the entire police force. Everyone is corrupt. And maybe that is the “wow” factor in place for this story. If so, it’s not really enough to make it a great story. It ends up being fun to read, but not compelling.

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Perry Mason novels: #39 and #40

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, June 9, 2017 in Perry Mason, Pulp
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Perry Mason novels: #39 and #40
 Erle Stanley Gardner dictating his latest book.

Erle Stanley Gardner dictating his latest book.

Erle Stanley Gardner cut his teeth on the pulps. The lawyer turned writer did plenty of writing for Black Mask, Argosy, Clues, Dime Detective… and the list goes on. All of that experience was put into his Perry Mason series of novels, of which there were eventually 86 courtroom dramas. Hey, with those kinds of number, you just know that the stories must have been good. And they were.

In this week’s blog entry, we’re going to take a look at the 39th and 40th of his Perry Mason mystery novels. Let’s see what twisted set of clues lead him into two more encounters with mystery and death.

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