Blog: Writing about all things pulplish

Perry Mason: novels #27 and #28

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, January 13, 2017 in Novels, Perry Mason, Pulp

Perry Mason: novels #27 and #28
Rare photo of Erle Stanley Gardner with no glasses... and he's smiling!

Rare photo of Erle Stanley Gardner with no glasses… and he’s smiling!

Erle Stanley Gardner was one of the well-known examples of a pulp writer who graduated to the slicks and the book market. He was a prolific writer who gave up his law practice to write full time. His first pulp magazine story was published in the June 1921 issue of Breezy Stories. He went on to publish 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 the list goes on.

When it came to books, he wrote more than just Perry Mason, although those courtroom murder mysteries were perhaps his most famous. There were Bertha Cool and Donald Lam, Doug Selby, Ed Jenkins, Bob Larkin, Speed Dash, Paul Pry, Lester Leith, and I’m probably forgetting some more. He wrote so much that he started using pen names, to avoid watering down the demand for his work. He wrote the Cool and Lam books under the pen name A.A. Fair, for example. Some of his other pen names were Charles M. Green, Grant Holiday, Carleton Kendrake, Charles J. Kenny, Robert Park, Robert Parr, and Les Tillray.

But, today, I’m focusing on two of his Perry Mason books. I’m reviewing these in publication order, and we are up to #27 and #28 on his list of 85 Perry Maon books.

Read more

Read More

‘King of the Texas Rangers’: a serial in 12 chapters

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, January 6, 2017 in Movies, Serials

‘King of the Texas Rangers’: a serial in 12 chapters
Poster for the serial.

Poster for the serial.

In King of the Texas Rangers you’ve got cowboys and horses, cars, boats, and planes, all set in contemporary times. It’s a “modern” western set in 1941 when war raged in Europe and America was preparing its defenses for the inevitable war looming on the horizon.

Starring in this serial is “Slingin’ Sammy” Baugh, the Washington Redskins legendary quarterback, in his dramatic debut. And his dramatic farewell, at the same time. Yep, he only did one movie, and it was a serial.

As our story opens, “Slingin'” Tom King is a college football quarterback (Okay, we can’t award any points for originality here). Texas Ranger Captain T.J. King, Tom’s father, has some vital information about saboteurs. But they murder him before he can deliver it. Tom leaves college and joins up with the Texas Rangers to avenge the death of his father and finish the job the old man started.

Read more

Read More

Murder Marked Merry Christmas, Part 3

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, December 30, 2016 in Old Time Radio (OTR), The Shadow

And for this week, the final part of a “lost” Shadow mystery. Happy Holidays!

Murder Marked Merry Christmas

(Broadcast Dec. 26, 1948)

A Shadow adventure in 3 parts.

A Shadow adventure in 3 parts.

What has gone before:

Ski instructor Alex Trenton was the first to perish when his anonymous Christmas gift exploded. Lamont Cranston, a guest at the Snow Cap Lodge, vowed to investigate the murder in the absence of the police.

Eliza Grinnell and her husband Louis are also guests. She was having a secret affair with the dead man. Her husband, Louis, is ignorant of the affair… she believes. Nat Welsh, a private detective, has arrived and is also looking into the death. Welsh had been hired by Grinnell to follow his wife.

Lamont Cranston, Margo Lane and Nat Welsh are in the upper hallway, outside Eliza Grinnell’s room, when she is killed by a second mysterious Christmas gift. This time, it contained poison gas. Grinnell is confronted, but protests his innocence in the death of his wife.

Later, Hiram Diggs, the lodge proprietor, is visited by the invisible Shadow, who learns vital clues to the murder. Investigator Welsh tries to make a secret deal with Grinnell, but fails.

Cranston, Margo and Welsh return to his room to discover a new Christmas gift waiting for him — Welsh. And inside, a glass figure of a candle… with a pistol hidden inside, ready to go off! Welsh is furious.

Read more

Read More

Murder Marked Merry Christmas, Part 2

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, December 23, 2016 in Old Time Radio (OTR), The Shadow

And now, part two of a “lost” Shadow radio mystery.

Murder Marked Merry Christmas

(Broadcast Dec. 26, 1948)

A Shadow adventure in 3 parts.

A Shadow adventure in 3 parts.

What has gone before:

Snow Cap Lodge, an idyllic winter resort has suddenly become the scene of murder. Ski instructor Alex Trenton has been killed. The wind-up music box he received as an anonymous Christmas gift had been filled with explosive.

Black smoke still billows from the room as the proprietor of the resort, a crusty old codger named Diggs, pulls up outside in his horse-drawn sleigh. He has brought two new guests from the railway station, Lamont Cranston and Margo Lane. The three run inside to find the dead body of Alex Trenton.

Also present are the portly Mr. Louis Grinnell and his wife Eliza. What the man doesn’t realize is that his wife Eliza was having a secret fling with the recently-deceased Alex Trenton. Or is he as ignorant as he seems?

There is no way for the police to get through the roads packed with ever-deepening snow until morning, but Lamont Cranston steps in to investigate.

Read more

Read More

Murder Marked Merry Christmas, Part 1

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, December 16, 2016 in Old Time Radio (OTR), The Shadow

A Shadow adventure in 3 parts.

A Shadow adventure in 3 parts.

Serialized over the next three weeks we present you with one of the many lost adventures of The Shadow. Between 1937 and 1954 there were over 600 adventures of The Shadow broadcast on radio. Yet, sadly, just over 200 recordings have survived, leaving some 400 “lost” adventures that were heard once, at the time of the original broadcast, and never again. They have been lost to the ravages of time.

Now, after all those years, you can once again thrill to one of the exact same Shadow stories that radio listeners heard over 60 years ago. A story that until now had vanished, unheard by fans.

This Shadow mystery is adapted from one of the old radio scripts for a broadcast which no longer exists in recorded form. You can’t actually sit down and listen to a new adventure of The Shadow as performed for radio audiences. But your mind can still hear the voices of those characters as you read this novelization.

Your mind’s ear can imagine hearing the voice of esteemed radio actor Bret Morrison as he plays the part of The Shadow, and Grace Matthews as she portrays Margo Lane. Hear the wonderfully evocative organ music and The Shadow’s shivery laughter.

Once again, The Shadow will demonstrate that: “The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay. The Shadow knows!”

Read more

Read More

Perry Mason: novels #25 and #26

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, December 9, 2016 in Old TV Shows, Perry Mason, Pulp

Perry Mason: novels #25 and #26
Erle Stanley Gardner - by Ryan Sook

Erle Stanley Gardner, by Ryan Sook

It’s time for two more reviews of Perry Mason. No, not the television series starring Raymond Burr as Perry, but the novels upon which it were based. These mystery novels came from the pen of the old pulp master Erle Stanley Gardner.

Erle Stanley Gardner was born in 1889 and grew up to become a lawyer. He studied law in Indiana and California, passing the bar in 1911. He drifted in and out of the practice of law until he finally left to devote himself to full-time writing in 1933. For the previous 10 years, he had been writing and was being regularly published in pulp magazines such as Black Mask, Argosy, Clues, Dime Detective and Double Detective. But 1933 marked the publication of his first Perry Mason mystery, not for the pulps, but for the hardback book trade. The Perry Mason series became his most famous creation, and he continued writing it until his death in 1970. In all, he wrote 86 Perry Mason murder mysteries.

Read more

Read More

‘The Purple Monster Strikes’: a serial in 15 chapters

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, December 2, 2016 in Movies, Serials

‘The Purple Monster Strikes’: a serial in 15 chapters
 Poster for The Purple Monster Strikes.

Poster for The Purple Monster Strikes.

This week I review one of the classic Republic cliffhangers, and as you read it, you’ll see why it’s a classic. This serial was produced as World War II was ending. America was winning, and this chapter play reflects the prevalent fervor of patriotic bravado. An invasion from Mars? Bring ’em on! We’re licking the Nazis, we can lick Mars!

As our story opens, Dr. Cyrus Layton sits in his observatory, looking through his huge telescope. He sees a strange, purple meteor heading toward earth. Except, it turns out that it’s not really a meteor; it’s a small, one-man spaceship from Mars! And inside is the Purple Monster. Okay, it’s not really a monster; it’s just a guy who acts really mean. And maybe he’s wearing purple. It’s hard to tell in black and white.

The spaceship crash lands near Dr. Layton’s observatory, so naturally, Layton has to investigate. He arrives just as the Purple Monster jumps out of the burning wreck of the spaceship. The alien doesn’t give his name. “My name would mean nothing to you.” Dr. Layton takes the alien Martian back to his observatory. Seems like the logical thing to do when you encounter an alien life form for the first time.

Read more

Read More