Blog: Writing about all things pulplish

The Spider #19: ‘Slaves of the Crime Master’

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, February 17, 2017 in Mail-away premiums, Pulp, The Spider

The Spider #19: ‘Slaves of the Crime Master’
Pulp cover for Slaves of the Crime Master.

Pulp cover for “Slaves of the Crime Master.”

“Slaves of the Crime Master “was originally published in the April 1935 issue of The Spider Magazine. A magically persuasive radio voice lures thousands of young people to crime; a scientific madman deals germicidal death over the nation’s children. Can even The Spider find a way to free humanity from the grip of wholesale destruction being planned for it by the greatest of all Crime Masters?

Here’s a Spider story that really let me down. A great build-up that leads to a confusing and disappointing conclusion. There’s much left unanswered. I’m not talking about minor details, here… I’m talking about major plot points. And the grand finale is so muddled that I’m still not sure who died or who the bad guy was. Yes, I read it a second time. Actually, I think I read it five times, trying to make sense of it. Did author Norvell Page accidentally use the wrong character’s name? If so, I couldn’t figure out who, and in what place. Didn’t the editors even read this thing? Any semi-competent person who reads it will realize the ending makes no sense. And the sad thing is that the previous 95 percent of the story was very good. That made me feel all the more cheated.

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Perry Mason: novels #29 and #30

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, February 10, 2017 in Perry Mason, Pulp

 Erle Stanley Gardner - man of the west

Erle Stanley Gardner – man of the west

Perry Mason was the brain child of author Erle Stanley Gardner. Gardner got his start in the pulps, where he was regularly published in Black Mask among many others. But after 12 years, he produced the first Perry Mason mystery and the rest, as they say, is history. He continued writing for the pulps and eventually the slicks, and he created other series such as the Cool and Lam books and the Doug Selby series. But when I hear the name Erle Stanley Gardner, the first thing that pops into my mind is Perry Mason.

Every month or so, I jot down my thoughts on two of the Perry Mason books. Going in order of publication, we are now up to numbers 29 and 30. We start off with The Case of the Fan Dancer’s Horse from 1947.

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‘Daughter of Don Q’: a serial in 12 chapters

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, February 3, 2017 in Movies, Serials

‘Daughter of Don Q’: a serial in 12 chapters
Poster for The Daughter of Don Q.

Poster for The Daughter of Don Q.

Now this is an interesting serial. The Daughter of Don Q was released in 1946 by Republic Pictures, after the end of WWII. It’s not a western. Not a sci-fi serial. There’s no masked villain. No jungle adventure. It’s the story of a guy who wants to do away with all the heirs to a vast land fortune, so he can inherit land worth millions. The guy is Carlos Manning, an antique store owner, played by LeRoy Mason. Mason was a slick actor who appeared in many “B” movies and serials. He died of a heart attack the following year.

Carlos Manning’s chief lieutenant, a thug named Mel Donovan, is played by our old friend Roy Barcroft. Barcroft is a name well familiar to any Republic serial buff. He played in dozens of Republic features and serials. And although Carlos Manning is the chief baddie, Mel Donovan gets most of the action.

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TMM #3: Laboratory of Evil

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, January 27, 2017 in Pulp, The Shadow, Two-Minute Mystery

TMM #3: Laboratory of Evil
A series of puzzlers starring a classic pulp figure

A series of puzzlers starring a classic pulp figure

This is the third in a rotating series of The Shadow Two-Minute Mysteries. Pit your mind against that of The Shadow. This is the version of The Shadow that appeared in the pulp magazine stories. Harry Vincent is an agent. Burbank is in charge of communications. And there’s no mention of “clouding men’s minds.”

This mini-mystery originally appeared on my old Shadow in Review website. But that was years ago, and I suspect even if you remember it, you may have forgotten the vital clue. For those of you with a memory sharper than mine, you may remember it.

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The Spider #53: ‘The City of Lost Men’

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, January 20, 2017 in Pulp, The Spider

The Spider #53: ‘The City of Lost Men’
Pulp cover for The City of Lost Men.

Pulp cover for “The City of Lost Men.”

“The City of Lost Men” was originally published in the February 1938 issue of The Spider Magazine. Over New York’s police force felt the blight of lunacy, sweeping on like wildfire until it had turned Manhattan into a chill, whimpering madhouse! Richard Wentworth, in The Spider’s strange vestments, took up the fight — to strike blow for blow against the merciless emperor of idiocy who had captured a metropolis by addling its brains!

Here’s another slam-bang Spider adventure that is tons of fun. This time, Richard Wentworth must overcome a strange blight that attacks only policemen. They become incurable lunatics! Yes, it’s another wild and wacky threat that only The Spider can defeat. While not the best Spider novel, this one is packed with plenty of action and weird happenings… plenty of violence… and a hint of sex… that will keep you turning the pages until the very last one.

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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.

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‘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.

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