Blog: Writing about all things pulplish

TMM #9: Death’s Dart

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, August 11, 2017 in Pulp, The Shadow
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

TMM #9: Death’s Dart
A series of puzzlers starring a classic pulp figure

A series of puzzlers starring a classic pulp figure

Yes, it’s time for another Shadow Two-Minute Mystery. It will take about two minutes to read. The Shadow will solve the case, but you won’t be told exactly how. You are challenged to solve the mystery yourself; all the clews are there. (Yes, I spelled it “clews”)

This mini-mystery originally appeared on my “Shadow in Review” website between 2003 and 2008.

This mystery is based upon the original 1930s pulp character, The Shadow. He had no supernatural abilities; he was simply a man; a top physical and intellectual specimen. He haunted the dark streets of Manhattan in a black cloak and black slouch hat which rendered him “virtually” invisible, allowing him to blend into the shadows. He was a crime fighter of the highest rank. And it is upon this pulp character that this solve-it-yourself mystery is based.

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The Spider #63: ‘The Withering Death’

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, August 4, 2017 in Pulp, The Spider
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The Spider #63: ‘The Withering Death’
The pulp cover in lurid, pulpy red!

The pulp cover in lurid, pulpy red!

“The Withering Death” was originally published in the December 1938 issue of The Spider Magazine. The dry, ghastly severed hand brought its grisly warning to New York. Its citizens must pay the extortioner’s price or die, their living bodies slowly, agonizingly transformed into rigid mummies! The police were helpless, and only Richard Wentworth, in The Spider‘s weird garb, could wage battle — against the master murder-chemist who killed to corral a fortune!

A very enjoyable romp with The Spider. As usual, the action is pretty much non-stop. The plot is typically over-the-top, very typical of the “weird menace” type of story. I’ve always compared The Spider with The Shadow as follows: The Shadow is based in reality, for the most part; The Spider is based on fantasy. Think of The Spider as The Shadow on steroids. Yes, there are plot holes. And yes, there are some loose threads at the end. But the story moves so quickly that you hopefully won’t notice them too much.

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Perry Mason novels: #43 and #44

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, July 28, 2017 in Old TV Shows, Perry Mason, Pulp
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Perry Mason novels: #43 and #44
A young Erle Stanley Gardner and his first wife, Natalie Talbert.

A young Erle Stanley Gardner and his first wife, Natalie Talbert.

Erle Stanley Gardner was a pulp writer. He started as a lawyer in 1911, but by 1921 the lure of writing won out. And after 12 years of prolific writing for pulps like Black Mask, Argosy, Dime Detective and others — many others — he had his first Perry Mason novel published in 1933. A grand total of 86 Perry Mason mysteries were published on a pretty regular basis right up until his death in 1970 and two of them posthumously. Mystery lovers couldn’t get enough of them.

In 1954 he had three Perry Mason novels published. Now that’s writing! You’d think that if he was writing that fast, that the stories would suffer. Surprisingly, not. In today’s blog entry, I’m going to review the first two of those three stories, and you’ll find they each are inventive and most satisfying for any mystery fan.

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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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