Blog: Writing about all things pulplish

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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TMM #6: The Phantom Killer

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, June 2, 2017 in Pulp, The Shadow, Two-Minute Mystery
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

TMM #6: The Phantom Killer
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. Two minutes? Really. Yeah, well, give-or-take. That’s approximately how much time you’ll invest in reading it. Solving the mystery along with The Shadow may, however, take more than two minutes. Examine the clues; test your sleuthing skills.

This mini-mystery originally appeared on my “Shadow in Review” website a dozen years ago. The one presented here today was one of those. Perhaps you’ll remember it, and remember the solution, as well. And perhaps not…

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.

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The Spider: two origin stories

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, May 26, 2017 in Pulp, The Spider
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

The Spider: two origin stories
 The Spider - bloodthirstiest of the pulp heroes!

The Spider — bloodthirstiest of the pulp heroes!

The Spider was a pulp hero who rivaled The Shadow for popularity in the 1930s and 1940s. If any pulp character could be described as “blood and thunder” this would be the guy. Nearly every adventure was a frenzy of blood and death. And fans of the magazine series had every right to wonder, “how did it all start?” In the first adventure, way back in 1933, The Spider appeared fully formed for the most part, and although hints of his early years were dropped, much was left unspoken.

What was Richard Wentworth‘s first exploit as The Spider? How did he meet his faithful companion Ram Singh? These were probably the two biggest questions, and they were finally answered in 1942 in issues number 104 and 105. Rather than publish a full-length novel to answer these two questions, they appeared in two short stories published in the back of the magazine. Both were written by regular Spider author Norvell W. Page, and helped fill in the gap in The Spider’s back-story.

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Perry Mason novels: #37 and #38

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, May 19, 2017 in Old TV Shows, Perry Mason, Pulp
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Erle Stanley Gardner was a bowhunter.

Erle Stanley Gardner was a bowhunter.

In my chronological reviews of the Perry Mason books, we’re in the 1950s now. Erle Stanley Gardner had two Mason books published that year, and they are both reviewed here. And he was still writing for the pulps and the slicks at this time. He had articles published in Argosy and Collier‘s in 1951… always faithful to his roots.

You’ll remember he got his start way back in 1921 with “The Police in the House” in Breezy Stories magazine. Before long he was being published in Black Mask, Life Magazine, Mystery Magazine, Top Notch, and the list goes on. His first Perry Mason book “The Case of the Velvet Claws,” wasn’t to come along until 1933. So now, we jump forward in time to 1951 and his 37th and 38th Perry Mason murder mysteries.

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TMM #5: Death in the Adirondacks

Posted by at 10:00 am Friday, May 12, 2017 in Pulp, The Shadow, Two-Minute Mystery
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

TMM #5: Death in the Adirondacks
A series of puzzlers starring a classic pulp figure

A series of puzzlers starring a classic pulp figure

This is the fifth in a rotating series of Shadow Two-Minute Mysteries. Pit your mind against that 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.

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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