Vintage Pulp Nov 18 2016
Long live the King—in Yellow, that is.

The interesting cover above for Five Sinister Characters was painted by Paul Stahr and fronts a Raymond Chandler short story collection that appeared as an edition of Avon Publications' Murder Mystery Monthly series in 1945. The book is composed of Chandler's "Trouble Is My Business,” “Pearls Are a Nuisance,” “I'll Be Waiting,” “The Red Wind,” and “The King in Yellow.” H.P. Lovecraft fans probably know that last title. The King in Yellow is an avatar of one of Lovecraft's terrible gods Hastur, aka The Unspeakable One. Lovecraft in turn lifted it from Robert W. Chambers' 1895 collection of weird stories The King in Yellow, which you see below.

However, Chandler's “The King in Yellow” is unrelated to Lovecraft and Chambers. Chandler's tale is a detective yarn, while Chambers' collection is, well, very weird, and within that weirdness The King in Yellow is a fictional play that drives those who it read it insane, or at least deeply despondent. Midway through Chandler's story a character says, “'The King in Yellow.' I read a book with that title once.” A clear nod to Chambers' work.

But as we said, Chandler's “The King in Yellow” is a crime story. It follows hotel detective Steve Grayce, who evicts jazz trumpetist and lover of yellow clothing King Leopardi for unruly late night conduct. The King later ends up shot to death in a woman's bedroom across town, and Grayce—fired for tossing a famous client—tries to figure out why the murder happened, and to get the woman off the hook in whose bed the King bled out. It's an excellent story, as are the others. But you already know that. It's Chandler.

History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 13
1971—First of the Pentagon Papers Are Published
The New York Times begins publication of the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret U.S. Department of Defense history of the country's political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. The papers reveal that the U.S. had deliberately expanded its war with carpet bombing of Cambodia and Laos, coastal raids on North Vietnam, and Marine Corps attacks, and that four presidential administrations, from Truman to Johnson, had deliberately misled the public regarding their intentions toward Vietnam.
June 12
1978—Son of Sam Goes to Prison
David Berkowitz, the New York City serial killer known as Son of Sam, is sentenced to 365 years in prison for six killings. Berkowitz had acquired his nickname from letters addressed to the NYPD and columnist Jimmy Breslin. He is eventually caught when a chain of events beginning with a parking ticket leads to his car being searched and police discovering ammunition and maps of crime scenes.
June 11
1963—Buddhist Monk Immolates Himself
In South Vietnam, Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc burns himself to death by dousing himself with gasoline and lighting a match. He does it to protest the persecution of Buddhists by Ngô Đình Diệm administration, choosing a busy Saigon intersection for his protest. An image of the monk being consumed by flames as he sits crosslegged on the pavement, shot by Malcolm Browne, wins a Pulitzer Prize and becomes one of the most shocking and recognizable photos ever published.
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