Vintage Pulp May 9 2024
MOON SHADOW
Gonna wait till the midnight hour, when there's no one else around.


Above you see a cover effort by Gerald Gregg for Helen McCloy's 1945 mystery The Man in the Moonlight. This is from Dell Publications, and you probably recognized it right away as a mapback edition. You see that here too, with its fictive university campus.

The story is a variation of a locked room mystery, however it requires more than the usual helping of suspension of disbelief from readers. Basically, a university psychologist stages an experiment that's, more than anything, a form of live action role playing in which a colleague is to attempt to achieve the circumstances needed to commit a murder. But the psychologist is really testing more than his willing maze rat suspects, which is why in the midst of the experiment the parameters suddenly change in a way designed to induce panic. We won't get into the ethics of that.

It's during this emotional experiment that the murder occurs, and it just happens that police detective Patrick Foyle is on campus when it happens. He's on the case in seconds, but much of the investigation (and narrative) falls to a psychiatrist named Basil Willing. Between cop and headshrinker the culprit will out, as they always do. We didn't really buy any of it, but we did like the fact that the story was set in 1940 and brought in the specter of Nazi involvement. Here's a fun line: Even in the infinitely remote world of the molecule [no-spoiler] ran afoul of Nazi policy. It's always been true—fascists get their noses deep into everything. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 25
1938—Alicante Is Bombed
During the Spanish Civil War, a squadron of Italian bombers sent by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to support the insurgent Spanish Nationalists, bombs the town of Alicante, killing more than three-hundred people. Although less remembered internationally than the infamous Nazi bombing of Guernica the previous year, the death toll in Alicante is similar, if not higher.
1977—Star Wars Opens
George Lucas's sci-fi epic Star Wars premiers in the Unites States to rave reviews and packed movie houses. Produced on a budget of $11 million, the film goes on to earn $460 million in the U.S. and $337 million overseas, while spawning a franchise that would eventually earn billions and make Lucas a Hollywood icon.
May 24
1930—Amy Johnson Flies from England to Australia
English aviatrix Amy Johnson lands in Darwin, Northern Territory, becoming the first woman to fly from England to Australia. She had departed from Croydon on May 5 and flown 11,000 miles to complete the feat. Her storied career ends in January 1941 when, while flying a secret mission for Britain, she either bails out into the Thames estuary and drowns, or is mistakenly shot down by British fighter planes. The facts of her death remain clouded today.
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