Vintage Pulp Jun 10 2023
TAKE THE WRAP
She was bound to have trouble.


1953's Give the Little Corpse a Great Big Hand by George Bagby, aka Aaron Marc Stein, is a murder tale in classic whodunnit style about a burlesque performer named Goldie Gibbs who's debuting a routine at the famed but fictive Limehouse Club in which she's wrapped like a mummy and carried onstage in a golden coffin from which she rises and strips. Unfortunately, Goldie never rises because she's been murdered. On the case is New York City homicide inspector No-First-Name Schmidt.

Schmidt had been a franchise character for Babgy since 1936 and would eventually star in fifty-plus novels, the last in 1983. Here he cycles through various suspects with incisive questioning, and soon finds links between the murder, the local organized crime kingpin, and a spate of jewel robberies that happened the same night, while also learning that a colleague's daughter who sings at the Limehouse Club has some connection to the crime—unwittingly, beyond a doubt, because she's a “sweet kid.”

This and the other Schmidt books are narrated not by the inspector, but by a journalist named George Bagby—yes, same as the author—who publishes the tales in a magazine. From first person point-of-view Bagby gives readers the procedural details of the case, while also admiring his friend's great intelligence. Give the Little Corpse a Great Big Hand is mostly interrogations and speculations. While we've grown to prefer authors who build books a bit more around action, Bagby/Stein's all-brains approach works fine, and for whodunnit fans we'd call this a necessary read.

Moving on to the cover, it was painted by Victor Kalin and it's a nice effort, capturing the doomed Gibbs' shimmery gold mummy wrapping as described in the text, but taking a non-literal approach otherwise. We guess painting a dead woman in a coffin wasn't considered enticing, so Kalin came up with this moment that doesn't occur in the story but mirrors her distress. He made the right decision, and the result is eye-catching, as usual with his work. Check here, here, and here for examples.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
February 24
1920—The Nazi Party Is Founded
The small German Workers' Party, or DAP, which was under the direction of Adolf Hitler, changes its name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Though Hitler adopted the socialist label to attract working class Germans, his party in fact embraced mainly anti-socialist ideas. The group became known in English as the Nazi Party, and within the next fifteen years expanded to become the most powerful force in German politics.
1942—Battle of Los Angeles Takes Place
A object flying over wartime Los Angeles triggers a massive anti-aircraft barrage, ultimately killing 3 civilians. Initially the target of the aerial barrage is thought to be an attacking force from Japan, but it is later suggested to be imaginary and a case of "war nerves", a lost weather balloon, a blimp, a Japanese fire balloon, or even an extraterrestrial craft. The true nature of the object or objects remains unknown to this day, but the event is known as the Battle of Los Angeles.
February 23
1945—Flag Raised on Iwo Jima
Four days after landing on the Japanese-held island of Iwo Jima, American soldiers of the 28th Regiment, 5th Marine Division take Mount Suribachi and raise an American flag. A photograph of the moment shot by Joe Rosenthal becomes one of the most famous images of WWII, and wins him the Pulitzer Prize later that year.
February 22
1987—Andy Warhol Dies
American pop artist Andy Warhol, whose creations have sold for as much as 100 million dollars, dies of cardiac arrhythmia following gallbladder surgery in New York City. Warhol, who already suffered lingering physical problems from a 1968 shooting, requested in his will for all but a tiny fraction of his considerable estate to go toward the creation of a foundation dedicated to the advancement of the visual arts.
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