Vintage Pulp Feb 23 2022
How do you fix a malfunctioning operating system? Become an expert trouble shooter.

Al Fray's 1958 novel Come Back for More is fronted by John McDermott art. It's unusual and a bit sinister, and though it doesn't really fit the story, we love it. The novel tells the tale of Swede Anderson, a soft, chubby, civic-minded bank teller in River City who testifies against the bank's robbers and realizes afterward that the cops who encouraged him to testify and told him everything would be fine never cared about him and never had a plan to keep him safe from retribution. After his car is blown to bits with the wrong person inside he escapes town on a box freight, rides the rails, works odd jobs, and generally goes off-grid.

He returns four years later—forty pounds lighter, much tougher, infinitely more cynical, and with a broken nose and scar that change his facial appearance. His name is now Warner McCarthy, and he wants to even the score. He sets into motion a plan to get close to the crooks who robbed the bank and somehow get revenge. He soon learns that they're ensconced in a local trucking firm and operate the local Teamsters union. What follows is a sort of deep cover thriller, with McCarthy being pulled into the center of the corrupt syndicate, and deeper into the their illegal enterprises. Along the way he meets a woman—pro forma—who happens to own a competing trucking company the crooks want put out of business.

This was a pretty good tale. It's like a precursor to the Jack Reacher books in the sense that McCarthy, for all the murderous thugs he deals with, is always in control. Many people die, but the worst he deals with is a hurt hand. Telling you this isn't a spoiler because if you're an experienced reader of crime novels it'll become clear pretty quickly that Fray's plan is to show how much smarter and more determined his hero is than the villains. We were fine with it. The Reacher books prove that some modern readers like a sort of invulnerability. Well, it worked in 1958 too. Not top notch, but worth a read.

Vintage Pulp May 6 2019
Whoops. I guess the safety wasn't on after all.

Above, a fun cover for Al Fray's And Kill Once More, published in 1955, about a lifeguard turned bodyguard who gets involved in murder. The cover art on this is by Saul Levine, who you can see more of here and here


History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 01
1941—NBC Airs First Official TV Commercial
NBC broadcasts the first TV commercial to be sanctioned by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC began licensing commercial television stations in May 1941, granting the first license to NBC. During a Dodgers-Phillies game broadcast July 1, NBC ran its first commercial, from Bulova, who paid $9 to advertise its watches.
1963—Kim Philby Named as Spy
The British Government admits that former high-ranking intelligence diplomat Kim Philby had worked as a Soviet agent. Philby was a member of the spy ring now known as the Cambridge Five, along with Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross. Of the five, Philby is believed to have been most successful in providing classified information to the Soviet Union. He defected to Russia, was feted as a hero and even given his commemorative stamp, before dying in 1988 at the age of seventy-six.
1997—Robert Mitchum Dies
American actor Robert Mitchum dies in his home in Santa Barbara, California. He had starred in films such as Out of the Past, Blood on the Moon, and Night of the Hunter, was called "the soul of film noir," and had a reputation for coolness that would go unmatched until Frank Sinatra arrived on the scene.
June 30
1908—Tunguska Explosion Occurs
Near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai in Russia, a large meteoroid or comet explodes at five to ten kilometers above the Earth's surface with a force of about twenty megatons of TNT. The explosion is a thousand times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic blast, knocks over an estimated 80 million trees and generates a shock wave estimated to have been 5.0 on the Richter scale.
1971—Soviet Cosmonauts Perish
Soviet cosmonauts Vladislav Volkov, Georgi Dobrovolski and Viktor Patsayev, who served as the first crew of the world's first space station Salyut 1, die when their spacecraft Soyuz 11 depressurizes during preparations for re-entry. They are the only humans to die in space (as opposed to the upper atmosphere).
June 29
1914—Rasputin Survives Assassination Attempt
Former prostitute Jina Guseva attempts to assassinate Grigori Rasputin in his home town of Pokrovskoye, Siberia by stabbing him in the abdomen. According to reports, Guseva screamed "I have killed the Antichrist!" But Rasputin survived until being famously poisoned, shot, bludgeoned, and drowned in an icy river two years later.
1967—Jayne Mansfield Dies in Car Accident
American actress and sex symbol Jayne Mansfield dies in an automobile accident in Biloxi, Mississippi, when the car in which she is riding slams underneath the rear of a semi. Rumors that Mansfield were decapitated are technically untrue. In reality, her death certificate states that she suffered an avulsion of the cranium and brain, meaning she lost only the top of her head.
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