Vintage Pulp Aug 18 2023
FINGERING THE ACCUSED
*sigh* That was really unpleasant. I don't know why, but I always assumed it was just a euphemism.

This cover for Raymond Chandler's 1960 story collection Fingerman was painted by an uncredited artist, but once again we're thinking it's Sandro Symeoni on the brush. 1958 to 1960 was when he was working extensively with Ace Books, and this illustration is very much in his style, as we've discussed here and here. The book consists of four offerings: the stories “Finger Man,” which was first published in Black Mask in October 1934, “The King in Yellow,” from the March 1938 issue of Dime Detective Magazine, and “Pearls Are a Nuisance,” also from Dime Detective Magazine, coming in April 1939. The last piece is a Chandler essay titled, “The Simple Art of Murder.” A couple of the aforementioned tales also appeared in Five Sinister Characters. All the stories are good, but we talked about “The King in Yellow” in a bit more detail a while back, so if you're interested feel free to check here

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Vintage Pulp Dec 11 2022
SOME TIME TO KILL
On the first day of murder, my true love gave to me...


The 42 days of Roger Torrey's 42 Days for Murder refers to the six weeks that someone needed to be resident in Nevada to qualify for a divorce, which we think is kind of clever title-wise. The story deals with a rich man's wife who runs away to Reno to dissolve her marriage but goes incommunicado after she arrives. The husband hires a detective named Shean Connell to track down his wife so that he can at least talk to her before she ditches him. Finding her is not much of a problem for Connell. Arranging for his client to talk to her is another deal entirely. As the story unfolds, it turns out there's a reason for her reluctance to chat. A very good reason, actually, which Connell figures out only at the cost of considerable mayhem, two deadly shootouts, and a veritable pile of corpses.

The book was originally published in 1938, but this Hillman edition featuring a photo cover came in 1949. Torrey was an experienced writer, having produced stories for the pulp magazine Black Mask, and here he shows a deft hand with a unique idea that we can't even hint at without spoiling the book. Flaws include dialogue that sometimes stretches past the point of usefulness or interest—Torrey could have cut the book by twenty pages easily, if not thirty—but it remains a fun ride tearing around 1930's Reno with Connell, who's not only a shamus but an ace piano player. He's the best part of the novel, though he's unusually cynical about women. Too bad 42 Days for Murder was Torrey's only book. It's not perfect, but it's one to catch if you can.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 2 2018
BATHROOM BREAK
Help... dying... last wish... to see dripping wet naked woman.

The cover art for this 1948 Avon edition of Paul Cain's Fast One kind of looks like a guy's about to drop dead in front of a bathing woman, but actually he's merely been shoved into the bathroom by the story's anti-hero protagonist. It's always interesting which moment an artist (or a publisher directing an artist) will choose for a cover. This is not an important event in the narrative, but the chance to show a woman in the bath was apparently too enticing to pass up.

The backdrop here is prohibition era Los Angeles and the main character Gerry Kells and the femme fatale S (we never learn her first name) are pulled into a maelstrom of trouble when Kells refuses to work for his old crime buddies and in retaliation they frame him for murder. The novel was put together from five stories that appeared in Black Mask magazine, and when it was published Cain—aka Peter Ruric, aka George Sims—was hailed as a giant of hard-boiled fiction on par with Hammett and Chandler. We don't know about that, but Fast One is a good read—bare bones and quick paced and filled with random brutality.

The bio page for Fast One says Cain “has lived as he writes—at high speed and with violence.” It's a phrase that makes you want details but none are provided. We imagine the description is accurate, though, because Cain published this single novel, as well as some screenplays (including for The Black Cat), then vanished into obscurity and eventually died of alcoholism. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 5 2017
OUT OF POCKETS
You're absolutely right! Because corpses don't need money, keys, gum, or any of that stuff. What was I thinking?


First of all, when we see a title like No Pockets in a Shroud and see an angry guy with a crushed piece of paper it seems to us that he's just decided to go back to the drawing board with something, possibly shroud design. Which is how we came up with our silly subhead. But the book isn't about shrouds at all. What happens is a newspaperman's rigid personal ethics compel him to expose corruption in the big city, including bribery in professional baseball, a crooked abortion ring, and a racist group that bears a strong resemblance to the KKK. This truth-telling will cost him of course, but exactly how much is the question.

The book was written by Horace McCoy, who is often called an underrated writer, but once multiple sources use that term, maybe you aren't underrated anymore. He wrote numerous tales for the classic pulp magazine Black Mask, as well as for Detective-Dragnet Magazine, Man Stories, et al, before branching out to author classic novels like Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Generally, No Pockets in a Shroud is considered substandard for McCoy, but it has an interesting point of view. The rather intense cover art is signed “T.V.,” which we take to mean Tony Varady. And the title, incidentally, is just another way of saying: You can't can't take it with you.

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Modern Pulp Apr 24 2009
DJINN TONIC
Graphic novel set in Istanbul serves up exotic cocktail of adventure, romance and mystery.


The image above was painted by Spanish artist Ana Miralles, and is the cover of book 1 in a series of graphic novels called Djinn. Created in 2006 by venerable Belgian writer Jean Dufaux, the Djinn saga tells of Kim Nelson, a young woman who travels to Istanbul seeking clues to her grandmother’s mysterious past. She soon learns that during the waning days of the Ottoman Empire her grandmother was a harem girl, the beautiful favorite of the Black Sultan. As more clues pile up and the mystery deepens, Kim finds herself dealing with shady characters and persistent paramours in bookshops, baths, and bedchambers all over the old city. These sorts of comics always remind us of Black Mask and other vintage mags that sometimes mixed romance with foreign adventure, but if you aren’t familiar with 1930s pulps, think of Djinn as Romancing the Stone crossed with Emmanuelle. We’ve posted some fantastically illustrated interior pages below from our copy of Djinn 1: The Favorite. We recommend this series highly.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
May 28
1937—Chamberlain Becomes Prime Minister
Arthur Neville Chamberlain, who is known today mainly for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938 which conceded the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany and was supposed to appease Adolf Hitler's imperial ambitions, becomes prime minister of Great Britain. At the time Chamberlain is the second oldest man, at age sixty-eight, to ascend to the office. Three years later he would give way to Winston Churchill.
May 27
1930—Chrysler Building Opens
In New York City, after a mere eighteen months of construction, the Chrysler Building opens to the public. At 1,046 feet, 319 meters, it is the tallest building in the world at the time, but more significantly, William Van Alen's design is a landmark in art deco that is celebrated to this day as an example of skyscraper architecture at its most elegant.
1969—Jeffrey Hunter Dies
American actor Jeffrey Hunter dies of a cerebral hemorrhage after falling down a flight of stairs and sustaining a skull fracture, a mishap precipitated by his suffering a stroke seconds earlier. Hunter played many roles, including Jesus in the 1961 film King of Kings, but is perhaps best known for portraying Captain Christopher Pike in the original Star Trek pilot episode "The Cage".
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