Vintage Pulp Jun 20 2023
Yeah, you're right, that was pretty evil of me. But I find that a swift kick in the nuts works better than plain old no.

In detective yarns the MacGuffin—the thing everyone is chasing—might be a suitcase of money, or diamonds, or bearer bonds, or a shipment of heroin. In John Evans', aka Howard Browne's, intriguingly titled Halo for Satan the thing being pursued is an ancient parchment allegedly written by Jesus Christ. Its discoverer wants to sell it to the Catholic church for $25 million (that would a third of a billion in today's money), but disappears without a trace. A high ranking Chicago bishop hires private dick Paul Pine to find the missing man and document. Pretty soon others want the artifact too. One of them is a former top gangster who's near death and believes he can make his way into the good graces of the church—and thus into heaven—by donating the parchment. That's where the unusual title comes into play. A criminal Satan wants a halo.

Naturally, the question of authenticity is important to the story, but the central themes here are greed and ruthlessness. As Pine puts it: “You have to be a violent person to make money. I don’t necessarily mean the stab-and-shoot kind of violence. I mean the kind that will let you kick other people aside to get your hands dipped in gold.” Since the parchment is a classic MacGuffin, it doesn't appear until the end—like the Maltese Falcon. Meanwhile betrayals abound, bodies accumulate, and Evans turns numerous hard-boiled phrases while leading readers to a bloody resolution. We found Halo for Satan reasonably fun, even though it would be pretty thin without its gimmick. It was originally published in 1948, with this Bantam edition coming in 1950. The cover art is uncredited. 


Vintage Pulp Sep 25 2014
Giovanni Benvenuti raises the bar for French crime covers.

Today we wanted to share a series of truly spectacular French covers from Frédéric Ditis’s eponymous company Ditis, published as part of its popular La Chouette—or Owl—collection. These all date from the mid-1950s to early 1960s, and there’s really nothing to say about them except that they’re by the sublime Giovanni Benvenuti.


History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 25
1939—Batman Debuts
In Detective Comics #27, DC Comics publishes its second major superhero, Batman, who becomes one of the most popular comic book characters of all time, and then a popular camp television series starring Adam West, and lastly a multi-million dollar movie franchise starring Michael Keaton, then George Clooney, and finally Christian Bale.
1953—Crick and Watson Publish DNA Results
British scientists James D Watson and Francis Crick publish an article detailing their discovery of the existence and structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, in Nature magazine. Their findings answer one of the oldest and most fundamental questions of biology, that of how living things reproduce themselves.
April 24
1967—First Space Program Casualty Occurs
Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov dies in Soyuz 1 when, during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere after more than ten successful orbits, the capsule's main parachute fails to deploy properly, and the backup chute becomes entangled in the first. The capsule's descent is slowed, but it still hits the ground at about 90 mph, at which point it bursts into flames. Komarov is the first human to die during a space mission.
April 23
1986—Otto Preminger Dies
Austro–Hungarian film director Otto Preminger, who directed such eternal classics as Laura, Anatomy of a Murder, Carmen Jones, The Man with the Golden Arm, and Stalag 17, and for his efforts earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, dies in New York City, aged 80, from cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
1998—James Earl Ray Dies
The convicted assassin of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., petty criminal James Earl Ray, dies in prison of hepatitis aged 70, protesting his innocence as he had for decades. Members of the King family who supported Ray's fight to clear his name believed the U.S. Government had been involved in Dr. King's killing, but with Ray's death such questions became moot.
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