Pulp Fiction


REVIEWED BY DAVID VINEYARD:         


MAX BRAND – The Darkness at Windon Manor. Altus Press, 2018. Introduction by William F. Nolan. Originally serialized in Argosy All-Story Weekly, April 21 thru May 12, 1923.

   “We had one common topic which bound us together—our complete financial ruin. Some one remarked that if a man of mere uninspired common sense was capable of robbing a great bank with impunity for years, a group of intelligent men would probably be able to rob the world with impunity forever.”

   Andrew Creel, the hero of this 1923 crime novel originally serialized in Argosy All-Story Weekly and not appearing in novel form until this Altus Press reprint, is a somewhat bored and disaffected young man whose chance acquaintance with a close look alike on board ship leads him to be mistaken for his near twin and then fall in with an audacious group of businessmen turned super criminals who have taken up residence in the title’s Windon Manor after a bank failure wiped out their fortunes eight years earlier. (The idea that successful businessmen were only one step away from crime has always been popular in American fiction.)

   The mistaken identity and the hero who accidentally falls in with a gang of criminals and is forced to play along to foil them is also an old theme, and certainly Brand himself played numerous variations on the theme of the look-a-like hero, most notably in Montana Rides, but here the unique touch is that Creel soon finds he likes being Edward Ormonde, master criminal, and that it fits him all too well.

   Far from reluctant victim, Creel embraces his new identity which frees him from his ennui and falls in love with Anne Berwick, the heroine of the story, herself a jewel thief whose father betrayed the group.

   As the novel opens, James Ashe who formed the group, and who also loves Anne, has returned to Windon Manor suspected of murdering Ormonde, his rival, who managed to recover an important case stolen by Anne’s father and who is returning it as part of a deal to spare the senior Berwick’s life.

   Creel, having been identified as Ormonde by one of the conspirators at dockside is taken to Windon Manor, where playing along he learns the backstory of this dangerous and murderous lot.

   Creel soon finds himself with two unexpected allies in his charade, Anne, who goes along with him to protect her father, and Ashe, the dangerous leader of the gang who Creel bluffs by seeming to know more than he really does, then audaciously challenges that he will win Anne away from him in the two days’ respite he is given to live.

   The style here is more E. Phillips Oppenheim than Dashiell Hammett. — Brand’s Anthony Hamilton stories were also influenced by Oppenheim, in fact, it is pretty much an Oppenheim plot despite the American setting — with more talk than action, but it is fairly bright conversation and moves at a pace. And Creel and Anne make attractive leads playing at dangerous games with Ashe and the others, and as Creel soon demonstrates he is more than a match for the criminal Ormonde at his own game.

   Despite Brand’s penchant for one particularly annoying stylistic tic that grinds my back teeth whenever he employs it, as he too often does even in his best works (The jaw of Ashe set hard/ The eyes of Ashe wavered/The whistling of Creel continued…) Darkness at Windon is an entertaining crime novel moving swiftly and building up to an audacious bank robbery and down to the wire conclusion that admittedly is a bit more Leslie Charteris than Oppenheim despite the half-hearted reformation required by the norms of the era.

   He had thought at the time that he was merely playing a game—stealing and smashing laws merely to make the society, in the end, throw up its hands and bid him be gone forever from the precincts of Windon Manor…But now he saw clearly that this thinking had been the merest subterfuge. Crime for crime’s sake had fascinated him. He had been a thief; he might be a thief again at any moment, if the wild spirit of Edward Ormonde swept once more upon him in the storm wind or the hush of night.

   Historically that echo of anarchy and adventure was already changing British popular fiction with the rise of the gentleman adventurer Creel resembles and would transform crime fiction soon in the pages of Black Mask and others this side of the Atlantic (Brand included) albeit on the right side of the law.

ERLE STANLEY GARDNER “The Silver Mask Murders.” The Man in the Silver Mask #3. Novelette. Detective Fiction Weekly, 23 November 1935.

   In the years during which Erle Stanley Gardner was one of the most prolific pulp writers around, he tried his hand not only at mysteries — tons of them — but westerns, adventure stories and even science fiction (collected in The Human Zero: The Science Fiction Stories of Erle Stanley Gardner, 1981). Given the undeniable fact of the latter, it should come as no surprise that he dabbled in the equivalent of the hero pulps as well.

   The most famous of the latter were The Shadow, The Spider, Operator #5 and so on. Most were the primary occupants of their own magazines. Gardner’s contributions to the genre consisted of only three long stories in the pages of Detective Fiction Weekly, all in 1935. Having read only this, the third and last of them, I don’t know if the hero in these stories was ever given a name. He seems to have been known only as The Man in the Silver Mask.

   You can probably guess why, but to confirm your suspicion, the cover of the magazine his third adventure appeared in will illustrate as well as words could do. Besides his general anonymity, nothing also is known about his background, nor why he feels to need to keep his identity a secret. All we know for sure is his fierce determination to fight crime.

   Assisting him in these endeavors are a hunchbacked Chinese mute servant by the name of Ah Wong, and a female secretary/assistant named Norma Lorne and described as “a rather slender, willowy young blonde,” who aids The Masked Man outside the office as well as in.

   In “The Silver Mask Murders” this vigilante on the side of justice comes up against a powerful nemesis named Thornton Acker, a lawyer whose clientele consists solely of other criminals who can afford his steep fees ($250,000 this time around) to help them get out of jams they can’t manage to do on their own.

   Acker’s task in this one is to make sure that a man in prison doesn’t testify against his boss in court, which he does in spectacular fashion. But the Man in the Silver Mask is working on the other side, that of law and order, and Acker’s meticulous planning soon begins to go further and further awry.

   For the most part, this is routine stuff, with a lot more violence, I suspect, than ever appeared in any other Erle Stanley Gardner story. One scene sticks out, though, one in which Silver Mask is threatening a hoodlum he’s holding captive with physical torture at the hands of his Chinese assistant. When asked later by Norma Lorne whether or not he was bluffing, Silver Mask confesses that he doesn’t know.

   The story ends with many underlings dead or in jail, but with Acker still at large. A blurb at the end of the story advertises that the next installment of the series would be coming soon, but it never did. The world of mystery fiction never noticed.


   The Man in the Silver Mask series —

The Man in the Silver Mask. Detective Fiction Weekly, July 13 1935

               

The Man Who Talked. Detective Fiction Weekly, September 7, 1935

               

The Silver Mask Murders, Detective Fiction Weekly, November 23, 1935

REVIEWED BY DAVID VINEYARD:         


FLORENCE M. PETTEE – The Exploits of Beau Quicksilver. Altus Press, 2018. Story collection; reprinted from Argosy All-Story Weekly, February 24 through April 7, 1923.

   …“that damned dude dick” to the underworld—was an enigmatical crime chaser—a mercurial mystery master. Like a chimerical will-of-the-wisp, he lunged to the answer in each cryptic case. No wonder they clubbed him Quicksilver. He ran through a fellow’s fingers just like mercury. There had never been another sleuth like him … a spoiled operatic star couldn’t equal him for temperament! The fellow wouldn’t touch a case with the tip of his nobbiest cane if the thing didn’t interest him. They couldn’t beg, hire or steal him to it.

   Before there was Philo Vance there was Beau Quicksilver, who adventured in seven consecutive issues of Argosy under the guiding hand of mystery writer and pulpster Florence M. Pettee, his rare adventures reprinted for the first time by Altus Press.

   We open as Chief Cartman leaps into a car to race to Quicksilver’s home, where his servant Shunta guards his privacy, to hopefully offer him a case he can’t resist, and of course he can’t because there is no story if he does. Still we share in Cartman’s discomfort having heard his description of our sleuth: …a real tiger when in one of his moods. Yet again he would weep at the mere sound of pathetic music. An obtuse riddle, Quicksilver! A regular Sphinx at times, and then affably human. Nobody ever knew where to find him next.

   Yet all Beau has to hear is that Carl Whitney has been found slain at the Whitney mansion and he literally leaps to his feet from his lethargy and responds with boundless energy. Quicksilver temperament indeed. Beau could give Prince Zaleski a run in the languorous department and Sherlock Holmes a cocaine-spiked energy high when he is fully engaged.

   Carl Whitney has been shot while eating his midnight repast and Beau’s attention is drawn to the imprint of a bicuspid in a piece of cheese. There are no shortage of suspects, including a gambler, a jewel thief known as the Falcon and his gluttonous associate Peter Scarlet.

   Alas, Beau doesn’t so much solve the crime as simply know and then provide a more or less ridiculous solution involving a falling out between thieves and a false pair of dentures used to frame a suspect.

   Wilfrid Huntington Wright’s rules of Detection are not in play here, the Detection Club would not be amused, and even Sexton Blake might be taken aback by the rapidity with which Beau leaps to his brilliant conclusions, past both logic and detection and seemingly being personally connected to every criminal extant.

   No lost classics of detective fiction here. Beau Quicksilver may act like Philo Vance, but he detects more like Lamont Cranston or Richard Curtis Van Loan, which is not to say the stories aren’t written in a curious but readable style so breathless you may need oxygen reading them. Come to think of it the Cranston connection isn’t entirely out of place.

   A magnificent fire opal gleamed like a spark of baleful red in the cravat. A duplicate stone was repeated in the setting of a ring worn on the little finger of the left hand. The opal might have stood for the methods of Quicksilver. For he, too, was like a dangerous, baleful eye, forever turned toward the dispersing of darkness and the dissipating of cryptic crime.

   At best Beau Quicksilver is a footnote in both the field of detectives and pulp heroes, but not an uninteresting one, more at home in Gun in Cheek than Haycraft, but not unentertaining for that.

   “The Hand of the Hyena” is the best of the lot for my money:

   “AMUSING little epistle! So gentle and solicitous for my health.” Beau Quicksilver languidly tossed over the letter he had just received by special delivery.

   The characters of the message were set down in ruddy red, of an insidious and exceedingly suggestive hue. The communication ran:

   You damned Dude:

   We are sending this letter in red ink. But we shall soon write in your blood to the gang the glad word that you’ve slipped your wind. We are going to get you, you dirty dick — you little dolled-up excuse of a tailor’s dummy! You can’t shake us! We’ve got Jack Ketch camping on your trail.

   We dare you to set foot outside your diggings this evening. We swear that if you put half a toe toward that carnival thing — you’re a goner.

               The Hyena.

   In the true spirit of the pulps it is hard not to keep reading at that point. Philo Vance never got mail like that.


      The stories:

Tooth For a Tooth. Argosy All-Story Weekly, February 24, 1923
Eye For an Eye. March 3, 1923
Claws of the Weasel. March 10, 1923
The Hand of the Hyena. March 17, 1923
The Green Rajah. March 24, 1923
Blistering Tongues. March 31, 1923
Murder Ingognito. April 7, 1923

D. B. NEWTON “The Claim Jumpers.” Novella. First published in Best Western, September 1952 as “Who’ll Take the Cowgirl?” First collected in Range of No Return (Five Star, hardcover, 2005; Leisure, paperback, December 2006).

   In his long foreword to the two-story book collection, Jon Tuska makes the case for his theory that D(wight) B(ennett) Newton would be a lot more known today if he hadn’t been pushed by his agent to have much of his work published under pseudonyms. Names other than his own that he used over the years were Dwight Bennett, Clement Hardin, Ford Logan, Dan Temple and Hank Mitchum (eight of the long-running “Stagecoach” series in the 1980s).

   There’s a lot of truth in that statement. I’ve enjoyed all of the novels I’ve read by the above “authors,” and going back to the later years of his pulp-writing days, both of the two stories in Range of No Return are very well done. (His first published pulp western was in 1938, and over the years he wrote 150 or so more of them.)

   “The Claim Jumpers” takes place at an actual event, the Cherokee Strip Land Run (Oklahoma, 1893), as have many other stories and dramatic films over the years. Newton’s story does not rely on its historical significance, however. Rather it’s one told on a personal basis, which to me makes it all the more effective. When three cowpoke partners lose their fourth in the plan they’ve come up with, one of them succumbs to the charms of a woman he happens to meet, and he asks her to help them out.

   Things don’t go well, however. Someone seems to have leaked their plans to some Sooners who have settled into the land the partners had planned on settling, and they’re well equipped with guns. Did the girl betray them? All signs point to it.

   This is a story that combines a historical background with both action and characters that have some character to them, and at 70 pages, there’s plenty of time for Newton to develop both.

***

— “Range of No Return.” Short novel. First appeared in Complete Western Book Magazine, June 1949. Also first collected in Range of No Return (see above).

   And if anything, “Range of No Return” is even better. At almost twice the length of “The Claim Jumpers,” the action is nearly non-stop, but more than that, it fits in naturally with the story Newton has to tell. No gunfire for the sake of gunfire.

   Which is that of a young rancher who was framed for rustling cattle in his home town five years ago. With the sheriff’s assistance, who believed him innocent, he made tracks for Mexico, but now that his notoriety has died down, or so he hopes, he’s back, trying to pick up where he left off before his troubles began.

   But he’s wrong. The local ranchers have not forgotten, including the female owner of the ranch next to his. There are a couple of small twists in the tale from this point on, but they’re, I admit, only minor ones. But Newton has a good eye for describing his characters, as well as the area of Arizona hills and grasslands he places them in. Even though the basic story line is a familiar one, this is a solid piece of writing.

   If you’re a fan of western yarns, you could do a lot worse than to check out more of Newton’s stories, even his early purely pulp fiction. It’s better than most.

ERLE STANLEY GARDNER “Where Angels Fear to Tread.” Lee Sparler #1. Novelet. Published in Detective Fiction Weekly, 30 December 1939.

   Even though he got a huge cover blurb, most assuredly on the name value of the story’s author, Erle Stanley Gardner, as a private eye, Lee Sparler turned out to only be a one-and-done. By this time in 1939 Gardner was winding down his pulp-writing career. Perry Mason and the Donald Lam and Bertha Cool books were a lot more profitable, I’m sure.

   As a character, Sparler is worth talking about, though, and I could do no better than to use the words of Theo. W. Garr, president of The Planet Investigations, Inc. Here he is describing the qualities of the operative he plans to assign to a prospective client’s case:

   “He looks like a gigolo. He plays the harmonica. He raises hell with office discipline. He’s found that my old-maid bookkeeper is a romanticist at heart, and capitalizes on that knowledge. He discharges his responsibilities in a thoroughly irresponsible manner. He’s always broke. He plays the race horses. He wastes expense money, and he doesn’t seem to take himself, life, or anyone else seriously. His personality is thoroughly distasteful to me. He’s raising the devil with all my routine. He takes too many chances, and some day he’s going to get himself killed if I don’t fire him first. I have long suspected that he solves his cases by luck more than by brains and application, but the point is he gets results. Now then, do you want us to handle the case, or do you want your check back?”

   I don’t know how often a sales pitch like this would really be effective, but of course the client says yes, maybe a little doubtfully, but yes. His daughter, he believes, is being blackmailed. She’s always broke, and he thinks she’s been pawning her jewelry. Without letting her know she’s being watched, Sparler’s job is find out what’s going on. Which he does, and as it turns out, everything his boss said about him is true.

   I think Gardner had a lot of fun writing this story, and it shows. The twists in the tale that you expect in a Gardner story are only minor ones, however, and in fact, to my way of thinking, the story ends far too soon. I enjoyed it, though. It’s too bad that Lee Sparler had only the one adventure, but we can always hope that he got the girl.

LARS ANDERSON “The Domino Lady Collects.” Short story. Domino Lady #1. Originally published in Saucy Romantic Adventures, May 1936. Collected in Compliments of the Domino Lady (Bold Venture Press, 2004). Reprinted in The Big Book of Female Detectives, edited by Otto Penzler (Black Lizard, 2018).

   Not the first paragraph of the story, but close to the beginning, and introducing the first recorded adventure of The Domino Lady!

   A nightgown of sheerest, green silk was but scant concealment for her gorgeous figure. A chastely-rounded body and a slender waist served to accentuate the seductive softness of her hips and sloping contours of her slim thighs, while skin like the bloom on a peach glowed rosily in the reflected sunlight.

   Fairly tame stuff, by today’s standards, but while I don’t know for sure, I suspect that at a lot of newsstands in 1936, you had to ask if they carried copies of Saucy Romantic Adventures, and if you didn’t look like some kind of close-minded law enforcement officer, they might have been able to sell you one from under the counter.

   Copies of the magazine that have survived until today go for large amounts of money. Scarcity and high demand. Simple economics. It certainly can’t be great literature that buyers are looking for.

   In the Penzler edition, the story is only eight pages long, barely enough to introduce the character, describe what it is that motivate her to dress up in style but adding a domino mask to keep her real identity a secret. She also has a job she has been asked to do, which she does most efficiently (some indiscreet letters must be retrieved). She has vengeance on her mind, to avenge the killing of her father at the hands of the “state machine.” That the villain in this piece is not jailed or otherwise inconvenienced by her intrusion into his home may mean the story continues right on into the next one.

   It’s a mere trifle, nothing more, and when it comes down to it, the writing is nothing to get excited about, D-level at best. Lars Anderson may have been a house name. If he was a real person, nothing solid seems to be known about him, but that his semi-sexy tales are being reprinted — and that stories of the character he created continue to be written by other hands — does say something about his ability to capture the minds of readers still young at heart. A little nostalgia for days past doesn’t hurt either.


      The original Domino Lady series

The Domino Lady Collects. Saucy Romantic Adventures, May 1936
The Domino Lady Doubles Back. Saucy Romantic Adventures, June 1936
The Domino Lady’s Handicap. Saucy Romantic Adventures, July 1936
Emeralds Aboard. Saucy Romantic Adventures, August 1936
Black Legion. Saucy Romantic Adventures, October 1936
The Domino Lady’s Double. Mystery Adventure Magazine, November 1936

CLEVE F. ADAMS – Shady Lady. Rex McBride #6. Ace Double D-115, paperback original, 1955. Published back-to-back with One Got Away by Harry Whittington.

   [The first paragraph of this review, written back in 1994, consisted of some conjecture about the background of the book, when it was written and by whom. In the comments following Mike Nevins’ 1001 Midnights review of the book, posted here, Steve Mertz told of some correspondence he had with Mrs. Adams in the 1970s. in which she told him that “After Adams died, (Robert Leslie) Bellem and W. T. Ballard, who were collaborators, stepped in to help Mrs. Adams through a difficult time by expanding and selling as books the pulp stories that became No Wings on a Cop and Shady Lady.”

   [Following my review of No Wings on a Cop I posted here earlier this year, it was determined that the source material for the novel was “Help! Murder! Police!,” a three-part serial in Argosy beginning February 4, 1939. Shady Lady was an expanded/revised version of “Too Fair to Die!,” a novella that first appeared in Two Complete Detective Books, March 1951.]

   Is this an undiscovered classic? Not really. PI Rex McBride, hot on the trail of an embezzler, is sidetracked into a cutthroat gubernatorial race in Montana, along with a pair of sisters easy to fall in love with. A nice start, with some good scenes along the way, but it’s still rather ordinary.

   [At the end of the issue of Mystery*File this review first appeared in, I took some time to write up some additional thoughts about the book.]

   First of all, I don’t think Cleve F. Adams is any threat to Raymond Chandler or his work. He wasn’t when they were both alive and writing, and he isn’t now. I do think this is a better book than I left you to believe, however.

   The characters are the standard ones found is all good politically-based 1940s detective fiction: the free-lance PI on the prowl; the local operative with strong ties to whoever is politically on top at the moment; the suave politicians looking for the next convenient toehold to use against their opponents; the overtly corrupt police chief with a sadistic streak a mile wide; the philosophical taxi drivers who know more about what’s going on in their town than any reporter could possibly know. And the women. There are three categories of women in these novels: those ambitious for power; those ambitious for love; and those ambitious for money.

   There isn’t a one of them you haven’t met before, and yet, in this book Adams manages to bring them to an unruly sort of life just about as well as anyone. Toward the end of the review I also mentioned some scenes I thought were better than average. They must be, because I find myself still thinking about them. For example, in the mining town where much of the action takes place, there is a section where the night life goes on all night long. There is also the shanty town where the hunkies live, and that’s where the two sisters McBride is attracted to both have their roots.

   I don’t usually think that quoting excerpts from a book adds a great deal to the reviews I write — out of context, they never seem to have the same effect on someone else who’s reading them cold — but I’ll give it a try — an exception this time. This is an entire paragraph taken from pages 31-32. It has nothing to do with the mystery, but it seems to frame the story pretty well:

   A two-story frame mansion of the gingerbread era was outlined in the blue-neon at the end of the street. There were many cars parked in front, and for every one that departed another arrived to take its place. Cabs from Copper Hill spewed out their loads, swallowed others and went away. Above the mansion, cutting diagonally across the street were giant cables, suspended from steel derricks that hummed and slapped over pulleys on some mysterious journey up the hill toward where pinpricks of light pierced the night. Underfoot, the ground occasionally shook and trembled, though there was no actual sound of blasting, The air was dirty, faintly tinged with an acrid, chemical smell.

   One thing’s for certain. The book has been out of print for far too long, and it deserves a new edition.

–Reprinted from Mystery*File #18, December 1989, in slightly revised form.

RICHARD SALE “Chiller-Diller.” Daffy Dill #37. Short story. Detective Fiction Weekly, 24 June 1939. Reprinted in The Big Book of Female Detectives, edited by Otto Penzler (Black Lizard, 2018).

    Before he became well known in Hollywood circles as a writer, producer (Gentlemen Marry Brunettes) and director (Abandon Ship, Malaga, and so on), Richard Sale was a prolific writer of pulp fiction, with several hundred stories to his credit, including the long-running “Daffy” Dill series, beginning with “The Fifty Grand Brain” (Detective Fiction Weekly, 03 November 1934) and ending with “Death Flies High” (Flynn’s Detective Fiction, June 1943).

    “Chiller-Diller” is very much typical for the series, as breezy and fast-moving as you might expect a tale about a brash reporter for a New York City newspaper might be. The people in charge of the Chronicle have two stories going on at once: first the murder of a lady “cocktail” reporter for the rival Dispatchl and secondly the elopement of a young debutante with a notorious crooner slash hoodlum named Al Myers.

   Of course the two stories are connected, and it doesn’t take long for Daffy to find out how. The reason the tale is included in Otto Penzler’s The Big Book of Female Detectives is once again on the iffy side. Dinah Mason, the gossip columnist for the Chronicle and the love of Daffy’s life, is the one who found her rival’s body and is the one whose byline is on the story. She’s sent down to Florida for background information after that, however, and thereby essentially disappears from the story.

  FREDERICK NEBEL “Red Hot.” Jack Cardigan #27. Short story. Dime Detective, July 1, 1934. First collected in The Complete Casebook of Cardigan, Volume 3: 1934-35 (Altus Press, 2012). Reprinted in The Big Book of Female Detectives, edited by Otto Penzler (Black Lizard, 2018).

   Private eye Jack Cardigan appeared in some 44 hard-boiled tales published in Dime Detective Magazine between 1931 and 1937. Assisting him in many of his cases was Patricia Steward, sometimes in major ways. (I am not clear as to what her status actually was in the Cosmos Agency. Was she his secretary, or was she actually something more than that?)

   In “Red Hot,” Cardigan is hired by a client to find his nephew who left his family in bad standing, but now that his father has died, he is needed to be present for the reading of the will. Cardigan makes short work of finding the nephew, but the man flat out refuses to go back with his uncle.

   When Cardigan reports to the uncle, he assumes the man will confront his nephew directly, but the next morning Cardigan learns that the uncle has disappeared. Things happen very quickly from this point on, but not only is this a fast-moving story, it’s well plotted, too, ending in a most satisfactory fashion. (Many pulp yarns start off with a bang only to flag off badly at the end.)

   I read this one in the Penzler anthology, another giant doorstop of a book that’s well worth the money. I do question why this particular Cardigan story was used, though. Pat Steward is present throughout, but truth be told, besides being on hand to offer comfort to the nephew’s wife, she has very little to do.

ERLE STANLEY GARDNER “Cheating the Chair.” Sidney Zoom #14. Detective Fiction Weekly, 17 September 1932. [Added later:] Reprinted in The Casebook of Sidney Zoom, edited by Bill Pronzini. (Crippen & Landru, 2006).

   Alphabetically the last of the series detectives in the online Crime Fiction Index, I do not know if it is precisely correct to call Sidney Zoom a private eye. In this story, the only one of his adventures that I’ve read, he does not have a paying client, which would, I think, be one of the several criteria that must be satisfied to qualify.

   Zoom thinks of himself as a fighter for the underdog, and reads newspapers to find cases in which he believes justice is not being served. He appears to be independently wealthy. He has a devoted secretary named Vera Thurmond, and lives on a yacht with a captain on board to take him up and down the coast to wherever he needs to go.

   What attracts him to this current case, in which a disgruntled ex-convict is accused of killing the county attorney who sent him up, is that Zoom is convinced that the prosecutor’s version of what happened does not match the facts.

   In this regard, the detective work is fine, but the story gets muddled more than I’ve come to expect from Gardner. Zoom has to depend on bluffing the miscreants involved to secure the release of the accused man.

   As you can see from the list below, there were quite a few Sidney Zoom stories, but based on this one, while certainly readable, they may not be at the same level, quality-wise, as some of Gardner’s other series pulp heroes. I’ll have to investigate further.

       The Sidney Zoom stories —

The Higher Court (ss) Detective Fiction Weekly Mar 8 1930
(*) Willie the Weeper (ss) Detective Fiction Weekly Mar 29 1930
(*) My Name Is Zoom! (ss) Detective Fiction Weekly Apr 12 1930
The Purple Plume (ss) Detective Fiction Weekly May 24 1930
Time in for Tucker (ss) Detective Fiction Weekly Sep 13 1930
Strangler’s Silk (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Jan 3 1931
The Death Penalty (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Jan 17 1931
(*) Borrowed Bullets (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Mar 21 1931
The Vanishing Corpse (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Aug 15 1931
(*) Higher Up (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Sep 19 1931
(*) The First Stone (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Oct 24 1931
It Takes a Crook (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Feb 6 1932
(*) The Green Door (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Aug 20 1932
(*) Cheating the Chair (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Sep 17 1932
(*) Inside Job (ss) Detective Fiction Weekly Jan 7 1933
(*) Lifted Bait (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly Oct 21 1933
(*) Stolen Thunder (nv) Detective Fiction Weekly May 19 1934

       (*) Included in The Casebook of Sidney Zoom.

Next Page »