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