Editors & Anthologies

D. R. BENSEN, Editor – The Unknown Five. Pyramid R-962, paperback original; 1st printing, January 1964. Cover art by John Schoenherr.

   A collection of five stories in all, four of them reprinted from the pages of Unknown, plus one by Isaac Asimov which was accepted for publication shortly before that magazine folded, but never actually having appeared in print in it before it did. Strange to say, that one is also the weakest of the five. But even knowing that the other four were chosen from the best of the magazine, the only restriction being the stories never having been published in book form before, Unknown well deserves its reputation among fantasy fans.   Overall rating: ****

ISAAC ASIMOV “Author, Author!” Novelette. In which author Graham Dorn’s famous detective Reginald de Metzter comes to life and demands his say in future plots. Too slaphappy and hectic rather than truly funny.  (2)

CLEVE CARTMILL “The Bargain.” (From Unknown Worlds, August 1942.) Death gives immortality to a woman in exchange for information the world should not have. The “folksy” approach entertains.  (4)

THEODORE STURGEON & JAMES H. BEARD “The Hag Saleen.” (From Unknown Worlds, December 1942). A man and his wife and daughter living in a small cabin in the bayous arouse the anger of a swamp witch. Besides the basic background, the story’s excellence depends on balance between fantasy and the explainable.  (5)

ALFRED BESTER “Hell Is Forever.” (From Unknown Worlds, August 1942,) Short novel. Five degenerate people, in the search for newer and stranger sensations, enter into a bargain giving them their choice of realities. Their new worlds are not what they expect, however:
   An artist can create only in his own distorted image. A woman wishing the strength to kill her husband finds that strength only in an unhappy extension of herself. An imaginative man find truth only in hell, or is it heaven?  A woman without love becomes the Consort of a God. A logical man finds he cannot kill himself — for they are all dead already.
   The meaning of hell is twisted to suit each personality, resulting in a story that should be analyzed more deeply and thoroughly to reveal all its implications.  *****

JANE RICE “The Crest of the Wave.” (From Unknown Fantasy Fiction, June 1941.) A St. Louis gambler is tossed from a bridge, but his drowned body revenges his death. Extremely picturesque language adds to a rather average ghost story. (3)

– March 1968

ALFRED HITCHCOCK, Editor – Murderer’s Row. Dell, paperback, first printing, May 1975; reprinted January 1980.

   There perhaps is not a lot to be said for reviewing one of  these anthologies from the Hitchcock magazine. You read and enjoy this kind of story, or you don’t, and the collections seem only to sift out no more than the worst clinkers.

   Nor is there anything outstanding this time either. The best of the lot is “The Artificial Liar,” by William Brittain, on how to program a liar, with the intriguing possibility that it just may work. Fletcher Flora has a good private eye yarn, as Percy Hand proves himself to another client in “For Money Received.” Richard Deming tells a good cop story, “Nice Guy.” Intriguing is Rog Phillips’ “The Hypothetical Arsonist,” which deals with a firm calling itself Justice, Incorporated, but he flubs the story miserably.

   Other stories by the usual AHMM regulars: Frank Sisk, Henry Slesar, Theodore Mathieson, Ed Lacy, Edward D. Hoch, Richard Hardwick, C. B. Gilford,  David A. Heller, Richard O. Lewis, and Arthur Porges. Solid writing. strong openings, endings that don’t surprise quite as much as they should. It is a fine choice to help fill the nooks and crannies of an omnivorous mystery reader’s day.

Overall rating:   C plus.

– Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, January 1977 (Vol. 1, No. 1)



Introduction by Alfred Hitchcock (ghost written)
Nice Guy by Richard Deming
The Bridge in Briganza by Frank Sisk
Thicker Than Water by Henry Slesar
The Artificial Liar by William Brittain
For Money Received novelette by Fletcher Flora
The Compleat Secretary by Theodore Mathieson
The Hypothetical Arsonist by Rog Phillips
Who Will Miss Arthur? by Ed Lacy
Arbiter of Uncertainties by Edward Hoch
Slow Motion Murder novelette by Richard Hardwick
Never Marry a Witch by C.B. Gilford
The Second Thief by David A. Heller
The Nice Young Man by Richard O. Lewis
A Message for Aunt Lucy by Arthur Porges

RAYMOND J. HEALY & J. FRANCIS McCOMAS, Editors – Famous Science-Fiction Stories: Adventures in Time And Space. The Modern Library G-31; hardcover, 1957, xvi + 997 pages. First published as Adventures in Time in Space, Random House, hardcover, 1946. Bantam F3102, paperback, 1966, as Adventures in Time and Space (contains only 8 stories). Ballantine, paperback, 1975, also as Adventures in Time and Space.

   Thirty-three stories first published in the years 1934-1945, mostly from Astounding, plus two articles not reviewed below. Although these were originally chosen as “classics” in 1946, as a whole they have not aged well. That [I have rated] only a third as above average demonstrated this quite adequately.

   The emphasis, as pointed out in the [book’s] introduction, is on science rather than fiction, and often it is only the obviously creative imagination of the author that saves an indifferently written story from disaster, Style is also important… Overall rating: 2½ stars.

NOTE: I read and reviewed all 33 stories. On this biog, I will post my comments in groups of three spread out over the next few months. This is Part One.

ROBERT A. HEINLEIN “Requiem.” A ‘Future History’ story. A softly sentimental story of a rocket pioneer’s first and only trip to the moon. Excellent is spite of an obvious plot. (5)

Update: Also part of Heinlein’s D. D. Harriman (“The Man Who Sold the Moon”) series. First published in Astounding SF, January 1940. First reprinted in this anthology. Collected in The Man Who Sold the Moon (Shasta, hardcover, 1950) and The Past Through Tomorrow (Putnam, hardcover, 1967).

DON A. STUART “Forgetfulness.” Novelette. Poetic story of the ultimate destiny of man – advanced, but unable to remember the steps of progress. The point is good, but the story does not seem to convey it well. (2)

Update: Don A. Stuart was the pen name of long time Astounding SF editor, John W. Campbell. First published in that magazine, June 1937. First collected in this anthology, then several times later, including Cities of Wonder, edited by Damon Knight (Doubleday, hardcover, 1966).

LESTER del REY “Nerves.” Novella. An atomic-power plant goes out of control, endangering the lives of all in the surrounding countryside. No doubt very exciting when it first appeared, the story no longer provides much punch. The characters are almost stereotypes today, especially the doctor-father image and his young assistant, who desires to become an atomic physicist. (2½)

Update: First published in Astounding SF, September 1942. First reprinted in this anthology. First collected in …And Some Were Human (Prime Press, hardcover, 1948). Expanded upon and published as a separate novel by Ballantine (paperback, 1956), with a slightly revised version appearing in its sixth printing, 1976.

– July-August 1967




DASHIELL HAMMETT, Editor – Creeps by Night. The John Day Company, hardcover, 1931. Blue Ribbon Books, hardcover, 1931. Tudor Publishing Co, hardcover, 1932. World Publishing Company, hardcover, 1944. Belmont #230, paperback, 1961. The latter contains only 10 stories of the original 20. The other 10 are included in The Red Brain and Other Creepy Thrillers (Belmont #239, paperback, 1961). NOTE: See also comment #4.

   Last Halloween, I found a copy of Creeps by Night, edited by Dashiell Hammett, and was greatly impressed by the obvious lack of effort that went into it. Of the 20 stories included, 18 appeared in popular magazines within a year or two of this anthology — the other two were no more than five years older — so it’s obvious no one spent .a great deal of time scouting out obscure favorites. Even Hammett’s introduction reads as if it were written with his mind firmly on his fee.

   Fortunately, no collection of creepy stories from this era could be entirely without merit, and Creeps includes some fine entries by Lovecraft, Ewers, William Seabrook and others, but nothing ever gets it completely past the feel of having been thrown together for a quick buck.

— Reprinted from The Hound of Dr. Johnson #18, March 2002.


7 • Introduction (Creeps by Night: Chills and Thrills) • (1931) • essay by Dashiell Hammett
9 • A Woman Alone with Her Soul • (1912) • short story by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
15 • A Rose for Emily •  (1930) • short story by William Faulkner
33 • Green Thoughts • (1931) • short story by John Collier
65 • The Ghost of Alexander Perks, A.B. • (1931) • novelette by Robert Dean Frisbie
87 • The House • short story by André Maurois (trans. of “La maison”)
91 • The Kill • (1931) • short story by Peter Fleming
113 • Ten O’Clock • (1931) • short story by Philip MacDonald
143 • The Spider • novelette by Hanns Heinz Ewers (trans. of “Die Spinne” 1908)
187 • Breakdown • (1929) • short story by L. A. G. Strong
211 • The Witch’s Vengeance • (1930) • short story by W. B. Seabrook
231 • The Rat • [The Rat] • (1929) • short story by S. Fowler Wright
273 • Faith, Hope and Charity • (1930) • short story by Irvin S. Cobb
311 • Mr. Arcularis • (1931) • novelette by Conrad Aiken
347 • The Music of Erich Zann  • (1922) • short story by H. P. Lovecraft
365 • The Strange Case of Mrs. Arkwright • (1928) • novelette by Harold Dearden
395 • The King of the Cats • (1929) • short story by Stephen Vincent Benét
423 • The Red Brain • (1927) • short story by Donald Wandrei
441 • The Phantom Bus • (1930) • short story by W. Elwyn Backus
453 • Beyond the Door • (1923) • short story by J. Paul Suter
483 • Perchance to Dream • (1930) • short story by Michael Joyce
505 • A Visitor from Egypt • (1930) • short story by Frank Belknap Long, Jr.



LAURIE POWERS – Queen of the Pulps: The Reign of Daisy Bacon and Love Story Magazine. McFarland, paperback, September 2019.

   Have you ever received a book in the mail and immediately stopped what you were reading, stopped whatever you were doing and sat down and read the book? This is what happened when I received Queen of the Pulps. I had seen Laurie Powers work and do research on it for several years and finally here it is! She must of gotten sick and tired of me nagging her about the book and asking for progress reports.

   This book breaks new ground and stresses original research on the love and romance magazines. Recently there have been some excellent books about the pulps such as John Campbell and Astounding Science Fiction, Joseph Shaw and Black Mask (forthcoming from Altus Press/Steeger Books this November), and in a few months, Michelle Nolan’s book on the sport pulps. Many collectors have been saying that we live in the Golden Age of Pulp Reprints, well it looks like there is a Golden Age of Pulp Studies also.

   It’s exciting to realize that these books are not just run of the mill academic studies. They cover three of the greatest pulp editors: John Campbell, the greatest of the SF editors in the forties, Joseph Shaw, the greatest of the hard boiled detective pulp editors, and Daisy Bacon, the greatest of the love and romance pulp editors. Now all we need are books on Arthur Sullivant Hoffman, the greatest of the adventure pulp editors and Farnsworth Wright, the greatest editor of the fantastic and supernatural pulps.

   The book is a real beauty and very impressive looking. Laurie spared no expense and gathered over 80 photographs which are reproduced on high quality book paper and thus show up very well. She also has five color photos of Love Story covers. I like the way the photos are spread throughout the book and not just squeezed in a few pages. In the back of the book are around 300 chapter notes and footnotes documenting the facts, also an extensive bibliography and index. It is very obvious that this is a labor of love for Laurie and the excellent final results make all her hard work worth it.

   But in addition to the above, there is another reason why I love this book. Starting in 1972 I attended the yearly Pulpcon conventions where just about all the conversations centered around the hero pulps. Titles like The Shadow, Doc Savage, G-8 and His Battle Aces, Operator 5, etc. There also was some interest in science fiction and many of the old timers(all these great old pals now gone), loved Max Brand and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

   You might think this must have been a great time but for me, it was not. Though I ended up collecting just about all the hero pulps, I hated them with a passion. I know many of my collector friends will gasp in horror at such sacrilege, but I couldn’t stand the heroes and every attempt to read them defeated me because of the childish plots and dialog. At least with a love pulp you are dealing with a subject that makes the world go round. Love! But I positively disliked the silly Monk and Ham characters in Doc Savage and Bull and Nippy in G-8.

   So, in the early days of pulp fandom there was very little interest in other genres like detective, western, adventure, and sport fiction. And certainly there was absolutely no interest in collecting the love and romance pulps. Sure there were a couple lost souls like me, Digges La Touche, and even Steve Lewis. We picked up issues here and there over the years and now I guess I have a couple hundred Love Story issues without even trying.

   However, as the years and decades marched on, things began to change and collectors started to collect the other genres, the pulps that adults read and not just the hero pulps which were aimed at the teen-age boy market. I even did an informal survey in the seventies and eighties where I asked many non-collectors if they remembered the pulps. Many of the women remembered the love and general interest pulps and many of the men remembered and read Black Mask, Argosy, Adventure, Western Story, etc. When I directly asked them about the hero titles, the usual response was did I mean the “kid pulps”, or as one of my old time friends said “the magazines with the unreadable crap” (Harry–Damn it you said you would get back to me about the afterlife!).

   Now finally we have a book that back in the 1970’s I never thought would be published. It is not about the hero pulps, rehashing old tired comments but about one of the most successful editors, Daisy Bacon. For 20 years, 1928–1947, she edited Love Story which had the highest circulation of all the pulps, estimated to reach 600,000 per issue.

   Queen of the Pulps is not only about Daisy Bacon and Love Story, but also about editing in general at Street & Smith. Daisy edited seven other titles in addition to Love Story and though the main thrust of this book is about that magazine, Laurie Powers also discusses Daisy’s time editing Detective Story for most of the decade in the forties. She also covers her time as editor of the final issues of The Shadow and Doc Savage.

   It sounds like she enjoyed the change of pace from love to murder. For 25 years Detective Story had published a sort of bland and sedate detective story, just about ignoring the hard boiled style sweeping through the other quality detective titles like Black Mask, Dime Detective, and Detective Fiction Weekly. During this period, 1915–1940, the magazine avoided the tough, hard boiled fiction except for an occasional story from Carroll John Daly, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Cornell Woolrich, etc.

   But when Daisy Bacon took over as editor in 1941, Detective Story took on new life and she encouraged many of the writers from Black Mask and Dime Detective to write for Detective Story. Raymond Chandler, Dale Clark, T.T. Flynn, G.T. Fleming-Roberts, Julius Long, D.L. Champion, Norbert Davis, John K. Butler, Day Keene, John D. MacDonald, and others all appeared once or twice.

   It’s obvious she wanted to make the stories tougher, and she got Carroll John Daly to write six novelets, Fred Brown to write nine shorts, William Campbell Gault to appear 14 times, and her best author during the forties, Roger Torrey. Torrey had 13 novelets, all starring Irish private eyes, and these stories are worth looking up because they represent his very best work. Torrey unfortunate had a severe drinking problem and drank himself to death around 1945. I read about his death in one of his short story collections and it’s a real sad story.

   Daisy Bacon’s reward for all this? She was fired in 1949 during the bloodiest day in pulp history as Street & Smith killed off all its pulp titles (the one exception for some reason being Astounding). Western Story, over 1250 issues—Gone! Detective Story, over a thousand issues–Gone! It seems that the president of Street & Smith hated the pulps and saw the future as slick women’s magazines. These slicks are so dated and worthless that just about no one collects them nowadays. But the Breakers love them because they cut out the slick ads and sell them to housewives and men to frame them in their basement bars or kitchens.

    What is this guy’s name? Allen Grammer, who was hired by the family to run Street & Smith, the first such outsider in almost a hundred years of publishing. When he came on board in 1938, he had no interest in the pulps and almost from the very beginning worked to get them out of circulation. Needless to say, he and Daisy did not get along and he got rid of her along with the pulp titles.

   On a more personal note, I became involved with the Grammer family. What’s the odds of a non-collector having two pulp cover paintings and moving right next door to a collector with a house full of pulp art? A billion to one? Will it happened to me. In the mid-1990’s an elderly retired music teacher moved next door and had an open house for the neighbors to get acquainted. As my wife and I walked through his house we were stunned to see two original cover paintings from Western Story hanging on the wall of the den.

   They both were from 1938 and painted by Walter Haskell Hinton. I immediately cornered my host and discovered that his name was Paul Grammer and he was the nephew of Allen Grammer. It seemed his uncle was the head executive at Street & Smith back decades ago and Paul Grammer’s father also had a high position. Eventually when Allen Grammer died, Paul inherited the pulp cover paintings. Several years later Paul gave in to my pleas and sold me the two paintings. Every time I look at the one I still have, I think of Paul and wish he still lived next door.

   Over the years I had several conversations with Paul about his infamous uncle and I sure wish Paul was still alive because I have even more questions now that this Daisy Bacon book is out. Paul once showed me a photograph of Allen Grammer sitting behind his desk at the Street & Smith offices. Behind him was a large pulp painting by N.C. Wyeth. I commented that the painting was now worth a million dollars and Paul said one day his uncle went into the office and the painting was gone. Someone had walked out with it. I wish I had talked Paul Grammer into letting me have the photo because I see that Laurie does not have one of Allen Grammer in the book. I suspect Laurie sympathized with Daisy and also dislikes him. Thus no photo! (Or maybe she could not get the rights to publish a photo.)

   So, for several years I watched Laurie got deeper and deeper into the life of Daisy Bacon. More than once Laurie traveled from California to New York and New Jersey. She discovered the old records, photographs, diaries, and various papers that Daisy had kept all her long life. On one trip she even discovered the love nest built by Daisy’s long time lover in the woods of New Jersey. Laurie even came across and now owns, the one painting that Daisy kept by Modest Stein. By the way, love pulp cover paintings are rare. I’ve only found two: one for Love Book and one for All Story Love.

   The book is full of fascinating details and stories about Daisy, her half sister, Esther Ford, her mother, and her lover. Laurie has told a suspenseful story worthy of being published in Love Story magazine. Of course the part about the secret lover would have to edited out of the story. It has all the pulp story ingredients: love, attempted suicide, secret lives, success, depression, and failure.

   If you read the pulps, buy the pulp reprints, or collect the old magazines, this book is a must buy. Price is $40 but it’s worth the cost. This gets my highest recommendation and can be bought on amazon.com or the McFarland Books website. If you attend Pulpadventurecon in Bordentown, NJ on November 2, 2019 Laurie will have copies for sale.

Reviewed by MIKE TOONEY:

MARTIN EDWARDS, Editor – Motives for Murder: A Celebration of Peter Lovesey on His 80th Birthday by Members of the Detection Club. Crippen & Landru, November 2016. Introduction by Martin Edwards. Foreword by Len Deighton. Afterword by Peter Lovesey.

   Popular crime fiction writer Peter Lovesey recently turned eighty, a notable achievement in itself, and twenty of his friends at the Detection Club got together to produce this Festschrift in his honor. Editor Martin Edwards’ choice of selections is worthy of commendation, while Douglas Greene at Crippen & Landru has done his usual fine job assembling it all into a coherent whole.

   Some of the resulting stories knowingly reflect the milieus and characters that Lovesey has developed and explored over the years, the town of Bath and his historical mysteries especially so. Other tales by established authors, however, feature their own characters and settings, with sub-types running the gamut from domestic suspense to pure detection.

   As varied as the stories are, though, there isn’t a clunker in the bunch. As instances, we can point to Catherine Aird’s “The Walrus and the Spy,” which involves espionage and the solution of a knotty cipher; L. C. Tyler’s “The Trials of Margaret” is a black comedy pure and simple; Martin Edwards’ “Murder and Its Motives” centers on bibliographical criminality; Michael Jecks’ “Alive or Dead” plays with narrative time; John Malcolm’s “The Marquis Wellington Jug” explores Lovejoy territory while Michael Ridpath’s “The Super Recogniser of Vik” wanders poleward into Nordic Noir; Susan Moody’s “A Village Affair” echoes Miss Marple, just as Kate Charles’ “A Question of Identity” reflects Hitchcock.

   For devotees of the Sage of Baker Street there’s David Stuart Davies’ featherweight “The Adventure of the Marie Antoinette Necklace: A Case for Sherlock Holmes”; while for fans of Peter Lovesey’s Sergeant Cribb and Constable Thackeray there are David Roberts’ inconclusive “Unfinished Business” and, better still, Kate Ellis’s “The Mole Catcher’s Daughter,” with Thackeray’s nephew performing some simple but effective sleuthing; and finally our favorite, Andrew Taylor’s unpredictable “The False Inspector Lovesey,” with its delightfully spunky narrator leading us down the garden path.

GEORGE HARDINGE, Editor – Winter’s Crimes 9. St. Martin’s Press, US, hardcover, 1978. First published in the UK by Macmillan, hardcover, 1977.

   The contents page, and for that matter, the front cover, is a veritable who’s who of contemporary British mystery writers. Not all of these authors are well known in this country, yet, but along with the less familiar names are ones like Geoffrey Household, Patricia Highsmith, and Ruth Rendell that are known to mystery readers everywhere.

   The twelve stories here are originals, written especially for this collection, but even if they had been scoured up as the best of the year from everywhere else, they could hardly be of any greater quality. What we’re given is in fact a cross-section of current crime fiction, with tales ranging from the pure detective puzzle proposed by Colin Dexter to the subtle domestic affair tinged with bitter irony that James McClure writes about, in which crime has only the most tenuous connection.

   A definite must for fans of the short story.

NOTE: For the record, the other authors are: Celia Dale, Elizabeth Ferrars, Derek Robinson, John Wainwright, Martin Woodhouse, Margaret Yorke, and P. B. Yuill.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 3, No. 1, Jan-Feb 1979.


MICHAEL KURLAND, Editor – Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Years. St. Martin’s, hardcover, November 2004; softcover, January 2006.

MICHAEL KURLAND Holmes Missing Years

    A solid collection of 12 pastiches recounting some of the adventures Holmes had during the “missing years” when he was thought to have died with Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. All are original to this volume except for “The God of the Naked Unicorn,” by Richard Lupoff, written in 1976.

    Highlights are “The Beast of the Guangming Peak,” by Michael Mallory, which has an elderly Colonel in a retired soldiers’ home recalling events 50 years ago in the Himalayas on which he met an explorer named Sigerson (Holmes’s alias) and needy met the abominable snowman.

    “The Case of the Lugubrious Servant,” by Rhys Bowen, has Holmes suffering from amnesia after his encounter with Moriarty and thought to be a half-wit. He’s working as a handyman at a Swiss inn where he meets Sigmund Freud and recovers his memory in time to solve a murder.

    “The Bughouse Caper” features Holmes in San Francisco where Pronzini’s cowboy/PI Jack Quincannon gets jealous of him while working on a burglary and murder case. Michael Kurland’s own “Reichenbach” has both Holmes and Moriarty faking their deaths to go undercover for the British government at the behest of brother Mycroft.

    In “The Adventure of the Missing Detective,” by Gary Lovisi, Holmes crosses into a parallel universe where he died and Moriarty survived to become the power behind King Albert Christian Edward Victor of England (Victoria’s grandson thought by some to be Jack the Ripper) who is turning Britain into a dictatorship.

    And “Cross of Gold” by Michael Collins tells the story of an elderly stepgrandmother telling how the grandfather, a newly arrived immigrant to America, was accused of murdering a wealthy man because of his left-wing sympathies and was cleared by Sherlock Holmes in New York City. The grandson is Dan Fortune.

    These and the other stories here make worthwhile reading and healthy additions to the mountain of Holmes stories written about him since Conan Doyle went to that undiscovered country.

A List by Josef Hoffmann

   The selected anthologies contain mostly short stories from Black Mask and similar pulp magazines. Several stories are newer. The books are especially recommended to readers who want to get a representative overview of this kind of crime fiction without investing the time, money and labour to obtain the original magazines.

   These books are also of interest for collectors who want to take care of their gems and prefer to read the old texts in new books. But my list is not complete. More such anthologies have been published than I have selected.


Adrian, Jack & Pronzini, Bill – Hard-Boiled: An Anthology of American Crime Stories, Oxford University Press, 1995.

   This is a de luxe edition of an anthology, not only concerning the contents but also the quality of the paper and the book cover. The long and brilliant introduction tries to define hard-boiled crime fiction. Then follow 36 stories from the 1920s to the 1990s. There are the big stars like Hammett, Chandler, W. R. Burnett, James M. Cain, Chester Himes, Mickey Spillane, Jim Thompson etc., but also forgotten writers like William Cole, Benjamin Appel, Jonathan Craig, Helen Nielsen and others.

   Among the contemporary authors you find Elmore Leonard, Margaret Maron, James Ellroy, Andrew Vachss, Faye Kellerman. One of the finest stories is contributed by James M. Reasoner, a story in a slightly depressive mood. Every story is introduced by an informative note, so the book is also a reference work. As far as I can remember it was nominated for an Edgar award, which is no surprise for any reader of this anthology.


Ellroy, James & Penzler, Otto – The Best American Noir of the Century, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010.

   This book of 731 pages contains more stories of contemporary writers than of old ones. There is no text of Hammett, Chandler, Horace McCoy and Paul Cain. But there are stories by MacKinlay Kantor (“Gun Crazy”), Dorothy B. Hughes, David Goodis, Charles Beaumont (“The Hunger”), Jim Thompson, Patricia Highsmith and others.

   Among contemporary writers you find James Ellroy, James Lee Burke, James Crumley, Jeffery Deaver, Joyce Carol Oates, Lawrence Block, Dennis Lehane, Andrew Klavan, Elmore Leonard, Ed Gorman and other writers which are not so well-known. The most recent story was published in 2007: “Missing the Morning Bus,” by Lorenzo Carcaterra. The book starts with a short foreword by Penzler and an even shorter introduction by Ellroy. Informative notes on the authors are added to each story. It is good value for your money.


Goulart, Ron – The Hardboiled Dicks. An Anthology of Detective Fiction from the American Pulp Magazines, T. V. Boardman 1967.

   Goulart’s book contains stories by Norbert Davis, John K. Butler, Frederick Nebel, Raoul Whitfield, Frank Gruber, Richard Sale, Lester Dent and Erle Stanley Gardner. Four were published in Black Mask, the rest in other pulp magazines.

   Goulart’s introduction and his introducing notes for each story are rather short, also the informal reading list at the end of the book. As a hardcover edition of the Boardman’s “American Bloodhound” series with a jacket design by the legendary Denis McLoughlin, this book is a much-sought collector’s item.


Jakubowski, Maxim – The Mammoth Book of Pulp Fiction, Robinson 1996.

   Jakubowski is not only an editor of crime fiction but also a writer of erotic crime novels and the owner of the London bookshop Murder One, which unfortunately does not exist anymore. Jakubowski’s anthology is different from other pulp collections on my list because he presents above all short fiction of Gold Medal Book authors like Charles Williams, John D. MacDonald, Gil Brewer, Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Day Keene, Bruno Fischer etc. and also more recent stories by Charles Willeford, Lawrence Block, Max Allan Collins, Bill Pronzini, John Lutz, Joe Gores, Harlan Ellison, Donald E. Westlake etc. You see this book’s understanding of pulp fiction is rather broad.

   After the success of the this anthology Jakubowski edited a volume with a similar receipt. There are some stories of the old pulp magazines of the Black Mask days by Gardner, Whitfield, Gruber, Steve Fisher, Norbert Davis etc. mixed with newer material by Michael Guinzburg, Mark Timlin, Marcia Muller, Joe R. Lansdale, Ed Gorman etc. This second anthology is The Mammoth Book of Pulp Action, Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2001, in the US.


Kittredge, William & Krauzer, Steven M. – The Great American Detective: 15 Stories Starring America’s Most Celebrated Private Eyes, New American Library, 1978.

   This is the only anthology on my list which does not contain exclusive hard-boiled and noir stories. One of the two Black Mask stories is a detective tale about Race Williams by Carroll John Daly. Other hard-boiled stories feature Sam Spade (Hammett), Philip Marlowe (Chandler), Dan Turner (Rober Leslie Bellem), Michael Shayne (Brett Halliday), Lew Archer (Ross Macdonald) and Mack Bolan, the Executioner (Don Pendleton).

   The second Black Mask story is contributed by Cornell Woolrich: “Angel Face.” But you find also tales of famous detectives like Nick Carter, The Shadow, Ellery Queen, Nero Wolfe, Perry Mason and others which are not hard-boiled. The book has a very interesting introduction of 24 pages by the editors, contains short notes before each story and some suggestions for further reading in the final chapter.


Nolan, William F. – The Black Mask Boys: Masters in the Hard-Boiled School of Detective Fiction, The Mysterious Press, 1987.

   The book begins with a short history of Black Mask magazine. Then comes the first hard-boiled detective tale ever printed: “Three Gun Terry,” by Carroll John Daily. It is followed by the most bloodthirsty story which Hammett has ever written: “Bodies Piled Up.”

   The other stories are also written by big names: Erle Stanley Gardner, Raoul Whitfield, Frederick Nebel, Horace McCoy, Paul Cain and Raymond Chandler. Each story is combined with a lot of information about the author and his writing for Black Mask. At the end is a checklist of mystery-detective-crime pulp magazines.


Penzler, Otto – The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories. Vintage Books, 2010.

   This voluminous book has 1116 pages. Containing 53 stories this anthology “is the biggest and most comprehensive collection of pulp crime fiction ever published,” writes Penzler in his foreword. The introduction is by Keith Alan Deutsch, copyright owner of Black Mask Magazine.

   The collection includes the original version of Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. Lester Dent’s story “Luck” is in print for the first time. Besides the “usual suspects” there is a lot of reading material you would not expect: stories by Stewart Sterling, Talmadge Powell, Charles G. Booth, Richard Sale, Katherine Brocklebank, Thomas Walsh, Dwight V. Babcock, Cleve F. Adams, Day Keene, W. T. Ballard, Hugh B. Cave, C. M. Kornbluth, Cornell Woolrich and many others. There are also several names I have never heard of. All in all very good value for the price of $25.00.


Penzler, Otto – Pulp Fiction: The Dames, Quercus 2008.

   This is one of three anthologies of pulp fiction edited by Penzler in 2008. The other two books concern “Villains” and “Crimefighters.” The “Dames” anthology is for me the most interesting book. It is introduced by crime writer Laura Lippman.

   Besides the star authors Hammett, Chandler, Woolrich one can read fine pulp stories by writers like Eric Taylor, Randolph Barr, Robert Reeves, Roger Torrey, Eugene Thomas, T. T. Flynn and some really unknown pulp fiction writers, altogether 23 stories. At the beginning of every story is a short note about the author and his text. So you get a lot of information about pulp fiction. There is also a comic strip “Sally The Sleuth” by Adolphe Barreaux.


Pronzini, Bill – The Arbor House Treasury of Detective and Mystery Stories from the Great Pulps, Arbor House, 1983.

   The anthology contains 15 stories and an informative introduction about the history of the pulps. Besides the big names like Hammett, Horace McCoy, Fredric Brown, Cornell Woolrich, John D. MacDonald (twice) etc. there are stories by rather unknown writers like Dane Gregory, D. L. Champion.

   A highlight is “Holocaust House,” by Norbert Davis, the first story about private eye Doan and his dog Carstairs. Each story is combined with an informative note. So the reader can learn a lot about pulps.


Ruhm, Herbert – The Hard-Boiled Detective. Stories from Black Mask Magazine 1920-1951, Vintage Books, 1977.

   The book contains 14 stories and a lucid introduction of 28 pages. Besides the big names there are tales by not so well-known or meanwhile forgotten writers as Norbert Davis, Lester Dent, George Harmon Coxe, Merle Constiner, Curt Hamlin, Paul W. Fairman, Bruno Fischer and the humorous William Brandon.


Shaw, Joseph T. – The Hard-Boiled Omnibus: Early Stories from Black Mask, Simon & Schuster, 1946; Pocket Books, 1952.

   The book is introduced by the legendary Black Mask editor Shaw himself, the man who shaped the magazine’s hard-boiled style more than any other editor. Especially he promoted Hammett and encouraged other writers to follow his literary model.

   The hardcover edition contains 15 stories, the paperback only 12. Besides well-known stories by Hammett, Chandler, Cain, Dent and Norbert Davis’s “Red Goose,” there are rather unknown tales by Reuben Jennings Shay, Ed Lybeck, Roger Torrey, Theodore Tinsley and others. A historical milestone.


Weinberg, Robert E., Dziemianowicz, Stefan & Greenberg, Martin H. – Tough Guys & Dangerous Dames, Barnes & Noble Books, 1993.

   The 24 pulp stories comprehend well-known authors like Chandler, Whitfield, Dent, Gardner, Paul Cain, John D. MacDonald as well as forgotten or unknown writers like Fred MacIsaac, Paul Chadwick, Donald Wandrei and others. The story by Norbert Davis, “Murder in the Red,” is not often reprinted.

   Unusual for an anthology of this kind are also names like Fritz Leiber, Leigh Brackett and Robert Bloch. The reader gets some useful information about the contributors from the introduction by Dziemianowicz.

IT’S ABOUT CRIME, by Marvin Lachman

SHELDON JAFFREY Tales of Grim and Grue Horror Pulps

SHELDON JAFFERY, Editor – Selected Tales of Grim and Grue from the Horror Pulps. Bowling Green University Popular Press, hardcover/softcover, 1987.

   A [recent] collection of stories, Selected Tales of Grim and Grue from the Horror Pulps, edited by Sheldon Jaffery, is wonderfully nostalgia-producing. Jaffery has collected eight novelets from magazines of the thirties like Terror Tales and Horror Stories. Some of the big names in the mystery field wrote for weird-menace pulps, including Cornell Woolrich, Frank Gruber, Bruno Fischer, and Steve Fisher.

SHELDON JAFFREY Tales of Grim and Grue Horror Pulps

   Jaffery apparently couldn’t get them, but the writers he does include are probably more representative of the genre. Typical is Wyatt Blassingame’s “The Tongueless Horror” from Dime Mystery for April 1934. Don’t expect a great deal of subtlety, but they’re all readable, and the authors don’t rely on cop-outs. The seemingly impossible is explained rationally, even if the reader’s credulity is stretched a bit.

SHELDON JAFFREY Tales of Grim and Grue Horror Pulps

   The book is loaded with wonderful cliches like the one in G. T. Fleming-Roberts’ “Moulder of Monsters” (Terror Tales, July-August 1937): “Then he turned into the room where horror dwelt.” From Wayne Rogers’ “Sleep with Me — and Death” (Horror Stories, April-May 1938) we read, “Then the shaggy-haired head lifted and I caught a glimpse of a scarred and battered face, hardly recognizable as human — a face in which the eyes of a madman gleamed triumphantly.”

   All stories are reproduced from the original magazines, which means they include the wonderful pulp ads plus the interior illustrations of monsters slavering over scantily clad women. A bonus is a fine introduction and lengthy index by the late Robert Kenneth Jones, one of the real scholars in this aspect of the pulps.

   Who can resist lists of the complete contents of the single issue, in 1937, of Eerie Stories and the five issues of Uncanny Tales published in 1939 and 1940? Certainly not I.

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier,
Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter 1989.

SHELDON JAFFREY Tales of Grim and Grue Horror Pulps

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