Books Noted

JONATHAN E. LEWIS, Editor – Strange Island Stories. Stark House Press, trade paperback. Published today!




“Monos and Daimonos” by Edward Bulwer (New Monthly Magazine, May 1830; The Student: A Series of Papers, 1835)

“Hugenin’s Wife” by M.P. Shiel (The Pale Ape and Other Pulses, 1911)

“The Far Islands” by John Buchan (Blackwood’s Magazine, November 1899; The Watcher by the Threshold and Other Tales, 1902)

“The Ship That Saw a Ghost” by Frank Norris (A Deal in Wheat and Other Tales of the New and Old West, 1903)

“The Gray Wolf” by George MacDonald (Works of Fantasy and Imagination, 1871)

“The Camp of the Dog” by Algernon Blackwood (John Silence: Physician Extraordinary, 1908)

“Island of Ghosts” by Julian Hawthorne (All Story Weekly, April 13, 1918)


“The Fiend of the Cooperage” by Arthur Conan Doyle (The Manchester Weekly Times, October 1st 1897; Round the Fire Stories, 1908)

“Spirit Island” by Henry Toke Munn (Chambers Journal, November 1922)

“The Purple Terror” by Fred M. White (The Strand Magazine, September 1899)

“Friend Island” by Francis Stevens (All-Story Weekly, September 7, 1918; Fantastic Novels Magazine, September 1950)

“In the Land of Tomorrow” by Epes Winthrop Sargent (The Ocean, December 1907 and January 1908)

“The Isle of Voices” by Robert Louis Stevenson (Island Night’s Entertainment, 1893)

“Dagon” by H. P. Lovecraft (The Vagrant, November 1919; The Outsider and Others, 1939)

“The People of Pan” by Henry S. Whitehead (Weird Tales, March 1929; West India Lights, 1946)


“The Sixth Gargoyle” by David Eynon (Weird Tales, January 1951)

“Three Skeleton Key” by George G. Toudouze (Esquire, January 1937)

“Good-by Jack” by Jack London (The House of Pride and Other Tales of Hawaii, 1912)

“The Isle of Doom” by James Francis Dwyer (The Popular Magazine, April 15 1910)

“An Adriatic Awakening” by Jonathan E. Lewis

Notes for Further Reading

   I’ve asked Matthew R. Bradley, author of the following book, to tell us more about it. He’s most graciously agreed:

MATTHEW R. BRADLEY — Richard Matheson on Screen: A History of the Filmed Works. McFarland Press, softcover and eBook, illustrated, 2010.

   I’ve long called Richard Matheson (1926-2013) “the most famous writer you’ve never heard of.” The man in the street reacts blankly to his name, yet snaps to attention at his screen credits: The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Twilight Zone (“the one with the gremlin on the wing”), Roger Corman’s Poe films, Duel (“the one with the truck chasing the guy”), The Night Stalker, Trilogy of Terror (“the one with the Zuni doll”), Somewhere in Time … The late George A. Romero also acknowledged that his oft-filmed novel I Am Legend inspired Night of the Living Dead — and thus, by extension, the entire modern-day zombie phenomenon — but since several Matheson-related posts have graced this blog, I presume he needs no further introduction here.

   By the time I decided to attempt a book on Matheson, I’d already written about him for various publications and websites, and Richard had invited me to contribute introductions to limited editions of his novels. I knew a traditional biography was beyond me, so I set out to cover every feature, telefilm or — insofar as possible, records and memories being incomplete — television episode written by him and/or based on his work, placing them in the context of his overall career. Having interviewed Richard and his friends, colleagues, and collaborators among the “California Sorcerers” (Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, George Clayton Johnson, William F. Nolan, Jerry Sohl), I had extensive first-hand accounts and correspondence on which to draw.

   Then, a funny thing happened on the way to the publisher: while writing Richard Matheson on Screen, I ended up editing Richard’s own Duel & The Distributor and co-editing, with Stanley Wiater and Paul Stuve, The Richard Matheson Companion (revised and updated as The Twilight and Other Zones: The Dark Worlds of Richard Matheson).

   Between those, helping my wife raise our Matheson-loving daughter, and the pesky need to earn a living, it took me 13 years to finish this book, yet the cross-pollination greatly benefited them all. The increasing ubiquity of the Internet also enabled me to track down — with the help of inestimable friends — information and materials I’d never have had if it were finished sooner, although a few of his more obscure episodes elude me to this day.

   I’m proud to say that through our research, I think I assembled the most comprehensive information to date on Matheson’s many unproduced scripts, to which a separate section of this book is devoted. I was thrilled that after reading the manuscript, Richard wrote a characteristically gracious foreword, and most satisfying of all, he saw and responded enthusiastically to the finished book less than three years before his death:

   â€œYou just cost me a whole day of writing. They delivered your book today, and I’ve been spending the whole day looking through it. It’s fascinating. You really did a great job on it. It’s beautifully done, extremely complete. I haven’t finished it yet, but I wanted to call and thank you for sending it, and tell you how impressed I am with the work you did on it. A beautiful job.”

   As I said at the time, that’s the only review that really matters.

RICHARD S. PRATHER – Kill Me Tomorrow. Shell Scott #34. Pocket, paperback original; 1st printing, October 1969; 2nd printing, 1972.

   Richard Prather and his once extremely well-known PI creation Shell Scott changed publishers in the middle of 1964, but I was off to grad school at the time, and I barely noticed. Back when Gold Medal was responsible for putting them out, I gobbled them down as soon as they reached the spinner rack at the supermarket where I stopped every day on my way home from school.

   I don’t know for sure, but this may be the first of the Pocket editions I ever picked up to actually read. I don’t know whether it was me, or the book itself, but I was sadly disappointed. I tried and I tried but I could not finish it.

   And even I though I didn’t, I’ll tell you about it anyway, and maybe you can tell me what you think. Part of the problem may be that Scott is a long way from his usual Hollywood stomping grounds. He’s off on vacation in Arizona in this one, helping the senior citizens in a retirement community fend off a horde of gangsters who have infiltrated their midst, some of them as geriatric as they are. Strike one?

   With a word count of well over 200 pages of small print, Prather is awfully lead-footed and wordy in this one. Padded, I’d say. Strike two. The only time the prose perks up is when Scott is describing the bountiful charms of one of the female characters, at which point he goes positively lyrical. Problem is, there are only two such characters, the first being a luscious movie star whose father is a member of said retirement community, and for far too many pages, all they do is shake hands. Strike three.

   Nothing else was remotely interesting. Dull as dishwater. Nothing like those light-hearted if not out-and-out wacky old Gold Medal adventures I grew up with. Or perhaps, is it me? Should I not go back and read one of those either?

   I’ve asked Ian Dickerson, the editor of the following book to tell us more about it. Once again he’s most graciously agreed:

IAN DICKERSON, Editor – Sherlock Holmes: The Lost Radio Scripts, by Leslie Charteris & Denis Green. Purview Press, softcover, November 2017.

   I find the effect of television on the young quite interesting. Bear with me, this isn’t as off-topic as you think…

   I was nine years old when I first watched Return of the Saint. I think it’s fair to say that show corrupted me and changed my life. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t just the show that did that, but the books by Leslie Charteris as well. I spent years making sure I collected every possible Saint adventure, joined The Saint Club and was privileged to know Leslie and Audrey Charteris. I’ve also written a number of books about the Saint and Leslie Charteris and yes, there’s more to come.

   I wasn’t much older when, thanks to the BBC, I watched The Falcon on TV and I’ve written a book about that character as well (more here: )

   Around the same time I discovered The Falcon, the BBC were kind enough to show many of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes films. Now that wasn’t my introduction to Holmes and Watson for I’d already read the works of Conan Doyle, but for many, many years after to me Rathbone and Bruce were Holmes and Watson.

   Then one day, whilst having a post-prandial coffee with a certain Mr Charteris, worlds collided for he mentioned that he wrote some Sherlock Holmes scripts with his friend Denis Green.. Over the course of our subsequent lunches (in a pre-internet age) he graciously answered my questions about them but since it was almost fifty years ago that he worked on the, his memory was not replete with the details I wanted.

   As the internet matured I managed to find out more details about the shows but no recordings or scripts from them.

   After Leslie died I got to know Audrey fairly well and we talked at length about many things. Occasionally she dropped hints that she thought some of Leslie’s Holmes scripts had survived and might be in their Dublin flat, but that was as far as I could get.

   After Audrey died in 2014 Leslie’s family asked me to go through their flat in Dublin. There indeed I found a stack of Leslie’s Sherlock Holmes scripts alongside many other gems. I was, needless to say, rather delighted. More so when his family gave me permission to get them into print.

   So thanks to television, here’s the first volume of a missing chapter in the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson…

   I’ve asked Ian Dickerson, the author of the following book to tell us more about it. He’s most graciously agreed:

IAN DICKERSON – Who Is The Falcon?: The Detective In Print, Movies, Radio and TV. Purview Press. softcover, December 2016.

   Back in the dim and distant past, when I was just a lad, I discovered the adventures of the Saint. (I know, I know, I’ve kept that quiet….) In those heady days I was a sucker for any new Saint-like adventure so when the BBC ran out of old black and white Saint films to show and moved onto something called ‘The Falcon.’ my place in front of the television was assured for a few more weeks.

   Those early Falcon films were remarkably Saintly, and although the later ones got a little more creative — The Falcon and the Co-Eds anyone? — they were still firmly in the gentleman detective genre and my teen -aged self was happy.

   Fast forward a few years — well, okay, quite a few years — and I discovered old time radio shows. But I soon had a problem, I had all the episodes of The Saint on tape and being greedy I wanted more. Then I discovered the Falcon had also appeared on radio! Aha, problem solved I thought! But when I listened to the tapes I discovered the Falcon — that radio Falcon — was a hard boiled 1940s PI and bore virtually no resemblance to the gentleman detective of the George Sanders and Tom Conway films. At a time when the Internet was only really just booting up, I had no way of establishing what had happened, but I rather enjoyed those hard-boiled PI adventures so quickly ordered some more.

   Fast forward a few more years and with the help of the now mature Internet, I discovered that not only had the Falcon also appeared in books, magazines and on TV, but that the radio show had run for over a decade and there had been over four hundred and eighty episodes.

   I wanted to learn things; to find out why there were two different characters and how they’d come to be changed, to find out more about the Falcon’s TV adventures and see if I could find copies of them, I also wanted to know more about his stint on radio — who played him? Who wrote the stories? What were they about? And for the geek in me … had I listened to all the ones that were available? (I certainly have now!)

   And I wanted to celebrate a character that had survived sixteen films, a handful of books, thirty-nine episodes of television and that long run on radio.

   So I wrote a book.

   Who is the Falcon? tells the story of all the Falcon’s adventures in print, on radio, in film and television. And there’s even a Falcon short story from the 1940s thrown in for good measure.

   Scheduled for publication from Stark House Press in March of next year:

   The strange island story utilizes island locations to examine human society and human nature, taking the reader on a journey into the weird, the bizarre, and the unsettling. Nineteen classic tales from Arthur Conan Doyle, Julian Hawthorne, Jack London, H. P. Lovecraft, M. P. Shiel, John Buchan and more; plus one new story from the editor himself!

DASHIELL HAMMETT – The Big Book of the Continental Op. RICHARD LAYMAN & JULIE RIVETT, Editors. Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, softcover, 28 November 2017. 752 pages.

    “Now for the first time ever in one volume, all twenty-eight stories and two serialized novels starring the Continental Op — one of the greatest characters in storied history of detective fiction.”

    What else do you need to know? I’ve been waiting for this book for almost 60 years. And now here it is, at last, all but three stories appearing first in Black Mask magazine, and all reprinted as they first appeared.


Dear Steve,

   I remember with delight the correspondence between my late husband, Dennis Lynds, AKA Michael Collins, and you and Ed Lynskey that went into creating the wonderful Dan Fortune page on Mystery*File. It’s an outstanding analysis and resource.

    “Dan Fortune is the sort of guy you’d like to strike up a conversation with late at night or in a bus station. He stays a choice friend from book to book.” Ed wrote that, and I’ve never forgotten it. Ed succinctly and vividly captured the essence of the series.

   With that in mind, I’m thrilled to tell you Dan Fortune is back. The entire 17-book series of private eye novels are available again, for the first time in Kindle and trade paperback. We hope a new generation of readers will discover Dan, and that long-time fans will enjoy rereading the classic tales.

   In addition, we’re offering a $1.99 sale for the Kindle version of the first book, Act of Fear, which won the Edgar Award, to help get folks started. Take advantage here.

   Last week I sent out a newsletter readers might find interesting. Here’s the link.

   Who is Dennis Lynds? A raconteur and Renaissance man, he’s considered among the most important and influential writers of private-eye stories in the past 50 years. Beginning in the late Sixties, he changed the mystery form and along the way created iconic private detectives who won the hearts of readers and the awards of critics. His books remain not only entertaining but relevant, while giving vivid life to the eras in which he wrote.

   And finally, here’s his new, revamped website:

   Thank you so much for letting me alert readers, Steve. You make many contributions to our industry, and I am grateful.

                  All best,



   I’ve asked Chuck Harter, the author of the following book to tell us more about it. He’s most graciously agreed:

CHUCK HARTER – Mr. Novak: An Acclaimed Television Series. Bearmanor Media, hardcover, softcover and eBook, illustrated, 15 October 2017.

   This book is a comprehensive look at a classic dramatic television series that aired for two seasons in the early 1960’s. It was filmed at the MGM studios, aired on the NBC network and showcased life at a typical American High School.

   The program starred James Franciscus as teacher John Novak with first Dean Jagger then later Burgess Meredith as the Principal of the school. Mr. Novak was the first series that portrayed teachers and students in a realistic dramatic manner.

   Previously there had only been sitcoms which didn’t reflect the lifestyles of the real students of America. The series featured top quality scripts, actors and production and won over 47 awards during its run including the prestigious Peabody Award for excellence.

   Many of the awards came from academic institutions which praised the show for its portrayal of the educational community. Such was the impact of the production that it prompted many to become teachers and many existing educators to improve their skills.

   The book traces the evolution of the series from development to the pilot’s production and acceptance by NBC. It then covers the filming and airing of the first season to great acclaim.

   The second season, which was fraught with controversy and discord is then examined with the result being cancellation.

   The legacy of the principals involved with the series is examined along with comments by those that continue to be interested in this vintage classic dramatic series of superior values.

   The book contains exclusive interviews with over 40 actors including Ed Asner, Frankie Avalon, Diane Baker, Beau Bridges, Johnny Crawford, Tony Dow, Sherry Jackson, Tommy Kirk, Walter Koenig, Martin Landau, June Lockhart, Beverly Washburn and many others. There are 243 illustrations and an index, including a complete episode guide with full credits, plot descriptions, vintage interviews, and new appraisals by the author.

   There is also an extensive appendix with a list of the awards Mr. Novak won, Producer E. Jack Neuman’s writer’s guide for Mr. Novak, An advice column for High School graduates by star James Franciscus, Principal Vane’s (Dean Jagger) speech to the new teachers, the Mr. Novak board game and more.

   The Introduction of the book is by A-List Director Richard Donner: “I’m so glad Chuck Harter is brining the Mr. Novak experience to a wider audience…read his detailed behind-the-scenes account.”

   The Foreword is by the late Martin Landau: “Chuck Harter has produced a superlative book that is both fascinating and informative.”

   The Afterword is by Star Trek actor Walter Koenig: “You don’t have to be an actor…just a student to appreciate the skillful way in which Chuck Harter unfolds the stories behind the cameras.”

   Mr. Novak was a television series of exceptional quality and the amazing thing is that when episodes are viewed today — they are not dated or corny but are still relevant to modern times.

   The book is also available at, while the Official website is

ANNOUNCEMENT : Warner Home Video is going to release the first season of Mr. Novak (30 episodes) in a DVD set in 2018. They will be struck from the original 35mm camera negatives and should look pristine.

   I’ve asked Dick Etulain, the author of the following book to tell us more about it. He’s most graciously agreed:

RICHARD W. ETULAIN – Ernest Haycox and the Western. University of Oklahoma Press, hardcover, illustrated, 2017.

   This book attempts to resurrect writer Ernest Haycox as a major figure in the development of the fictional Western. It is not a biography; Haycox’s son, Ernest Haycox, Jr., does that in his smoothly written book On a Silver Desert: The Life of Ernest Haycox (2003). Nor is it primarily a work of literary criticism. That book is available in Stephen L. Tanner, Ernest Haycox (1996).

   Rather, my book is a work of literary history, tracing Haycox’s literary career from its origins in the early 1920s to his death in 1950.

   Born in 1899 and reared in Oregon, Haycox contributed to high school publications and then to college outlets at Reed College (1919-20) and the University of Oregon (1920-23). By graduation, Haycox had published several stories in pulp magazines. Hoping to establish strong links to fictional outlets in the East, Haycox traveled to New York City, where he met editors important to his career in the 1920s. Meeting Jill Marie Chord (also from Oregon) on the train east, they married in New York City but soon returned west to Portland, which would be the Haycox home for the remainder of his life.

   By the end of the 1920s, Haycox was a steady contributor to many pulp magazines, including such stalwarts as Adventure, Short Stories, and Western Story Magazine. In 1928, he published his first full-length serial, which appeared the next year as Free Grass, his first novel. In the opening 1930s, Haycox made his first appearance in Collier’s and remained a steady contributor for almost twenty years.

   Hoping to move to the top of writers of Westerns, Haycox experimented with several new wrinkles to chosen genre. He created reflective protagonists (“Hamlet heroes”) and dark and light heroines (passionate and reserved women).

   Even more important, he began to turn out historical Westerns, infusing his lively fiction with historical backgrounds such as building the transcontinental railroad, fighting Indians in the Southwest, and settling Oregon. His most notable historical Western was Bugles in the Afternoon (1944), a fictional recreation of Gen. George Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

   Immensely successful, Haycox was nonetheless dissatisfied with the restrictions of the Western and entered a period of revolt in the last half-dozen years (1944-50) of his career. Abandoning lucrative serial markets, he set out to write first-rate historical fiction. His best historical novel, The Earthbreakers (1952), appeared two years after his death.

   Talented, ambitious, and driven, Ernest Haycox became a major figure in popular fiction written about the American West. Haycox’s continuing growth, gradual but steady, amply demonstrates an author determined enough to defy popular demands and honest enough to write novels consistent with his changing literary beliefs.

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