ARGOSY WEEKLY. 9 June 1934. The problem with collecting Argosy pulps, unless you want them only for some inborn collector’s urges and your life wouldn’t be the same without them, is that more than half of every issues is taken up with staggered installments of usually three different serials. You have to do a heap of collecting to put a string of consecutive issues together before you could read the complete story of all three.

   So why I did I read the first installment of “Pictured Rock,” by Frank Richardson Pierce, in this particular issue? Pure carelessness, that’s all. I wasn’t paying attention. It’s Part 1 of 5, and it never came out in book form, so there’s no chance I’ll ever get to finish it. I was closing in one page 22, where the next story started, before I began to think to myself, what’s going on? This story ends in two pages, and it’s barely begun.

   A fairly astute observation, that. But the story’s an interesting one, and I don’t regret reading the portion of it that I did. It’s about a young man raised by his uncle, a banker on the East Coast, who heads for the West when his father, thought to have been dead for 25 years, manages to send him a written request to come to see him before he dies. A story very much in the larger-than-life Max Brand western tradition.

   On page 22 begins a novelette by H. Bedford-Jones in his long-running series of adventures of one John Solomon, a London-based Cockney adventurer-agent of sorts who seems to have his fingers in all kinds of pies, including friends on the police force and perhaps even higher echelons. “John Solomon of Limehouse” is the first one of these tales that I’ve read, so anything anyone can say more about the character, please do.

   Solomon’s first recorded adventure dates back to 1914, plus or minus a year so, and the one in this issue of Argosy comes (I believe) toward the end of the run. It begins with a young chap named Carson newly arrived in London being taken for his great-uncle, a rather unlikable man of some wealth — ill-gotten, by all accounts — with many enemies. To get out of the scrape Carson finds himself in, he learns that he will need all of the assistance Solomon can give him.

   The story is well-told, with plenty of exotic and picturesque settings in the area of London along the docks, but it suffers from the fact that Solomon simply has too many resources for most bad guys to make a stand against him.

   The next novelette is by William Edward Hayes, who besides being the author of many stories for the pulps, also wrote three hardcover detective novels, one of which, Black Chronicle, was reviewed on this blog by Bill Deeck some three years ago.

   “The Dark Temple” is a story about the problems facing the men trying to build a railroad through the jungles of somewhere in Central of South America. There is a deadline, and an engineer named McAllister is called on by his good friend Captain Strickland to help. As soon as he arrives, though, McAllister knows he is in danger and worse, Cap has disappeared. Lots of action in this one, but what’s amusing is that every time McAllister finds himself in a situation with no way out, it is a girl who comes to his rescue.

   I’m not a big fan of French Foreign Legion stories, but a writer named Georges Surdez wrote a lot of them for Argosy and other pulp magazines, and well enough that they seem to be based on personal experience. The short story “Another Man’s Chevrons” is about a soldier who is not noted for his bravery, but when it counts, he does what he needs to do.

   Next comes another serial installment, this one called “The Terror,” by Eustace L. Adams, which is about an air pirate with dreams of dominating the world, if I read the blurb correctly. I’d like to read this one sometime if I could, but it was never published in book form. He did write a boys’ book called Pirates of the Air (Grosset and Dunlap, 1929), featuring, I am told, mid-Atlantic floating landing platforms. According to ISDb, these are not the same two stories.

   One short story comes before the next long serial installment, this one entitled “All Equal,” by Foster-Harris about a Wild West shoot-out taking place instead in an oil rig camp, one with a twist that makes it worth reading.

   To wind up this issue is Part 4 of 6 of a novel by F. V. W. Mason called “The Barbarian.” This is a historical novel taking place in ancient Carthage. Ordinarily I find such fiction dry as bones, but I think Mason, a prolific novelist and very well known in his day, was someone who could make stories in such settings readable in everyday language. I didn’t read any of this one, but you can check out his Wikipedia page here.