Friday, October 24, 2014

Forgotten Books: SATAN'S VENGEANCE by Carroll John Daly (1936)

Here's a book so forgotten it's never actually been a book. Seventy-five years after its pulp appearance, "Satan's Vengeance" did finally appear in a book, but only as part of the complete (or Compleat) saga of Satan Hall.

Sporting the fine cover above, "Satan's Vengeance" began its eight-part run in the March 7, 1936 issue of Detective Fiction Weekly. It was the last of three novel-length Satan adventures, the others being The Mystery of the Smoking Gun (reviewed HERE) and Ready to Burn (HERE). Why this one was not promptly issued in hardcover remains a mystery. Story-wise, it's not up to the high standard of Smoking Gun (one of my favorite Daly novels) but is at least as good as Burn.

As usual, New York City is dang near under the thumb of a dang near invincible crime boss, and the only thing standing in this master villain's way is Detective Frank "Satan" Hall. While the rest of the police department is hamstrung by politics, Satan has a free hand. He reports directly to the incorruptible commissioner. It's the next best thing to having a license to kill.

Daly's evil masterminds are fond of melodramatic names such as The Hidden Hand or The Head Tag, and this one calls himself The Other Man. The secret of his success is that he's somehow privy to all the dirt on folks in respectable society, and is able to blackmail them into providing alibis for his hired killers. As you might expect, Satan Hall - the Dirty Harry of his time - is not happy with the situation.

When one of The Other Man's minions threatens to tell tales to the cops, he's slated for a rub-out. Luckily for him, Satan knocks him cold and takes his place (above). When the two gunsels close in, Satan fires both guns through his overcoat and renders them defunct. 

Dan Gargan, one of the city's most vicious killers (on his last job, he aced two children as collateral damage), is The Other Man's head stooge until Satan takes a hand.

So Gargan lures Satan into a trap, where a coldblooded tommy-gun expert waits to take him out. Guess who gets taken out?

Part of The Other Man's racket is selling protection to delicatessen owners. Satan goes undercover long enough to send three more bodies to the undertaker.

Pillar of society Glenn E. Nostrom is providing alibis for The Other Man's killers, so Satan drops in to ask him why. 

Most of Daly's early stories feature a convenient set of curtains for good guys or bad guys to hide behind. In this case, Satan does the hiding, and gets the scoop. The Other Man is holding Nostrom's daughter hostage. 

And as if holding her hostage isn't bad enough, they lay her at the bottom of the grave and begin filling it with dirt, letting her breathe through a tube. In this scene The Other Man finally makes an appearance, and we discover he shares a tailor with The Shadow. 

Satan has practically made a career out of walking into traps and coming out shooting. This time he wears his Doc Savage shirt, but the result is the same. The Other Man, though he doesn't yet know it, is having his last laugh. 

"Satan's Vengeance" occupies about 80 of the 530 pages in The Satan Hall Omnibus (aka The Compleat Adventures of Satan Hall) published in 2011 by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box. Copies run about a hundred bucks, and are well worth it (I reviewed that HERE). You may direct inquiries to George A. Vanderburgh at 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Knights of the Metropolitan Museum (Part 1)

My wife and I had only three and a half hours to tour the Metropolitan Museum of Art (a task requiring at least several days), so I budgeted my time as best I could: I spent two and half of those hours in the Arms and Armour room. Wasn't nearly enough, of course. I barely had time to take photos, and no time at all to jot down details. So while many of these suits of armor have been identified as to time and country - and some even by owner - I lack that info. Still, they're pretty cool to look at. Stay tuned for more.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Overlooked Films: I, THE JURY (1953)

One of these days I'd like to see this movie in SHATTERING, SENSATIONAL, SEARING 3-D. Until then, I guess plain old 2-D will have to do.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cap Gun Monday: Kilgore CHAMPION

There were cap guns named "Champion" that I believe were named after Gene Autry's horse, but this isn't one of them. Instead, the name seems related to that funny looking metal lever attached to the front of the grip. The idea is that you squeeze that lever as you draw your gun, and it times the speed of your draw. The box (which I do not own) proclaims it to be "An Art Linklater Award Toy." Maybe an endorsement by old Art would impress parents, but it's hard to imagine it impressing a kid.

In these pics it's tough to see through the little clear plastic window in the grip. But there's a wheel in there with numbers on it. Before each draw you wind the wheel through a hole in the bottom of the grip. As you draw the gun from your holster, you squeeze the lever, starting the timer. Somehow, this is supposed to time your draw, and the number displayed in the window tells you how good you are, in hundredths of a second. A score between 10 and 40 hundredths makes you an EXPERT. 40 to 70 is FAST. 70 to 90 is GOOD, and 90 to 100 rates you DEAD. Ouch.

This little plate flips up to load roll caps. Official Kilgore brand caps are recommended, natch.

Lots more Cap Guns HERE.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Toy Soldier Saturday: MPC WWII JAPANESE

These 2 1/4 inch soldiers came a little late to the war, showing up sometime in the early '60s, but they've made up for it by fighting ever since. And unless some future kid bites their heads off or takes a cigarette lighter to them, they'll probably keep on fighting until the Crack of Doom. 

More small plastic armies HERE.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Forgotten Books: THE SHADOW OF THE TOMAHAWK by Hugh Pendexter

The Shadow of the Tomahawk is a novel so forgotten it had to wait 93 years to be published in book form. It first ran as a serial in Adventure in 1920 and 21 and was finally given new life last year.

Members of the Western APA (Amateur Press Association) OWLHOOT (you know who you are) have raving about this Hugh Pendexter guy, but this was my introduction to his work, and I'll be eagerly looking for more. And thanks to Tom Roberts and Black Dog Books, it won't be hard to find. This book is one of five volumes now available in the Hugh Pendexter Library, and there are more on the way. 

Pendexter, I was pleased to learn, was the author of nearly eighty novels, so I have a lot to look forward to. The Shadow of the Tomahawk involves a time and place in American history that I know very little about, but the novel's narrator, frontier scout Basdel Morris, took me into his world, introduced me to the players, the conflicts and the landscape, and left me the wiser for it.

The story takes place on the Virginia frontier of 1774, with the British still trying to control their colonies and having very little luck. The guys back in Parliament want peace with the Indians, but folks on the frontier know that's no longer an option. There have been atrocities committed on both sides, and reasonably objective observers like Basdel Morris know there's plenty of blame to go around.

There are still settlers who just want to get along, and still some tribes that are friendly. But there are hotheads whose sole ambition is to exterminate all Indians, and warchiefs who are determined to eradicate all the colonists infesting their hereditary territory. Our hero Basdel represents the voice of reason, but when the pampered city girl he loves - and her know-it-all father - head toward the frontier preaching peace, he must turn to the fiercest of Indian killers in an attempt to save their scalps.

Pendexter was known for his historical research, and recreates a world that rings true in every respect. Through his characters and dialogue, he brought the past to vivid life. Based on my brief acquaintance with him, I'm tempted to call him the Bernard Cornwell of the last century. 

The other books now available in the Hugh Pendexter Library are Red Trails (a related novel set ten years after this one), The Shorthorn Kid (a collection of western stories), According to the Evidence (the collected adventures of The Bureau of Abnormal Litigation), and Along the River Trail (a novel featuring a mountain man at the time of Jim Bridger). For ordering and other info, visit the Black Dog Books site HERE