Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Skullduggery: Three "Lost" stories by James Reasoner

cc
While excavating a few old boxes from storage the other day, I unearthed these artifacts of Reasoner history.  As soon as I’ve finished reading them, they’ll be winging their way to Texas to join the Reasoner post-fire library.

SKULLDUGGERY 5 (Winter 1981) was the first of two issues edited by Will Murray, who took over from Mike Cook. With this issue, the mag shifted from crime fiction to “fiction noir”, which explains why I bought it. The Reasoner tale, “Dreams Before Breakfast” stars a guy who suffers a recurring nightmare until he begins cheating on his wife. Believing she was the cause of his dreams, he resolves to end the marriage by any means necessary - with surprising results. Also in this issue: “Mellow Drama” by Richard Sale, a cockeyed tale from 1935, set in the office of a hero pulp publisher (it has since been reprinted in Blood ’N' Thunder 3).

SKULLDUGGERY 6 leads off with his story “Play by the Rules”. This one’s about a guy paid a visit by an old not-friend and his deadly associates. This tale is far less “lost” than it used to be, because James reprinted it last Fall on his blog. You can read the whole thing right HERE. You’ll be pleased to know the cover illo with the folks in the klannish hoods is for a different story.

SKULLDUGGERY 7 finds Karen Shapiro and Bill Desmond (publishers of issues 5 and 6) now editing as well. According to them, “The Double Edge” is Reasoner’s fifth story featuring Markham, a Chandleresque private eye. Markham doesn’t mind serving his clients, but hates being used, as his current client learns to his peril. “At he moment,” the editors tell us, James “is working on both a mystery novel and a fantasy novel. And a historical romance, The Emerald Land, which he wrote with his wife, L.J. Washburn, will be published soon by Fawcett.” (Hey James! What fantasy novel was that?) Skullduggery lasted one more issue (without a Reasoner tale, I believe), then was reborn for a four-issue run as Spiderweb, where at least one more of his stories appeared. If I have any Spiderwebs, they’re still buried in storage.

9 comments:

James Reasoner said...

Thanks in advance! I wasn't sure I'd ever see a couple of those stories again. As for the fantasy novel, as well as the mystery, I don't remember what they were, but they were almost certainly never finished. I do have one unpublished fantasy novel in my files, but it would take so much work to make it publishable that I may never get around to it.

Laurie said...

That's great of you to send them to James. And thanks for giving us a quick summary - otherwise we never would have known about them.

David Cranmer said...

Your write up of "Dreams Before Breakfast" has me hooked. I can't imagine where that plot leads.

James, Is a short story collection on the horizon for older stories like these?

James Reasoner said...

David,
OLD TIMES' SAKE, published by Ramble House, collects a lot of my old stories, but not these that Dave just turned up. I couldn't find my copies of them when Fender Tucker and I were putting together the book. Also unreprinted are all of the stories featuring my private eye characters Cody and Markham (one of which, "The Double Edge", was lost until now). I think that eventually there'll be a volume reprinting all of them. That will leave just my two confession stories and a couple dozen men's magazine stories truly lost, and a good thing that is, too.

I'll probably post "Dreams Before Breakfast" on my blog sooner or later.

Richard Robinson said...

Say that last one has a story by Hal Rice and Charlie Sweet in it!

This great that you turned these up, Dave. James, I'll have to dig out that Ramble House collection.

Evan Lewis said...

"Death Before Breakfast" is one of those extra cool stories with a double ending. Just when you think it's over, and you're already satisfied, James hits you with an even better finish.

The Hal Charles story is "The Mystery Man". Our hero is a mystery writer trying to solve the mystery of another mystery writer, both of whom write for Simon Prince's Mystery Magazine. Fun stuff.

David Cranmer said...

Thanks James. I will have to give my Amazon cart a rest until next week but I will check both collections out.

"Dreams Before Breakfast." Hmmm. I know the editor of this popular webzine...

James Reasoner said...

Dang it, now I'm curious. I know I wrote the story, but I don't remember a blasted thing about the plot.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Wow. They are so cool. I'd like to rummage around in your house.