Thursday, June 24, 2010

Twice Murdered: A story collection by Laurence Donovan

Prior to cracking open this new collection from Black Dog Books, all I knew about Laurence Donovan was that he’d written a handful of Doc Savage novels.

Now I know better. Boy, do I ever. This book makes it clear that Donovan was a pulp-writing powerhouse.  In a career stretching from 1928 to 1948, he turned out well over 400 stories and novelettes, plus more than 50 pulp novels featuring guys like The Phantom Detective, The Black Bat, The Whisperer, The Skipper - and yes, Doc Savage. Like many of his contemporaries, he wrote whatever the market wanted, resulting in a good mix of air war adventures, westerns and mysteries. (How do I know all this? I know, thanks to Tom Roberts' groundbreaking Introduction and overview of Donovan's career, and the eye-opening 18-page bibliography of his works.)

The amazing thing is that despite this enormous output, there has never been a book published with Donovan's name on it. Until now.

All but one of the twelve stories in Twice Murdered were written during the second half of his long career, and all but one originally appeared in the Trojan line of magazines (Spicy Detective, Hollywood Detective, Super-Detective and Private Detective Stories). And that, I think, is a good thing.

By 1938, Donovan had long since mastered his craft, and writing for the Trojan mags allowed him to focus on his own characters and tell stories the way he wanted them told. And he had fun doing it. That sense of enjoyment comes through strong in every tale, and makes them equally fun to read.

Donovan’s style might be described as a cross between Lester Dent and Robert Leslie Bellem. He mixes Dent’s wry humor and rat-a-tat-tat action with Bellem’s mastery of  slang. The result is consistently entertaining, and every tale races to a satisfying conclusion. For purposes of show and tell, I've scanned a couple of title spreads from the original magazines, and invite you to sample Donovan's prose.

(click to enlarge)

More than half of the stories are in the Spicy mold. Donovan handles the required titillation as well as anybody, but because he was older and more experienced (both in writing and living) than the other Spicy regulars, his tales deliver more variety and substance.

“Death Dances on Dimes” takes us into the world of dime-a-dance halls and sleazy strip joints.  “The Snoop” thrusts a house dick into a wild shoot-out with bank robbers in a hotel room.  In “Twice Murdered” a gambling house kingpin tries to scam his insurance company and ends up dead - twice.  “Never Hire a Killer” features a private dick hired to protect a society dude’s girlfriend, unaware both dude and dame have other agendas.  In “She Loves to Murder” a self-professed “love detective” becomes the fourth side of love triangle, with deadly results.

“Footprint of Destiny” from Hollywood Detective, opens at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, where a starlet is murdered just as she places her dainty foot into the wet cement. “The Greyhound Murders” involves the dog-racing crowd and a four-legged murder weapon. The violence in “A Dame Murders Cold” appears to revolve around a dazzling Ming Dragon emerald, but actually stems from a much deeper game. And in “Two Can Play at Murder”, a disgraced ex-cop is lured into a double-murder frame, and neatly turns the tables on the mobsters.

(click to enlarge)

One of the longer stories in the book, a novelette called “Come In, Killer”, is almost Shakespearean as it plays out with mistaken identities, hidden motives and unexpected deaths. “The Man Who Came to Die” - the longest story of all - is also the strangest. As publisher Tom Roberts tells us in the Introduction, Donovan never sold to the weird mystery pulps, but this one would certainly have qualified. A detective starves himself to skin and bone to impersonate a rich guy thought to be the next victim of a clever and sophisticated insurance fraud scheme. No one in this tale is quite what they seem, and before it’s over half the cast winds up dead.

While I enjoyed every story, my favorite of the bunch was “Reagan Follows Up”, in which a newspaper editor defies his boss to go to war with the mob and expose the killer of a crusading cop. Donovan clearly identified with this guy, as Donovan’s pre-fictioneer days were spent as a newspaperman.

So. While Twice Murdered is Laurence Donovan’s first book, I predict it won’t be his last. Black Dog has finally brought Donovan out of Lester Dent’s shadow, and he won’t be going back.

For more info (and to order) visit BLACK DOG BOOKS.

For a review by James Reasoner, click HERE.

Tomorrow: A review of Donovan's Doc Savage novel Cold Death
Sunday: A complete Donovan mystery story from Speed Detective
Soon: A look at some of Donovan's Hero Pulp novels

18 comments:

David Cranmer said...

I'm leaving my comment before I've read your complete post because I can see (after scanning) being lost in the world of Laurence Donovan for the next hour or so.

Gracias.

James Reasoner said...

I love that wise-guy expression on Donovan's face in the photo.

Deka Black said...

Short stories... How much i love them. A type of medium what is a BIG milestone in the story and development of American literature. And shine with her own light in the genres i love so much.

The people should read more short stories collections/anthologies.

Deka Black said...

I fotgor earlier: One thing. above all else what i envy deeply, very deeply of a handful of pulp writers is the humongous amount of words typed every month. Wish i could do that!

(Mi personal goal is 1000 by day and is easier to reach each day, to tell the truth, but still, wow, some writers of the era seems to have lived beneath a words stream!)

Evan Lewis said...

1000 words a day is a good goal. It's not at all hard on any given day, but making time to do it EVERY day is the real challenge.

Deka Black said...

You got a point. Must sacrifice time for other things: Other hobbies, people...

Richard Prosch said...

So many words published, but no byline on a book 'til now --incredible!

Anonymous said...

Cool website I loved reading your info

[url=http://partyopedia.com]birthday supplies[/url]

Anonymous said...

Thank you, that was extremely valuable and interesting...I will be back again to read more on this topic.

Anonymous said...

Top website, I had not noticed davycrockettsalmanack.blogspot.com previously during my searches!
Continue the good work!

Anonymous said...

Our company creates a occupation birthday card on the principle of unique and pretty projects.
These projects are carried in default close the cards the best team of explicit artists and designers in
the bazaar who are experts in every intelligibility of the word. They are also altogether lithe, so you can
carry out completely compelling business press card designs, depending on the individual needs of each client.
We do not own a masterful printing machines undertaking the highest distinction of each individual card.
Extensive variety of identification b docket allows you to meet the expectations of even the most hard customers
from every conceivable industry. We guarantee the copy and advantage of large quantities of responsibility
cards in the shortest credible time. In our pack, the highest attribute is the amends of the proposed
valuation and reliable service from people receiving and carrying out an busted for obligation cards.
With access to the services offered including our website, you can with dispatch and without undue
formalities mission an degree with a view goods, comment the outline and approved it and ordered some job
cards. Choose our retinue as a righteous organization postcard is much a oath for success.
Greet
Merio [url=http://www.kalendarze.dogory.pl]Kalendarze[/url]

Anonymous said...

Hey,

This is a message for the webmaster/admin here at davycrockettsalmanack.blogspot.com.

Can I use some of the information from this post right above if I provide a backlink back to your site?

Thanks,
Alex

Anonymous said...

This topic is simply matchless :), very much it is pleasant to me.

[url=http://www.graj24.pl/darmowe-gry_dla_dzieci.html]gry dla dzieci[/url]
| [url=http://www.graj24.pl/darmowe-gry_dla_dzieci.html]gry dla dzieci[/url]

Anonymous said...

I've on all occasions liked things like sand clocks, lava lamps, and the like to well-wishing of virtuous dish out in days of yore staring at it as a configuration of catharsis. In a way, it helps me with meditation, to mitigate emphasis and well-grounded assume just about nothing. That's why since I was a kid, instead of dolls and cars I've always collected more of such pieces like sand clocks, lava lamps, tuneful boxes etc. So I was most charmed when I start the[url=http://www.dealtoworld.com/goods-1260-2-Laser++LED+Light+Show+Laser+Top+Gyroscope+with+Music+Effects.html] 2-Laser + LED Inconsiderable Appear Laser Top Gyroscope with Music Effects[/url] from DealtoWorld.com under the Toys section. It's like a tuneful belt, a spinning exceed, and a moonlight divulge all rolled into one. Which is prodigious diversion! The gyroscope will spin object of in the air a minute. The laser explanation show with accompanying music makes this gyroscope a pretty unequalled bauble that my friends get also been most amused with.

My dogs are also pretty intrusive around the laser gyroscope I got from DealtoWorld.com. They always attend the gyroscope as it spins, although at principal they kept barking at the laser insight accompany, and also because it produces music. But after they got worn it, they've stopped barking but just maintain following the gyroscope whenever I start spinning it. Kids are also attractive amused by it. On occasion it's moral to have entertaining toys throughout the ancestry so that you can go away the diminutive on while the kids are being amused or playing with it while you live provide for food or sock changed. The gyroscope is a particular such fool with with this purpose.

The gyroscope I bought from DealtoWorld.com has a dragon as a design on it, and produces a gegenschein exposition with red, blue, and unskilled colours. Pit oneself against a look at the pictures I've uploaded of the gyroscope with laser joyful show. The music produced from the gyroscope is not that enormous but decorous sufficiency to entertain any redone roomer to the house. The gyroscope is red and black, making it look particular coolth, and measure masculine with that dragon imprint.

The music light inform gyroscope runs on 6 LR44 batteries, which are replaceable anyway. I've also utilized this gyroscope to eye-opener my girlfriend during our anniversary celebration. I did the cheesy matter of decorating the hostelry room with roses and when I led her in, I started up the gyroscope as rise so that the laser light register produces a dreamed-up effect. I also had some battery operated candles so all the sunrise effects created a slightly dreamt-up atmosphere. She loved it, by the custom, to my relief. I also bought the candles from DealtoWorld.com. These days it seems to be my default shopping locality in return all gifts and ideas for romanticist occasions.

Since Christmas is coming, this laser go down make clear gyroscope can dialect mayhap be a superb Christmas gift looking for the toddler or neutral the humour! Alternatively, the gyroscope can really be a gracious totalling to the usual Christmas decorations. I can take it as given placing it adjoining the Christmas tree and maybe spinning it when guests hit town in the house. Looks like [url=http://www.dealtoworld.com]DealtoWorld.com[/url] is getting my function anyway again!

Anonymous said...

Hello,

Thanks for sharing the link - but unfortunately it seems to be down? Does anybody here at davycrockettsalmanack.blogspot.com have a mirror or another source?


Cheers,
Harry

oakleyses said...

michael kors outlet, louis vuitton, true religion outlet, christian louboutin shoes, nike free, coach purses, nike air max, polo ralph lauren outlet, louis vuitton handbags, burberry outlet online, michael kors outlet online, coach outlet, michael kors outlet store, prada outlet, true religion, nike air max, coach outlet, polo ralph lauren, longchamp outlet online, coach outlet store online, red bottom shoes, burberry outlet online, kate spade outlet online, michael kors outlet online, nike shoes, kate spade handbags, christian louboutin outlet, michael kors outlet online, air max pas cher, jordan shoes, true religion outlet, nike air max, louboutin shoes, tiffany and co jewelry, louis vuitton outlet online, longchamp handbags, prada handbags, michael kors outlet online, longchamp outlet, gucci handbags, tiffany jewelry, louis vuitton outlet, chanel handbags, louis vuitton outlet, tory burch outlet, ray ban outlet

oakleyses said...

lululemon, scarpe hogan, burberry pas cher, hermes pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, tn pas cher, hollister, converse pas cher, ray ban pas cher, oakley pas cher, ralph lauren, lacoste pas cher, sac louis vuitton, nike air max, ralph lauren pas cher, sac michael kors, new balance pas cher, mulberry, vans pas cher, air jordan, nike trainers, nike blazer pas cher, michael kors uk, air max, barbour, ray ban uk, louis vuitton pas cher, timberland, longchamp pas cher, abercrombie and fitch, chaussure louboutin, north face, nike roshe run, vans outlet, hollister, mac cosmetics, nike roshe, longchamp, nike huarache, north face pas cher, nike air force, louis vuitton uk, michael kors canada, nike free pas cher, guess pas cher, hollister, nike free, longchamp, roshe run, louis vuitton

oakleyses said...

moncler, ugg, moncler, moncler outlet, north face outlet, canada goose, instyler ionic styler, canada goose outlet, mcm handbags, insanity workout, abercrombie and fitch, north face jackets, chi flat iron, ugg boots, celine handbags, nike air max, soccer jerseys, p90x workout, new balance outlet, valentino shoes, ghd, moncler, canada goose outlet, giuseppe zanotti, lululemon outlet, mont blanc pens, rolex watches, babyliss pro, wedding dresses, birkin bag, uggs outlet, bottega veneta, jimmy choo shoes, ugg soldes, canada goose uk, uggs on sale, reebok shoes, canada goose pas cher, iphone 6 case, canada goose outlet, ugg outlet, nfl jerseys, herve leger, soccer shoes, beats headphones, ferragamo shoes, asics shoes, hollister clothing, baseball bats, marc jacobs outlet