Friday, June 1, 2012
Forgotten Books: But Not the End by Frederick Nebel
But is it really worth the effort? Depends, I guess, on how much you like Nebel. He was at the top of his form in the mid-thirties, and there's some damn fine writing here. But this is what was known as a Depression Novel (meaning it's set during the Great Depression), and most of its characters are consequently depressed.
The primary point of view character, an investment broker, faces financial ruin and watches helplessly as several of his clients - and even his partner - commit suicide. He also loses his wife to predatory lovers and his daughter to a daredevil flyer. A once-rich immigrant is forced to accept a menial job and is ashamed to return home in disgrace. A champion prizefighter loses his title, his career and half his vision. And there's no detective to rescue them from themselves. These are just folks struggling to stay afloat in a sea of confusion.
And lucky for us Nebel fans, more and more of his pulp work is finally being reprinted. After finishing But Not the End, I jumped right into the new Black Dog Books collection, Empire of the Devil, and read a fine short novel from Action Stories called "Seas of Chance." This one follows two salty adventurers from Singapore to Borneo in search of a treasure in jewels, with two gangs of villains out to stop them. And that's just the beginning. The collection includes four more short novels, three shorter adventures, the most complete Nebel bibliography ever compiled, an informative intro by Tom Roberts, and even a brief Nebel bio by someone named Evan Lewis.
Empire of the Devil is available from various sources, but is best purchased directly from Black Dog Books (right HERE), which will aid publisher Tom Roberts in his tireless crusade to bring more lost classics into the light.
Check out this week's round up of Forgotten Books (many by Margaret Millar) at pattinase.