Friday, April 27, 2018

Forgotten Books: AT THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT by John K. Butler (1998)

I've told this story before. My hardboiled mania began back in 1976 with the release of Jim Steranko's graphic novel Chandler. After burning through Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, I cast a wider net and found Ron Goulart's anthology The Hardboiled Dicks. And that's when I discovered John K. Butler, along with a bunch of other guys I've been blabbing about for years: Frederick Nebel, Richard Sale and Norbert Davis to name but a few. And I started hunting pulps with stories by them all. 

That Butler tale in The Hardboiled Dicks was "The Saint in Silver," starring his chief series character, Steve Midnight, making the rest of that series a high priority. But try as I might, I managed to score only two more Midnight adventures, along with a dozen or so other stories. (A few years back, I posted one of those non-series stories HERE.)

So I was mighty pleased when this complete collection came out in 1998 from Adventure House. All nine stories, originally published between 1940 and 1942 in Dime Detective. And all were scanned from the pulps, complete with illos and ads, the way they were meant to be read. 

Unlike most of the other Hardboiled Dicks guys, Butler never got around to writing a novel. He cut his pulp career short in 1943, when he succumbed to the call of Hollywood, where he turned out film treatments and screenplays for the next fifteen years. I've been watching 77 Sunset Strip on MeTV (you should be, too) and recently saw an episode called "The Inverness Cape," where Butler was credited as a co-writer. I'll be on the lookout for more. 


Keith West said...

I read this book shortly after it was published, dipping into it over the course of about a year. I enjoyed every story and wanted to read more Butler. Thanks for the reminder. It might be time for a reread. And I'll definitely read the story you posted.

Barry Ergang said...

I've had this one for a number of years and have read all but a couple of the stories in it. Like you, I discovered Butler and others in Goulart's anthology.

Cap'n Bob said...

Speaking of METV, I've been watching Perry Mason reruns and a number of them were written by Jonathan Latimer.

Evan Lewis said...

I'd like to see those. You been watching the Beav, too?