Friday, August 27, 2010

Forgotten Books: Brand of the Cougar by Norvell Page

Before Black Dog Books publisher Tom Roberts began his current line of trade paperbacks, he published several dozen extremely fine little chapbooks of pulp material. Brand of the Cougar, from way back in the year 2000, is one of those.

The name Norvell Page is well known to fans of The Spider, Master of Men. Page wrote more Spider adventures than any other human, and most folks are glad he did. Page brought out the wild and crazy side of Richard Wentworth's character like no man before or since.

This volume collects two tales from Spicy Western, originally published under the pen name N. Wooten Poge, and one from Masked Rider Western. You also get some fine examples of that old spicy art.

The spicy stories have the usual allusions to sex. In the title story, our hero Cougar Charlie meets up with Nan, a babe from his past…

It was clear that she wore nothing except the sheer linen night-gown through which her flesh glowed pinkly. It was cut high at the throat, but her arms were bare, and the thin softness of the robe draped to every sweet line of her body. Her breasts lifted sharply against the caress. She shrank back and the soft linen molded to her extended thigh. Her eyes met Charlie’s and widened slowly. Her breath came quickly.

Cougar Charlie laughed. His hand leaped out and seized her wrist. With the same movement he jerked her into his arms, bound her helpless with them. The warmth of her burned through his clothing, the softness…

He could feel the quick surge of her breasts, hear the jerkiness of her breathing. He buried his face in the hollow of her throat. Nan shuddered and ran her fingers through his hair.

“Charlie,” she whispered. “Please, not now, Charlie!”

The stories also have bursts of violence worthy of The Spider. In "Hell's Backtrail," hero Slick Sherry is after a bad actor called Swede Anderson. When Swede draws on Slick . . .

The double blast of the heavy guns hammered the walls, seemed to split their fragile barriers apart. Deafened, Slick Sherry reeled aside, fanning the hammer with his thumb, driving more lead at the hulking bearded giant he had tracked down. The click of hammer on an empty cylinder he felt as an absence of sound.

He looked down at his gun, startled, darted an apprehensive glance toward the Swede. Not until then did he realize his lead had driven Anderson up against the wall and pinned him there while other bullets tore the heart out of him. His chest was a weltering mass. He fell forward with a jar that shook the building. 

Can't find a copy? Don't fret. Tom Roberts is planning a new trade paperback edition with a new cover and an additional story. Watch for it.

For more Norvell Page, I can heartily recommend the recent Black Dog volume City of Corpses, a collection of weird detective stories. I reviewed that HERE, and it's available on the Black Dog site HERE.

And some months back I posted a complete Page story from Spicy Detective called "Death Plays Knock-Knock." That's HERE. Check it out!

As usual, Patti Abbott serves up links to a lot more Forgotten Books over at pattinase.


Deka Black said...

Is nice to see other works from authors you love. But this makes ask me again how many pseudonyms have used Norvell Page?

Laurie Powers said...

Thanks for introducing me to this, Dave. Another great review.

Evan Lewis said...

Aside from "Grant Stockbridge," the house name for the Spider stories, I can't think of any other pen names. There's a great bibliography of his work in the back of City Of Corpses, but I don't have my copy handy at the moment.

George said...

Of course "cougar" has quite a different meaning today. Great artwork!

Tom Roberts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Roberts said...

Thanks for the write up and remembering the chapbook, Dave. This one was fun to do. One of the early BDB attempts at assembling some fairly obscure works.

If memory serves, this chapbook was the first ever collection of Norvell Page's short stories.

Tom Roberts
Black Dog Books

Charles Gramlich said...

Wow. I've gotta have this one. I'm a big fan of page's but didn't know he had this one.