Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A BLACK MASK eBook: "Gambler's Don't Win" by W.T. Ballard

W.T. Ballard was one of Joe Shaw’s second wave of Black Mask boys, along with George Harmon Coxe, Paul Cain, Norbert Davis, Roger Torrey, Theodore Tinsley, Dwight Babcock and Raymond Chandler. Ballard's chief character for the magazine was Bill Lennox, hardboiled troubleshooter for one of Hollywood’s major studios.

Between 1933 and 1942, Lennox appeared in over two dozen stories in Black Mask, then starred in four novels, the last of which was published in 1960. (For a look at those novels, tune in tomorrow.)

Unfortunately, very few Lennox stories have been reprinted. The only collection to date (containing five tales) is Hollywood Troubleshooter, a volume assembled by James L. Traylor back in 1985. So I’m mighty pleased to see “Gambler’s Don’t Win,” a Hollywood Troubleshooter alumnus, making its appearance as a Black Mask eBook.

“Gambler’s Don’t Win,” from the April 1935 issue (right), finds Lennox at the town’s new horse track, looking after the interests of his boss, studio head Sol Spurck. When Lennox spots jockeys deliberately throwing races, he’s embroiled in a web of greed, intimidation, revenge and murder. At the heart of it is the beautiful sister of a dead friend. Though Lennox suspects her, he also feels compelled to protect her - putting himself on the wrong side of the law, and of the lawless.

Ballard tells a tight, tough, and twisty tale, bringing it home with revelations I didn’t see coming, and an ending that put a smile on my face. Here’s hoping there will be many more Lennox adventures coming our way.

Want a sample? Here you go:

"Gambler's Don't Win" is now on sale, right here:

I covered the first round of Black Mask eBooks HERE.

All drawings and paintings from Black Mask Magazine are copyright © 1923 to 1953 by Keith Alan Deutsch as successor-in-interest, and conservator of all copyrights to the original publishers and copyright registrars: Pro-Distributors Publishing Company, Inc, and Popular Publications Inc.  All copyrights © renewed 1951 to 1981.


Anonymous said...

I'm delighted to see Black Mask e-Books come along and make available a treasure-trove of basically legendary material that has been virtually unseen for 80 years.

But why choose to re-issue one of the very few stories from a long running series that has already been reprinted?
Make no mistake-- it's a ripping yarn-- but I've already read this one and there are too many that I have not.

John Hocking

Evan Lewis said...

Can't argue with that, John. I'd love to see some unreprinted stories too.

Dan_Luft said...

Great to see this. Black Mask published so many writers that it's hard to know who to read after Hammett, Chandler and Paul Cain. I've read some good stuff and some not-so-good stuff. I'll look for this.

Evan Lewis said...

My vote goes to Frederick Nebel.

Rick Robinson said...

Sorry, $2 is too much for a single short story, especially when it can only be read on screen. I'll wait for a good Flash Casey collection in print.

Evan Lewis said...

I can loan you a Flash Casey collection, Mr. R. Don't own the Bill Lennox book, though.

Rick Robinson said...

we'll talk.