Thursday, December 26, 2013

What I got for Christmas

Yep, that's me, on a Christmas morning somewhat prior to this one, wearing my coonskin cap and pseudo-buckskin suit, brandishing my Marx flintlock pistol and riding my new red hobby horse. (That blurry thing at the bottom of the photo is a terrycloth b'arskin rug.)

Anyway, that horse was put out to pasture long ago, and I never knew what happened to him until we were reunited this year in a Phoenix antique mall. Here he is, wearing a $119 price tag, and looking just as fit as the first time we rode together. Sadly, I had to leave him behind. He wouldn't fit in my carry-on. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Forgotten (and FREE) Race Williams stories: "A Corpse for a Corpse" by Carroll John Daly

Here's a holiday gift from Davy and me (and Skyler Hobbs, too) - a never-reprinted Race adventure from the July 1938 issue of Dime Detective. This time, Race is working for a group of high-minded citizens called The People Versus Crime. On the other side is a gang of hoods with a sense of humor. They form their own society, called Crime Versus the People, and devise grisly deaths for the good guys, laughing right up to the point where Race makes them eat bullets. All in all, a right jolly tale.

As usual, if you've already joined Race's Fighting Legion, and received the earlier nine stories by email, you'll be getting this one too. If not, shoot me a message at and I'll send you the whole shebang.

Nope, this is not exactly a Robert Barnard novel, but you should find some in this week's Forgotten Books round-up at pattinase

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Toy Soldiers: TIM-MEE COWBOYS - Part 1

Tim-Mee Toys began making these 70mm cowboys in the late '50s, and near as I can tell, they're still making them. They also made Indians, GIs, Civil War soldiers, pirates, knights and others. Though not as detailed or realistic as the Marx figures, they had a certain charm. The sheriff figure above measures 3 3/4" from boots to hat. Looks a lot like Wyatt Earp, doesn't he?

Anybody else remember these?

Monday, December 16, 2013

EQMM FEB 2014: "Skyler Hobbs and the Smarter Brother"

Yes, Skyler Hobbs is back, and Ellery Queen's got him.

Among the many fine tales in the February Salute to Sherlock Holmes issue is this adventure by yours truly, in which Jason Wilder meets his friend's smarter brother, Mr. Malachi Hobbs. As you might expect, a game is afoot, and Hobbs and Wilder are compelled to play.

This ish is available now in a variety of electronic formats (options HERE), and either now (or Pretty Dang Quick) at your favorite Dell mystery mag retailer. Don't be bashful. Pick one up and give it a squint.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Forgotten Books: MURDER WON'T WAIT by Carroll John Daly (1933)

Detective Vee Brown, trodding in the bloody footsteps of Race Williams and Satan Hall, was Carroll John Daly’s number three hero. But, I am pleased to report, while he shared characteristics with both, he was no carbon copy of either.

Like Satan Hall, Brown is a police detective who works outside the system. He reports directly to the district attorney, allowing him a freedom of action that sometimes brings resentment from cops on the regular force.

Like Both Race and Satan, Brown is lightning quick with his guns and rarely passes up an opportunity to make a righteous kill. Warned that a particular gunman is able to draw and shoot in exactly one second, Brown - like Race and Satan - brags that in that case the bad guy will be exactly one-half second too late. His favorite target is the center of his opponent’s forehead, though he sometimes mixes it up by sending the slug through the guy’s open mouth.

What sets Vee Brown apart is that he’s physically puny, and seems just slightly influenced by Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes?? In a Daly story? Well, not really. But Brown has a Watson-style narrator (a reporter who sometimes writes up his adventures for the newspaper) and a touch of eccentric genius. In his case, that genius has nothing to do with crime fighting. When he’s not shooting criminals dead, he's locked away in his music room, composing popular songs.

Brown’s Watson, Dean Condon, is reasonably tough and reasonably intelligent, but lacks Brown’s skill with a gun - and his killer mentality.

This illo of Brown accompanied the 1934 story, "The Murder Syndicate."

Murder Won’t Wait follows the pattern of the Race and Satan novels. It’s comprised of four pulp novelettes pitting Brown against a seemingly untouchable crime boss. In each of the first three segments, Brown takes out one of the big guy's vicious and deadly lieutenants, setting up the showdown with the boss in the finale.

Also following the Race and Satan formula, the book features a delicate but schizophrenic bit of femininity who walks the line between devil and angel. When the chips are down, she’s likely to betray the hero to her gangster friends and/or masters. But when the chips are really really down, she shows her true colors and risks all to save the hero’s life.

Race and Satan have a tough time with these ladies. Though it’s clear both find them attractive, and even harbor feelings for them, they’re too tough to admit it to themselves. The tandem team of Vee Brown and Dean Condon eliminates this problem. Condon can fall in love and make no bones about it, while Brown remains aloof and untarnished by emotion.

Vee Brown made his debut in Dime Detective in 1932 and appeared in the magazine eighteen times before making his last bow in 1936. His career was cut short when Joe Shaw left the helm at Black Mask and Daly moved his chief money-maker, Race Williams, over to Dime.

Brown's debut story, “The Crime Machine,” was once anthologized, and eight others formed the basis for two hardcovers, Murder Won’t Wait in 1933 and The Emperor of Evil in 1936. Fortunately, thanks to Altus Press, the entire saga will soon be back in print. They’re now assembling the complete works, and the first volume could be available as soon as January. Watch this space, because when it happens I’ll be shouting about it.

More Forgotten Books at pattinase!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013