Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Art of TOM ROBERTS (Part 3)

A fine Crippen & Landru cover from 2002. My thanks to Richard (Tip the Wink) Robinson for the scan.

Here's Jo Gar. If this painting has any surprises hidden in the details, I failed to discover them. 

From the Olden Days of Black Dog Books. 2000. 

A more recent Black Dog collection, from 2011, featuring the author of the Doan & Carstairs series (discussed HERE).

Parts 1 and 2 are HERE. Part 4 next Sunday!

Friday, May 29, 2015

FFB: Three Books Reviewed by *Guest Blogger* DASHIELL HAMMETT

This article is from the April 16, 1927 issue of The Saturday Review of Literature

Guessers and Deducers

THE AFFAIR IN DUPLEX 9B. By WILLIAM JOHNSON. New York: George H. Doran. 1927. $2.
THE KINK. By LYNN BROCK. New York: Harper & Bros. 1927. $2.
AURELIUS SMITH—DETECTIVE. By R. T. M. SCOTT. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co. 1927. $2.


THERE exists a considerable body of reasonably authoritative literature on crime detection. Such Europeans as Gross and Niceforo have been done into English; Macnaughten, Anderson, and Thompson of Scotland Yard, our own Pinkerton, Burns, and Dougherty, have given their experiences. Post, Dilnot, Gollomb, and others have published articles on police methods here and abroad. Some of these books have had wide circulation. There's little evidence that many copies were bought by writers of detective stories. That's too bad.

"The Affair in Duplex 9B" is—don't stop me just because you've heard this one —about the wealthy rascal who was done in with the quick-acting South American poison, and about the Assistant District Attorney who fell in love with the beautiful young suspect. The present A. D. A. talks like this: "No, by God," said Chilton earnestly, "I'm going to prove her innocent. I saw Miss Adair, Graham, for only a few minutes, and heard her sing, but I saw enough of her to recognize that she is a sweet, clean girl whose inexperience has gotten her mixed up with a bad crowd. I'm not going to have a young girl who needs a man's protection dragged in the mire of a case like this. Find her for me, Graham, won't you, and help me shield her from this scandal, a scandal she never could live down."

Neither he nor the detectives working with him show any signs of ever having been employed in police affairs before. The simplest code ever devised—its invention followed the typewriter's by about two weeks—stumps them. (The detective who copies the coded message into his notebook is supposed, by the author and in the following chapter, not yet to have heard of it). Two typewritten letters are taken to a typewriter company for the purpose of having the machine on which they were written traced to its present owner. The company promises to try to trace it by its number. Luck to 'em! The murderer's identity may be suspected half-way through the book, but when you learn his motive you'll be ashamed of having suspected him. It's that sort of a motive.

"The Kink" is a rambling, too wordy story written in accordance with one of the current recipes, dully Babylonian in spots, gloomily melodramatic, devoid of suspense. Colonel Gore is hired to find a couple of missing men, to watch another man, to recover some stolen documents. There's a murder or two also in the book, but no excitement. This sleuth's method is simple, however the author tries to disguise it: he stalls around till things solve themselves. Even when he gets hold of a mysterious automobile's license number he takes no steps toward tracing it through the Metropolitan Police register, apparently not knowing that such an affair exists. Toward the last he does some guessing, but by then at least one reader had acquired too much of the Colonel's apathy to be aroused.

The dozen stories in "Aurelius Smith— Detective" are as mechanical as the others, and as preposterously motivated, but at least they do move and they are not padded. Smith is one of the always popular deducers, though not a very subtle specimen. It takes a shaven neck to tell him a man's probably not a gentleman, and a half-soled shoe to tell him another's hard up.

There isn't a credible character in any of these three books. Insanity seems to be growing in popularity as a motive for crime. Theoretically it has the advantage of not needing further explanation. Actually it's almost always a flop. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Overlooked Audio: A NEW Adventure of THE SHADOW

Since last June, when I called your attention to Pulp-Pourri Theatre's adaptation of the W.C. Tuttle story "By Order of Buck Brady" (HERE), Pete Lutz and the Narado Radio Company gang have been mighty busy.

Among the many new programs now available for listening or downloading is this all-new adventure of The Shadow, proving once again that Crime Does Not Pay. I suggest you bop over there and check out The Shadow: A Trip to Eternity, HERE.

You should also peruse the menu of other productions, including stories of Science Fiction, Crime, the Supernatural, the Macabre, the Jungle, Espionage and War. And for you high-brows, there's even an adaptation of Macbeth. That stuff is HERE.

More Overlooked Entertainment at Sweet Freedom.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Whatever Happened to No Toes McInnis? Cap Gun Monday: MAVERICK

I don't remember where I got this holster, but I know the name of the original owner. Makes me wonder whatever happened to him - and more to the point - what happened to his toes? If you happened to be acquainted with old No Toes, ask him to shoot me an email. I'm sure our readers would like to hear the tale. In any case, he is to be commended for keeping his toys in such good shape (except, of course, for searing his name into the holster belt with a wood burning tool). 

The Maverick pistol shown here, made by Leslie-Henry, is basically the same gun as the Davy Crockett model shown HERE. I also have Gene Autry and Paladin versions, and there were several others.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Art of TOM ROBERTS (Part 2)

Marksman, published by Crippen & Landru back in 2002, appears this week thanks to last week's comment by John Hocking. Quite coincidentally, it was George Kelley's Forgotten Book on Friday. His comments are HERE

Marksman features five Joe Puma adventures (hence the name on the door) and four non-series stories.

Here's an image of Joe himself. 

Here's the book on the table. Tsk. That glass is going to leave a ring.

The newspaper headline refers to La Paloma, the ship that brought the Maltese Falcon to San Francicso. The photograph appears to show the ship burning.

And the pulp in the trashcan is the February 1943 issue of Private Detective Stories

I had planned to feature three of Tom's paintings this week, but this one provided enough cool suprises to stand on its own. More coming next Sunday, and for quite a few Sundays to come!

Last week's gallery is HERE.

(Thanks to Mr. Richard Robinson for the Marksman cover scan)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Toy Soldier Saturday: Tim-Mee U.S. Air Force (Part 1)

On this Memorial Day weekend we pay tribute (with the help of these Tim-Mee Toys) to the U.S. Air Force. These guys were made in the U.S,A, in the late '50s and early '60s. Their soft plastic comrades will appear in Part 2, soon. May their real-life counterparts continue to kick butt.

More Toy Warriors HERE.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Forgotten Books: LADY IN PERIL by Lester Dent (1959)

I enjoyed reading this book, but didn't really like it. Does that make sense? It's the last of four Dent novels I've been hoarding for thirty years and waiting for the right moment to read. Maybe I chose the wrong moment. More likely, though, there was never a right one.

Lester Dent was a great pulp writer, and every story I've read, including dozens of his Doc Savage adventures, has delivered the goods. As a novelist, though, he seems to have been on uncertain ground. Dead at the Take-Off (discussed HERE) is a pretty good book, and Lady Afraid (HERE) is okay too. Cry at Dusk (HERE) is a sick mess. And Lady in Peril, I'm sorry to say, is a snoozer.

But I enjoyed reading it? Yeah, I've admired Dent's style since I was thirteen years old, and it still has a hold on me. He just pulls me along, word by word, phrase by phrase, and it goes down painless. But in this case, he didn't take me anywhere except to the end of the book, and he left me there unsatisfied.

The problem, I think, is that he was trying to do too much. Having long since proved he could write a good mystery, he was flirting here with serious themes - the stuff of literature - and got bogged down somewhere inbetween.

The hero of this one, a guy named Loneman, is a lobbyist for an agricultural co-op in Jefferson Ctiy, Missouri. The conflicts driving the plot, involving politics and the food business, are more adult than those in your typical Dent story. Nothing wrong with that, and when Loneman's brother-in-law is killed, the story is off to a promising start. Unfortunately, the subplot (the "serious" stuff) gets in the way.

Loneman, it seems, is a workaholic who has taken his wife for granted to the extent that she has come to doubt her own self worth, Her brother's murder somehow compels her to solve the crime on her own, to prove something to herself and to her husband. There are serious psychological and relationship issues here, but they simply don't jell with the mystery. The wife's strange actions seem contrived to create false suspense. I assume Dent meant her to be a sympathetic character, but she comes off as merely annoying,

On the plus side, the book is set in Dent's home state of Missouri, so it provides a nice snapshot of his world. Despite the plot problems, a good dose of Dent's trademark humor might have saved the day. But no such luck. Loneman, the wife, and everyone else in the story take themselves way too seriously. I seriously didn't care whether any of them lived or died.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


This collection of four stories by Mr. John Hegenberger is now available for Kindle. Haven't read the stories yet, but I like the titles - "Headache," "Heartache," "Neckache" and "Backache." I can relate to all four. 

Here's what it says on Amazon: 

A series of serious crimes: Kidnapping. Murder. Art Theif. Blackmail. Comic Books. Private Investigator Eliot Cross faces heartache, headache, backache, and a royal pain in the neck in these rollicking noir stores from the heart of the Heartland. 

Never before published. CROSS EXAMINATIONS sets the stage for an exciging new novel that will join pop-culture author John Hegenberger's soon-to-be-published Tripleye trilogy and his upcoming Stan Wad L.A.P.I. series.

Get it here:
Cross Examinations: Crime in Columbus

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Richard Sale (whose Daffy Dill/Candid Jones story "Flash!" appears in the June AHMM - details HERE, and about whom I have blabbed at length - HERE) created and produced this Desilu series with his wife May Loos. He also wrote some (if not many) of the 34 episodes that ran in 1958 and '59. Most of those episode are now on YouTube (that's cool), but they've been stripped of opening and closing credits (that's trash). Still, we can be pretty ding dang sure that Sale wrote this one. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Cap Gun Monday: Nichols Stallion 38

This is how my collection began. Back in 1985, I heard Clayton Moore was coming to town, and wanted something for him to autograph. One place I hunted was an antique toy store, and there in a glass case was this set of Stallion 38s. My blood started racing. They were identical to a pair I had as a kid, and when I got them in my hands the memories came rolling in. That was it. I was hooked. I spent the next decade or so haunting flea markets, collectible shows and antique malls reacquiring other old weapons and acquiring new ones. I never did make it to see the Lone Ranger. 

These babies are 9 1/2 inches long and nicely balanced for twirling. They have a cool nickel finish. I also have a later model with cream-colored grips and a chrome finish, which we'll see later down the line. 


Our Cap Gun arsenal is HERE.