Saturday, 14 November 2020

Georges Surdez - Turnstile (from Everybody's Magazine, March 1929)

It's been a while since i posted some action/adventure fiction on this blog. This story originally appeared in the March 1929 issue of Everybody’s magazine. In the last couple of years it was published, Everybody’s became a pulp magazine.  This was a bit surprising as the publishers, The Ridgway Company, already had one pulp magazine in their stable – Adventure. Everybody’s was in the same genre (general action/adventure), used the same authors and illustrators and even the same editor, William Corcoran – the designated successor to Adventure’s Arthur S. Hoffman. So why not just put out more issues of Adventure every month?

Maybe they wanted to clear inventory. At the time, Adventure was being revamped into a more slick-ish magazine of the outdoors. The fiction had to be slanted differently, and finding their inventory of pulp stories surplus to their needs, they recycled it in Everybody’s.

 No matter why it happened, I am glad of that policy as it resulted in more quality action/adventure fiction to read. And here is a cracking example from Surdez, one of Adventure’s most prolific authors. He specialized in French Foreign Legion stories, a genre that has died out today. Most of these involved tough men in tough situations, facing moral choices that resonate even today.

 I won’t spoil the story by telling you more.

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Ernest Bramah's Max Carrados

Here we are the end of this series of posts about blind detectives. I’ve already written about Bramah, so this article focuses on Max Carrados. And there is no better way to appreciate Carrados than to sample his stories. I’ve read all three collections of the Carrados stories: Max Carrados, The Eyes of Max Carrados and Max Carrados Mysteries

From these, I've picked my favorites and added a quote so that you can get a flavor of Bramah’s writing. All these stories and a few others are collected in the Dover reprint, The best Max Carrados mystery stories, which includes a great introduction by E.F. Bleiler.

The best Max Carrados detective stories

Saturday, 31 October 2020

A Damon Gaunt mystery - Eyes that saw not

Continued from last week's post on Isabel Ostrander, the creator of the blind detective Damon Gaunt

Unlike Thornley Colton, who displayed his skills in a number of novella length tales before getting into a novel-length adventure, Damon Gaunt's first appearance is in a serialized novel. Because of the bigger  scope of the novel, he doesn't have to show off his skills till about thirty paragraphs in. His first deduction is that the person who has brought him the case of Garrett Appleton, murdered at his home, is a cocaine addict. He bases this on the constant sniffing and rubbing of his nose.

Saturday, 24 October 2020

Isabel Ostrander - Author

Isabel Ostrander was a prolific writer in the early twentieth century, contributing more than thirty serials using three pseudonyms, and perhaps more under other names, to the Munsey and Street and Smith pulps in little over a decade before her untimely death. Many of these serials were later reprinted as novels, some with changed titles.

Her inclusion in this series of articles is due to her creation of Damon Gaunt, the second blind detective to feature in American fiction. The first was Thornley Colton, created by Clinton H. Stagg. Damon Gaunt is however, closer to the British school of detective fiction epitomized by Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. How? We’ll see later.

Isabel Ostrander c. 1907
Isabel Ostrander c. 1907

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Bibliography of the Thornley Colton stories

Continued from last week's post on Clinton H. Stagg who the creator of the first blind detective, Thornley Colton.All eight Thornley Colton stories were published in People’s magazine, Street and Smith’s companion to The Popular Magazine , from February 1913 to October 1913. One story per issue except for August 1913. People’s is one of those ultra-rare pulps you don’t hear much about, because most people haven’t seen a copy, let alone read an issue.

Which is why it is fortunate that all the Colton stories and the novel were recently reprinted by Coachwhip Publications. Coachwhip is a small print-on-demand publisher that publishes an eclectic mix of titles on crypto-zoology, mysteries, history and business. Their mystery lineup is worth checking out.