Forgotten Books: The Shadow: Lingo

The Shadow: “Lingo” by Maxwell Grant (Walter  B. Gibson), forward by Jerry Robinson, The Shadow Volume 9, Nostalgia Ventures 2007, oversized trade paper, “Lingo”, from The Shadow Magazine, April 1, 1935,  plus “The Shadowy Origins of Batman” by Will Murray, and “Spotlight on The Shadow” by Anthony Tollin

I don’t remember listening to The Shadow on the radio, not did I ever see any of the pulp magazines featuring him. In spite of that, I was familiar with the character by reputation. At some point I bought a couple of the novels in cheap hardcover format and liked them, so when I learned of these Shadow reprints, I decided to buy some and give them a try.

In no particular order I took this one of the shelf and read it.

The first, longest part of this is the Shadow novel Lingo. The title character is a top mob boss who controls most of the other bosses running rackets and scams in New York. Naturally, The Shadow is fighting against this group and, in addition to tipping of the Cops when he learns of gang activity, he takes an active role in their defeat. Two previous top bosses have been rubbed out by the very mobs they rule, and keeping the mobs at war with each other seems to be working fine until one top boss sets up a fake hit on himself and Lingo takes over.

There’s plenty of gunplay and of course The Shadow does a lot of slinking around while no one seems to see him, cloaked in black and shifting through the shadows of night. And of course there’s a twist at the end.  This was a lot of fun, and pulp readers will enjoy it.

Posted in Adventure, Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery | 3 Comments

Current Reading: Slugfest by Reed Tucker

Slugfest: Inside the Epic, 50-Year Battle Between Marvel and DC – Reed Tucker, De Capo Press, 2017 hardcover

I wasn’t into comics that much as a kid, except for those few my parents approved, which pretty much meant Disney comics. They were fine, but a limited palette. When I was a little older, and had an allowance (though still, in truth, a kid) I discovered the Batman and Superman comics and liked those, and also Iron Man and Fantastic Four.

It wasn’t until much later, after I had quit comics for the Winston Science Fiction books, Astounding Science Fiction and whatever other science fiction and fantasy I could lay my hands on that I began reading, here and there, about comics, and the competition between brands. It wasn’t until after college that I began to visit a comic shop and to buy comics that interested me, and my interest grew.

I read the post on James Reasoner’s blog on this book (HERE) with great interest, and just got a copy from the library. I’m only a few pages in, but it looks to be fun reading.

Have you read this book? What are you reading?

Posted in Adventure, Books & Reading, Comics, current reading | 14 Comments

Forgotten Book: John Thorndyke’s Cases

John Thorndyke’s Cases by R. Austin Freeman, originally (c) 1909
The book I’m reading: The Complete Thorndyke, MX Publishing 2018 trade paper

Since I’m a fan of Sherlock Holmes, it only makes sense that at some point I’d read some of Freeman’s Thorndyke work and I had, a story here and there in a couple of anthologies. So when I saw that MX Publishing was going to publish The Complete Thorndyke, I decided it was time.

Dr. John Evelyn Thorndyke is a fictional detective in a long series of 21 novels and 40 short stories by British author R. Austin Freeman (1862–1943). Thorndyke was described by his author as a ‘medical jurispractitioner’: originally a medical doctor, he turned to the bar and became one of the first — in modern parlance — forensic scientists. His solutions were based on his method of collecting all possible data (including bits of tobacco, dust and pond weed) and making inferences from them before looking at any of the protagonists and motives in the crimes. (Freeman, it is said, conducted all experiments mentioned in the stories himself.) It is this method which gave rise to one of Freeman’s most ingenious inventions, the inverted detective story, where the criminal act is described first and the interest lies in Thorndyke’s subsequent unravelling of it.

There have been several collections of Thorndyke stories, with varying contents. From Wikipedia:

“Two different omnibus editions of the collected Dr. Thorndyke short stories exist. The British edition is R. Austin Freeman, The Famous Cases of Dr. Thorndyke: Thirty-seven of His Criminal Investigations as set down by R. Austin Freeman (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1929 and later reprintings). The American edition is R. Austin Freeman, The Dr. Thorndyke Omnibus: 38 of His Criminal Investigations as set down by R. Austin Freeman (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1932 and later reprintings). The American edition includes one story, “The Mandarin’s Pearl,” printed in the first Thorndyke short-story collection, John Thorndyke’s Cases, but omitted from the British omnibus. Two other stories, “The Man with the Nailed Shoes” and “A Message from the Deep Sea”, though also appearing in the first Dr. Thorndyke short-story collection, John Thorndyke’s Cases, were omitted from the British and American editions of the omnibus collection.

The American edition reprinted the five collections of stories in the following order: The Singing Bone, Dr. Thorndyke’s Cases, The Magic Casket, The Puzzle Lock, and The Blue Scarab. The British edition gives the stories in a different order.”

The book I’m reading, The Complete Dr. Thorndyke, Volume II, Short Stories Part I, contains John Thorndyke’s Cases thusly:

  • The Man with the Nailed Shoes
  • The Stranger’s Latchkey
  • The Anthropologist at Large
  • The Blue Sequin
  • The Moabite Cipher
  • The Mandarin’s Pearl
  • The Aluminium Dagger
  • A Message from the Deep Sea

I enjoyed these quite a bit. I had read “The Aluminum Dagger” before in some anthology, perhaps The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, and it was nice to enjoy it all over again. The others of these stories I found especially enjoyable were “The Stranger’s Latchkey” and “The Moabite Cipher”.

I have received no notice of the next volumes, which I assume are forthcoming. I certainly hope they are!

Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery | 10 Comments

Current Reading: – – –

There is Fall pruning and clean-up in the garden, especially now that the leaves are falling. There has been baseball darn near every night, but that ended with the awful showing of the Dodgers (Gaaa!).

I’ve either been busy or not in the mood to read. I said a week or two ago I’d read short stories, and I have been, but they are oldies, so – if I ever manage to finish a collection or anthology, I’m trying to save them for Friday forgotten.

So for various reasons, I have, once again, nothing to share for my current reading post. Sorry.

Meanwhile, what are you reading?

Posted in Adventure, Books & Reading, current reading | 10 Comments

Forgotten Book: The Private Lives of Private Eyes, Spies, Crime Fighters and Other Good Guys

The Private Lives of Private Eyes, Spies, Crime Fighters and Other Good Guys edited by Otto Penzler, Grosset & Dunlap, 1977 oversized trade paper

While reading some introductory material in another book, this was mentioned, and I knew it was familiar. So I went to the shelves, and sure enough I had this copy.

It purports to be “the lives and times of the world’s 25 best-known crime fighters. Illustrated “biographies” of the famous super sleuths”.

Each of the featured persons is given about four pages, including – as of 1977 –  a bibliographic listing and, if appropriate, a filmography.

If you’re looking to refresh your memory about any of these characters, or receive a brief introduction with biographical information of both character and author, this is for you. I initially wanted to look up Dr. Thorndyke, but soon found myself browsing through the rest of the book, often saying “oh, I’d forgotten that” or “I must read that” to myself.

Who is included, in alphabetical order:

  • Lew Archer
  • Modesty Blaise
  • James Bond
  • Father Brown
  • Nick Carter
  • Charlie Chan
  • Nick and Nora Charles
  • Bulldog Drummond
  • C. August Dupin
  • Mike Hammer
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Jules Maigret
  • Philip Marlowe
  • Miss Jane Marple
  • Perry Mason
  • Mr. Moto
  • Hercule Poirot
  • Ellery Queen
  • The Shadow
  • John Shaft
  • Sam Spade
  • Dr. Thorndyke
  • Philo Vance
  • Lord Peter Wimsey
  • Nero Wolfe
Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books | 10 Comments

Current Reading: Velocity Weapon by Megan O’Keefe

Velocity Weapon by Megan O’Keefe, Orbit Books, June 2019 trade paper

I read a September 6th post on the Black Gate blog about this book in which John O’Neal said:

“The last book in [her previous] series appeared in 2017, so I’ve been keeping my eye out for something new from her, and it finally arrived early this summer. And it looks like space opera, my favorite genre!”

Plot: The last thing Sanda Greeve remembers is her ship being attacked by rebel forces. She’s resuscitated from her evacuation pod missing half a leg — and two centuries — as explained to her by the AI of the rebel ship that rescued her. As The Light of Berossus — aka Bero — tells her, she may be the only living human for light-years around, as the war wiped both sides out long ago. Sanda struggles to process her injuries and her grief but finds friendship with the lonely spaceship itself.

But there are two other plots, mingled together with Sanda’s story. One is a flashback narrative about the war’s effects on her brother, Biran,  the second is about a heist gone terribly wrong for small-time criminal Jules.

So, three locations, three time frames, three sets of characters, between which the novel jumps at will. That’s not my favorite set-up, as many of you might know. I prefer straight-ahead storytelling.

Kirkus said this was “Meticulously plotted, edge-of-your-seat space opera with a soul; a highly promising science-fiction debut.”

Well, no. I got a copy from the library and was glad it was free. I’d rate it just okay.

Have you read this book? What are you reading?

Posted in Adventure, Books & Reading, current reading, Science Fiction | 18 Comments

Forgotten Book: Norman Rockwell – 332 Magazine Covers

Norman Rockwell – 332 Magazine Covers edited and text by Christopher Finch, Abbeville Press/Random House 1979 oversized hardcover (12 x 15.5 inches, over 2 inches thick), 455 pages

Blame it on George Kelley. His post last week made me go to my oversize shelves to find this book, which I then spent a couple of days reading and studying.

This 1979 edition (11 7/8″ X 15 1/4″ X 2″) is a larger book than the later 2013 edition and 455 pages vs. 400 pages. It is the cover art from the 332 Saturday Evening Post covers, not the Post covers themselves, i.e. no Post banner, no words across the art saying what was inside that particular magazine, and so on. The format has a section of thumbnails of the covers in each section, with a commentary on each, followed by the full-size, color paintings, one to a very large page. The commentaries are accurate and insightful.

The book is divided into eleven sections:

  • Overview: Norman Rockwell Portrayed Americans as Americans Chose to See Themselves
  • From the Very Beginning Norman Rockwell Had An Uncanny Knack of Knowing What the Public Wanted – Saturday Evening Post Covers May 20, 1916–June 28 1919
  • Although Still Under Thirty, Rockwell Was Rapidly Becoming The Post’s Premier Cover Artist – Saturday Evening Post Covers August 9, 1919–September 9, 1922
  • Things Were Changing Too Fast and Rockwell Gave People Nostalgic Glimpses of the World They Had Left Behind – Saturday Evening Post Covers November 4, 1922–December 5, 1925
  • Again and Again Rockwell Fell Back on Tried and Tested Themes – Saturday Evening Post Covers January 9, 1926–February 16, 1929
  • Rockwell Was One of the Lucky Few Who Was Not Much Affected by the Depression – Saturday Evening Post Covers March 9, 1929–June 17, 1933
  • Rockwell’s Work Was Becoming More Personal – Saturday Evening Post Covers August 5, 1933–February 19, 1938
  • Rockwell Was Now on the Verge of a Major Breakthrough – Saturday Evening Post Covers April 23, 1938–July 25, 1942
  • Rockwell’s Authority Was Based on the Trust of the American Public – Saturday Evening Post Covers September 5, 1942–November 16, 1946
  • During the Postwar Years Rockwell Could Hardly Pick Up a Brush Without Producing a Memorable Image – Saturday Evening Post Covers December 7, 1946–January 3, 1953
  • Rockwell’s Style Puts It’s Distinctive Mark on Everything – Saturday Evening Post Covers April 4, 1953–May 25, 1963

What the book does not include are the well known covers he painted for Look magazine, including the one of the Federal Marshalls escorting the small black girl to school. Neither does it include the Rockwell series of the Four Freedoms. But what it does include is well worth your time. Well conceived and executed, this is a must for the fan of periodical covers, the Saturday Evening Post and fans of Rockwell’s art.

Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books | 6 Comments

Red Canoe puzzle

This is one of the reasons I haven’t gotten a lot of reading done recently. This 1,000 piece puzzle was extremely difficult, and, while we usually finish a 500 piece puzzle in a week and a 1,000 in two, this one took us almost three weeks!

Posted in Books & Reading | 7 Comments

Current Reading: Still not much

I’m still not reading much. Gloomy, rainy, windy weather may be part of that, but it’s mostly my distractions with football (a lot of college games on Friday and Saturday, and the pros on Thursday, Sunday and Monday) and an extremely difficult jigsaw puzzle which eats up much time.

I started a library book and only got through 35 pages before quitting. I started another library book and, though I like it, I’m inching forward at a snail’s pace. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’m going to have to bear down and just set aside a day to do nothing but read.

Meanwhile, what are you reading?

Posted in Adventure, Books & Reading, current reading | 13 Comments

Forgotten Book: City of Corpses by Norvell Page

City of Corpses, the Collected Weird Mysteries of Ken Carter by Norvell Page, Black Dog Books, February 2009 trade paper, 206 pages, pulp fiction. note: the scene on the cover does not occur in the book.

Here are six pulp “novels” from 1933, and a short story 1935, all from Ten Detective Aces magazine. I put the word novels in quotes because pulp length novels are short, really novella length. Though the title names them as weird mystery, only three really have a weird element to them, and then not much. However, the novels are quite entertaining, and Statues of Horror and Gallows Ghost are especially enjoyable. The short story, “Satan’s Sideshow” is both mercifully short and forgettable.

I bought this from Black Dog Books a decade ago, but have just now gotten it off the shelf to read, and I’m glad I did. This is a lot of fun, and it’s still available from Black Dog Books.

In addition to the novels, there’s a 1935 article by Norvell Page detailing his approach to writing, which I found very interesting.

CONTENTS

  • Introduction by Robert Weinberg
  • Hell’s Music
  • City of Corpses
  • Statues of Horror
  • Gallows Ghost
  • The Devil’s Hoof
  • The Sinister Embrace
  • Satan’s Sideshow

APPENDIX

  • “How I Write” by Norvell Page
  • About the Author by Tom Roberts
Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery | 15 Comments