Apr 202014
The next stop in the 2014 USA Fiction Challenge is the state of Florida

 Danger Key
Written by Lew Louderback


Arch enemy Mr Judas returns to settle an old score with Nick.
CLAW is back once again and backs Judas again.

Ralph Benson had made the mistake of contacting his agents openly. He had been on the job too long. And liquor and the loss of nerves had caused him to take some incredibly foolish changes. He had been fingered for execution by CLAW, the Chinese Communist secret organization that was smuggling its top agents into Florida under the cover of an influx of Cuban refugees. But Ralph was already dead. A fatal connection with a beautiful woman in a white convertible had taken care of that. Now Nick Carter had been ordered to replace Benson. And Nick would have to go on being a fumbling, bumbling, has been operative, too drunk, sodden and scared to be able to protect himself.

  Printing History
1st Award (A 183F) 1966
2nd Award (A 383X ) 1968
3rd Award (A 491X) 1969
4th Award (A 491X) 1970
5th Award (AN 1177) 1973
1st Tandem 1968
Reprint Tandem (426 7034 8) 1973
 hen severaCIA agen
 Posted by at 6:14 pm
Apr 202014

Gwen Gregory guest blogs for Jessy Randall this week.

Walter Kirn is a respected contemporary writer, author of novels including Thumbsucker and Up In The Air.  He is also widely published in magazines, including Time, GQ, and Esquire. Kirn’s new book Blood Will Out is being promoted as the next great true crime story, right up there with In Cold Blood. I beg to differ. While it focuses on Christian Gerhartsreiter, a man of many aliases perhaps best known as Clark Rockefeller, it isn’t really the story of this German who came to the U.S. and remade himself as an American aristocrat. There is another book all about that, The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal.  There was even a Lifetime TV movie about Gerhartsreiter. Rather, this is the story of Kirn’s relationship with the man he knew as Clark Rockefeller and how being a writer affected the situation.

Kirn first encountered Gerhartsreiter/Rockefeller in 1998, when Kirn agrees to take a rescue dog from Montana to the latter in New York. From the beginning, Kirn admits, to himself at least, his interest in meeting a Rockefeller, both as a writer in search of characters and out of a fascination for the rich and famous. After a rough journey, Kirn delivers the disabled dog and thus begins a years-long friendship.  The two men are in contact off and on for many years. In 2008, Clark Rockefeller is arrested in a child custody/kidnapping case, his real identity is discovered, and he ends up in prison. In 2011, he is charged with the 1985 murder of Jonathan Sohus in California. This trial took place in 2013, with Kirn in attendance.  He used it an occasion to reflect on his relationship with the man he knew as Clark Rockefeller and considered the testimony of the witnesses through the lens of his own experiences. Kirn made friends with other writers at the trial and even took his own teenage daughter to court one day.  He was really into it. After the guilty verdict, he visited his old friend in prison a number of times. Even after hearing all the testimony, and knowing so much about all the cons and lies, he could see how easy it was to be manipulated by him. 

The strength of book Blood Will Out isn’t in psychological insights about sociopaths or forensic evidence about cold murder cases.  It is really about Kirn’s relationship with this totally off the wall person and how that worked out. Like most people, Kirn generally believed what Gerhartsreiter told him about his life, maybe taking things with a grain of salt but never imagining that it was all totally fabricated.  In fact, he dismisses the first reports of his friend’s false identity in 2008, until it becomes fully clear that it was all a lie. Kirn examines his thoughts and feelings, ranging the gamut from being impressed at Rockefeller’s modern art collection (which turned out to be all forged) to betrayal upon the revelation of his true identity and full-on anger at some points during the murder trial. Along the way, Kirn shares bits and pieces about his own life, including his family and divorce. He frequently refers to stories of self-invention like Fitzgerald’s Gatsby and Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley, believing they inspired his friend’s efforts. This is an interesting exploration of both our fascination with celebrity and how we react when faced with someone who breaks all the rules of social convention.

Gwen Gregory is is the resource acquisition and management librarian at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She reads books the way many people watch TV.

Apr 202014
I don't really get the appeal of the so-called "hypo" covers, but they were popular at times in the pulps and also with collectors. This one has the requisite pretty girl and stalwart hero, too. I've seen stories by Westmoreland Gray, who wrote the lead novel, but I don't recall ever reading any of them. More familiar names in this issue are Ken Crossen, Wyatt Blassingame, and Dale Clark.
Apr 192014

Weird Tales March 1923Weird Tales was the first periodical specifically devoted to the fantasy genre. Premiering in early 1923, its publishers envisioned “The Unique Magazine” as a place for a writer to be given “free rein to express his innermost feelings in a manner befitting great literature.” In reality, the early issues of the pulp were filled with ghost stories, the choice of the magazine’s editor, Edwin Baird. Far more interested in Rural’s Real Detective and Mystery Stories, Baird had little interest in fantasy.

Weird Tales came into its own in late 1924 when Farnsworth Wright was named the magazine’s editor. In the years ahead, the pulp would become known for its fantasy and supernatural fiction, publishing the work of Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, and Clark Ashton Smith. Later issues would feature substantial efforts by Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Carl Jacobi, Henry Kuttner, C. L. Moore, Seabury Quinn, Manly Wade Wellman, and others. Weird Tales would likewise become noted for its artists. Hannes Bok, Margaret Brundage, Lee Brown Coye, and Virgil Finlay all contributed greatly to the fantasy art field through their work for “The Unique Magazine.”

In addition to publishing some of the best fantasy and supernatural fiction of the twentieth century, Weird Tales, like the Munsey magazines, featured science fiction in its pages, offering tales of interplanetary expeditions, brain transference, death rays, lost races, parallel worlds, and more. Edmond Hamilton was its leading contributor of science fiction. With stories about alien invasions, space police, and evolution gone wild, the author became known as “world-wrecker” Hamilton. Other notable science fiction in Weird Tales included work by Austin Hall, Otis Adelbert Kline, Frank Belknap Long, C. L. Moore, Donald Wandrei, and Jack Williamson. In his later years, H. P. Lovecraft spun his own style of science fiction in his tales of cosmic horror.

Although science fiction was frequently found in its pages—particularly during its early years—Weird Tales was not the first science-fiction pulp. That was left for Hugo Gernsback, an immigrant from Luxembourg, to develop.

Weird Tales 42-03The original run of Weird Tales began with its March 1923 number and ran through its September 1954 issue, for a total of 279 issues. Edwin Baird, Farnsworth Wright, and Dorothy McIlwraith (beginning in May 1940) were its editors. It was revived in 1973-74 for four issues, edited by Sam Moskowitz. A paperback series lasting four more issues, edited by Lin Carter, appeared from 1981-1983. The magazine was revived in 1988 by George H. Scithers, Darrell Schweitzer and John Gregory Betancourt and has, more or less, been published on a continuous basis since that time. At this writing, the 361st issue had been released. It is currently published by John Harlacher with Marvin Kaye serving as editor. For more details, visit the magazine’s website at http://weirdtalesmagazine.com/.

To learn more about the images used in this post, click on the illustrations. Click here for references consulted for this article.

Apr 192014

Posted: 17 Apr 2014 02:16 PM PDT
Just Before Dark is the fifth (of five) horror novels written by Bill Crider and published as by Jack MacLane.  It was published by Zebra in November 1990, and the cover art is terrific in a disturbing if tongue-in-cheek sort of way.  It is dark—a purple smudge for sky—and features a cold metallic junkyard piled high.  It reminds me of the first thirty minutes of the film “Wall-E” with the added appeal of skeletons strewn throughout.  The artist is uncredited.

The opening paragraph:

“Frank Castella remembered dying.”   

I haven’t read any of the “Jack MacLane” novels, but knowing the general high quality of Mr Crider’s work I plan to remedy that very soon.  All five of the MacLane novels are currently available as ebooks.

This is the fifth in a new series of posts featuring cover and miscellany of books I find at thrift stores and used bookshops.  It is reserved for books I purchased as much for the coer art as for the story or author. 

Apr 192014
Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:          INNER SANCTUM. Film Classics, 1948. Charles Russell, Mary Beth Hughes, Dale Belding, Billy House, Fritz Leiber, Nana Bryant, Lee Patrick, Roscoe Ates. Director: Lew Landers.    I placed the DVD in the player, turned off the lights, grabbed some popcorn, and sat down to watch the Lew Landers-directed Inner Sanctum on an [...]
Apr 192014
Livia's put together a website for Rough Edges Press with information on all the books we've published so far. The last time I counted, we have at least a dozen more books under contract, including three original novels, and I plan to have all of them out by the end of the year. You can check out the website here.

Blast From The Past #7

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Apr 192014
Blast From The Past #7

The Sherlock Holmes Museum
221b Baker Street London NW1 6XE  England

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson lived at 221b Baker Street between 1881-1904, according to the stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The house is protected by the British Government due to its special architectural and historical interest. The 1st floor study overlooking Baker Street is still faithfully maintained for posterity as it was kept in Victorian Times. Open every day of the year (except Christmas Day).

 Posted by at 2:46 pm
Apr 192014
Here are my notes taken while reading the beguiling novel The Body (reviewed yesterday) transcribed in digest format. This book more than any other I've read in a long time elicited some penetrating and meditative thoughts on my part.
Favorite quotes:

p. 59  "A person had to be quiet to hear what [the past] said, because the past talked in whispers of truth so random and fragile any preconceived opinion could blow it away before the opinion's organized and determined noise."  (Sharon considers talking to her niece about her findings in the tomb, but holds back)

p. 73  after hearing Cardinal Pesci claim that nothing that happens is Israel is not political Folan thinks to himself:  " [He] could have disputed that point for an hour and not begun to fully bury (sic) a statement so broad as to be untenable past junior high school. It was just the lazy man's way to explain away the cast and incomprehensible multitude of what went on."

p. 138  Flan to Sharon "Where do you get evidence that scientists are somehow more trustworthy than holy men?"  She replies: "When you people give as much knowledge, as much light, instead of flames to the world, as archaeologists, I will give you that respect."

p. 208  Discussion between Sharon and Folan.  She offers up "many possible scenarios" for why Mary Magdalene and the apostles would think they saw something that they didn't.  "They were totally invested in Him.  They must've been distraught."  Mary could have entered the tomb and though it was empty.  Peter had given up his life as a fisherman to follow Jesus.  Matthew stopped being a tax collector.  They made sacrifices to be with Him for life.  Folan calls them "scenarios" and Sharon calls them possibilities.  Fiction vs. reality


The Dead Christ Mourned by Annibale Carracci (ca. 1604)
(sometimes called The Three Maries)
 FAITH -- the ultimate mystery. The book blends politics and religion, culture and all sorts of ideology but is ultimately about Faith.  Everyone's faith. What a person believes in, what makes them LIVE and go on living.  Not just a faith in God or Jesus.  To me having any kind of Faith is truly the ultimate mystery.  Where does it come form?  How do we hold on to it?  What happens when you lose it?  Can faith be restored?  Once lost can it ever be regained and held fast? What might happen to someone when they lose Faith forever? It's such a fragile gift that needs to be cared for and nurtured.

Folan's scene w/ the true believer Mark, volunteer at the dig.  "Why do you believe God's word?"  This is recurring throughout the book.  Folan questions everyone's beliefs, getting them to question themselves.  Mark, after some obvious and naive attempts to convince Folan, finally replies: "I know my heart. If you need more, then I feel sorry for you."

1st instance of a fragile faith.  Father Pierre Lavelle.  Heart wrenching character.  Was once a Communist but stopped e believing when the Communists became allied with Nazis (he says this based on his personal experience). Folan questions him on this ease of turning on/off a belief.  Was it ever valid if it could be so easily given up?  Is this why he so easily accepts that the skeleton is that of Jesus without any skepticism with out any proof to the contrary?

Lavelle kills himself!  Is this going to get really ugly now?

Richard Ben Sapir
(Photo credit: Patricia Chute Sapir)
This is great! Folan is like an eccentric amateur detective: "What did you eat that day?"  "What were the people at the dig wearing?"  "What sort of mood were you in that day?" All sorts of idiosyncratic questions of the witnesses and the volunteers at the dig and all those involved in the discovery.  Odd Qs about the mundane in order to understand the event as a whole.  Also tests the veracity and the memory ks skills of those involved.  Brilliant tactic

Detective work examples -- Folan learns of the odd biological phenomenon of skeletal little toes and pinkies crumbling to nothing over time.

Folan impressing Reb Nechtal with his knowledge of the Talmud.  Loved this.  Points out the Talmud law about proper burial, manipulates this law to his own advantage.  Does not tell rabbi why the body needs to be studied but argues why it can be removed according to Talmud. Almost wins over the rabbi, but scores major points all the same, esp w/ the followers.  They reach a compromise.  p. 223 "The righteous Gentile is as blessed as the high priest himself."  Wow!

Folan and Sharon have sex. Repeatedly. Somehow I knew this would happen. Pisses me off.

Folan "lies to himself" repeatedly afterwards. He rationalizes his life as a celibate Jesuit. Sex seems to change him radically. This is going overboard.  The "Sexual epiphany" is a literary device that belongs to a much older time period and to a much younger character, I think.  I can't accept this in a book publ in 1983.  Even from a priest -- who was not a virgin. He had sex prior to becoming a priest.  That hang up about pre-ejaculation...  Is this Folan's version of what happened to Lavelle when he left the tomb?  Is that Sapir's point?  Sex is belonging to another?  Jesus is no longer Folan's best friend (he said that several times earlier in the book).  Sharon is taking that place now.  Hmm...  Trying to justify this choice of Sapir's, but it's really bothering me.

Folan and Sharon are acting like crooked cops now!  Co- conspirators trying to find evidence that will support their theories rather than looking at what they found at the dig, the evidence of the tomb.

The "specialists" are onto them.  Pointed questions, F & S resort to deceit and become evasive.  Sometimes outright lying.  (Has sex turned Folan into a liar too?)  Dr. Sproul, the bone expert, is giving them what they don't want.  Calls the skeleton a laborer, possibly a carpenter.  HA!
 Posted by at 1:39 pm

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