Though its nice that these familiar names and stories are included in this massive book, if you're fairly well read on 20s, 30s and 40s pulp, the real reason to pick this one up would be the lesser known authors and stories from the higher-end detective pulps. I might understand the omission of Robert Leslie Bellem's Dan Turner: Hollywood Detective stories due to the slightly salacious (for the time period) situations and dialog, had Penzler not thrown in Sally the Sleuth comics! So a few lackluster choices, coupled with the glaring omission of Robert Bellem, Norvell Page, and Fred MacIsaac make this one hit and miss for me. But seriously, no Fred MacIsaac and no Robert Bellem, not to mention a conspicuously absent Norvell Page, in "The Big Book of Pulps" gives this one a downgrade, because those writers' best pulp stories are miles better than some of the picks here, in my opinion.
Holy Toledo, after living with The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps for nearly three months I finally made it to the end!!! Containing two full-length novels alongside dozens of novellas and short stories (53 tales in all!), it's a wide-ranging survey of the taut, gritty style of hard-boiled crime story pioneered by Black Mask magazine in the 1920s and 30s. All the greats are here: Hammett, Chandler, Woolrich, along with many other penny-a-word writers, famous and obscure. Many of the stories here were first published in Black Mask, then and now regarded as the pinnacle of the crime pulps, although editor Otto Penzler also dredges the archives of seedier titles like Gun Molls and Spicy Detective. Compared to those half-cent-a-word rags, the Black Mask stories read like Shakespeare. Of course, there was a lot more to the pulp phenomenon than crime stories. But no aspect of the pulps endures quite like the hard-boiled world of private dicks, gangsters, and murderous mayhem explored here. One Two Three - Paul Cain *** Hard-boiled double-crosses in LA. 9. Wise Guy - Frederick Nebel **** Tough-as-nails police captain MacBride and cynical reporter Kennedy investigate a nightclub murder. The Price of a Dime - Norbert Davis ** Far too much plot for a story this short; it just seems silly. Two Murders, One Crime - Cornell Woolrich ***** An obsessed cop seeks vengeance when a killer walks free. The Third Murderer - Carroll John Daly ** Rambling, full-length Race Williams novel has some good characters, but the dialogue annoyed me and the plot kept chasing its own tail. Cain *** A short, grisly story of southern murder; strange ending. The Monkey Murder - Erle Stanley Gardner **** Gentleman thief Lester Leith solves a gruesome crime and makes a monkey of the police. Pigeon Blood - Paul Cain *** The usual hard-boiled fare: fraud, double-crosses, and attempted murder. Great character; I wish it had been a longer story. You'll Die Laughing - Norbert Davis **** Entertaining crime story about a good guy who goes out for hamburgers and gets in over his head. The Crimes of Richmond City - Frederick Nebel **** Presented as a full-length novel, this is actually a string of five linked novelettes featuring MacBride and Kennedy, who we first met in Part 1 of the book. The writing is hard-boiled as hell as MacBride fights his way through gang wars, mob terror, and political corruption to find the puppeteer behind it all, with each tale raising the stakes. Killer in the Rain - Raymond Chandler **** This story of sleaze and murder became the core of Chandlers novel, The Big Sleep. An extremely silly story, but entertaining. The Girl with the Silver Eyes - Dashiell Hammett **** The Continental Op searches for a poet's missing fiancee and finds a murderous plot. The Jane from Hell's Kitchen - Perry Paul *** A gun moll revenge story... This gawd-awful story from "Gun Molls" magazine reads like a parody, so I'm rating it for humor.
This book offers a broad overview of pulp fiction. If you've never read pulp fiction from the 30s, 40s, and early 50s, this book will serve as a very good introduction to the genre.
Still, a great deal of young writers would start off in the pulps during the 1920's through 40's, before becoming bigtime novel published authors. Anybody who enjoyed classic tales of crime like 'The Big Sleep', 'The Maltese Falcon' or 'The Postman Always Rings Twice' and wants to return to the very source of it all - or anyone who's new to this classic genre, because this is the perfect place to start off - should get their mitts on the 'Big Book of Pulps'.
What we have here is no less than a history of the mystery pulps in the 20s, 30s, and 40s, the time of the ascendance of Black Mask and the birth of hard-boiled crime fiction.
The stories, written for cheap magazines that paid writers a penny a word or less for fast-moving formulaic fiction, vary in quality and length, but have much in common: absurd action, slangy dialogue, chain-smoking whiskey-slugging detectives and policemen, sexist treatment of women, and minimal description of settings invariably dark and dangerous. The racism is part of the visceral language and violent action of the heroes in these stories, and therefore most disturbingly not just acceptable but expected and relished by contemporary readers. The rich are at best objects of envy, and usually derogated as weak, stupid, grasping, or undeserving usurpers of the labor of those below them; this feeling is shared by both the criminals and the crime fighters in these stories, the crime fighters often with the hinted feeling that they are unwilling and underpaid lackeys guarding riches they will never touch. Without the ubiquitous cell phone, it is amazing the number of times in every story that the intrepid detective or scheming criminal must plan his next actions around the location of an available phone.
Raymond Chandler: Red Wind Frederick Nebel: Wise Guy George Harmon Coxe: Murder Picture Norbert Davis: The Price of a Dime William Rollins, Jr.: Chicago Confetti Cornell Woolrich: Two Murders, One Crime Carroll John Daly: The Third Murderer PART TWO THE VILLAINS Harlan Ellison: Introduction Erle Stanley Gardner: The Cat-Woman Cornell Woolrich: The Dilemma of the Dead Lady Richard Sale: The House of Kaa Leslie Charteris: The Invisible Millionaire Steve Fisher: Youll Always Remember Me Dashiell Hammett: Faith James M. S. Montanye: The Perfect Crime Norbert Davis: Youll Die Laughing Frederick Nebel: The Crimes of Richmond City i)Raw Law ii)Dog Eat Dog iii)The Law Laughs Last iv)Law Without Law v)Graft PART THREE THE DAMES Laura Lippman: Introduction Cornell Woolrich: Angel Face Leslie T.
I had been reading this book for several weeks, picking off stories and authors like a Dime Detective would pick off a cheap bottle of rye in his pocket. The weight alone of this book hurts when you drop it on your face as you drift off in bed reading.
and women well, more often than not they were Gals, Dames, and Broads who could either make you forget about all the troubles in the world or be the cause of them...and well if you are a guy this is still true, you just don't verbalize it much- in public.