Detective Tales – December 1943


Vintage Mystery Pulp
Deal Me In Challenge: 7♠️
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #137
Date Finished: December 31, 2018

Detective Tales was a higher quality publication from Popular Publications than were any from the Trojan line, with this issue featuring stories by Day Keene, D.L Champion, and Stewart Sterling, among others. Being a war-time issue, many of these stories involve defeating Nazi spies in America, including a well done tale, “Night Watch at Anselmo’s” by Philip Ketchum, in which a merchant marine sailor defeats a German spy ring to gain retribution for the sinking of his last ship and the resulting deaths of his friends and fellow crew members.

For the seven of spades selection, “The Corpse Exchange” by Day Keene leads off this issue and gets the main cover blurb. The story features a private eye in Chicago and a war time swindle racket, with murders, frame-ups, knockout drops, con men, a fake suicide, shootings, abductions all in 25 pages. Fast moving, and not featuring an armchair detective by any means.

Super-Detective – January 1943


Vintage Mystery Pulp
Deal Me In Challenge: 10♦️
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #136
Date Finished: December 30, 2018

The Super-Detective pulp was a Trojan publication from their Speed era after the forced clean-up of their Spicy line. Three out of six stories here are reprints from 1934 issues of Spicy Detective, though with much of their salacious material removed. This includes a Norman A. Daniels story, under the name Max Neilson, “Murder Stays at Home” that is enjoyable.

The ten of diamonds selection, “Murder Between Shifts” by John Grange, was a new “book-length” story featuring detective Jim Anthony. He is too good to be true, a millionaire, factory owner, and super-detective, but the story moves along nicely with various motives present for a nightclub killing. The gimmick was a bit obvious but otherwise enjoyable, despite this being a lower quality pulp. The interesting
setting of war time swing shift culture is a plus.

Basil Copper – The Secret Files of Solar Pons (1979)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #135
Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge #14
TBR #147
Date Finished: December 26, 2018

This volume collects four Solar Pons novellas published after the death of creator August Derleth. The imitation of Sherlock Holmes is quite complete, with some criticizing these stories as just cut-and-paste jobs, with Copper selecting various settings and situations randomly to create his pastiche. These stories lack the clever endings and tantalizing clues of a true master storyteller, but nevertheless are rather enjoyable stories. Here Solar Pons solves mysteries at a mysterious house in the swamps, at a London theater where various parties have a grudge against the lead actor, against a mastermind plotting to rob a London museum of its valuable objects, and at a lonely house where the poor niece is being swindled by her evil uncle. Fun stuff that probably shouldn’t have waited so long on my shelf.

Nick Carter – The Christmas Kill (1983)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #134
Monthly Key Word: Christmas
TBR #143
Date Finished: December 26, 2018

Nick Carter is asked by his boss to investigate a bombing at a Japanese toy factory, as a favor he is paying to an old female friend of his. Nick’s cover is blown immediately, and assassins make multiple attempts on his life, killing several civilians. An anti-American terrorist organization seems to have infiltrated the plant and is sending their new toy robots to the U.S. for Christmas, each loaded with a bomb. Nick must defeat this plot, while receiving no assistance from his own agency or any other.

The craziness of this plot makes the secret Nazi take-over-the-world plot of the James Bond story I just read, Icebreaker, seem rational. If you can get past the impossibility of it all, it is fun and quick, though one dimensional.

2018 Monthly Key Words 2018-12-26

John Gardner – Icebreaker (1983)


Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge #13
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #133
TBR #141
Date Finished: December 23, 2018

James Bond is called in to participate in a joint mission against a renewed Nazi organization. Joining him are agents of the U.S., Israel, and the Soviet Union. Of course, nobody can be trusted, leaving Bond in a precarious position to destroy the Nazis.

The third in the John Gardner Bond series, this one turned out better than I expected, after it sat on my shelves for 30-plus years. The first two in the series were rather tight-laced, dreary 1980s Cold War stories, if I remember correctly, but this one a bit more fun with unusual villains. Bond tends to rely on the Finnish agents and Soviet military for most of the action, but he does endure some hardships in pursuit of his goals.

Margery Allingham – Take Two at Bedtime (1949)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #129
Deal Me In Challenge: 8♣, 8♠️
TBR #125
Date Finished: November 24, 2018

This volume, also published as Deadly Duo, collects two novellas, each of which were selected for the Deal Me In Challenge.

For 8♣, “Wanted: Someone Innocent” a rather innocent young woman is hired by a former schoolmate to be a companion to her invalid husband, but there may be darker motives behind the employment. Interesting, though the young woman is unbelievably naive.

For 8♠, “Last Act” tells of an elderly actress and her young actress granddaughter who has to face questions when the older woman dies. The diva personalities are a bit tough to take here.

These both are entertaining, though not outstanding stories, with mysteries that are not terribly complicated.



John D. MacDonald – The Good Old Stuff (1982)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #130
Deal Me In Challenge: 9
Date Finished: November 27, 2018

John D. MacDonald wrote many stories for the pulps prior to publishing full length paperback originals, but when approached in the early 1980s about reprinting some of those stories, he insisted on revising them. Reading several of these from the original pulps, I couldn’t detect a great deal of changes, though some have indicated that there were many. It is more jarring to me to hear these characters refer to 1980s events and people, than it would have been to hear about 1940s-1950s events.

The 9 ♠️ selection for the Deal Me In Challenge was “Murder for Money” by John D. MacDonald. This was tonally very similar to his later works, though unclear on how much revision was done here. MacDonald’s stories are entertaining, complex, and realistically human in ways many pulp stories were not. This is true for the others in this volume:

“Murder for Money,” All That Blood Money Can Buy, Detective Tales April 1952
“Death Writes the Answer,” – This One Will Kill You, New Detective May 1950
“Miranda,” – 15 Mystery Stories Oct 1950
“They Let Me Live,” – Doc Savage Jul/Aug 1947
“Breathe No More,” – Detective Tales May 1950
“From Some Hidden Grave,” The Lady Is a Corpse, Detective Tales Sept 1950
“A Time for Dying,” Tune in on Station Homicide by Peter Reed, New Detective Sept 1948
“Noose for a Tigress,” – Trap for a Tigress, Dime Detective Aug 1952
“Murder in Mind,” – Mystery Book Winter 1948
“Check Out at Dawn,” – Night Watch by Scott O’Hara, Detective Tales May 1950
“She Cannot Die,” – The Tin Suitcase Doc Savage May-June 1948
“Dead on the Pin,” – Mystery Book Summer 1950
“A Trap for the Careless.” – The Judas Chick, Detective Tales March 1950

Highly recommended.