Saturday, 24 October 2020

Marksman and Other Stories

Author: William Campbell Gault
Publisher:  Crippen & Landru
Date: Mar. 2003
Pages: 206
Not currently available in eBook format or paperback

Marksman contains a loving end-piece by Shelly Gault, daughter of William Campbell Gault. In it, she reminisces about how her father would proudly claim that from the moment he began writing up until the early 1980's, he had sold everything he had ever written.

It's no surprise. Gault could write exceptionally well, and was quick to spot opportunities. When he saw dwindling sales of mystery fiction in the 1960's he turned his attention to writing juvenile fiction exclusively and began a long and successful period of his career. As she adds he "loved it when he heard that his titles were among the most stolen from libraries"!

Crippen & Landru have been publishing a series of books in their The Lost Classics Series since 2002. These consist of uncollected stories by great mystery and detective writers of the past. Most are published in hardback, but if you look carefully you can find some in eBook format. This particular issue is currently not available in electronic format yet.

This collection of short literature from William Campbell Gault consists of twelve tales published between 1940 and 1957 in magazines such as Clues, S&S Dectective Story Magazine, Mercury Mystery Magazine and premier titles such as Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Blackmask and Manhunt (none of which made it into 2019's The Best of Manhunt if you are wondering). The first six are stories unrelated to each other, and cover the period from 1940 to the middle fifties. A few contain detectives, but most of them involve men-about-town who are involved in strange circumstance. The second half of Marksman contains the complete collection of short tales featuring one of Gault's most famous creations, Private Investigator, Joe Puma that appeared in 1956 and 1957.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Rough Trade

Author: Robert Silverberg
Publisher: PS Publishing
Date: Dec. 2017
Pages: 415
Not currently available in eBook format or paperback

In 2012, Hard Case Crime published Robert Silverberg's novelette Blood on the Mink, packaged together with a couple of short stories (Dangerous Doll and One Night of Violence). These stories had been written by Silverberg in the late fifties and early sixties for pulp magazines of the time. The success of the HCC paperback prompted a new interest in the authors crime back catalogue, and so in 2017, British independant publishing house PS Publishing release a limited run of his stories from the same period as Rough Trade.

This new collection contains 23 short stories (but does also include One Night of Violence from the HCC paperback) covering the years from 1957 to 1961. Most of the stories are around ten to twelve pages in length, with a few 10,000 worders increasing that to 30 page tales. All of them appeared in one of two pulp magazines that Silverberg was providing a constant stream of material too, Guilty and Trapped. As he says in one of the introductions that preface each story, for some reason Guilty was the more poular magazine despite it covering exactly the same type of crime/hardboiled/delinquent teenager type of content as its companion magazine. Both magazines were edited by the same man, W.W. Scott, to whom Harlan Ellison introduced Silverberg. Thus was born a period of his life where he supplemented his living by sending rapidly written shorts to Scott for consideration.

Silverberg left college and got married in 1956. He immediately began to write full-time - he had already started writing science fiction whilst in college, and wanted to continue to write for a living. Whilst his partner went to work, there was pressure on him to contribute to their living costs. At this time there were very few publishers issuing regular science fiction magazines, nowhere enough for Silverberg to earn good money. Needing to branch out, he began to write for many of the pulps inclinding submissions of Westerns, Sports and Mens Adventure tales. But crime was still king in the late fifties, and so he eventually began to churn out the sort of stories that he hoped would appear in Manhunt

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

The Horror on the Links (The Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin #1)

Author: Seabury Quinn
Ebook Publisher: Night Shade
Ebook Date: Apr. 2017
File size/Pages: 1109KB / 512pp
First Published: 2017 (original tales 1925-28)

Night Shade books produced a fantastic set of hardback books in 2017 that have collected all 92 tales of the occult detective, Dr Jules de Grandin by Seabury Quinn. These are handsome editions set in chronological order across five volumes. Thankfully they decided to also make them available in the eBook format.

Volume One contains a sumptuous 23 tales, across a hefty 500 pages, the first of which graced the pages of Weird Tales in 1925. The tales cover the first four years and culminate with the story featured in the December 1928 issue.

Seabury Quinn was born in Washington, USA in 1889 and died in 1969. After graduating from law school he attained the bar in the District of Columbia. Serving in World War One, he subsequently became the editor for trade papers in New York, started teaching medical jurisprudence, wrote technical articles and began submitting pulp magazine fiction stories. He continued to write for the pulps despite still remaining an active lawyer. His most famous creation was Dr Jules de Grandin.

De Grandin is a French doctor who has a particluar expertise in all matters of the paranormal and supernatural. His is a flamboyant character, wearing immaculate clothing, and always recongnisable due to his white hair and waxed moustache. His manners are also, at various times, brusque; demure; excitable; unforgiving, and ingratiating. But underneath there is a vicious hatred of evil in all its forms. It's sometimes quite surprising how ruthless de Grandin can be when dispatching his enemies - death befalls most of them.

Accompanying the French investigator is the loyal and level-headed partner, Dr Samuel Trowbridge. A Physician based in Harrisonville, New Jersey, he assists de Grandin in a succession of cases due to accidental meetings in America and abroad (The Isle of Missing Ships is a wonderful example, see below). These meetings soon dissapear as de Grandin seemingly moves to Harrisonville permanently.