Reviews

The Best of Adventure, Vol. 1 Review

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best_of_adv_v1_thumbnail_websiteThe Best of Adventure, Volume 1—A Review by Morgan Holmes

One of my Pulpfest pick ups was The Best of Adventure, Volume 1—1910-1912 from Black Dog Books. This is the first of an ambitious series of "Best of" volumes covering Adventure magazine. Those of us who made their way to Adventure by way of Robert E. Howard are generally familiar with 1920s reprints— Harold Lamb Cossack stories, Talbot Mundy's "Tros" and "Jimgrim" novels, Arthur D. Howden Smith's "Gray Maiden" stories etc. The first decade of Adventure is terra incognita. I have read a few things such as Arthur Nelson's Wings of Danger ("The Adventurers") and I even have a 1960s reprint paperback of John Buchan's Prester John originally from 1911.

This book is an education. Adventure could be subtitled "The Jack London Experience" at this time. It goes to show how revolutionary London was in changing fiction. At this time, you have some writers who straddled the pulp-slick divide such as Donn Byrne, Morgan Robertson, and William Hope Hodgson. Jack London himself appeared in pulps such as Street & Smith's The Popular Magazine and Top-Notch. These stories don't read like what I think of as pulp. It is more like cracking open an anthology of classic adventure stories.

In A Righteous Cause Review

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In a Righteous Cause—A review by Evan Lewis

in_a_righteous_cause_thumbnail_websiteTalbot Mundy, like his contemporary Harold Lamb, is one of those magic names out of pulp history. Most folks have heard of him, and may have a vague notion he once wrote adventure stories, but relatively few today have read his work.

Tom Roberts of Black Dog Books is doing his part to change all that. In a Righteous Cause is the first published volume in the Talbot Mundy Library, a series that will eventually comprise at least eight volumes.

This book brings us seven stories (some of novelette length) and three articles, all of which appeared in Adventure during 1913.

I didn't know what to expect from this collection, but I'd been reading—and enjoying—the Harold Lamb book Wolf of the Steppes containing stories from the same mag and similar time frame, and figured it was time to give Mundy a try.

And damn—I'm glad I did. Talbot Mundy is one kick-ass storyteller. I was enthralled with every piece in this book. And the more I read, the more I found myself slowing down to savor the prose.

Demons of the Night review

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Demons of the Night and Other Early Tales by Seabury Quinn—a review by Craig Clarke

demons_of_the_night_thumbnail_websiteAuthor Seabury Quinn is probably best known to modern readers for his series of short stories featuring occult detective Jules de Grandin, as well as for his marked influence on the works of fellow author Robert E. Howard. But Quinn's career spanned sixty years: from 1917, the year "The Law of Movies" (a nonfiction article included as an appendix to this collection) saw print, to 1977, when his novel Alien Flesh was published, with at least 150 other works in the intervening years.

Demons of the Night and Other Early Tales, edited and with an introduction and bibliography by Gene Christie and published by Black Dog Books, collects Quinn's earliest known fiction along with other rarities, including the aforementioned "Law of the Movies." It is a humorous and insightful look at the way legal matters are presented on film that is just as applicable today as it was in 1917, even though its examples consist entirely of obscure silent films (none of which appear to be available on video).

 

Twice Murdered—Another Review

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Twice Murdered by Laurence Donovan—A review by Evan Lewis

twice_murdered_web_thumbnailPrior to cracking open this new collection from Black Dog Books, all I knew about Laurence Donovan was that he'd written a handful of Doc Savage novels.

Now I know better. Boy, do I ever. This book makes it clear that Donovan was a pulp-writing powerhouse. In a career stretching from 1928 to 1948, he turned out well over 400 stories and novelettes, plus more than 50 pulp novels featuring guys like The Phantom Detective, The Black Bat, The Whisperer, The Skipper—and yes, Doc Savage. Like many of his contemporaries, he wrote whatever the market wanted, resulting a good mix of air war adventures, westerns and mysteries. (How do I know all this? I know, thanks to Tom Roberts' groundbreaking Introduction and overview of Donovan's career, and the eye-opening 18-page bibliography of his works.)

The amazing thing is that despite this enormous output, there has never been a book published with Donovan's name on it. Until now.

 

Twice Murdered Review

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twice_murdered_web_thumbnailTwice Murdered by Laurence Donovan—A review by James Reasoner

Twice Murdered is another in the outstanding series of pulp reprint collections coming out from Black Dog Books. Laurence Donovan is probably best known for the house-name novels he wrote starring Doc Savage, The Phantom Detective, The Skipper, and The Whisperer, but he also had a long and prolific career producing detective and Western yarns for a variety of pulps. This volume collects a dozen stories published in the Thirties and Forties in the pulps Private Detective, Spicy Detective, Hollywood Detective, Black Book Detective, and Super Detective, under Donovan's name and his pseudonym Larry Dunn.

Donovan had three main strengths as a writer: he was able to come up with complex plots, he used interesting settings, and he wrote fast-moving, effective action scenes. Most of the protagonists in these stories are private eyes, and like Roger Torrey's private eye characters, they share a lot of similarities despite having different names. I think Donovan's shamuses come across a little more as individuals, though.