Aug 282014

The Pulpster 23 Final CoverCopies of the latest issue of The Pulpster are now available for purchase from Mike Chomko, Books. A longstanding tradition cherished by attendees of summer pulp cons, The Pulpster #23 was released at PulpFest 2014. The new number focuses on the 75th anniversary of the blossoming of science fiction’s Golden Age, when fantastic fiction “grew up.” Additionally, the magazine also examines the so-called “shudder pulps,” magazines such as Terror Tales and Spicy Mystery Stories.

Leading off the issue is “Science Fiction and the Pulps,” the unabridged version of Mike Chomko‘s “History of Magazine Science Fiction,” serialized on the PulpFest home page. Last year’s Munsey Award winner, Garyn G. Roberts, is on board with an article on Futuria Fantasia, the fanzine that Ray Bradbury debuted at the first World Science Fiction ConventionDon Herron, the creator of San Francisco’s Dashiell Hammett Tour, the longest-running literary tour in the USA, takes a look at Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Fritz Leiber’s classic characters that made their first appearance in the August 1939 UnknownDwayne Olson contributes several letters written by Donald Wandrei concerning the death of his friend, Hannes Bok, born one-hundred years ago on July 2, 1914. Additionally, Argentine pulp writer Alfredo Julio Grassi is profiled by Christian Lawson.

Weird-menace fiction came into its own in 1934 and The Pulpster looks back to those days with “Pulp Horrors of the Dirty Thirties,” written by Don Hutchison, author of The Great Pulp Heroes and many other works. Archaeologist  Jeffrey Shanks is also on hand with a look at “Zombies from the Pulps,” an overview of the undead writings of H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Manly Wade Wellman, Henry Kuttner, and other great pulpsters.

Filling out the issue is editor Bill Lampkin’s editorial, Tony Davis’ “Final Chapters,” and a tribute to the late Frank M. Robinson, written by John Gunnison of Adventure House.

The Pulpster #23 can be purchased for $13, postage paid in the United States. Buyers outside the United States will pay more.  Please write to Mike Chomko at or 2217 W. Fairview Street, Allentown, PA 18104-6542 for further instructions. You can also write to Mike about Pulpster back issues or visit our “program book” page for a list of what issues are available.

Aug 282014
by Francis M. Nevins

   In the years I’ve written these columns, death has overtaken a number of mystery-writing colleagues to whom I’ve said goodbye here. Till this month, all of them have been older than I. Now it falls to me to commemorate one who was more than five years younger. That is scary.

   On August 14, in Pompano Beach, Florida, a man who ranked with the finest private-eye writers of his time, and was a friend of mine for more than twenty-five years, shot himself to death. Jeremiah Healy was 66.

   The last time I saw him was in the fall of 2011, at the St. Louis Bouchercon. He looked fantastic, a trim handsome dude with thick gray hair and mustache and a beautiful girlfriend and (in his own words) the body of a 19-year-old paratrooper. He brought to mind a character in a radio soap opera my mother listened to when I was a small child, a fellow who, whenever asked how he was doing, would reply “Sittin’ on top o’ the world.”

   Why Jerry took his own life I won’t discuss except to say that, unknown to me, he’d been battling prostate cancer and clinical depression and alcoholism and perhaps other dark forces for years. In the magnificent words of Pope Francis, who am I to judge him?

   Like me, he was a law professor. When his career as a crime novelist began, he and I were the only mystery writers who had come to the genre from legal academia. In PI fiction it was the age of Robert B. Parker and of regionalism. Like Parker’s Spenser, Healy’s PI John Francis Cuddy was a jogger and amateur chef who lived and worked in Boston, a city he knew well and described almost like a human character.

   Parker I suppose was the Hertz of the area’s mystery writers and Healy the Avis, but for a variety of reasons — two of them no doubt because we shared the same day job and got to be friends — I always preferred Jerry‘s books over Parker’s. Spenser was single and Cuddy a widower who often visited his wife’s gravesite, and spoke to her, and was, or thought he was, answered.

   (Several widowers in movies directed by John Ford also spoke to their wives but never had dialogue with them. I once asked Jerry if he’d gotten the idea from Ford but he said he hadn’t.)

   One of Parker’s lasting innovations was to put his protagonist in a monogamous relationship with one woman, and as the death of Cuddy’s wife faded in time he followed in Spenser’s footsteps with Susan Silverman by getting monogamously involved with a female prosecutor.

   Healy’s first novel, Blunt Darts (1984), struck me as very good but perhaps too much in the shadow of Ross Macdonald. The New York Times called it one of the seven best mysteries of its year. His second, The Staked Goat (1986), I thought one of the finest PI novels I’d ever read. Almost thirty years after its publication I still say it belongs on any sensible short list of the great books of the genre since the death of Lew Archer’s creator.


   Number four in the series, Swan Dive (1988), begins with Cuddy obliging a lawyer friend by agreeing to bodyguard Hanna Marsh, who has left her sadistic husband and is seeking both a divorce and the luxurious marital home.

   Roy Marsh, not only a wife-beater and womanizer but a cocaine dealer on the side, tries to persuade Hanna to drop the suit by disembowelling their daughter’s cat. Cuddy goes outside the law to teach Roy a lesson in litigation etiquette, but a few nights later when Roy and a hooker are murdered in a fleabag hotel, all the evidence points to Cuddy, who is menaced not only by the police but by Roy’s coke-dealing compadres hunting for a missing shipment of their stock in trade.

   Healy carefully balances whodunit and mean-streets elements, skillfully draws characters (many of whom speak Ethnic English, a trademark in this series), gives us the usual sharply observed tour of metro Boston, and even imparts some movement to Cuddy’s long-stalled relationship with the lovely assistant D.A. whom at this point in the saga he refuses to sleep with out of loyalty to his dead wife.

   Yesterday’s News (1989) brings Cuddy to the decaying port city of Nasharbor, where a woman reporter on the local paper supposedly committed suicide less than twelve hours after hiring him to look into the murder of one of her confidential sources, a petty porn merchant claiming inside knowledge of police corruption.

   It’s a briskly paced and tightly constructed novel, bringing to life a number of social and professional environments, with richly varied characters and relationships and sleazoid dialogue in the manner of George V. Higgins punctuated by short bursts of action.


   You could never have guessed from Jerry’s first five novels that he was a law professor or even the holder of a law degree. It was only with Cuddy’s sixth full-length case that his creator’s two careers came together.

   The title of Right to Die (1991) perfectly captures its theme. Cuddy is brought to the not totally fictitious Massachusetts Bay Law School to investigate a string of obscene anonymous notes to Maisy Andrus, a fiery law prof who not only publicly advocates legalized euthanasia but admits that she euthanized her dying first husband, a wealthy Spanish doctor, and got away with it. (Why she wasn’t extradited to Spain to stand trial, and even got to keep all the property her husband left her, are questions I fear are never adequately answered.)

   In the first 150 pages more notes keep popping up and Cuddy goes around interviewing various people with ideological or personal reasons for hating Andrus’ guts, among them a black female minister, a Catholic pro-life fanatic, a Jewish doctor and a neo-Nazi skinhead. The suspects are well drawn and each of them mounts a soapbox on which to orate on issues of life and death.

   Things heat up in later chapters, but the climax leaves more nagging questions unanswered. And anyone who can swallow Healy’s biggest credibility sandwich, which consists of our middle-aged PI finishing the 26-mile Boston Marathon four days after getting out of Massachusetts General Hospital with a slug in the hip, is a veritable Dagwood.

   Jerry told me that a doctor at Harvard Medical School vouched for the possibility, saying that a bullet would have done Cuddy less harm than the flu, but I still don’t buy it.

   Chapter 5 of Right to Die ought to be required reading even for those in legal education who don’t enjoy mysteries. Cuddy, a Vietnam veteran and law-school dropout, visits Andrus’ Ethics and Society class and is exposed once again to that bete noir of jurisprudence, the so-called Socratic Method.

   Maisy Andrus’ classroom style, says Cuddy, “reminded me of a black Special Forces captain in basic training who ran the TTIS, the Tactical Training of the Individual Soldier, the most miserable obstacle course I ever experienced.”

   For the next several pages we see the Method in action: Kingsfieldesque bullying, rapid-fire cross-examination of hapless students, hypotheticals straight out of the classic police torture scene from Dirty Harry. Later in Andrus’ office she justifies the Method and her dispassionate use of it. Cuddy dissents.

   “I think torture is a serious matter. I think you do your students a disservice by abstracting it and then making it seem they have no way out of an intellectual puzzle.”

   “Have you ever witnessed torture, Mr. Cuddy?”

   I thought back to the basement of the National Police substation in Saigon. Suspected Viet Cong subjected to bamboo switches, lit cigarettes, telephone crank boxes, and wires. Walls seeping dampness, the mixed stench of body wastes and disinfectants, the screams….

   “Mr. Cuddy?”

   “No, Professor, I’ve never seen torture.”

   The sequence has nothing to do with the plot, but some of the best scenes in Healy’s previous books and especially in The Staked Goat aren’t tied to a storyline either. Standing on its own, this chapter is at once the most even-handed and the most riveting evocation of Socratic Method that I’ve ever encountered in a novel. And yes, that specifically includes The Paper Chase, to which we owe the legendary Professor Kingsfield.


   Shallow Graves (1992) comes closer to joining the PI novel and the classic detective tale than any other Healy book I’ve read. The insurance company which once bounced Cuddy for refusing to approve a phony claim hires him back as a freelance to look into the strangulation of Mau Tim Dani, an exotic and rising young fashion model of Sicilian and Vietnamese descent, whose life had been insured by her financially shaky agency for half a million dollars.

   The trouble starts when Cuddy discovers that the dead woman’s Sicilian side, her father and his kin, are Mafia; indeed that her granddad is the Godfather of metro Boston. Healy neatly divides our suspicions among a small cast of characters, offers portraits of the worlds of modeling, advertising and organized crime, and holds tension high despite an almost complete absence of violence.

   He keeps descriptions to a minimum and relies on long Q&A sequences not only to convey plot points but, as is his wont, to showcase several varieties of ethnically flavored English, from Vietnamese to Japanese to Sicilian to black. Anyone who beats Cuddy to the killer’s identity will have done better than I.

   Foursome (1993) takes Cuddy north to rural Maine, where three of the title’s quartet have been slaughtered in their lakeside retreat (very much like Jerry’s own, which I once had the pleasure of visiting) by a crossbow-wielding killer, with Cuddy’s client, the sole survivor of the four, having been charged with triple murder.

   Trying to flush out a credible alternate suspect, Cuddy finds several Mainers and even more folks back in metro Boston who might have wanted one, some or all of the foursome out of the way.

   This time I spotted the culprit long before Cuddy, mainly because I had come to know intimately how Jerry thought and worked. But he paints in vivid colors the pristine beauty of Maine and the big city’s mean streets and suburbs, skillfully characterizes a huge variety of people through Cuddy’s Q&A with them, and breaks up the interrogations with spurts of raw violence, making this longest of Healy’s novels to that point by all odds one of his best.


   There’s hardly need to go on, and besides I’m running out of space. Jerry’s legacy to readers consists of 13 Cuddy novels, two collections of Cuddy short stories, three legal thrillers about Boston attorney Mairead O’Claire, and two stand-alone novels.

   His legacy to those who were lucky enough to know him and be his friends is priceless. The countless Web comments on his death share a single leitmotif: what a kind, generous, giving man he was, how supportive and helpful to newer writers. He wasn’t Jewish, but if ever there were a living embodiment of the word mensch it was Jerry Healy. God, what a loss.

 Posted by at 12:14 am

Matthew McBride Interview at MysteryPeople!

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Aug 272014

"I've been tempted to brand the book Meth Lit, because meth really is a character in this book, and it has affected my life and the lives of those around me in various ways."

Aug 272014
The Mystery And Madness Of.......


The Survivor
Story by John F Albano

Jump Into Hell
Story by Joe Orlando

A Time To Die
Story by Jack Oleck

Printing History
 National  Periodical Publications, Inc
June 1974 
Volume 4 No 26
 Posted by at 9:12 pm
Aug 272014

Amazing Author Insults That Actually Raise Insults To An Art Form

Posted: Updated: 
Though readers are well-advised to give all classics a proper chance rather than tossing aside Pride and Prejudice or The Scarlet Letter after a few boring pages, we can rest assured that even if we never come to appreciate Austen or Hawthorne, we would be in exalted company. The most celebrated of authors have long come in for their share of high-profile criticism, even from each other.
Great authors have always been subject to rivalries and artistic differences just like the rest of us -- except that when they resort to disparaging each other's work, their insults are no ordinary insults. When these wordsmiths turn their talents to literary burns, the results can be truly lyrical.
We've compiled 19 author-on-author zingers that are as well-crafted as they are cutting:
henry james novelist
Henry Jamesaccording to H.G. Wells
“His vast paragraphs sweat and struggle ... And all for tales of nothingness … It is leviathan retrieving pebbles. It is a magnificent but painful hippopotamus resolved at any cost, even at the cost of its dignity, upon picking up a pea which has got into a corner of its den.”
Aldous Huxleyaccording to Virginia Woolf
"I am reading [Point Counter Point]. Not a good novel. All raw, uncooked, protesting.”
nathaniel hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorneaccording to Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Nathaniel Hawthorne’s reputation as a writer is a very pleasing fact, because his writing is not good for anything, and this is a tribute to the man.”
Bret Easton Ellisaccording to David Foster Wallace:
“[American Psycho] panders shamelessly to the audience’s sadism for a while, but by the end it’s clear that the sadism’s real object is the reader herself.”
David Foster Wallaceaccording to Bret Easton Ellis
"I continue to find David Foster Wallace the most tedious, overrated, tortured, pretentious writer of my generation."
ezra pound
Ezra Poundaccording to Gertrude Stein
“A village explainer, excellent if you were a village, but if you were not, not.”
George Bernard Shawaccording to H.G. Wells
“All through the war we shall have this Shavian accompaniment going on like an idiot child screaming in a hospital, discrediting, confusing. He is at present… an almost unendurable nuisance.”
james baldwin
James Baldwinaccording to Norman Mailer
“James Baldwin is too charming a writer to be major. If in Notes of a Native Son he has a sense of moral nuance which is one of the few modern guides to the sophistications of the ethos, even the best of his paragraphs are sprayed with perfume.”
Crime novelist James M. Cainaccording to Raymond Chandler
"Everything he touches smells like a billygoat. He is every kind of writer I detest, afaux naif, a Proust in greasy overalls, a dirty little boy with a piece of chalk and a board fence and nobody looking."
langston hughes
Langston Hughesaccording to James Baldwin
"Every time I read Langston Hughes I am amazed all over again by his genuine gifts--and depressed that he has done so little with them."
William Wordsworthaccording to Dylan Thomas
"Wordsworth was a tea-time bore, the great Frost of literature, the verbose, the humourless, the platitudinary reporter of Nature in her dullest moods. Open him at any page: and there lies the English language not, as George Moore said of Pater, in a glass coffin, but in a large, sultry, and unhygienic box. Degutted and desouled."
marcel proust
Marcel Proustaccording to Evelyn Waugh
"I am reading Proust for the first time. Very poor stuff. I think he was mentally defective."
Richard Wrightaccording to James Baldwin
“Below the surface of [Native Son] there lies, as it seems to me, a continuation, a complement of that monstrous legend it was written to destroy.”
honore de balzac
Honoré de Balzacaccording to Gustave Flaubert
"What a man he would have been had he known how to write!"
Walt Whitmanaccording to D.H. Lawrence
"The awful Whitman. This post-mortem poet. This poet with the private soul leaking out of him all the time. All his privacy leaking out in a sort of dribble, oozing into the universe."
charlotte bronte
Charlotte Brontëaccording to George Eliot
"I only wish the characters [of Jane Eyre] would talk a little less like the heroes and heroines of police reports."
Bertolt Brecht according to Tom Stoppard
"Personally, I would rather have written Winnie the Pooh than the collected works of Brecht."
jane austen
Jane Austenaccording to Ralph Waldo Emerson:
"Miss Austen’s novels… seem to me vulgar in tone, sterile in artistic invention, imprisoned in the wretched conventions of English society, without genius, wit, or knowledge of the world. Never was life so pinched and narrow."
Harriet Beecher Stoweaccording to James Baldwin
"She was not so much a novelist as an impassioned pamphleteer.”


13 Nobel Prize In Literature Winners You Should Read
1 of 14 

Headlines that shouldn’t be true but are

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Aug 272014

Police: Denver man shot his wife dead, then asked 7-year-old son to do
the same to him

Maryland suspect reportedly beat man to death, set body on fire, took
victim’s dog for a walk

County Forgives $2.4M in Bad Speed-Camera Tickets8/22/14 | 2:32 PM ET

Suspicious Object Turns out to Be Star Wars Toy8/22/14 | 12:32 PM ET

Kansas police shot unarmed suicidal teen 16 times as family says they
begged them not to

Fox News guest: Was Michael Brown too large to be an ‘unarmed teen’?

Pastor calls to imprison gays for ‘ten years hard labor’ with new
constitutional amendment

Arizona Girl Accidentally Shoots Her Shooting Instructor In The Head

OOPS: County Wrongly Figured Blood-Alcohol Levels8/22/14 | 12:00 PM ET

Man Has Kept All His Nail Clippings In A Jar -- Since 1978!

WATCH: TX police draw guns on mother and young children they mistook
for gun-waving males

CNN host rips Fox for ‘sowing doubt’ with baseless report on officer’s
fractured eye socket

Massachusetts man fears his horns, ’666? forehead tattoo will make a
fair trial impossible

Fox host kicks off two black lawyers after they accuse her of
‘distracting’ from Brown’s death

Someone in Brooklyn Keeps Filling Trash Bags With Pee, and Their
Neighbors Are Not Happy

Iowa GOP Official Warns That Child Migrants Might Be Highly Trained

Another GOP Candidate Says Migrant Kids Might Have Ebola. (They Don't.)

Anti-Israel Protesters in London Defend Hitler...

Cops Accused Of Using Police Database To Screen Women Found On Dating

Texas babysitter reportedly set ‘disrespectful’ kids’ house on fire

Lawyer Wants Seized $125K Wine Collection Back8/22/14 | 11:51 AM ET

UN-BEE-LIEVABLE: 50,000 Bees Living in NYC Ceiling8/22/14 | 11:14 AM ET

California Permits Outdoor Dining With Dogs8/22/14 | 10:09 AM ET

Md. Ban on Grain Alcohol Hurts Violin Makers

German Man Evicted for Squeaky Swing Set Sex


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Aug 272014

By Ralph L. Angelo Jr.
Cosmic Comet Publishing
271 pages

Long ago we discovered a copy of E.E. “Doc” Smith’s classic sci-fi novel, “The Skylark of Space.”  What impressed us was how the action centered around two civilian scientists who build an amazing spacecraft and come up with the means to launch it into deep space where they have many fantastic adventures.  Smith is often credited as being the father of that sci-fi sub-genre known as the Space Opera.  But at that time most such tales generally featured military heroes whereas not so in this story.  The fact that the heroes were civilians was one of the many aspects of the book we enjoyed and so remember it fondly to this day.

Which brings us to Ralph Angelo’s “The Cagliostro Chronicles,” a bonafide space opera that follows in Smith’s footsteps with its protagonists being the crew of a civilian made spaceship.  Genius aeronautical engineer, Mark Johnson, has built the massive Cagliostro and outfitted here with a unique magnetic engine of his own invention that will allow it to travel faster than light; in effect transport him and his crew to the far reaches of the galaxy in the blink of an eye.  He and his hand picked crew are about to embark on a “shake-down” flight when Johnson’s friend, General Abruzzi begins acting very strangely.  Johnson suspects, for whatever illogical purposes, the general not only does not want him to launch the Cagliostro but is in fact planning to forcefully take it from.  Heeding his instincts, he takes off ahead of schedule and sure enough finds the entire Earth Space Navy chasing after him and his crew. 

Using their new FTL drive, they manage to escape to the farthest reaches of the galaxy and there, Johnson confides in his team; made up of a beautiful telepath named Ariel, a super-strong security chief and several other gifted scientists.  Under secret orders of the President, Johnson has learned that evidence exist of alien incursions into out Solar System and has been ordered to discover the origin of mysterious space messages intercepted by the government.  The Cagliostro’s first mission is to discover who is sending these transmissions and what their intent is.

We found this first half of the book slow.  Understandably Angelo was burdened with laying out the basic plot, identifying his characters etc.etc. in the basic set-up.  Still we kept hoping the pacing would pick and are happy to report it does so in grand fashion once we get to the inhabited, alien worlds.  From that point on Angelo is clearly channeling classic pulp writers like Doc Smith and Edmond Hamilton as he propels our likeable heroes into one adventure after another as they eventually realize the Earth is in jeopardy from a full-blown alien invasion armada.  By the time they race back to our Solar System, there isn’t a moment to spare.   Clones of government officials have infiltrated the highest branches of the government and are working to assure the invasion’s success. Exposing them is only a small part of the ray-blasting action.  Now it is up to Johnson and the crew of the Cagliostro to orchestrate a viable defense strategy that will give the Earth forces a chance to survive the coming onslaught.

If you like super space battles with thousands of ships engaged in a life and death struggle, with heroes larger than life and last minute rescues, “The Cagliostro Chronicles” was written for you and all Space Opera lovers.  It is a headlong rush into the wonders and dangers that mankind will some day have to confront.  Let’s hope we have real men like Captain Mark Johnson to lead the way. 

Aug 272014

Lynne Patrick

One of the best things about running a small publishing company for seven years was meeting new people. Almost without exception, crime writers are the kind of people I want to spend time with. There’s a theory that they get rid of all their demons and dark side on the page, so what’s left for real life is plain old-fashioned nice-ness.

But despite all the best intentions, a major life-change like selling the company inevitably meant losing touch with a lot of the people I had come to regard as friends – so it was a great end to last week to meet up with some of them again, and also to make the acquaintance of someone whose path hadn’t crossed mine during those seven years. All the more so because one of my favourite leisure activities is sitting round the table after a good meal, making conversation with congenial people.

(Now, there’s a marketing ploy you may want to consider – accept a dinner invitation from a voracious reader. All you have to do is be good company for the evening.)

There were six of us round my table last Saturday evening: three crime fiction writers, one former crime fiction publisher (me), one avid crime fiction reader and one other for added interest. The conversation ranged far and wide. Among many other topics, other crime writers were discussed, as were agents and editors, but a little surprisingly, since it almost invariably does happen where two or more writers are gathered, we didn’t talk about money. Well, not much.

And my to-read bookshelf is now four books heavier, which is always a bonus.

The writer I’d never met before, even though he lives half an hour away from me, was one John Lawton. I’d never met his books either, though there are several to choose from. (So many books, so little time...) And though international Cold War thrillers aren’t generally high on my list of favourites, I just may dip a toe in that water now. Watch this space.

Though first I shall gobble up the two new Zoë Sharps. Can’t resist those. Anyone who has been to a crime fiction convention, in the UK or the US, must surely feel the same; Charlie Fox is one of the most engaging characters I’ve ever encountered.

Chris Nickson, the third writer at the table, doesn’t have a book out that I haven’t read (he’s a good friend, so I get sneak previews), but his latest, Gods of Gold, is published this month. I strongly recommend it, since he’s far too modest to do so.

Though since he’ll be posting in this slot next week and the week after, while I’m basking in the Charentais sunshine and pigging out on wonderful French food and even more wonderful English-language crime fiction, it’s possible he may mention it.
A toute à l’heure, mes amis.

Character Names

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Aug 272014
Do you know how many continuing characters there are on shows like ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK? There must be upwards of 50 on that a one. And it is only recently that I realize that I cannot put a name on most of them. Partly it's because the series hops around so much, but I am sure I was raised on TV shows that only demanded a knowledge of 7-12 character names.

And those characters appeared week after week.

Now most shows have huge casts and storylines disappear and reappear episodes later. Am I the only one having trouble IDing Black Cindy and Big Boo on OITHB. Does anyone know the name of the character Daniel Stern plays on MANHATTAN. What is Bill Master's mother's name on MASTERS OF SEX? Who does Janet McTeer play on AN HONORABLE WOMAN?

I swear I knew every character name until about 2000-along about when THE WIRE came along. Is it me or is it a different way of telling a story?