Apr 172015

2015 FlyerAs we did at our 2014 convention, PulpFest will be offering early-bird shopping in the PulpFest dealers’ room on Thursday, August 13th, from 6 PM until 10 PM. For those who prepay for their memberships, it will cost an additional $25 over the regular membership fee. Early-bird shopping privileges will cost $30 if paid for at the door.

But wait! There’s an even better deal for those who want an extra four hours of shopping at PulpFest 2015! To reward loyal attendees who help to defray the convention’s substantial costs by staying three nights at our host hotel–the Hyatt Regency in the heart of ColumbusPulpFest is pleased to offer free early-bird privileges. That’s a very significant savings of at least $25! Only staff, dealers, and early-bird shoppers will be allowed into the dealers’ room during Thursday evening, August 13th. Please realize that due to travel conditions and other contingencies, PulpFest cannot guarantee that each and every registered dealer will be available during our early-bird hours.

But free early-bird shopping isn’t the only way you can save by staying three nights at the Hyatt Regency. On Saturday, August 15th, PulpFest will be holding a drawing at the close of our annual business meeting for two full membership fee refunds. Two lucky convention attendees who prepay for their membership, book a room for three nights at our host hotel, and choose to attend our business meeting will receive full refunds of their membership fees to PulpFest 2015. You must provide proof of your stay at the Hyatt Regency Columbus and be present at the drawing to receive your free membership refund. Bingo!

Please remember that PulpFest will be sharing downtown Columbus with Matsuricon in August. Therefore, we are urging all of our members to book their hotel rooms for PulpFest 2015 as soon as possible!

The best deal for PulpFest members is to reserve a room at the Hyatt Regency Columbus. Our host hotel is offering a room rate of $116 plus tax per night that includes a complimentary parking pass with in-out privileges and free Wi-Fi. Additional parking passes for people sharing rooms are available for $10 each. You can call 1-888-421-1442 to book a room by telephone. You must register by July 1, 2015 and mention PulpFest to get the special convention rate. Alternately, you can register online by clicking here or the “book a room” button on our home page.

The room rate offered by the Hyatt to PulpFest members is one of the best in the downtown area. Matsuricon members will be paying $123 per night to stay at the Hyatt, plus an additional $12 a day for parking. Dollar-for-dollar, the PulpFest rate at the Hyatt pretty much stifles the competition.

So what are you waiting for? Book a room for three nights and register now for “Summer’s Great Pulp Con.” You’ll get a great deal on a room, free early-bird shopping on Thursday evening, August 13th, from 6 to 10 PM, and a chance to win a full membership refund to PulpFest 2015. It’s a deal you can’t afford to miss!

(Join us August 13th – 16th at PulpFest 2015 for a celebration of H. P. Lovecraft and WEIRD TALES and a salute to the Thrilling Group of pulp magazines.)

 Posted by at 12:45 pm
Apr 172015

We are still shaken by the death earlier this week of Ron Scheer (BUDDIES IN THE SADDLE) and here is a tribute from Brian Busby who notes books set or written by Canadian authors. Here is another by B.V.  Lawson. They are many more if you google his name. We will not forget him quickly or easily. I wanted to post a poem for him. Most poems had mention of religion and I'm not sure how Ron felt about it. But this one leaves it open. It is slightly altered. And next a poem by a famous cowboy poet, which also seems apropos.

The time has come to say
Good-bye to all my cowboy friends.
Though our trails may be many miles apart.
May our friendship never end.

This gather's going to be my last,
For soon I'm headed South.
When spring brandin' smoke's in the air
I'll shed a tear no doubt.

You all have meant so much to me,
Of my life you're now a part.
Each one of you has bunkhouse space
That's deep here in my heart.

Good-bye to you where ere we met
For you see I'm Prineville bound.
No more my pony's feet on rocks
They'll tread a softer ground
And though I'll never ride again.
Up here where the eagles scream
I'll ride forever with each of you
Through these mountains in my dreams!

by Kendra Tyler

And this: 

Now back to Friday business:
from the archives - 

Al Tucher is the author of over 30 stories about the delightful Diana. The newest one is in BETTY FEDORA.


By George Harsh.

Since 1986 I have worked as a cataloger at the Newark Public Library, which has existed since 1883. The library has some very deep collections, and exploring them is both my job and a perk of my job. A recent project in the biography section brought me into contact with Lonesome Road, a 1971 memoir by George Harsh.

In 1928 Harsh was a rich, arrogant, idle young college student in Georgia. He and other rich, arrogant, idle young men spent much of their time discussing their superiority over the masses and the uses to which they should put that superiority. This was only four years after the Leopold and Loeb case, but it seems part of the “superman” pathology to dismiss possible lessons from anyone else’s experience. The young men in Harsh’s circle decided that they were able and therefore obligated to commit the perfect crime.

For the thrill of it they began a string of armed robberies. When a store clerk resisted, Harsh was the one holding the gun and the one who fired the lethal shot.

The police easily caught the young supermen, and Harsh was sentenced to death. His codefendants received life sentences, and the prosecutor, troubled by the disparity, succeeded in having Harsh’s sentence commuted to life. Writing years later, Harsh is unsparing toward his young self. He deserved to hang, he says, but he received more mercy than he had shown with the gun in his hand.

He spent the next several years on a Georgia chain gang that was brutal even by the standards of the time and place. Eventually, he became a trusty with a job as an orderly in a prison hospital.

Here we encounter the first of several plot twists that only reality can get away with writing. When an inmate needed an emergency appendectomy, a freak ice storm kept the staff physicians from reaching the hospital. Harsh, who had assisted at several such operations, performed the surgery and saved the man’s life. The governor of Georgia pardoned him.

The year was 1940. George Harsh felt undeserving of peace and security while so much of the world was at war. He traveled north and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. Harsh flew numerous bombing missions over Germany. His luck ran out in 1942, when he was shot down. His captors sent him to Stalag Luft III.

Fiction writers, try getting away with that one. In the 1963 film The Great Escape, the character called Intelligence, played by Gordon Jackson, is based on Harsh. He was not one of the 80-plus POWs who made it through the tunnel before it was discovered, which was just as well. Only a handful made it to safety. The rest were recaptured, and the Gestapo summarily executed more than fifty of them.

Harsh survived a brutal forced march westward, away from the advancing Red Army. His narrative ends there.

His story does not. In 1945 he was in his mid-thirties and had spent mere days as a grown man neither incarcerated nor at war. In another twist that in its own way might be the strangest of all, he worked for a while as a publisher’s traveling sales representative. The experiment in freedom was not a success. The memory of his crime tormented him, and he attempted suicide. Later he suffered a stroke, and in 1980 he died.

No collaborator in the writing of this book is named. If it is Harsh’s work, it counts as a remarkable achievement. He knows when and how to make his writing as terse and urgent as Morse code in the night, and his meditations on freedom, imprisonment, violence and war come with a hard-earned authority.

Did George Harsh atone for his crime? It’s a tough call that will vary from reader to reader. Does his book deserve a place on the shelf? In my mind, beyond all doubt.

Sergio Angelini, CRIME ON MY HANDS, George Sanders and Craig Rice
Mark Baker, GRAND CANYON, Sandy Dengler
Joe Barone, PREY ON PATMOS, Jeffrey Siger
Bill Crider, DEATH ON THE CHEAP, Arthur Lyons
Martin Edwards, DEATH ON THE AGENDA, Patricia Moyes
Curt Evans, TOPER'S END, GDH Cole
Ed Gorman, BONJOUR TRISTESSE, Francoise Sagan
John Hegenberger, THE SOUND OF DETECTION, Francis M Nevins and Martin Grams Jr.
Rick Horton, BOUND TO RISE, Horatio Alger, Jr. 
Jerry House, SCALPS, Murray Leinster
Randy Johnson, TOUCHFEATHER, Jimmy Sangster
George Kelley, THE FORERUNNER SERIES, Andre Norton
Rob Kitchin, BLACKLANDS, Belinda Bauer
B.V. Lawson, MORSES' GREATEST CASE, Colin Dexter
Evan Lewis, FIVE BOOKS REVIEWED by Dashiell Hammett
Steve Lewis/William Deeck, THE GREEN ARCHER, Edgar Wallace
Todd Mason, SUPER WHOST, Margaret St. Clair
Patrick Murtha, BLIX, Frank Norris
James Reasoner, HOUSE OF LIVING DEATH, Arthur Leo Zagat
Richard Robinson, THE SAINT WANTED FOR MURDER, Leslie Charteris
Gerard Saylor, HEADS IN BEDS, Jacob Tomsky
Kerrie Smith, TRACKING NORTH, Kerrie McGinnis
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang A JADE IN ARIES, Tucker Coe

Apr 172015
I'm fudging a little calling this a book, since it first appeared in the pages of the pulp magazine TERROR TALES (in the September 1934 issue) and is available now in a partial replica of that issue. But at least it's a complete novel; the editor says so right on the...No, wait, it's more like a 25,000 word novella. But it is forgotten by most of you, more than likely, and I had a great time
Apr 172015
By Art Taylor

What are three things you know now that you didn't when you started as a fiction writer?

  • The right margin doesn't need to line up.
    The first time I sat down at a typewriter was at my dad's Chevrolet dealership in Richlands, North Carolina. I remember it was a Saturday, because the receptionist wasn't there (it was her typewriter), but I don't remember the year, except to the extent that I had moved beyond picture books by that point. I slid a sheet of paper into the typewriter, quickly pecked out the first line of my story, shuttled the carriage over to start the second line, quickly pecked that one out too—and then stopped. What I saw wasn't right. I found a bottle of liquid paper, smeared it across the end of the line, tried again—with a shorter word. Still not right. More liquid paper, and a medium sized word this time, and....

    The books I was reading then had all the text justified on the right side. How did those writers always find words of just the right length? How would I ever figure it out?

    Undoubtedly, there are other lessons there.

  • There are 118 ways to do something—and they might all work.
    Once upon a time, I thought that each story had the perfect way of being told, and the trick was to find it—through trial and error, through getting feedback from readers and following it, through year after year of toiling through missteps before I reached some mastery of form. Now I recognize that perfection doesn't really happen—maybe shouldn't; that each choice has both its own rewards and its own losses; and that one person's way of telling a story may not be mine, any more than mine should be theirs, or that either of ours is the better way.

    Note: This applies to both process and product.

    Note 2: I could've said 119 things above, or 117 maybe. Likely the point would've come across the same.

  • Being a writer involves more than you and a keyboard—involves more than you, period.
    I firmly believe that the most important part of being a writer is writing. However, I've also come to believe it's not the only part.

    By this, I don't mean that we writers today also have to be our own editors and marketers and public relations experts and social media mavens and salespeople, etc. All that may be true as well, but all that is also focused on how we try to produce, package, and present our own work to the public—the next steps beyond pecking out our stories.

    Instead, what I'm talking about is that often bandied about term of literary citizenship—of participating and contributing generously to the larger literary community. Over the past year, as much of my time has been spent on other people's writing as on my own: reading and commenting on the student manuscripts from my fiction workshop at George Mason University, trying to help cultivate those terrific young talents; reading through (and so far very much enjoying!) the submissions to the Bouchercon anthology I've been asked to guest edit; offering feedback on various friends' latest manuscripts (and my wife's too—a benefit of marrying a writer, as she pointed out here); serving as a judge for a couple of major contests and hopefully bringing some great talents more firmly into the limelight; and right on down the line—even to things as simple as celebrating someone's cover reveal (Hi, Ed Aymar!) or noting a book birthday or two (Hi, Bonnie Stevens and Diane Vallere!) or attending a book launch (Hi, Jonathan Harper!) and, yes, buying and reading a book or two—or 24. Except for my work at Mason, none of that is compensated... though if Ed wants to send me a check for a shout-out, he knows where to reach me.

    As writers, we have a responsibility to ourselves and to our craft—but we also have a very real responsibility to the larger world of writers and readers in which we live and work. Being active, being involved, being part of larger conversations, making larger contributions—all that is important too.

    Corollary to above: As Alan posted yesterday, writers drink—a lot—part of the camaraderie of a literary community maybe. Turns out you can drink as part of literary citizenship too. Here's my contribution to the social media campaign around the new Mystery Writers of America Cookbook: Gary Phillips' Switchblade Cocktail. Note the dash of red cutting through the drink. And hi, Gary! We miss you here at the blog.

Apr 172015
Reviewed by DAVID VINEYARD:          

HOWARD ANDREW JONES – The Desert of Souls. Thomas Dunne Books, hardcover. February 2011. St. Martin’s, trade paperback, January 2012.

   Arabian nights and swords and sorcery may not be the usual fodder for this site, but when they are also a detective story and thriller along Conan Doyle lines, then something new is going on.

   If it were possible to modify the word unique in the English language, this one would be “uniquer.”

   The time is the eighth century. The place Baghdad, the Baghdad of legend and myth under the wise rule of the most famous of the fabled cities leaders, Haroun al Rashid, the caliph of the Arabian nights, Ali Baba, Sinbad, Scherezade, the Old Man of the Mountain, the Hashishin, and wine drinking poet and mathematician Omar Khayyam. It is also the ancient Persia of cruel and unpredictable djinn, sorcery, mythical creatures, and imagination.

   This really should not work on any level, but Jones proves a clever storyteller and puts us in the hands of a swashbuckling Watson, in the able Captain Asim — more Archie Goodwin than Watson in most aspects — who keeps the reader grounded like all good Watson’s should, as Hamil the poet tells him: “A good storyteller tailors his story to his audience.”

   And if there is a Watson that means there is a Holmes, in this case the scholar Dagbir, who has a bad habit of speaking truth to power. As might be expected we first meet him in relation to a murder: The case of the murdered parrot.

   The parrot lay on the floor of his cage, one claw stiffly thrust toward the tiny wooden swing suspended above him. The black olive branch clenched in his beak was the definitive sign that Pago was a corpse …

   Pago belongs to Asim’s master Jaffar, the grand vizier (another actual historical figure), and Azim calls upon Dagbir to help distract the distraught Jaffar with a incognito journey into the city. Well disguised Jaffar, Asim, and Dagbir set out of their adventure and visit a seeress in the poorest part of town where they are told Dagbir will be famed as a slayer of monsters, Asim for his tales of Dagbir’s adventures, and Jaffar will lose his head to a woman to high for his station — literally lose his head.

   Leaving the seeress, a bleeding man stumbles into their arms followed by his pursuers which they quickly dispatch, leading to a jeweled tablet that holds the secret of the Atlantis of the sands, the lost city of Ubar.

   Before they can get far though, the tablet is stolen by a Greek spy and Firouz, a fire wizard, and Jaffar dismisses Dagbir assuming that the seeress confused him with the scholar who has been privately treating Jaffar’s neice, Sabirah, who is none to happy with Asim who she blames for Dagbir’s dismissal.

   And we are off for high adventure, low intrigue, and some good detection though this is hardly a detective story, what with djinn and giant talkative feather serpents who guard the secrets of the sands. At stake are not only the lives of Asim, Dagbir, and Dagbir’s love Sabirah, the niece of Jaffar and forbidden to the scholar, but the soul of Baghdad itself, the target of Firouz madness.

   Howard Andrew Jones is a leading expert on Harold Lamb (having edited two volumes of Lamb’s Arabian tales, Swords from the West and Swords of the Desert), whose tales, along with Robert E. Howard, and Talbot Mundy inspired this tale, but Jones wisely chooses a modern voice for his narrator eschewing any labored thee’s, thou’s, and thy’s for a crisp fast moving narrative with a capable and fast thinking narrator who just doesn’t happen to be as clever as Dagbir, but who is an amiable hero on his own, and adds a touch of Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes to the mix.

   The result is a clever mix of sword and sorcery staples, historical fiction in the Lamb and Howard style, modern thriller, and an unusual Sherlockian adventure. This is one of those remarkably good-natured books that a few pages in you find yourself wanting to give the benefit of the doubt and simply enjoy.

   I’m reminded of Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody books or Will Thomas historical thrillers in that you just want to relax and enjoy the ride without thinking about it. Books that entertain on that level are too far between these days — I suppose they always were.

   “Cleave close to your friend,” a seeress tells Asim at the end, “He will need you and the world will have need of you both.”

   I certainly hope so. This doesn’t just bend the genres it apes, it ties them in knots and creates something new and original. It’s a flying carpet ride of a novel in glorious Technicolor.

 Posted by at 3:09 am
Apr 162015

Terri Bischoff

I never know what to write about on my days here. So I thought maybe I would comment on two I have read recently and two that are moving to the top of my to read pile.


Behind Closed Doors - Elizabeth Haynes

I loved this one and plan to read more in the series. I got this one in my Left Coast Crime swag bag. The story skips around – from ten years ago to the recent past and to the present. IMO, the transitions were seamless.

Ten years ago, 15-year-old Scarlett Rainsford vanished while on a family holiday in Greece. Was she abducted, or did she run away from her severely dysfunctional family? Lou Smith worked the case as a police constable, and failing to find Scarlett has been one of the biggest regrets of her career. No one is more shocked than Lou to learn that Scarlett has unexpectedly been found during a Special Branch raid of a brothel in Briarstone.

The Two Faces of January – Patricia Highsmith

I love Highsmith. It’s incredible how she gets into the head of a sociopath. If you liked the Ripley books, chances are you will like this one as well. I plan to go back and reread the Ripley books soon.


On my to read list:

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town – Jon Krakauer

Missoula, Montana, is a typical college town, with a highly regarded state university, bucolic surroundings, a lively social scene, and an excellent football team the Grizzlies with a rabid fan base.
The Department of Justice investigated 350 sexual assaults reported to the Missoula police between January 2008 and May 2012. Few of these assaults were properly handled by either the university or local authorities. In this, Missoula is also typical.


Dead Wake – Erik Larson

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. 

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

I recently picked up Thunderstruck by Larson, but will probably set it aside and read Dead Wake first. So many books to read, so little time.

Apr 162015

CURTAIN AT EIGHT. Majestic Pictures, 1933. C. Aubrey Smith, Dorothy Mackaill, Paul Cavanagh, Sam Hardy, Marion Shilling, Russell Hopton, Natalie Moorhead, Hale Hamilton, Ruthelma Stevens. Screenplay: Edward T. Lowe. Director: E. Mason Hopper.

   This rather wretched murder mystery movie has only one thing going for it: C. Aubrey Smith in a rather unusual role for him, that of Jim Hanvey, the detective character created by Octavus Roy Cohen. Although the credits don’t mention it, but Curtain at Eight, the movie, was based on Cohen’s book The Backstage Mystery (Appleton, 1930), and what the resemblance is, I’d like to say slim to none.

   Unless, that is, there is a monkey in the book — or rather a chimp — although none of the characters in the movie know the difference. If you cant stand chimps in movies any more than I can, avoid this film. I stuck it out, though, so I can’t follow my own advice, then why should you?

   Murdered on the stage as they are celebrating his birthday is actor and notorious womanizer Wylie Thornton (Paul Cavanagh) — one of those scenes when the lights go off and wouldn’t you know it, a shot rings out. There are moe than the usual number of suspects, and before the movie is over, the dopey homicide detective on the case (Sam Hardy) has locked up almost all of them, along with another one who simply wanders in at about the two-thirds mark.

   Thankfully also on the case is Jim Hanvey, played by Aubrey Smith as a tall, lanky, homespun (aw, shucks) sort of guy, with a shank of unruly hair — a far cry from Smith’s usual role as a British officer and a gentleman. His portrayal of Hanvey is also a far cry from that of Guy Kibbee, who was the star of Jim Hanvey, Detective (Republic, 1937). To me, Kibbee sounds as though he’s be more appropriate as the character, as Kevin Burton Smith describes him on his Thrilling Detective website: “…full-time good ol’ boy. He’s fat, slow-moving, [with] fishy eyes…”

   Besides the chimp, Curtain at Eight is plagued by a script that could have used a lot more time to stretch out and introduce the real players in the story, not the chimp and not the dopey guy from homicide. Between the two, the two must take up half of the movie’s sixty minutes running time, or did it only seem that way?

   I’ll bet bits and pieces of the movie came from the book, picked up from here and there and strung together in some hope of a coherent mystery plot, and not succeeding. Maybe even the chimp came from the book, but I hope not.

   As for director E. Mason Hopper, he had a long career making silent films, but he made only one more with sound, the truly abysmal Hong Kong Nights (First Division Pictures, 1935), a spy film in which one of the major stars, the hero’s good buddy and constant sidekick, simply disappears half way through the movie, never to be seen or mentioned again. I watched it a short while ago, and I’m almost embarrassed to say that I did.

   The screenwriter, though, Edward T. Lowe, went to much better things, including worthwhile entries in the Charlie Chan, Bulldog Drummond, and Sherlock Holmes series, not to mention a couple of Universal horror movies in the mid-1940s.

Note:   For Dan Stumpf’s comments on this same film, which I didn’t read until just now myself, go here. We clearly watched the same movie, but he seems to have found more charm in it than I did.

 Posted by at 6:44 pm

From Libby Fischer Hellmann

 Uncategorized  Comments Off
Apr 162015

Hi, everyone. 
I have some fun things for you this time: not one, but two 
stories each under a dollar, and I could use your help 
figuring out a new cover for one of my books... 

Little Molly Messenger is kidnapped on a sunny June 
morning. Three days later she’s returned, apparently 
unharmed. A few days later, the brakes go out on Molly’s 
mother’s car.
An accident? Maybe. Except that it turns out that Chris, 
Molly’s mother, is the IT manager at a large Chicago bank 
and may have misappropriated three million dollars. Molly’s 
father hires PI Georgia Davis to follow the money and investigate Chris’s death.
Doubleback reunites PI Georgia Davis (Easy Innocence
with video producer Ellie Foreman (An Eye For Murder
A Picture Of GuiltAn Image Of DeathA Shot To Die For). 
The two women track leads from Northern Wisconsin to 
an Arizona border town, where illegal immigrants, 
muggled drugs, and an independent contractor come into play.

Capital Partners

Imagine if your spouse 
got caught n a Ponzi scheme. 

This story is about just that: two women 
whose husbands are involved in a fraudulent 
investment operation. The couples vacation 
at a posh ski resort, where the women take matters into 
their own hands. 

Publishers Weekly called it “a fine story…”

This story was originally published in 
The Writes of Spring Anthology, Nodin 
Press, 2012, edited by Pat Frovarp and 
Gary Shulze 

Discover how the story unfolds at Amazon, 
B&NiBooks, and Kobo.

Imagine if your spouse got caught in a 
Ponzi scheme. 

This story is about just that: two women 
whose husbands are involved in a fraudulent 
investment operation. The couples vacation 
at a posh ski resort, where the women take 
matters into their own hands. 

Publishers Weekly called it “a fine story…”

This story was originally published in the Writes 
of Spring Anthology, Nodin Press, 2012, 
edited by Pat Frovarp and Gary Shulze 

Discover how the story unfolds at 

Help a Graphically-Challenged Author Out?
theMost of you already have the complimentary copy of 
An Image of Death I sent out a month or so ago. (If not, 
let me know, and I'll get it to you.)

Well... we now realize the cover looks too sweet 
and not enough like the thriller crime novel it is.

Have any suggestions for me? I'd love to hear them! 

Just email me back, or join the conversation on my 
Facebook video here.
Help Needed with An Image of Death
Finally, if you are Bouchercon-bound this fall, two of my 
works are eligible to be nominated for an Anthony Award 
(the deadline for nominations is in 2 weeks): 

--  Nobody's Child is eligible for Best Paperback Original 

-- "No Good Deed," about the unlikely friendship 
between a former KKK member and a young black 
boy in prison, is eligible for Best Short Story. I
t was published in the Fiction River Special Crime Edition, 
WGM       Publishing. I
f you'd like to read the story, let me know. I'll get it to you. 

Happy reading!