While you’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of PulpFest 2015 in August, we’ll be profiling some of our sister conventions in the world of pulps. We’ll begin with what is hoped to be the first of many southern pulp cons.
On Saturday, February 21st, 2015, the annual one-day Pulp AdventureCon will convert the Universal Palms Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, FL, into a collector’s mecca of rare magazines, movie posters, vintage paperbacks, golden age comics and other pulp-paper memorabilia.
The fifteen-year-old collectors’ event, with a $5 admission, has migrated with its sponsors from New Jersey and added this Florida show to the pulp con schedule. Until now, collectors had to travel to the Midwest for pulp-related events in Columbus and Chicago. Now, like a pair of bookends, the pulp show season will start with AdventureCon in Florida and end with AdventureCon on Nov. 7 in New Jersey.
“In their heyday, before television, comics or graphic novels existed, characters like The Shadow, Tarzan, and Zorro prospered in the pulps,” said show promoter Rich Harvey of Sunrise, Florida. “Authors like Erle Stanley Gardner and Edgar Rice Burroughs started their careers in these rough-edged old magazines, before moving into books and the lucrative Hollywood realm.”
Most superheroes, from Superman to X-Men are rooted in the old magazines. Captain Future appears weekly on a background poster in the situation comedy The Big Bang Theory. Writers like Dashiell Hammett, L. Ron Hubbard and Ray Bradbury filled the pulps with inexpensive entertainment in a world before the Internet and television. Western writers Max Brand and Zane Grey also wrote for the pulps.
Of special note to pulp magazine collectors, 2015 marks the 125th anniversary of pulp author H. P. Lovecraft, known for such terrors as “The Call of Cthulu” and “At the Mountains of Madness.” The Rhode Island-based author was a visitor to the Central Florida area, long before Disney cleared out the swamps.
Pulp AdventureCon will be held Saturday, February 21, 2015 at the Universal Palms Hotel, 4900 N. Powerline Road , Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309. The show runs from 10AM to 5PM. Admission is $5.00. For more information, please visit www.pulpadventure.com.
On this snowy day, what better thing to do than read? And what better thing to read than the wintry noir novel, Serpents in the Cold? Click on the illustration above to learn more about the debut collaboration between the writing duo of Thomas O’Malley and Douglas Graham Purdy.
by Marcia Muller
OLIVER BANKS – The Rembrandt Panel. Little, Brown, hardcover, 1980. Pinnacle, paperback, 1982.
Boston art dealer Sammy Weinstock and “runner” Harry Giardino seem to have little in common. Weinstock is reputable and knowledgeable, with a shop on Charles Street at the foot of Beacon Hill. Giardino is one of those characters who hang around on the fringes of the art world, buying up works here and there, peddling them to dealers, always waiting for a big score.
However, when both are murdered in a particularly brutal and sadistic manner, Homicide men O’Rourke and Callahan sense a connection. Unable to find what it is, they accept the help of international art detective Amos Hatcher, who is taking time off from a seemingly dead-end case in Europe.
Hatcher joins forces with the murdered dealer’s assistant, Sheila Woods, and in searching the shop they find an old and rare frame, minus its painting, with fingerprints on it that definitely link the two victims. With this discovery, the two (now lovers) start on a trail that takes them from Boston to Amsterdam to Zurich to Cape Cod — and eventually to a missing Rembrandt, a linking of Hatcher’s two cases, and a cold-blooded killer.
This is an excellent novel, packed with information about art and the people who make their livings from it. The characterization is uniformly good, especially the established relationship between O’Rourke and Callahan (which is full of humorous camaraderie) and the growing one between Hatcher and Woods.
This, plus the vivid depiction of the somewhat seedy side of Beacon Hill and the various foreign settings, does a great deal to make up for the fact that the plot moves slowly. We know all along who the killer is and what his motivations are, but nonetheless the story sustains our interest on the way to a satisfying conclusion.
Banks’s second novel, The Caravaggio Obsession, which also has an art background, was published in 1984.
Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007. Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.
Bio-Bibliographic Notes: Amos Hatcher also appeared in Banks’s second novel, but these are the only two mysteries he wrote. For another review of The Rembrandt Panel, check out J. F. Norris’s blog here. Banks himself was an art consultant and critic in New York City. He died in 1991, only 50 years old.
The Lefty (for the best humorous mystery novel):
• The Good, the Bad, and the Emus, by Donna Andrews (Minotaur)
• Herbie’s Game, by Timothy Hallinan (Soho Crime)
• January Thaw, by Jess Lourey (Midnight Ink)
• Dying for a Dude, by Cindy Sample (Cindy Sample)
• Suede to Rest, by Diane Vallere (Berkley Prime Crime)
The Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award (for the best mystery novel covering events before 1960):
• Queen of Hearts, by Rhys Bowen (Berkley Prime Crime)
• From the Charred Remains, by Susanna Calkins (Minotaur)
• A Deadly Measure of Brimstone, by Catriona McPherson (Minotaur)
• City of Ghosts, by Kelli Stanley (Minotaur)
• Cup of Blood, by Jeri Westerson (Old London Press)
The Rose (for the best mystery novel set in the LCC region, “commemorating our Portland location”):
• One Kick, by Chelsea Cain (Simon & Schuster)
• Glass Houses, by Terri Nolan (Midnight Ink)
• Pirate Vishnu, by Gigi Pandian (Henery Press)
• Deadly Bonds, by L.J. Sellers (Thomas & Mercer)
• Plaster City, by Johnny Shaw (Thomas & Mercer)
The Rosebud (for the best first mystery novel set anywhere
in the world):
• Kilmoon, by Lisa Alber (Muskrat Press)
• Ice Shear, by M.P. Cooley (Morrow)
• The Life We Bury, by Allen Eskens (Seventh Street)
• The Black Hour, by Lori Rader-Day (Seventh Street)
• Mistress of Fortune, by Holly West (Carina Press)
If you have still not registered to participate in LCC 2015, and would like to, you may do so here.
Book One: Although the writing is very fine and although there is a fair amount of clever humor, nothing happens. Page after page of nothing happening. And the writing is too self-consciously clever.
Book Two: I could not follow the scientific information in it and this occupied too much of the book for me to skim it. This is not the author's fault. It is mine.
Book Three: A mystery that is an endless series of detective interviews. There is little character development, little good writing. Just following the detective around while he interviews people. The plot might turn out to be clever but I need more than someone following their nose.(This is why I have never gotten into LEWIS on Masterpiece).
Book Four: Looks like this is going to be another serial killer story after all. I have to hear his voice every few chapters too. And I have to think about his victim in the closet. Same old, same old nut.
Book Five: Didn't you do this in your last book, Author? Aren't you writing about the same place, with the same guy, with the same observations again?
What about you? What was your recent for not finishing a recent book?
Writing is hard. Writing well is close to impossible. But as a teller of tales, a professional liar (a novelist or fiction writer of any sort), one chooses to buck the odds and try to write something terrific each and every time out of the box.
Again, you most definitely won't do that (Shakespeare did write Timon of Athens, for example), but the intent is there. So I'm here to help.
It's easy to fall into little patterns, to loosen the reins just a little while writing a story, especially one of novel length. You'll deal with that detail later, except you don't. You'll close that plot loophole in the next draft. But you're exhausted after this draft and have forgotten what the problem was, anyway.
So. Here is a danger list. This is meant to set a little red light off in your mind when you see the following phrases or plot elements in your own work. When you do--and you will--don't put off for tomorrow what you have to do right now. Fix these things immediately. It's usually fairly easy, and will make your writing better, which will give you more confidence, which will make your writing better still. So let's get to work:
You Know You're in Trouble If:
- Any chapter ends with, "If I had only known..."
- Your character has to do something REALLY STUPID in order to make the ending work
- Your entire second act is your main character talking to suspects
- Your villain explains the whole thing while holding the main character at gunpoint
- Someone says, "Now here's the plan..."
- The victim is killed by a poison that can only be found in Madagascar... but dies in Queens
- You're on page 298 and YOU don't know who did it
- You're writing in the voice of a 24-year-old and you can't name one hip hop artist
- Your main character is named "Main Character"
- You actually consider the use of amnesia as a plot device
- The killer's motive is "s/he is really crazy"
- You're more interested in the kind of gun used than the person using it
- Your protagonist can't go more than two pages without mentioning philately (or knitting)
- Your idea of a perfect cover image is your name in huge letters
- The victim is a perfect saint--and there are at least nine people who wanted him/her dead
- You think you're giving us character detail by saying the suspect drives a Misubishi Mirage
- You write the line "hold it right there"
- A random scene takes place in London so you can write off your UK holiday
- Your factual research is called "Wikipedia"
- Your tough-as-nails cop tell your amateur sleuth all about the case when asked casually
- DNA analysis is available the next day
And if you think I haven't used a good number of those devices, well, you're adorable.
Pitchers and catchers report in 25 days.
P.S. Congrats to the nominees for the Lefty Award: Donna Andrews, Tim Hallinan, Jess Lourey, Cindy Sample and Diane Vallere!