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The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps: The Best Crime Stories from the Pulps During Their Golden Age--The '20s, '30s & '40s (Vintage Crime/Blck Lizard Orig) [Paperback]

Otto Penzler
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have in recent years started collecting mystery and detective novels from the 50's and 60's and now lean towards the old "hard boiled" style. Recently I read The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont, which is a modern homage to the pulps and "ripping yarns" of the 30's and 40's. I then stumbled on the Big Book of Pulps through a link provided by GoodBooks after I had reviewed a couple of Detective Novels there,
I couldn't resist buying it. The book is everything I expected it would be. Not all of the 40 or so stories are excellent, but even some of the suspect ones often turn out, like the movie Plan Nine From Outer Space, to be "so bad they are good". For books or stories in this category I like to use the term "Exquisitely Awful". For instance, one story, Frost Rides Alone, was so "Exquisitely Awful" that I had to reread it again immediately to convince myself the author had actually put those words and this story on the page. There are also wonderful early works by later to be famous authors like Dashiell Hammett, Ear Stanley Gardner and Ramond Chandler, but I Know I will cherish and remember my exposure to Horace McCoy's Frost Rides Alone, for the rest of my life.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars impeccable condition Aug. 16 2010
Format:Paperback
I didn't quite know what to expect in a used book, but I was delightfully surprised. Great book and am certainly glad to have a copy.

Many thanks!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  41 reviews
179 of 181 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buyer Beware! Nov. 27 2007
By John W. Woolley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a terrific collection of pulp stories, no question about that. But watch out! This volume consists of two other separately published volumes, bound together in one. If you already have "Pulp Fiction : The Crimefighters" and "Pulp Fiction : The Villains", you'll be sadly disappointed by this book! (And Amazon is doing their "Buy Them Together" thing with this book and one of its two component volumes. Bad Amazon! Bad!)
70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding pulp collection - arguably the best one-volume Nov. 9 2007
By Mark Shanks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This telephone-book sized anthology (clocking in at nearly 1200 pages!) lives up to its aspiration to be "The best crime stories from the pulps in their Golden Age". It is divided into sections "The Crimefighters", "The Villians", and "The Dames", with an appropriate introduction for each. Of course, the true masters are well represented: Raymond Chandler, Dashiel Hammett, Cornell Wollrich, Erle Stanley Gardner, James M. Cain et al. But there are plenty of lesser known authors to round things out. One oddity is "Sally the Sleuth", a comic-strip style from "Spicy Detective" - apparently created solely for the purpose of having most of her clothes ripped off. Obviously many of the best stories have been anthologized before, but can you believe there is a Hammett story that has never seen print? The only drawback is that this might be too much of a good thing -at just about three pounds, it's a real wrist-bender of a volume! There are minor illustrations scattered throughout, although I would have sacrificed a couple of stories for a selection of pulp covers. At this price, why would any pulp fan pass - go for it!
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential, even for the casual fan Dec 5 2007
By Anthony Romine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Let's say you're somewhat interested in the crime pulps of the golden age. This is basically where you should start. Due to it's massive size, you also might just end here too. Which isn't a bad thing because there isn't a throwaway in the bunch. You have your classic authors and forgotten gems.

Probably the best anthology I've ever had the joy of reading. Required reading for any mystery fan.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pulp Noir June 30 2008
By Stephen Dedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Editor Otto Penzler, Edgar-winning proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop and founder of Mysterious Press, has picked out fourteen fast-paced and tightly-written tales (mostly from Black Mask magazine) from 1928 to 1942: an era of diamond-studded gangsters and glittering gun molls, a time long before political correctness.

There are tough private eyes a-plenty, armloads of femmes fatales (a surprisingly large number of them redheads), honest "harness bulls" and corrupt cops, criminal lawyers as well as virtuous ones, even an heroic newspaper photographer.

There's a Raymond Chandler Philip Marlowe story, `Red Wind', which alone is worth the price of the book. On a night when the Santa Ana is blowing and "Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.", Chandler's world-weary knight-errant witnesses a murder in a bar, and finds himself trying to sort through the mess created by an over-ambitious blackmailer in a way that will spare the innocent.

It's a beautifully written short piece, not just for its dialogue and prose, but for its characterization, its wonderfully tight little plot, and Marlowe's personal code of honor.

Similar in tone, if less polished, is Erle Stanley Gardner's `Honest Money', the tale of a young attorney's first case. Ken Corning accepts the job of defending a woman arrested for bootlegging and attempted bribery. Almost instantly, he's visited by a cop from the liquor detail, then by the man who tells New York's mayor what to do.

Corning soon discovers what "the ring" is prepared to do to defend one of its own - and not in a courtroom. It's a cynical but oddly pleasing tale from the writer who'd later become famous as the creator of Perry Mason.

Even more darkly cynical is Cornell Woolrich's `Two Murders, One Crime', a story of a detective who realizes that the police and eyewitnesses have sent an innocent man to the gallows. When the real murderer is caught, too late, the D.A. refuses to prosecute for fear of making the system seem fallible. The detective refuses to accept this, and begins a campaign of psychological warfare against the murderer.

Leslie T. White's `The City of Hell!' also features crusading off-duty cops; it's much less subtle in its plot, characterization, police procedures and ethics, or prose style than Woolrich's (White used exclamation marks the way many modern writers use four-letter words), but it's undeniably action-packed and exciting.

`The Creeping Siamese' is a Continental Op story by Dashiell Hammett, written immediately before he started work on the superb Red Harvest. It begins with a man walking into Continental's offices and dropping dead on the floor, and doesn't slow down much after that.

While all of the stories are readable and entertaining, not all of them are gems. `Frost Rides Alone' is lightweight and rather disappointing, considering that it came from Horace McCoy, author of the brilliant (though very depressing) They Shoot Horses, Don't They? And Penzler admits to having chosen the closing piece, Carroll John Daly's `The Third Murderer' purely because of Daly's role in inventing the prototype of the hard-boiled, wise-cracking P.I. in 1923.

Penzler describes Daly rather unkindly as "truly a hack writer, devoid of literary pretension, aspiration and ability", but while `The Third Murderer' is perhaps the only story in the anthology that tends to ramble (at 136 pages, it's also by far the longest), it is also one of the few that tries to give the reader some insight into the villain and the femme fatale. Some of the twists may seem clichéd now, but that can happen when you're the pioneer in a field. It's an interesting story rather than a completely successful one, but I think Penzler was right to include it.

This book (previously released as Pulp Fiction: The Crimefighters) will not suit everyone's tastes. The world of the pulps was a simpler one, but that doesn't mean their simple answers were always good ones, and some readers may find some of these crimefighters difficult to warm to, or even tolerate.

If you dislike fiction by dead white males with few roles for women except as victims or vamps; if you're offended by stereotypes or epithets such as "good wop"; or even if you can't help giggling at the phrase "private dick", this book probably isn't for you. For fans of the genre and the era, though, it's a must-read. That's a lead-pipe cinch.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Big and comprehensive March 4 2008
By H. C. Collins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
any compilation is open to criticism as to what was omitted. but if you're looking for a really big compilation of writing in this genre, it's tough to beat this. and, the introductions for each author are a nice added touch for those of us who know only the big names.
highly recommended.
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