Friday, December 10, 2010
Forgotten Books: AS TOUGH AS THEY COME -- Will Oursler, Editor
This 1951 anthology features some names that are familiar to everybody, some that are familiar to fans of hardboiled pulp fiction, and some that might not be familiar at all. The only writer represented by two stories is Bruno Fischer, a guy whose Gold Medal originals I find highly entertaining, though judging by the prices the bring on eBay, I'm the only one who does. The story that opens the book is a crime tale, but it gives plenty of evidence of Fisher's experience in the shudder pulps. Surely by now everyone's read the Hammett selection, and the Cain story is pretty easy to find, too. The Day Keene offering is one I haven't seen elsewhere (that doesn't mean much, though). It has a sure-of-himself narrator who's not quite as smart as he thinks he is. The reader is always a step or two ahead of him, but that's what makes the story so much fun. Brett Halliday's first-person narrator's not much like Mike Shayne, but he tells a fine story of greed, gold, Mexican bandits, and revenge. I knew what the old switcheroo would be in Hugh Pentecost's story almost from the start, but that didn't make it any less fun to read. I'm saving the other stories for later, but I've read enough to be glad I picked this book up. I've had it for years, but for one reason or another I'm just getting around to reading it. I'm glad I finally did.