Friday, September 09, 2016

FFB: Hard-Boiled Detectives: 23 Great Stories from Dime Detective Magazine, Dziemianowicz, Stefan R., Robert Weinberg and Martin H. Greenberg, editors.

As we all know, I don't read long books.  Well, not often.  I sat down with this one and read every single story, over 400 pages of pure pulp.  As the title says, there are 23 stories.  What it doesn't say is that they're all from Dime Detective and that the editors chose one story from each year of the magazine's existence.  It also doesn't say why a particular story was chosen.  I enjoyed most of the stories, but not all.  Here are a few thoughts.

One story I had to struggle with was Max Brand's "Nine Parts Devil."  Brand's style bothered me, and his dialogue seemed pretty awful to me.  I'd never read a Vee Brown story by Carroll John Daly, and it was kind of fun.  Brown has the same attitude that Race Williams does, but Brown is a small guy who was pushed around a lot when he was young. Then he realized that a gun makes everyone equal and became a hunter of criminals, most of whom he kills when he finds them.  He has a sideline under his real first name, Vivian, that's very different from his crime-busting.  Erle Stanley Gardner's "The Hand of Horror" is different from anything I'd read by him.  It's very contrived, and it could well have shown up in the shudder pulps without much alteration.  I wasn't familiar with D. L. Champion's stories about a legless cop who might be a little bit nuts.  Very interesting, and "Footprints on a Brain" is the first story in a long series.  I'd be interested in reading more of them.  Chandler's "The Lady in the Lake" seemed head and shoulders above the others, but they I'm probably prejudiced.  I was a bit disappointed in Murray Leinster's story.  The work I've read by him outside the SF field always seems weaker to me, though.  John D. MacDonald's "The Man from Limbo" was very much a MacDonald story, but it leaned more on a lot of amateur psychology than I'd have expected.  The book is what I'd call a good but not great anthology.  Lots of good stuff, some not so good, most of it easy to forget.  But fun while you're reading it.  If you like pulp tales, the kind of stories where every character is smoking on every page, where detectives duck into all-night drugstores to make phone calls, where all the men wear hats, it's hard to go wrong with this volume

Contents: Hell's Pay Check (1931) by Frederick Nebel; The Crime Machine (1932) by Carroll John Daly; The Hand of Horror (1933) by Erle Stanley Gardner; Nine Parts Devil (1934) by Max Brand; A Burial is Arranged (1935) by John Lawrence; A Man's Last Hours (1936) by William E. Barrett; Something for the Sweeper (1937) by Norbert Davis; Footprints on a Brain (1938) by D.L. Champion; The Lady in the Lake (1939) by Raymond Chandler; Strangler's Kill (1940) by Merle Constiner; Ding Dong Belle (1941) by Hugh B. Cave; You Slay Me, Baby (1942) by Frederick C. Davis; Sleep No More My Lovely (1943) by G.T. Fleming-Roberts; I'll Slay You in My Dreams (1944) by Bruno Fischer; No Minimum for Murder (1945) by Julius Long; A Ghoul and His Money (1946) by C.M. Kornbluth; Cold Storage (1947) by Robert Turner; Death Comes Gift-Wrapped (1948) by William P. McGivern; A Dish of Monicide (1949) by Hank Searls; Safe As Any Sap (1950) by William Tenn; None But the Lethal Heart (1951) by William C. Gault; The Man From Limbo (1952) by John D. MacDonald; Murderer's Encore (1953) by Murray Leinster

9 comments:

George said...

HARD-BOILED DETECTIVES sounds like my kind of book, too! I'll track down a copy.

Todd Mason said...

An interesting and impressive set of contributors...but does it represent the best of DIME DETECTIVE as thoroughly as it should? Could it be said to be more a Representative sampling, in part from pulling in such writers as "Tenn" and "Leinster" who weren't primarily cf writers, than a Best Of sort of anthology?

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

What George said. I've read a bunch of hardboiled anthologies but didn't know this one.

Todd Mason said...

DIME DETECTIVE *was* a shudder pulp briefly, IIRC; certainly DIME MYSTERY started out that way, as a stablemate of HORROR STORIES at Popular. That was perhaps/probably the reason for the Gardner story as it was.

Barry Ergang said...

I've had a copy of this one for years and have read some, but far from all, of the stories in it. One of the authors represented is Norbert Davis, whose work I've always enjoyed. And if you liked "Footprints on a Brain," Bill, Adventure House has a collection of some of Champion's Inspector Allhoff stories under the same title. (http://adventurehouse.com/shop/product/footprints-on-a-brain/) Allhoff is sort of the official police version of Nero Wolfe, but much nastier, and I've often wondered if he was the inspiration for the old Raymond Burr TV series "Ironside."

Graham Powell said...

It seems like a whole bunch of these came out in the late 80s and early 90s, with titles like "Tough Guys and Dangerous Dames" and "City Sleuths and Tough Guys" (we get it, they're tough). For someone who discovered Chandler in 1988, when Vintage came out with its reprints of all his work, they were a welcome education.

Jerry House said...

I have this one buried somewhere. I'll have to dig it out. Thanks for this review, Bill.

Richard Robinson said...

Cool, and it's not even anthology week (which is September 30). I read a hard-boiled anthology too, but not this many stories. Seems like a real mixed bag.

Bill Crider said...

I missed the memo on the move.