Friday, August 24, 2012

Forgotten Books: The Adventures of Race Williams -- Carroll John Daly

Sometimes nothing will do but a real pulp story, so the other day I pulled this book off the shelf.  Everybody knows that Carroll John Daly's first Race Williams stories appeared in Black Mask.  In 1934 after a disagreement about money, Daly began selling Williams stories in Dime Detective, and that's where the five in this book appeared.  

I read the first one, "Some Die Hard," and it's very much like other stories in the series that I've read.  For one thing, you'll find more exclamation marks on one page than in the entire works of most current crime writers.  It begins when Race Williams goes to answer a mysterious letter he's received.  The letter contains $200 and a key.  It says: "If you don't come or don't get this letter  in time, keep the money. I'll be dead."  It's signed, "An unfortunate girl."   The girl's unfortunate, all right. She's dead when Williams arrives, and of course the cops want to pin the murder on him.  What follows is lots of action (and exclamation points) and a plot in which it's really true that things and people aren't what they seem to be.  

I'm sure that eventually I'll get around to reading the other four stories in this volume, as some of them feature The Flame, one of Daly's dandy femme fatales.  Apropos of nothing, I have no idea where I got or why it has that Canadian price tag.  


Evan Lewis said...

I'm so busy counting the M dashes that I don't even notice the exclamation marks any more.

Mike Doran said...

I seem to recall that at some point in the '70s-80s, many paperback publisher would put the Canadian cover price next to the US price.
You'll note that the Canadian price is somewhat higher, reflecting the rate of exchange at that time.
With much commerce going on between the US and Canada, particularly in cities close to the border, I guess it was just more convenient to put both prices on one cover as opposed to printing up separate covers for the neighboring nations.

Unless, of course, I'm Wrong ...

George said...

You probably picked this volume up at the BOUCHERCON in Toronto. I've read SNARL OF THE BEAST and THE HIDDEN HAND. Evan Lewis says there are eight or nine Race Williams classics waiting to be reprinted.

J F Norris said...

This is a great series of books that Otto Penzler put out. Some of them are very hard to find now or have utterly insane price tags on them making them unavailable for purchase for anyone with common sense. ($271 for a paperback from the 1980s!) I think the most difficult to find is the one with Norbert Davis' Max Latin stories.

My two cents about "The Mystery of the Canadian Price Tag" - many used booksellers don't clean up their books. So although it may at one time have come from a Canadian store you may have purchased it from someone in the US who never bothered to remove the tag. I have a slew of old books with old price tags on them that have nothing to do with the store or state or country where I bought them.

Unknown said...

Yes, I was surprised to see some of the prices being asked for this one. I don't have the Max Latin one, more's the pity.