Thursday, April 22, 2010

Detective Tales, October 1944 / Day Keene

There were two pulps under the title of Detective Tales. The first was a bedsheet sized pulp from Rural and ran for 16 issues between 1922 and 1924. The second series was very successful and seems to be a spin-off title from Dime Detective at Popular Publications. This pulp ran for 202 issues between 1935 and 1953. Cover artists like Walter Baumhofer, Rafael De Soto, and Norman Saunders put hard-boiled covers on stories from the likes of Robert Leslie Bellem, Carroll John Daly, Cornell Woolrich, Fredric Brown, Ray Bradbury, Day Keene, John MacDonald, Louis L'Amour and others.

My pal, golden age comic and pulp scanner Cimmerian, told me a while back to check out Day Keene, and I finally took the time with this here pulp,

Scrollable Image

I was not disappointed, a very nice pulp. I think the cover is Rafael DeSoto but that's totally unconfirmed. Though Bradbury is listed on the cover, he's not present inside (although he did write for this title during this exact period). No Matter though, because this pulp was a great ride. Excellent throughout with only a couple slight dips in the fun and action with breakneck plots and tough guy dialogue to boot. The contents:

Here's a nice bibliography of Keene's work, starting with the paperbacks and their seedy covers and going on to list all of his pulpwork followed by a little biographical information.

It looks like Day did some writing also for Kitty Keene, a private eye soap opera on CBS from 1937-1941. A bit of info on the program:

And lastly, this page has a snippet of a portrait and little more bio:

His entry in today's issue involves a farmer's daughter, but those farmer's daughters are rarely so simple as one might think. The splash:

Scrollable Image

The story opens with detective Tom Doyle confronted by a tough warning him off a case from the old farmer. And Doyle is just the sort of ornery character that won't be told to lay off. The farmer shows up with the story of his imminent death and a long lost granddaughter his daughter shunned for her wild ways. Doyle chases down the leads meeting up with an old actor, novice but weasel-type lawyers and getting wires crossed with a dame in the death house of the state prison for murdering her rich hubby. Nothing and no one is what it seems, a nice read. Second is "Voice of the Dead." Two cops on stakeout duty of notorious gangsters foul up and the subject under surveillance turns up dead. Who could have gotten by these street-wise detectives? Third up, a story that starts fast and doesn't let up until the conclusion, "How Many Cards for the Corpse?". Jake is married now and through with cards. But he can't help but stop by the old table, and trouble is waiting. The bets build, but Jake has an unbeatable hand. Or does he? I like the illustration:

Next up, "Play the Game with Poison" by F. Orlin Tremaine, concerning the exploits of Professor E.Z. Bart a mystical and contemplative detective, always two steps ahead of his opponent and his leggy companion, a bit slow witted but fast on the draw. A strange detective type to say the least in this tale of a series of deaths of affluent men at different times at many points about the city. How is the killer achieving his ghastly purpose? E.Z. is on the case.

The next story is "Once There Was a Wolf" that starts in a very typical way for a detective story:

The damsel in distress needs a favor, and though the dick knows better, she's instantly found her knight in shining armor. A fun take-off on the little red riding hood story, the story is full of fun dialogue and quick action. Granny is just too funny. Another story I found pretty intersting is the next tale, penned by Dane Gregory, "Save a Grave for Me!." About a school teacher whose neighborhood is wiped out by an epidemic. Her children die and the neighborhood is abandoned, but she remains in the Summer of the epidemic, mentally stuck in time, as the world moves on about her. She cashes her support check and spends nothing, over the years her horde becomes too much of a temptation for a would-be killer. What sort of depraved individual would go after the helpless old crazy woman, and can he be redeemed? Though perhaps a bit convoluted, this story might be my favorite of the lot. Also, "A Drink for Aunt Louisa"? A greedy heir can't wait for Aunt Louisa to die, so he acts to move things along. Is there a flaw in his perfect crime? What sort of scumbag kills his aunt who has raised him:

And "Homefront Target", back from the war but at war on the streets, can Joe Jeremy face his captain and tell him he is quitting the force so he can marry his daughter? Is Joe just an adrenaline junkie or do his brothers in blue need his help tracking down domestic agents of the reich? Last up "The Four Merchants of Menace" regarding a bundle of 300,000 gone missing during a murder/robbery. Two years later, all the criminals are dead, but the money is nowhere to be found. But fresh murders put Dave Stone back on the case and under suspicion as the bodies start to pile up and the cops on his trail. Frantic detective work and a fast moving plot makes this a fun detective story. The author does a great job of putting the reader at the center of the action as the walls start to fall in. The splash:

Scrollable Image

Enjoy the pulp you louses, hours of entertainment in a little rough magazine:

Get the cover to cover hi-res scan here.

No comments: