RARA-AVIS: Thanksgiving weekend bidding & reading

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 29 Nov 2003

I am writing this while monitoring my bids on eBay for several pulps. I won two issues of Famous Detective, including one with stories by Seven Anderton and Hunt Collins (Evan Hunter) and have others in play. Right now I am down to the short strokes on some issues of Mammoth Detective that features stories by William P. McGivern, JDM and others. I'll win some and lose some. Yeah, I'm back after a spat of bidding. I won two Mammoths, one including a 60,000 word McGivern story but lost three to a last minute bidder with the handle Rocking Richard. He damn near got the other two as well but I managed to squeak another bid in.

Next up this evening are four issues of Smashing Detective Stories from the early 1950s. This was a sister publication to Famous Detective and like all the Columbia mags edited by Robert W. Lowndes, a wizard with a small budget.

Talking about hardboiled or noir science fiction, I second the nomination of THE DEMOLISHED MAN, a truly remarkable novel. Of course, Leigh Brackett employed the hard-boiled techniques in her various science fantasy adventures as she did in her hard-boiled detective stories. She recognized, I think, the romantic element in Chandler along with the tough language. A fairly recent acquisition is the collection MARTIAN QUEST(Haffner Press 2002) which contains her first 20 science fiction stories (into early 1943).

On my mind of late is another SF/mystery switch hitter, Wilson Tucker. Tucker wrote one of my favorite SF novels THE LONG LOUD SILENCE, which is also one of the great titles IMHO. I've also loved the Tucker mysteries I've sampled with THE MAN IN MY GRAVE being my favorite (and also a knockout title). What I didn't realize until recently were the number of mysteries by Tucker. I was somewhat familiar with those from the 1940s and 50s but didn't realize that he kept writing mysteries in the 1960s and 70s.

So I am playing some catchup on Tucker and am currently reading THIS WITCH
(Doubleday Crime Club 1971). The title certainly sounds like a fantasy rather than a mystery. The book is actually an international thriller that takes place in the Gaza Strip just after the 1967 war. I'm still in the midst of reading it but am enjoying Tucker's clean prose and his willingness to bend the genre rules. This is a thriller with a Canadian adventurer (and sometime dabbler in espionage) by the name of Ross seeking the lost treasure of Solomon--lost to the Romans during the diastrous Jewish revolt of 66 AD. The Israelis are also quite interested in the treasure and seek Ross' collaboration. He seemingly agrees but is actually moving on a personal plan of action that anticipated the Israeli approach. Although I don't believe the term Dead Sea Scroll is mentioned, the Israelis say that there is one missing that will provide the final clue as to the location of the treasure.

The wildcard is a young woman of mixed (probably Asian/European) heritage and bright green diamond-shaped eyes. In the opening scene, Ross purchases her as a slave on the Street of the Laughing Dog in Gaza. She gives her name as Kehli but Ross calls her Kelly from that opening scene. He only bought her because he wanted to attract the attention of the authorities. He does that but in the course of the action he discovers that she can foresee some elements of the future and had been waiting for him to arrive in order to join him. Being able to glimpse over the horizon is a handy talent and so loner Ross is glad to have her on his team. Of course, she cleaned up real nice and jumped his bones right after her first decent meal. That would have swayed my judgement too.

So, I am enjoying the book thus far and rather like the mixture of the fantasy element into the modern thriller. We'll see how Tucker resolves all this and I will report a final verdict when I finish the book. I can vouch for his general historical accuracy. I don't know if there was a lost treasure of the Temple of Solomon but there was definitely a Jewish Revolt in the time discussed. Oh, and the Romans won...but I guess you figured that out already.

Well, the auctions are over and I won nine of them and lost seven but I did win all the Smashing Detective and Famous Detective mags that were my prime goals and a couple of Mammoth Detectives. I also picked up a 1939 Clues but lost out on a 1942 Private Eye that I very much wanted and issues of FBI Stories and Mammoth Detective with John D. MacDonald stories.

But all in all, a good evening's haul.

Richard Moore

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 29 Nov 2003 EST