Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pulp Fiction, My Kind of Fiction Jack Bludis

[Adapted from the Introduction to Jack Bludis collection MUNCHIES & OTHER TALES OF GUYS, GALS AND GUNS, which features his Anthony and Shamus Award Finalist title story. ]

It would be nice to see PI novels and stories appear on a more frequent basis. The best of these writers, in my opinion, are out there and virtually unknown. Some have been discovered by the critics already, but readers usually don't catch on until some magic moment, which unfortunately may never come for even the best

Some of us have a true sense of those periods that preceded our own even though we began our writing during the time period that TV's Mad Men tries and often succeeds in capturing.

We started at a time when the term "pulp fiction" had not disappeared from the language under the onslaught of the movie of the same name. That term was originally applied to magazines of the 1920s through the 1950s and maybe to the short hardboiled and noir paperback at the end of that period. The pulp fiction of the 20s was preceded by the "Penny Dreadful" fiction of the 19th Century. In both eras the magazines were published as frequently as weekly with cover prices from a penny to a nickel and then to a quarter by the end of the pulp fiction era. The name comes from the publisher's use of cheap pulp paper stock that differentiated them from their "finer" sisters and brothers of slick paper fiction like Esquire, Colliers, and the Saturday Evening Post.

Today there's hardly anything that's printed on the jagged edge brown pulp paper. Newspapers come close but not close enough for most of us to call it pulp paper.

Some of the great mystery writers who published in these magazines were Erle Stanley Gardner, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler. I'll leave it to others to name the British pulp authors, but if we count the penny dreadfuls, who can discount Arthur Conan Doyle? There were some pretty good science fiction, Western, and romance writers doing pulp fiction as well.

Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut were among the science fiction writers who published their early work in the pulps. The pulps generally paid a 1/4 of a cent to a whole penny a word except for front of the rag writers who sometimes earned as much as three cents a word. The best of the last moved on to bigger and more lucrative markets like the slicks. Some of the others moved on to paperback novels, which briefly replaced them as fodder for quick reads. Others moved on to hardback fiction of greater lengths.

The style of writing for these stories was usually terse, conversational, and for the most part, hard and tough. Some of the writers are now classics of the mystery and science fiction genres.

When there was sex it was implied or masked. Expletives were replaced with straight lines, or verbal tricks which sometimes taxed the readers for the appropriate words. Often whole sentences masked a curse, like Sam Spade in Hammett's Maltese Falcon: He told me to do something to myself that was physically impossible. (That may be a paraphrase, but you get the idea.) The front covers of these magazines gave you the idea as well: women in danger and men trying to come to their aid, even when in the context of the story the woman was often his femme fatale, trying not only to put him in a coffin but to nail it shut.

The magazines were devoured by readers of the day because there was no television for dramatic home entertainment. I have seen these pulp magazines at shows and in private collections, and in the modest cache including twenty-five cent paperbacks that I inherited from my father. I read and kept them for a while, but like so many things inherited, I got rid of them before I knew their value to serious collectors. It was from these stories and novels and the cheap paperbacks that many of us dug into private eye fiction as readers and later as writers.

My own writing style is far closer to the pulps than to slick paper magazines, but I think it's pretty decent. My former wife once called me a "Magnificent Hack." It was left-handed, but a compliment nonetheless. I hope that even my hack work is well written.

The real-life PIs of today are unrealistic as heroes. They will likely to do 90% of the work at their computers. They may follow cheating spouses. It usually doesn't get them into big trouble, although it may lead to a scuffle now and then. There are few killers among them, and those that are truly bad don't warn the PIs as they warned Sam Spade and Phillip Marlow, they just kill the PI and anyone else who happens to be in their way.

The fictional PI is like the Western gunfighter. The good guy gets hired, but he is soon motivated by something more than the money.

The few of us who are still doing the historical PI have our own reasons. For me it is a sense of adventure, the idea of creating a character and living vicariously through the 1940s and early 1950s. By the 1970s, which I also write about, I was old enough to go into bars, I was even a "doorman" at a Baltimore bar for about a year. Much of what I know of that time is from memory, but I make damn sure I look up the details.

Jack Bludis

[Below is the Contents page from MUNCHIES]

Baltimore Streets
The Transfer
New Guy on the Block
Pigtown Will Shine Tonight
Blondes, Blondes, Blondes
Shades of Manhattan
Lap Dance
Truth or Lie
Available Light
Hollywood Pulp
A Model and More
Ticket to the Top
Once in a Career
Central Casting
Old Photos

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Out Now: The Fantomas Centennial Omnibus Edition By Pierre Souvestre And Marcel Allain

The legendary master of murder and horror is back in this new edition of The Fantomas Centennial Omnibus Edition by Pierre Souvestre And Marcel Allain! With a special Introdction by author and new Deerstalker Senior Editor, Wade Heaton, on the Fantomas phenomenon.

"Fantomas." "What did you say?" "I said: Fantomas." "And what does that mean?" "Nothing.... Everything!" "But what is it?" "Nobody.... And yet, yes, it is somebody!" "And what does the somebody do?" "Spreads terror!"

A century ago, a new villain was born. The Founder of the Criminal Feast of 20th Century Supervillains is one hundred years old now, still surprisingly fresh and spine-tingling with its gory Grand Guignol blood spattering and grisly tortures of flesh and spirit. And even now he is being reconceived and reborn as a film by Christophe Ganz, director of Brotherhood of the Wolf. Fantomas returns yet again to haunt our nightmares. In 1911, French readers discovered their Horror-Shock, Grisly Pulp Fiction, Arch-Criminal: Hannibal Lector, Freddy Krueger, and Jason Voorhies rolled into one. Europe’s original pulp fiction, the “Lord of Terror” Fantomas, is the anti-hero of France’s best detective thrillers. Written by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain, it is one of the most influential and enduring works of popular culture published in the 20th Century. From Fu Manchu, Doctor Mabuse, Lex Luthor, to Ernst Stavro Blofeld, to Dr. Evil, the chameleon face of criminality, ever changing, ever renewing is shaped by the character Fantomas, Emperor of Crime. He relishes the lurid details of criminality, crimes, and savage mayhem, clothed in royal robes, or the rags of a street musician, or the simple habit of a homicidal nun. His last chapter escapes surpass even those of the legendary Harry Houdini, then in his prime and height of world-wide fame.

The initial five books in the series are collected in this Fantomas Centennial Omnibus Edition: FANTOMAS: The Adventures of Detective Juve in pursuit of a master in crime. FANTOMAS VS. JUVE: In this continuation Fantomas appears as the leader of a gang of Apaches, and as a physician of standing. Juve tracks the criminal to his secret hiding-place, but Fantomas escapes. THE VENGENCE OF FANTOMAS: Filled with hair-raising incidents this tale is a fascinating recital of remarkable happenings in the life of the master-criminal of Paris. FANTOMAS AND THE NEST OF SPIES: In this volume Fantomas is an ambassador for a foreign power engaged in Paris in obtaining important military secrets for Germany. Detective Juve unmasks him, but the criminal again escapes. FANTOMAS AND THE ROYAL PRISONER: This volume tells of the daring exploits of Fantomas in his attempts to get possession of the King of Hesse-Weimar's famous diamond.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Out Now: Munchies & Other Tales Of Guys, Gals And Guns By Jack Bludis

Deerstalker Books is thrilled to be able to bring you, the discerning thriller reader a brand new collection of noir tales by our resident master of mysteries, Jack Bludis: Munchies & Other Tales Of Guys, Gals And Guns

"Jack Bludis is one smokin' hot crime fiction writer. When you finish reading this collection, you'll be hungry for more. -Michael Bracken, author of All White Girls.

An enthralling collection of mysteries from a two time Shamus Award finalist Jack Budis that celebrates the pulp private eye story in a trio of cities famed for their noir settings and mean streets. "From Baltimore to the mean streets of New York, to the smoke-and-gin-soaked Hollywood of the 1940s, Bludis presents a lineup of some of the finest hardboiled literature around. Page after page is filled with bullets, bucks, and broads. This is the good stuff, folks. Major high-fives for Munchies and Other Tales of Guys, Gals, and Guns!" -Richard Helms, Two-time Derringer Award winning author of Thunder Moon. This masterful volume includes the author's first published story, "The Transfer," his Anthony and Shamus Award finalist tale, "Munchies," plus "Pigtown Will Shine Tonight," "Ticket to the Top," "New Guy on the Block," "Blonds, Blonds, Blonds," and seven other enthralling short stories and novelettes.

"Treacherous characters, two-fisted action, and an inside knowledge of the mid and late Twentieth Century. Jack Bludis has a handle for dark fiction.  These are stories not to miss.  Check 'em out!" -Dave White, Two Time Shamus Nominated author of The Evil That Men.

Jack Bludis is a lifetime resident of the Baltimore area who lived his early years in "Pigtown." His Shamus Award finalist novel, Shadow of the Dalhia, is also available as a paperback and ebook.
  • Bludis captures the mood perfectly with dialogue and characterization that pull you right into the story. If you like Mickey Spillane, you will love Bludis. -Jack Quick, reviewer,

  • "A collection of Bludis' short crime fiction? In a world of over-hyped, pre-packaged, filter tip crime fiction, Jack Bludis rolls his own. Lots of copycats profess to write pulp, but Bludis shows how it's done. He's a true original, always his own man, a defiantly loose cannon in the neatly ordered world of genre expectations, as idiosyncratic - and entertaining - as a nun on a skateboard." -Kevin Burton Smith, Editor at

  • "Many secrets, but would a mystery be without secrets? Not to worry when it comes to author Jack Bludis, a master of weaving clues into unrelated events. Bludis shines in this collection of stories where everyone has a secret, and ultimately, all is revealed. -Jann Briesacher, voracious reader.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Out Now: Dirty Work [A Rick Page Mystery] By Jack Bludis

PageTurner Books and Deerstalker Editions is extremely pleased and proud to announce the release of a brand new book by our resident master of mystery and suspense, and Edgar Award Nominee, Jack Bludis: Dirty Work
The Shamus Award finalist PI returns in another 1940s noir thriller! An all new novella from multiple mystery award nominee author Jack Bludis. Page is called in when decade old pornographic photos of a major silver screen star, taken when the star was a starving new comer in Holywood, are used for blackmail. His search for the person possessing the pictures leads to murder and danger. It's a case that leads from mobsters to moguls and star-studded lineup of suspects, a case the PI will be lucky to survive.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Out Now: Sunstroke: A Novel Of Suspense By Irv Eachus

PageTurner is extremely pleased to bring readers of wonderful suspense fiction a brand new treasure from Irv Eachus: Sunstroke.
"Eachus stays well away from the dreary predictability that is the downfall of less successful works. The action never flags." Washington Post Ten years ago Frank Boyle was a Treasury agent with a promising career, a good wife, and a bad habit that eventually lost him everything. Now he's a partner in a successful little high-tech firm called Industrial Security of Los Angeles, with no personal life to speak of, a client about to be the death of him and a new bad habit named Sarah. Sunstroke opens with three seemingly unrelated dramas: a shooting in which Frank is not considered the target, the untimely return of Sarah, and a suspicious fire in Professor Gorelick's laboratory that kills a faithful assistant and destroys four years of Nobel-caliber work. By the story's showdown, the list of crimes has run to fraud, arson, murder and attempted murder in various flavors; and the list of suspects has grown to include some of the nastiest players in the high-tech corporate world. Sunstroke is a tale of two cities. 1990's West LA, even in the grip of its worst-ever heat wave, is a cool place. The Las Vegas Strip is always hot. What both cities have in common is sunlight. And Professor Gorelick's research was based on the search of a new, cheap way to turn sunlight into energy. Sunstroke is played out on both landscapes, and both are as gritty and glitzy and dangerous and fun on the story's pages as they are in real life. What the critics say about Irv Eachus' thrillers: "Lots of action, a little sex and topical issues." Library Journal "...exciting, well-written and unforgettable ... should keep readers turning pages well past bedtime" Orlando Sentinel Star Irv Eachus lives in San Francisco. He is the author of the highly acclaimed thriller, The Raid, and is currently working on the next Frank Boyle techno-thriller, Blackout. "Keeps the reader asking the ultimate question, "Then what happened?" Booklist. Don't Miss Irv Eachus' novel of nuclear terrorism, The Raid.

Out Now: The Last Sell Out By Jack Bludis

There is simply no one better at writing hard-core detective stories than our Shamus Award Nominee Jack Bludis, and he proves that with his brand new book: The Last Sell Out.

In this compelling mystery, a young studio secretary is missing along with a number of valuable scripts that might be adapted for television. Their author is murdered, and within a few days, he is nominated for an Oscar. At the same time, a New York TV genius is playing studio against studio for production space and artistic control. Hired to investigate the writer's murder, a cynical private eye finds himself involved with a violent motorcycle gang, low-lifes, and studio bigwigs. Then an apparent innocent is murdered, another remains missing, and the detective becomes an avenging angel. His actions endanger not only his own life, but the life of  the woman he loves. It's the early 1950s, and former movie audiences were staying home to watch I Love Lucy on TV. Television's big success meant declining attendance and revenues at the movies. Studio executives were taking every means to compete, including subterfuge, double-dealing, theft, and the sin-of-sins, merging with New York, TV production companies. This mystery as Roman à clef features invented lead characters intermingled with real studios, executives, and actors. Long-time movie fans will recognize the real-life counterparts behind their fictional disguises. From the Edgar and Shamus finalist mystery writer, Jack Bludis.