~ WELCOME ~
PLEASE MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME AND SCROLL THROUGH MY
ECLECTIC MIX OF MYSTERY AND WESTERN FICTION, PULPS,
FILM NOIR, SIXTIES SPY SHOWS AND OTHER COOLNESS ~ PLUS
THE REQUIRED BOOK NEWS, ARTICLES, AND PROMOTION


Monday, January 13, 2020

WESTERN PAPERBACKS—THE BIG FIFTY

WESTERN PAPERBACKS
THE BIG FIFTY
FRANK O'ROURKE 
With more than sixty novels to his credit, Frank O'Rourke (1916-1989) was an accomplished writer of mysteries and sports fiction. Arguably, he's best known for his gothic-tinged western paperback originals, stories at which he excelled. 


His work was adapted for the screen at least twice—The Bravados in 1957—starring Gregory Peck and Joan Collins, and A Mule for the Marquesa, which was film as The Professionals in 1966—starring Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, and Jack Palance. In the 50s and 60s, he turned out at least two westerns a year under his own name and pseudonyms, including Kevin Connor, Frank O'Malley, and Patrick O'Malley.

To say that O'Rourke worked in a time of literary transition is an understatement. Two World Wars had chopped away the early 20th century's Victorian values, clearing the way for a rush of moral relativism and jaded introspection. 

The slick magazines had little to do with flowery melodrama and a lot to do with tight, terse, prose echoing the anxiety of the day, a style that spilled over into the emerging world of genre paperbacks. 


What was glamor for the pulps seemed corny and out of touch, and the purple prose of old westerns became downright unsalable. O'Rourke walked the grubline between literary styles, which is clearly illustrated in his 1955 novel, The Big Fifty.


Falling somewhere between his 1953 novel Latigo— wordy land grab procedural—and 1957's The Bravados—an action-packed manhunt—The Big Fifty retains the romantic language of its predecessor while hinting at the complexity of character and action of the latter book. However, whereas The Bravados made a heart-thumping motion picture, The Big Fifty would only have made a nifty Poverty Row Saturday matinée.

The story takes place in 1878, already the end times for the grand buffalo hunts of yesteryear.  Old Colonel DeLight can see the writing on the wall. Not only have the thundering black herds been whittled down to near extinction, but the market itself has lost most of its honor. Rather than face the near impossible prospect of scraping out a messy, gut-wrenching living from acquiring their own hides, bad men simply steal from the few remaining good guys—sometimes with deadly consequences. 

Not only does Old (always Old) Colonel Delight suspect hes been a victim of one of the most notorious thieves of all, he believes big Jan Schmidt murdered his son. To learn the truth and bring the big villain to justice, Old Colonel Delight decides to infiltrate Schmidt's hunting party. Too sick to do the job himself, and rightly convinced Schmidt would recognize his hired man, Lance McGowen, the withered Confederate graybeard calls in a Yankee named True Benton. 


When names like Old Colonel Delight and True Benton are stated in full each time they appear in the narrative, you know you're in for some prose on the lower end of the color spectrum. Naturally, OCD has a lovely daughter (Celia) who Lance wants to wed.  As expected, she only has eyes for our hero, True Benton.

Left there, The Big Fifty might be relegated to the Max Brand/Zane Grey rip-offs of the ‘20s and ‘30s, but O'Rourke's genius pulls it to a higher level. He does this mostly through depth of character, but also by using his working knowledge of hunting and butchering bison.I

The book takes its name from the fifty-caliber rifle slugs the hunters use to harvest their animals, and spends a good amount of time describing the life lived by hide-dealers at what was the end of the 1870s, a controversial era. A few pages aren't for the squeamish, but it’s clear both True Benton and Jan Schmidt recognize the moral dilemma of their work, and lament the passing of the buffalo. These aren't callous men with no regrets. 

O'Rourke cleverly paints three-dimensional portraits of heroes and villains, both caught in time, both struggling with inner demons, both finding common ground with one another. It's this mutual respect that the author exploits so well. 

When the inevitable climax occurs, when True Benton's betrayal comes to light, its a heartbreaking revelation for everybody involved, including the reader. Dont misunderstand, Jan Schmidt deserves what he gets, but like so many of the post-war paperback villains, you're not necessarily happy to see him get it—satisfied, maybe, but not happy.

O'Rourke is always a solid writer who rarely phones it in, and with The Big Fifty he delivers a thought-provoking piece disguised as an old-fashioned oater.

Best Purple Prose: Her mouth was wide and full and alive, her hair clubbed up behind her ears. With tiny curls about the temples that shone in the candlelight, with the blackest of black, with ebony tints even deeper than black. She met True Benton's gaze with a sober nod and dignified silence, but remained beside her father in the few moments it took True Benton to see so much and wonder why her kind came but once in a man's lifetime; and then he recalled his situation and his manners.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

RICHARD PROSCH'S NEWSLETTER FEATURING DAN SPALDING


RICHARD PROSCH’S NEWSLETTER 
FEATURING DAN SPALDING  
In an age when we binge-watch our favorite TV shows via streaming services, it's easy to think in terms of story arcs and seasons. Last fall, Wolfpack Publishing assumed the helm of my Dan Spalding mystery series, publishing Dead Beat and Deep Tracks, the fifth and sixth series titles, as part of their Dan Spalding Mystery Collections. 

VOLUME ONE and VOLUME TWO are both available in economical digital formats. And now, for the first time in January of 2020, all six of my original Dan Spalding novels are also available in print.

Each of the stories can stand by itself as a suspenseful read, but taken together, Answer Death through Deep Tracks forms a six-part arc—or season—with recurring characters, romantic cliffhangers, and plenty of action. 

And stay tuned for the first Tuesday in February and the cover debut and first chapter sneak peek for the seventh Dan Spalding novel, a 70K-word epic called Needle Drop.

CAPITOL OFFENSE IN DOWN & OUT MAGAZINE 

My new short police procedural, Capitol Offense was published at the end of 2019, in Vol. 2, Issue No. 1 of Down & Out Magazine. I'm happy to join Brendan DuBois, Walter Satterthwait, Edgar Award-winning author Sylvia Maultash Warsh, and others in this terrific issue. 

AMAZON
DOWN AND OUT BOOKS

FREE CRIME STORY
FOOL ME TWICE

As he entered the flow of traffic streaming around Omaha, Dr. Dale Martin was not in a hurry. Soft jazz floated through the beige cabin of his Toyota Camry, and the air through the dashboard vents was cool and clean-smelling. He wore prescription sunglasses, a crisp white business shirt, and casual khaki trousers. His jacket rode behind him on a hanger. The mid-afternoon sun flickered through the trees on his right, and Dale hummed along with a tenor sax on the radio. His tires on the road were a brush-like percussion. The car ahead of him rolled smoothly into a line of commuter traffic.
Sandy was in that car.
With him—Ernie the fleabag... 
READ THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

Monday, December 30, 2019

ON THE FRINGE

ON THE FRINGE
AND OTHER UNCOMMON
TALES OF GOLF!
GREGORY G. BARTON 
I uncovered this classic collection of short stories by pure chance, but enjoyed every page. Barton is wildly inventive and his love and respect for golf comes through in every tale. The stories are smoothly written with engaging characters and situations. I'd very much like to see what kind of work Barton would produce working at novel length. Great stuff.

Take an extraordinary tour: From the Ryder Cup to the Bermuda Triangle and worlds beyond—Fly with an RAF pilot as he buzzes a golf course that no one else can see; Come across a magical golf club that can change lives; Have your bag carried by a clairvoyant caddie: Play a round for the hand of a beautiful girl: Find out what heaven's really like; Ride the devil's own train; And get caught on a haunted links after dark.

This is an eclectic and adventurous anthology of off-the-wall tales of life, golf, and mystical mysteries, all filled with original and inventive storytelling.

MORE THRILLING GOLF


MORE THRILLING GOLF
STORIES FROM THE SPORTS PULPS
Here is a sample listing of the many other golf stories and their sizzling teasers to come out of the sports pulps between the 1930s and 1940s...

W. H. TEMPLE
Birdie In Hand
Sports Novels (April 1947)
Willy was Mr. Blow-up of the big money circuit—but take away his guts and you had a golfer!

Siege Gun Kid
New Sports (February 1948)
Together, they fought down the last tough fairway—a guy with a hunger for glory and groceries—and a champion with nothing left but a crown!

Par Buster
New Sports (April 1948)
Finley’s the name, mister. The spook you’re gonna play tomorrow. I may be sayin’ good-bye to the tournament trail after the game, bum, but before I go, I’m gonna blast you off the fairway—for keeps!

Putt And Pray
Fifteen Sports Stories (May 1948)
There wasn’t a golfer who could beat him—nor a gallery that couldn’t!

Sudden Death Fairway
Sports Novels (June 1948)
Before you can win like a champion, you’ve got to learn a much harder thing—how to lose like a gentleman!

Par Master
Sports Novels (July 1950)
This was where he belonged, he knew—on a sudden-death green, with a putt, a prayer, and an impossible par to bust for a dewbird’s last challenge—or a champion’s blazing round!

Green Shy
New Sports (October 1950)
Some guys are born to the long green—some to win on that last big putt. But the make-believe champ from Saugatuck was born to fight to the last holeout—for a million other duffers’ dreams!

Trouble Green
Fifteen Sports Stories (February 1952)
There are lots of ways to win, but just two ways to lose, Sandy MacLean found—and a champ may lose to a course, but never to a better man!

Iron Master
New Sports (February 1950)
The fairway is for fair-weather guys, champ. We’re battling this one out in the rough—where the iron in your heart is worth six in your bag—and a sudden-death green calls—fight!

WILLIAM CAMPBELL GAULT
Heartbreak Fairway
Sports Novels (May 1950)
One stroke down to destiny, he faced a hundred invincible opponents–the phantoms of golfdom’s great, who mocked him, “Any fairway bum can give his all for a legend, are you champ enough to be one?”

Birdie In Hand
Fifteen Sports Stories (April 1951)
This Is the big time, Denny—where a good shot counts just one stroke, an’ the bad ones cost you plenty. You gotta stand up there an’ slam ‘em on the line–or pack up your dreams forever!

Little Mr. Murder
Fifteen Sports Stories (July 1950)
This was a sentimental tourney, but Sam, the money man, was out for the long green, the short putt—and a sudden-death gamble for golfdom’s strangest prize!

JACKSON V. SCHOLZ
Power, Confidence, And Control
Sports Story (1st Sept 1929)
Mel Burk failed to see any relationship between a paint brush and a golf club, but circumstances combined to convince him they had much in common, for him!

Putters And Sling Shots  
Sport Story (2nd August 1935)
Doc Dill eased himself off a bad spot with putters and sling shots!

The Little Guy
Sport Story (2ndSeptember 1935)
Sure, he was little—but Jimmy Larkin knew how to cut down the big ones!

Boss Hazard
Sport Story (1st November 1935)
A caddy plays a long shot to help Stanley Carr overcome the boss hazard!

Caddy Cure
Sports Story (1st Sept 1936)
Pat Faraday gave old Klum plenty of what was needed!

Candid Golf
Sport Story (2nd Oct 1937)
Joe Marsh gave Rance Shotter plenty of what was needed!

Duffer Bait
Sport Story (2nd Nov 1937)
Ray Keef set out after the thing he wanted—even if he had to resort to duffer bait!

Miracle Clubs
Sport Story (1st June 1939)
Little Archie Pendergast fights ridicule and inferiority complex to gain himself a place in the sun!

SAM MERWIN, JR.
Ace In A Hole
Sports Novels (May 1948)
A kid with too much brass . . . an oldster with magic in his brassie . . . a spine-tingling duel on the long eighteenth—the green where champions are made!

GILES A. LUTZ
Tee-Off Terror
New Sports (Dec 1948)
He was a never-guy par-buster who couldn’t find himself—or the greens—until a links king called for a showdown to carve out a better man’s glory—or snuf out a has-been’s comeback!

ROSS RUSSELL
The Man Who Called His Shots
All America (Mar 1937)
On the comeback trail, Walter Hogan’s biggest challenge wasn’t overcoming his injuries, but overcoming his legendary reputation!

Old Rubber Wrist
Sport Story Magazine (Mar 1938)
Jim Hardigan always played to win when he could, but lost when he had to!

Gag Golfer
Port Story Magazine (Mar 1941)
Tournament play goes haywire as a trick-shot artist lets loose.

WALTER MARQUISS
Golf Machine
Thrilling Sports (Jan 1937)
Some telepathic current ran through the crowd, telling them this was a grudge match! Tournaments—and a barrel of trouble—make a man out of Mike Malone!

THEODORE J. ROEMER
Par Buster
Sports Novels (Oct 1941)
When the field is knotted and the birdies are hard to find, and you stand at the last windswept tee with only one more par between you and golfdom’s greatest crown, you can remember—“You can lick any bad break in the world, bub, but you gotta lick yourself first.”

The Brassie Kid
Sports Novels (October 1949)
The king was a champ to the end—matching the kid’s brass with a magic brassie—and proving once and for all that the greatest shot in golf is not always the winning one!

HUGH PENTECOST
Murder Plays Through
EQMM (Sept 1954)
Match play can be murder in a tournament where a tour rookie sets the fairways ablaze with vengeance!

HANK WILLARD
Last Hole-Out
Sport Novels (July 1949)
To these eager kids, the eighteenth was just another tough hole; but to Larry it was the final test every fairway bum dreams of—where you sink all your hopes in one, or hang up your battered clubs forever!

Loser Take All
Fifteen Sports Stories (Sept 1949)
A kid with a built-in chip on his shoulder—a champ with his chips on the green...and a last grim holdout for golf’s strangest trophy!

LIONEL E. I. DAY
Fairway Feud
Sports Action (August 1942)
Desperate golf wouldn’t cut Mark’s handicap, and now at the seventeenth green, he’s need to make up for his faltering drives with sensational putts!

JOHN WELLS
Par Spoiler
Fifteen Sports Stories (Nov 1948)
A birdie in hand was worth two off the fairway—to a has-been whose eagles no longer screamed their sudden-death challenge to a par-buster’s glory!

WILLIAM TAMPA
Poison On The Tee
Fifteen Sports Stories (March 1950)
You’ll learn more about a man in eighteen holes than you will in twenty years—especially when the course is parred for masters, trapped for fools, and designed for poison on the tee!

LANCE KERMIT
High Drive Guy
Fifteen Sports Stories (Sept 1948)
Every dewbird likes to turn—but it takes more than courage to call for a fairway showdown for more than glory—and nothing less than oblivion!

Sudden-Death Blaster
Fifteen Sports Stories (Sept 1950)
Holly was a fifth wheel on the Trent College foursome, the little guy who didn’t belong—til that last danger fairway when he matched his iron against sudden-death lightning—for a payoff on a champion’s last green!

ROBERT N. BRYAN
The Long Eighteenth
Sport Story (1st August 1930)
Bobby Clayton finds that love and golf are both full of traps!

Keep Your Eye On The Bull
Sport Story (2nd November 1938)
Chet Lane was treed. The bull was beneath him, glaring malignantly. Also, that bull meant to stay there. It pawed the ground with its forefeet, snorting and growling. Chet was marooned!

KINGSLEY MOSES
An Accidental Cupid
Sport Story (1st July 1927)
It was a terrible moment when the caddie walk in front of Tom Burke’s best niblick shot, and no wonder Dorothy stood speechless in her tracks!

WILLIAM DE LISLE
Death At The Eighteenth Hole
Dime Sports (July 1935)
Under a jungle sun, before a spear-bristling gallery, Crazy Farraday laid his last deadly stymie in a strange golf duel.

TOM TUCKER
Golf Is A Gentleman’s Game
Thrilling Sports (September 1948)
Chip Dawson has the Indian sign on Johnny Trang, but Johnny comes right back at him with links logic!

FRANK KANE
Putt It There    
Complete Sports (January 1950)
Caddy champ he’d be if he holed out now, sure, but there was more at stake than that for Johnny Evers as he addressed that final three-foot putt!

RICHARD BRISTER
Par None
Ten Story Sports (July 1953)
Biff had put all his knowledge and skill into his younger brother, Eddie. But now it seemed Eddie was going to be a choke-up player in the last rounds!

Fairway Fiend
Action Sports Fiction (Aug-Sept 1955)
Sure, golf and nothing but golf could likely win for Johnny, grooving the fairways, using his irons smart, sinking twenty-foot putts. But try and do that against a tournament terror like this Bray!

JACK KOFOED
No Luck
Dime Sports (April 1938)
Unknown, unheralded, Duncan McGregor lashed a golf ball down a fairway lined with gold, studded with peril toward that last bitter eighteenth fairway—and he had to break par to win a national crown which had been overdue for thirty years!

RALPH ROEDER
The Mud Duffer
Sport Story (1st August 1924)
The famous banker—the millionaire who made Wall Street eat out of his hand—was a ‘duffer’ on the golf course. His friends tried every way imaginable to help his game. Then one day there was a fight among the road laborers!

HELEN HICKS
Blazing The Fairways
Thrilling Sports (March 1939)
Behind the scenes: An expert golfer tees up for a whale of a drive!