Monday, February 02, 2015

The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps, 2010

© Amazon
This Diwali or Christmas I'm going to gift myself The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps (2010) by Otto Penzler, the noted editor of crime and mystery fiction and owner of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York. Both festivals are a long way off but I can’t get myself to buy it right away owing to my fairly large pile of unread books and ebooks. Besides, I have no more space on my bookshelves and in my cabinets, and my tablet is running out of memory. Until I read and dispose of a minimum of two dozen paper books at the earliest, I'm not going to buy any, unless I find something rare and out of print.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep the The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps: The Best Crime Stories from the Pulps During Their Golden Age—The 20s, 30s & 40s at the back of my mind. I might try and read some of the stories individually, if they’re available in public domain.

The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps is over a thousand pages long and contains nearly fifty short stories and two novels “by every major writer who ever appeared in celebrated pulps like Black Mask, Dime Detective, Detective Fiction Weekly, and more.”

The anthology has a foreword by Otto Penzler and is divided into three parts, ‘The Crimefighters,’ ‘The Villains,’ and ‘The Dames,’ and the short stories penned by some of the grittiest crime fiction writers include the following.

The Crimefighters

Introduction: Harlan Coben

‘One, Two, Three’ by Paul Cain

‘The Creeping Siamese’ by Dashiell Hammett

‘Honest Money’ by Erle Stanley Gardner

‘Frost Rides Alone’ by Horace McCoy

‘Stag Party’ by Charles G. Booth

‘Double Check’ by Thomas Walsh

‘The City of Hell!’ By Leslie T. White

‘Red Wind’ by Raymond Chandler

‘Wise Guy’ by Frederick Nebel

‘Murder Picture’ by George Harmon Coxe

‘The Price of a Dime’ by Norbert Davis

‘Chicago Confetti’ by William Rollins, Jr.

‘Two Murders, One Crime’ by Cornell Woolrich

‘The Third Murderer’ by Carroll John Daly

The Villains

Introduction: Harlan Ellison

‘The Cat-Woman’ by Erle Stanley Gardner

‘The Dilemma of the Dead Lady’ by Cornell Woolrich

‘The House of Kaa’ by Richard B. Sale

‘The Invisible Millionaire’ by Leslie Charteris

‘Faith’ by Dashiell Hammett

‘Pastorale’ by James M. Cain

‘The Sad Serbian’ by Frank Gruber

‘You'll Always Remember Me’ by Steve Fisher

‘Finger Man’ by Raymond Chandler

‘You'll Die Laughing’ by Norbert Davis

‘About Kid Deth’ by Raoul Whitfield

‘The Sinister Sphere’ by Frederick C. Davis

‘Pigeon Blood’ by Paul Cain

‘The Perfect Crime’ by C.S. Montanye

‘The Monkey Murder’ by Erle Stanley Gardner

‘The Crimes of Richmond City’ — Raw Law, Dog Eat Dog, The Law Laughs Last, Law Without Law, and Graft by Frederick Nebel

The Dames

Introduction: Laura Lippman

‘Angel Face’ by Cornell Woolrich

‘Chosen to Die’ by Leslie T. White

‘A Pinch of Snuff’ by Eric Taylor

‘Killer in the Rain’ by Raymond Chandler

‘Sally the Sleuth’ by Adolphe Barreaux

‘A Shock for the Countess’ by C.S. Montanye

‘Snowbound’ by C.B. Yorke

‘The Girl Who Knew Too Much’ by Randolph Barr

‘The Corpse in the Crystal’ by D.B. McCandless

‘He Got What He Asked For’ by D.B. McCandless

‘Gangster's Brand’ by P.T. Luman

‘Dance Macabre’ by Robert Reeves

‘The Girl with the Silver Eyes’ by Dashiell Hammett

‘The Jane from Hell's Kitchen’ by Perry Paul

‘The Duchess Pulls a Fast One’ by Whitman Chambers

‘Mansion of Death’ by Roger Torrey

‘Concealed Weapon’ by Roger Torrey

‘The Devil's Bookkeeper’ by Carlos Martinez

‘Black Legion’ by Lars Anderson

‘Three Wise Men of Babylon’ by Richard Sale

‘The Adventure of the Voodoo Moon’ by Eugene Thomas

‘Brother Murder’ by T.T. Flynn

‘Kindly Omit Flowers’ by Stewart Sterling

I haven’t read many of these writers and some I haven’t even heard of. I'm way behind in my reading of crime fiction of the Golden Age. This anthology will right the imbalance. A copy of The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps can be bought at Amazon


  1. This sounds like a great present to yourself, Prashant! I'll enjoy hearing your thoughts on the stories, later.

    1. Elizabeth, thank you. I love short stories and I'm looking forward to reading this anthology.

  2. I've seen and heard about this. Be interested in your take on it

    1. Charles, I might buy it sooner than I'd planned; maybe during monsoon, mid-year.

  3. Great present indeed - look forward to hearing about these in the future. Some are familiar names, some aren't.

    1. Col, many of the names are unfamiliar to me which is all the more reason to read the omnibus. It'd make a nice gift for readers with similar tastes.

  4. My copy alternates between being an evening reading diversion and a doorstop for the backroom/library/junkroom door. When you get your copy, you will be dismayed at the heft and variety. Enjoy!

    1. R.T., thank you. I know I'm in for a treat when I obtain this book. From the cover it does look like a big book.

  5. I will wait and see what you think of it, Prashant. It sounds good but so big.

    1. Tracy, I don't remember ever reading an anthology or collection from cover to cover and it'll be the same with this book.

  6. Looks like a wonderful primer Prashant - I really should have it! Thanks chum.

    1. Sergio, you're welcome. I expect to be introduced to a lot of pulp writers I have never read and in some cases didn't know existed.

  7. I read it last year, and it took me the best part of the year to get through. That's mostly because I don't read short story collections straight through, I read a few between novels and non-fiction, and sometimes I go straight from one novel to another. That said, this is a really outstanding collection, well worth the cost. There were very few stories that were less than top-notch. For anyone interested in good pulp mystery stories, this is the best.

    1. Richard, I read short story collections the same way as you do. Never in one go and I usually spread them over a number of days and weeks. I'm impressed by the lineup of writers many of whom are unfamiliar to me. I enjoy reading pulp mystery though I haven't read many of them.