Vintage Pulp Jul 27 2023
Speak softly but carry a big gun.

Mort Engel art fronts this Avon edition of Frances and Richard Lockridge's Death Has a Small Voice, a book we were eager to read because of the promise of The Norths Meet Murder, the debut tale in the Mr. and Mrs. North series of which the above book is a part. That promise is not fully realized here. Perhaps it's our fault for not reading the series in order. Seventeen entries in, maybe the Lockridges were trying to shake up their formula a bit. But we don't have much control over which books in a series are obtainable for us. We buy what's out there. In this tale Pamela North is kidnapped in the first few pages, and because she's isolated, the story misses the entertaining dialogue she provided in the debut. That makes the “small voice” of the title ironic—it's supposed to refer to the whispering kidnapper, but it's Pamela whose voice is diminished.

But it's a readable book anyway, even with Pamela ruminating in the dark for multiple chapters. Basically, someone has murdered an author named Hilda Godwin after becoming aware that he's been negatively portrayed in the draft of her upcoming novel. Through circumstances we won't detail here, she manages to record her own attack and killing. The recording is mailed to Gerald North's literary agency and the killer is desperate to retrieve it before anyone hears it. But the recording falls into Pamela's hands, and when the killer comes for it she manages to hide it. So the killer kidnaps her, planning to make her reveal the hiding place.

These are treacherous circumstances, and anything less than a horrible ordeal for Pamela would be unrealistic, which is why it's a good plot move by the Lockridges to have her escape almost immediately. From that point she's lost in a forest, while her husband and the cops are trying to fit the puzzle pieces that might lead to her rescue. Since the Lockridges are good writers this all works fine, but because Pamela seems to us to be the main attraction of series (based on the mere two books we've now read), we had little choice but to come away a bit disappointed. But like we said, after a while authors will try new ideas. What we'll try is to find book two in the North series Murder Out of Turn at a reasonable price, international shipping included. If we do we'll report back.


Vintage Pulp Jun 18 2023
Oh, it's a body. In my head I'd already blamed the weird smell around here on your dirty tennis shoes.

Originally published in 1940, the above Pocket Books edition of The Norths Meet Murder arrived in 1942. It was also published as Mr. & Mrs. North Meet Murder by Avon in 1958. The characters, Gerald and Pamela North, a Manhattan married couple who find themselves solving mysteries, had appeared in the New York Sun newspaper throughout the late 1930s, but The Norths Meet Murder is their first foray in novel form. We haven't read any of the others, but we own one, and we'll get to it.

We've read a few mysteries featuring married sleuths. What's different here is that the authors Frances and Richard Lockridge write Pamela as an intuitive thinker whose leaps of logic—or illogic—leave her husband and the police scratching their heads. It could read as though she were a space case, but the Lockridges compensate for that by making her right most of the time. It's a winning formula in this tale that commences with Pamela deciding to throw a party in the empty apartment on the top floor of her building and discovering a corpse in the bathtub.

We were surprised that a detective named Weigand was the central character here, with the Norths serving in a supporting capacity. But that's just the Lockridges setting up the cop as a contact and pal for future novels, we suspect. By the end he was routinely enjoying cocktails with the Norths, though he initially suspected them of the murder. Pamela eventually figures out the solution about the same time as Wiegland, and it's clear she's gotten a taste for sleuthing. All very fun. In our view, for mystery fans The Norths Meet Murder is probably mandatory.


Vintage Pulp Oct 4 2018
Turns out too big to fail was a strictly financial concept.

You wouldn't think when you work for one of the industries most responsible for screwing up the planet you'd get much sympathy when you wind up dead, but Frances and Richard Lockridge's Payoff for the Banker was written in a previous era. This banker, George Merle, was loved by many and respected by all. Well, not all. At least one person hated him, and police think it's the woman in whose apartment his body was found. Enter husband and wife sleuths Pamela and Jerry North to solve the case. The fact that husband and wife sleuths were written by husband and wife authors interests us, as we have trouble collaborating on a trip to the store with the Pulp Intl. girlfriends, but that's why fiction is different from reality. The Lockridges were so good at working together they even made the Norths into franchise characters who appeared in twenty-six books. They also were portrayed on radio, stage, television, and cinema. We bet the Lockridges argued mostly about how to spend all their earnings. Originally published in 1946, this Pocket paperback edition appeared in 1948 fronted by Donald Beck art. 


Vintage Pulp Dec 10 2017
Thirty feet in the air.

Below you see covers featuring characters who died suspended by their necks. Were they suicides? Murder victims? Hint: the books wouldn't be very interesting if they were suicides. There are others we could share, but thirty feet sounded nicer than thirty six or thirty eight. Maybe we'll add more later. For now see two in the same style here and here.


Vintage Pulp May 2 2015
They’ve gotten themselves into hot water for the last time.

There’s no safe place in pulp—especially not the bathtub. Above and below is a collection of vintage covers featuring various unfortunates who chose the wrong time to be naked and defenseless. Well, most of them are naked. A few have clothes on for reasons we cannot discern. Art is by Willard Downes, Barye Phillips, Robert Bonfils, Jef de Wulf, and others. See another good example here.


History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 26
1934—Queen Mary Launched
The RMS Queen Mary, three-and-a-half years in the making, launches from Clydebank, Scotland. The steamship enters passenger service in May 1936 and sails the North Atlantic Ocean until 1967. Today she is a museum and tourist attraction anchored in Long Beach, U.S.A.
1983—Nuclear Holocaust Averted
Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov, whose job involves detection of enemy missiles, is warned by Soviet computers that the United States has launched a nuclear missile at Russia. Petrov deviates from procedure, and, instead of informing superiors, decides the detection is a glitch. When the computer warns of four more inbound missiles he decides, under much greater pressure this time, that the detections are also false. Soviet doctrine at the time dictates an immediate and full retaliatory strike, so Petrov's decision to leave his superiors out of the loop very possibly prevents humanity's obliteration. Petrov's actions remain a secret until 1988, but ultimately he is honored at the United Nations.
September 25
2002—Mystery Space Object Crashes in Russia
In an occurrence known as the Vitim Event, an object crashes to the Earth in Siberia and explodes with a force estimated at 4 to 5 kilotons by Russian scientists. An expedition to the site finds the landscape leveled and the soil contaminated by high levels of radioactivity. It is thought that the object was a comet nucleus with a diameter of 50 to 100 meters.
September 24
1992—Sci Fi Channel Launches
In the U.S., the cable network USA debuts the Sci Fi Channel, specializing in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal programming. After a slow start, it built its audience and is now a top ten ranked network for male viewers aged 18–54, and women aged 25–54.
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