Vintage Pulp Jul 20 2024
GONE GIRL
Waugh elevates missing person procedurals to a new level.


Reading mid-century crime and adventure novels has been a great journey for us. We can imagine those who've already read them smiling (or smirking) as we discuss the books as revelations. “These pulp guys. *eye roll* ’Bout seventy years late with their stunning insights.” But that's the way it goes—you have start sometime. Over the years we've gone from novice to slightly-less-novice in this realm.

We say all that because, though Hillary Waugh is a well-known novelist, up to this week we'd read only one of his books—1960's The Girl Who Cried Wolf. It's a personality-driven, occasionally cute tale, about a tough P.I. and the collegiate client who has a massive crush on him. The book is pretty much a total success. There was no logical reason for us think that single effort defined Waugh's style, but experience has shown that a good novel tends to sits in the sweet spot of an author, and they hit those notes again and again.

Imagine our surprise, then, when we read 1954's Last Seen Wearing and discovered that it's a stark police procedural allegedly inspired by the true 1946 disappearance of 18-year-old Bennington College student Paula Jean Welden. What Waugh produces is basically impossible to put down. If you like police procedurals, read this one. Waugh wows. Also wow is the cover art on the 1960 Great Pan edition. Uncredited though.

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Vintage Pulp Nov 6 2022
THE CRYING GAME
Just my luck. I go to the trouble of hiring a bodyguard and end up with one who doesn't even notice my body.


Hillary Waugh wrote more than forty novels and eventually earned a Grand Master designation from the Mystery Writers of America. His 1958 thriller The Girl Who Cried Wolf shows why, as he takes a standard detective novel premise and adds a touch of girl-crush cuteness to it. A rich co-ed named Patty Merchant has fallen hard for gumshoe Phil Macadam. She's never met him. He gave a lecture to her class and she went starry eyed over him. She hatches a phony stalking story in order to hire him and be close to him, which works fine until she's grabbed by actual kidnappers.

The Robert McGinnis cover art on this 1960 Dell edition—and the alternate version below—vibes femme fatale, but Patty Merchant is no man eater. She's shy, sweet, smart in school but a bit clueless in romance. You can't help but like her, and neither can Macadam. Which is good because he goes through the entire wringer and then some trying to locate and rescue her. The Girl Who Cried Wolf is a good, fast paced read, more soft-boiled than hard, but very entertaining. This being our first Waugh, we're already planning to pick up more of his work.

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Vintage Pulp Sep 24 2017
LOFT EXPECTATIONS
There's nothing quite like a roll in the hay.


You'd think we'd eventually run out of themes in mid-century paperbacks, but the possibilities are seemingly endless. We can add illicit love in the hayloft to the many other time honored subjects exploited by paperback publishers. We've already shared several covers along these lines, such as this one, this one, and this one, but today we have an entire set for your enjoyment. Personally, we've never had sex in a hayloft—in fact, we've never even had the opportunity—but we imagine that once you get past the smelly manure and the scratchy hay and the jittery animals it's pretty fun. Or maybe not. There are also numerous books, incidentally, that feature characters trysting by outdoor haystacks, but for today we want to stay inside the barn. Thanks to all the original uploaders of these covers.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
July 24
1915—Ship Capsizes on Lake Michigan
During an outing arranged by Western Electric Co. for its employees and their families, the passenger ship Eastland capsizes in Lake Michigan due to unequal weight distribution. 844 people die, including all the members of 22 different families.
1980—Peter Sellers Dies
British movie star Peter Sellers, whose roles in Dr. Strangelove, Being There and the Pink Panther films established him as the greatest comedic actor of his generation, dies of a heart attack at age fifty-four.
July 23
1984—Miss America Resigns
Vanessa Williams, who had been crowned Miss America and was the first African American woman to win the prize, resigns her title after Penthouse magazine purchases and slates for publication a series of lesbian-themed nudes Williams had posed for when she was younger. After resigning she files a $500 million lawsuit against Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione but later drops the suit.
July 22
1992—Cocaine Baron Escapes Prison
Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, imprisoned leader of the Medellin drug cartel, escapes from a posh Colombian jail known as La Catedral after he learns authorities intend to move him to a real prison. His taste of freedom doesn't last—he's killed in a shootout a year-and-a-half later.
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