Vintage Pulp Jan 3 2024
OCEANIC PANIC
It's amazing how fast calm can vanish at sea.

Though James Bama was a major illustrator, we haven't seen much of him here on Pulp Intl. over the years because he painted many fronts for western novels, and we rarely read those. This is his work on the front of Frederick Lorenz's 1957 thriller A Rage at Sea, the story of a down and out charter captain named Frank Dixon who's gone alcoholic after losing his beloved boat in a poker game. He's given a chance at redemption when he's offered a job captaining a yacht from Florida through the Caribbean.

The man paying for the boat is a philandering millionaire, and the person who recommended Dixon for the job is a dangerous and sneaky opportunist perfectly willing to admit that somehow this charter is supposed to lead to the millionaire being bled for his money. Any rational captain would refuse the job, but Dixon wants another boat and the pay he's being offered is a step along that path. It's also a step into a seagoing snakepit, and the situation goes from uncomfortable to terrible when he gets stuck in a life-or-death battle for survival.

We liked the book, but Lorenz does make a misstep or two. For example, there are seven people on the yacht, and while the engineer is an important secondary character, we never get to know—or for the most part even really meet—the other guests, which is a narrative choice we consider to be a flaw. Brushing off passengers in a closely confined yacht setting isn't realistic. But we get it—the story Lorenz wanted to tell is one of a man caught between a predator and victim, both of whom are awful people.

On the plus side, the book moves fast, the lines of conflict are propulsive and believable, and the setting and characterizations work. We'll look for more from Lorenz, who was really Lorenz Heller, and under the pseudonyms Lawrence Heller, Larry Holden, and Laura Hale authored intriguingly titled novels such as Hot, Night Never Ends, and A Party Every Night. Hopefully we'll get our hands on one of those and report back.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 13 2016
A POINT OF LAW
Lady, if you don't start cooperating, you're going to be sorry, you hear me? Now for the last time—pull my finger!


The 1959 mystery Crime Cop was written by Larry Holden, which was a pseudonym used by author Lorenz Heller. Why he ever used a pseudonym over his real name Lorenz Heller is the real mystery, as that's about as writerly a name as one could hope to have. Actually, he did publish under his own name one time when he debuted in 1937, but soon chose new identities, including Frederick Lorenz and Burt Sims, the latter of which was reserved for his television writing. In this novel cops Flavin and Gilman hunt a strangler. The cover art, which is battered but beautiful (just like us!), is by Harry Schaare.  

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 25
2009—Farrah Fawcett Dies
American actress Farrah Fawcett, who started as a model but became famous after one season playing detective Jill Munroe on the television show Charlie's Angels, dies after a long battle with cancer.
June 24
1938—Chicora Meteor Lands
In the U.S., above Chicora, Pennsylvania, a meteor estimated to have weighed 450 metric tons explodes in the upper atmosphere and scatters fragments across the sky. Only four small pieces are ever discovered, but scientists estimate that the meteor, with an explosive power of about three kilotons of TNT, would have killed everyone for miles around if it had detonated in the city.
June 23
1973—Peter Dinsdale Commits First Arson
A fire at a house in Hull, England, kills a six year old boy and is believed to be an accident until it later is discovered to be a case of arson. It is the first of twenty-six deaths by fire caused over the next seven years by serial-arsonist Peter Dinsdale. Dinsdale is finally captured in 1981, pleads guilty to multiple manslaughter, and is detained indefinitely under Britain's Mental Health Act as a dangerous psychotic.
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