Sunday, January 24, 2016


This is the first time I want to criticize a cover artist. It seems like Paul Stahr should sell the drop and the peril facing the overdressed fellow trying to cross that body of water hand-over-hand by pulling back, but he goes for the relative close-up instead. Meanwhile, I don't know what the logger on the riverbank is staring and making a fist at, but it doesn't seem to be our hero. The story's probably better than the cover because it's by Frank Richardson Pierce, who I've found to be a dependable author, albeit best in the sardonic humor mode of the No-Shirt McGee stories. Apart from his opening chapter of a five-part serial the biggest attraction of this 1931 issue for me would be the novella by Theodore Roscoe, "Nightmare Island." Roscoe could get pretentious later on, at the end of the Thirties, in his American gothic Five Corners stories and his speculative history tales, but when he got good and pulpy, as in his zombie serials and Thibaut Corday's tall tales, he's very good indeed. This issue has four serials running, the others being Ralph Milne Farley's fantastic Caves of Ocean, George F. Worts's Gillian Hazeltine courtroom drama The Diamond Bullet, and Fred MacIsaac's Balata, which was recently reprinted by Altus Press as part of their Argosy Library collection. Pierce gets to profile himself in the occasional "Men Who Make the Argosy" page, and short stories by Harold dePolo, Alan K. Echols and Lt. John Hopper round out the issue. I'm not well-read enough yet to judge how good a lineup this is, but it looks promising.

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