NICK CARTER returns in “Murder Unlimited”

Murder Unlimited
Murder Unlimited
 debuted as “Bid for a Railroad” in Nick Carter Magazine (January 1934). It was the second (of four) Nick Carter stories (originally written by Richard Wormser) to be bound and offered in digest-paperback format by the publishers Vital Publications in 1945.

Here, Nick is contracted to stop a competing railway line from putting a small-town line out of business. The owner is certain that they are using criminal means. Nick quickly learns that the railroad detectives assigned prior to the case, and still employed, are actually all corrupt and have criminal records of their own.

The son of the head villain (whom we never actually get to meet) goes so far as to deposit an extravagant amount of cash into the local bank (owned by the locals) and shortly thereafter, it is robbed at gunpoint.

Realizing that the bank doesn’t have enough funds to repay the villain’s son, nor the farmers and local homesteaders, if and when a run on the bank does develop (which turns out to be opening bell the next morning), Nick must chase the thieves, obtain the lost funds, return those funds in time to the bank before it opens, and coerce the largest depositors from extracting their funds, thereby tricking the locals to retain faith in the bank. It’s a nasty business but Nick is up to the transaction.

The head railroad detective is captured and after some trickery on Nick’s part, he agrees to turn evidence over against the villain’s son. Plus, the detective’s two assistants were murdered by the son, so he realizes his life is forfeit, otherwise. A local farmer-investor, duped into the dealings, confesses all, too. The local sheriff takes the son and the detective to jail….

NICK CARTER returns in “Murder Unlimited”

NICK CARTER and the “Empire of Crime”

In a fit of boredom, I decided to tap an American digest-pulp. Blindly extracting a book from the shelf, I found my fingers on a Nick Carter title. It wasn’t the first in the four-book series, so I moved my digits two to the left and extracted Empire of Crime by Nick Carter.

Granted, the world knows that Nick Carter (Nicholas Carter of dime novels) is an alias for a host of various authors, spanning several decades. I’m not interested in discussing them. There are plenty of other sites out there that have done just that, and to trod along those lines with something fresh and delightful…no. Just not doing it.

However, because there were only four issued by this publisher, Vital Publications, shortly after World War Two, this seems like an option. They were each reprinted by arrangement with Street & Smith, the magazine publishers of the Nick Carter pulps. As online records proclaim, the first 17 novellas were written by Richard Wormser, beginning in 1933.

Empire of Crime originally debuted as “Crooks’ Empire” in Nick Carter Magazine (April 1933). It was Wormser’s second Carter story. According to the FictionMags website, that was also his first fiction story. It seems incredible that the editors and bigwigs at Street & Smith should turn over a once-lucrative dime novel hero to a fledgling, untried author. And yet, that apparently is just what they did.

Or, did they?

Born in 1908, Wormser would have been 25 by this time. We know that from his memoirs he was already writing plenty by this time, but certainly he must have churned out some fiction prior to the Nick Carter stories. No?

In truth, his first sales were all to The Shadow magazine in 1932, under about a dozen different pseudonyms. Only the alias Conrad Gerson has been attributed to Wormser. Heaven knows what the others are. According to his own memoir (How To Become a Complete Nonentity), some issues had four stories by him, under four different aliases. I’m very tempted to take a stab at identifying those stories, but that is not the point of this post….

In this tale, special detective Nick Carter is hired by the New York City commissioner to track down a nationwide crime syndicate and destroy them. In gangster-era 1930s America, this novella was right at home with readers. If you are a Jason Bourne fan, you may wish to take special notice of this novel, because I would be splendidly shocked if the script writers hadn’t read this one themselves, including an amazingly daring elevator scene that, slightly altered, finds its way in the closing moments of the first Bourne movie (when Jason throws a dead body over the stairway and rides it to the bottom to cushion his fall).

But, I’m getting way ahead of myself….

Receiving a threatening death letter, Nick ignores the syndicates demands that he refuse the assignment. Hardly disposed to listening to the demands of criminals, Nick plunges into work, and is immediately attacked and captured. There ensues a crazy blood-and-thunder shooting scene in which Nick kills every assailant but one, and then doctors up his own appearance to match that of a criminal’s visage.

The pair arrested are brought before the commissioner for questioning. In his private quarters, Nick reveals his true identity.  With the commissioner’s sworn secrecy, Nick assumes the identity of one of the slain scar-faced criminals and is sent to prison. That prison being too soft for him, he is sent up the river to a tough-elements prison. There, he escapes and makes his way to a contact point on the outside. Said information was obtained from a prison-mate.

He eventually is led to a secret hideout. Nick is flabbergasted to learn that he is at the renown Kalgara’s Cover, a location that has been raided in the past, but turned up no evidence. Apparently the crooks in charge had outsmarted the police. Led down various tunnels, he is brought before the leaders and forced to explain how he came to escape, etc. They are upset over the demise of Nick Carter (whom is presumed dead, after the commissioner released info to the newspapers to run a circular about his death). The syndicate had grand plans for Nick Carter.

Nick, in the guise of the escaped criminal, is given the assignment of kidnapping a young wealthy heiress, for ransom. He refuses. Not in his line. After being roughed up a bit, he acquiesces, and a few thugs are sent to keep him in line.

He breaks in, gets away from the thugs, warns the girl, and phones the police. Hanging up the phone, her bedroom door opens with all 3 thugs in the house! A shootout occurs, and he is knocked senseless. The police arrive on the scene and Nick awakens. The girl is about to reveal that he is innocent but he motions for her silence, which, remarkably, she does just that. Led away from the scene as a criminal, he is cuffed. While distracted, Nick quickly slaps the other cuff on the girl’s arm, to force her to come with him. He knows that in all likelihood that there is another gang of hoodlums outside in a fast-car ready to mow him down with Tommy-gun fire. The syndicate doesn’t permit their kind to be captured. To be captured means loose lips, and those must be silenced.

Nick breaks away and tosses the girl over his shoulder and makes a run for it, while surrounded by New York’s finest. It’s all good fun, but, really, the author makes complete jokes out of the police nonstop throughout the novel. He escapes while carrying the girl (is he Hercules now?) and getting into a taxi (he’s already picked the cuff’s lock) they speed off to his own residence. Here, he squirrels her away in his abode in the care of his man servant. We never see nor hear of her again.

Sneaking off again, he makes his way back to Kalgara’s Cover, and explains how he escaped, once again. They are annoyed by his second failure and proclaim the death sentence. Nick smartly outwits the death decree by demanding a crooks’ fair trial, a rule that the syndicate does adhere to !!! Sadly, the sole remaining thug that broke into the girl’s home arrives and explains what actually happened, revealing that Nick Carter phoned the police. Sentenced again to die, he lucks out when the police decide once more to raid the place.

Death postponed, the lights are knocked out, and bedlam ensues. Shots are fired, and the door opens. Nick gets out with the assistance of another criminal, a mastermind high in the chain of command. Nick thinks that this other person is an investigator like himself, whom has snuck in and obtained the crooks’ trust, but in fact, he is a criminal. Foolishly revealing his identity to the man, he is nearly murdered.

While the police are actively raiding the building, Nick Carter finds Kalgara himself, hiding. Believing Kalgara to be a mere stooge, cashing in on the crooks using his facility, he helps Kalgara to escape, freely.

Escaping death once more, Nick Carter, wounded and battered, keeps moving. He soon tracks the New York communications to a radio tower, and breaking in, finds the man that last tried to murder him. Taking him down, Nick wipes out just about everyone present. He obtains diamonds that are meant to be transferred to Chicago. Taking these, he heads West to Chicago to crack that syndicate, too. While the novella constantly asserts that the syndicate is nationwide, it is clear that it is predominantly ruled by New York and Chicago interests.

Getting in contact with Chicago crooks, Nick is taken to another base. Here, he demands $100,000 for the diamonds. Learning that he is in front of the head crook here, he pulls his guns and we are gifted to another blood-and-thunder scene, on the top floor of a high-rise building. A Jason Bourne-esque moment occurs when Nick Carter must get from the top floor to the bottom, and kill everyone in his path. Unfortunately, the fastest route is the elevator, with all the dead men he has slain, piled up inside. He has cut off the power to the elevator, ruining the fuses. Using his gun, he shoots the elevator’s wires and the car drops. He jumps down and catches up in time (with the elevator) to smash at the bottom and he crashes into the corpses. Thrown and tossed about like a sack of potatoes, the beaten Nick Carter rises like the proverbial fucking Energizer bunny and, opening the elevator doors, (which ought to be a crumpled mess) exits, and shoots a bunch of baddies in the back, whom are shooting through holes in the walls at the police.

Suffering from numerous gunshot wounds, he is led away from the building after the police teargas bomb the place. Inside an ambulance, an attendant injects him, and freshly juiced-up, Nick escapes the ambulance, lands on the ground, and runs back to the scene of carnage. Going back up to the top of the high-rise, he breaks open a radio communication system, extracts TNT (the crooks blow themselves up rather than be captured, but Nick had cut off the power source, earlier), and rewires the radio so that he can track the frequency to the crooks’ lair.

Flying overhead, he finds the lair, and disabling his aircraft, crash-lands it among the fields of an apparent farm. He is captured by two thugs, whom, assuming he is legitimately a downed pilot, never frisk him. Led to a barn house, Nick Carter immediately takes the offensive, taking all concerned off-guard. Killing one thug, he breaks into the house and heads up the stairs only to be met by another assailant. Diving aside, the gunner shoots and kills the second thug that breaks into the room behind Nick Carter. Returning the favor, Nick kills the stairway man, and is met by a machine gunner.

Lobbing a grenade up, he eventually makes his way up the stairs and kills the gunner. The wall reinforced, Nick tosses in two more grenades and the wall comes down. He finds himself facing only two more crooks. One is a major head, but the other is Kalgara himself, no longer the cowering drunkard he appeared to be. Nick realizes he goofed and shoots the first man dead so that he can get at Kalgara. Getting too close, Kalgara gets his large ham-fist hands on Nick and goes to swing him about but misjudges his position and ends up throwing his own body out a window and down to his untimely death, in what must be one of the most eye-rolling scenes I read overall.

The book ends with Nick in bed at another nearby farm and he passes out…after reading a newspaper that announces big budget cut-backs in New York, which means he will only receive half the original proposed fee that the commissioner promised him.

NICK CARTER and the “Empire of Crime”

Want to buy: Newspapers and Pulps!

I am hunting hundreds of detective pulp fiction magazines. Please quote me any titles you have available, from the 1920s and 1930s and 1940s. Condition does not matter. I enjoy reading, and even rough copies can be read!

Also purchasing many assorted newspapers. See my list below !

morganwallace AT gmail DOT com

Chicago Ledger (1901-1923)
Illustrated Story Weekly (1923-1924)
Weekly Ledger (1924-1925)
Blade and Ledger (1925-1938)

I am interested in the following years.
Quote all issues.
I often buy spare copies as upgrades.

1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909,
1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919,
1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928,
1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1936, 1937, 1938

Also collecting numerous other story newspapers, including the following titles:

Toronto Star Weekly
(Magazine Sections, 1920s-1940s)
Toronto Star Weekly
(Complete Novel, 1920s-1940s)
Montreal Standard
(Complete Novel, 1920s-1940s)
Fiction Magazine
(Saturday or Sunday edition, 1916-1918)
Literary Magazine Section
(weekly: 1909-1910)
The Illustrated Companion (monthly: 1915-1916)

Want to buy: Newspapers and Pulps!

Hardboiled (No. 2) – November 1936


Hardboiled is a digest-sized pocket pulp magazine that began its life in 1936. The depicted edition is the second issue, for November 1936, with cover art by Ben Martin. Given the current election year, it only seemed fitting to read and comment on this copy, although the cover has zero to do with the short story content within. Further, if anyone has an ideas that the title infers gangsters, mobsters, guns and such, this magazine will disappoint. That was not the point of this publishing venture by Street & Smith.

I’m not altogether convinced as to WHY this publication came into being, but, I suspect part of the reason is that Street & Smith received too many “good” manuscripts to turn away, but, many of them simply had no proper home within their pulp markets, for various reasons. Many of the stories in this mag are good but just don’t quite hit the mark. Regardless of reason and rationale or my own opinions, fact is, the mag lasted only the 9 issues, and after the fifth edition, changed name, to become known as “The Popular.” Ultimately, this doomed experiment vanished less than a year after its creation, and today, is a scarce and collectible pulp publication.

The publication is loaded to the gills with vignettes, short stories, and poems. For my own self-serving purposes, I’m only concerned with the fiction stories….

First up is Marguerite Lindsey’s “Both in the Same Spot.” Now, don’t laugh at me just yet, but this is indeed a crime story. A crime syndicate decides to play hardball with a Senator, and he takes a heavy fall for a dame name of Trix. Thinking to entrap the Senator and blackmail him for countless funds, the Senator is caught in a hotel room and the crooks capture the moment with the bang and flash of a camera bulb. Soon thereafter, he is visited by Trix herself, to obtain the bribery funds. With the aid of his butler, it is fixed to look like the girl drank too much and fell off the balcony, to her grisly death, far below. When her crime lover later comes calling, he informs the Senator that he isn’t a sap and kept copies of the photograph. Rather than be “owned” by the mob, he calmly steps off the balcony and splats in the same spot as Trix.

Thrilled to read one by Captain S. P. Meek, a real pulp fiction contributor here! “When Kali Walked” involves an Englishman assigned to run a road through, yet, the local priest has the people convinced that Kali has appeared in the form of a man-eating tiger, to slay all those that assist the English in their assignment. Creighton, the English-man, with the aid of Durgan Dass, the local part servant and bodyguard, assists him to toppling the priests faux-reign of terror, and kills the tiger. In killing the tiger, he again regains control of the locals and proclaims the man a false priest. It’s a typical yarn of this time from start to finish, but Meek is a damned capable writer and makes even the standard stand out sharply.

Pick-Up” by Fergus M. Henderson appears to be the typical hoodwink game. Girl in a hotel lobby tries to get some nice soul to help her, give her money and food, etc, but in the end makes off with the guy’s wad. Months later, he comes across her again, in the same hotel lobby. She claims to have been coming there regularly, and repays his “loan.” Turns out she was dishonestly honest about her whole approach. She was destitute, after her husband had been run down by a truck and left her stranded with a toddler. With the stolen funds, she got on her feet again, and she and the baby were doing fine, but she needed to repay the stolen “loan” to everything right again.

Geoffrey Harwood supplies “Broadway Etching,” which is an unusual tale, given that the author had pulp leanings toward air stories. Famous Mann is the name our of protagonist, and his job is to get some fluff off the arm of a man that another dame is in love with. However, the first dame is no lady. She either wants the man’s arm, or, her Hollywood contract. Preferably the latter. Mann convinces the agent to take her back on again, thereby freeing the man to pursue the latter girl, and straightening out matters.

Another pulpster joins the rank in the form of Anthony Rud, with “Claws of the Catspaw.” This a tropical sea story involving murder and deceit. The rose of the sea is a murderous bitch but fucking hot with curves and lips and all in the right place. But, when she attempts to two-time Bunch Gurney, the ugliest man on the earth with a hump back and all working against him, she learns a painful lesson. Just because a guy’s face value ain’t worth looking at, doesn’t mean he isn’t “sharp” upstairs! Convincing him to murder her current lover over some rare pearls, she attempts to deceive him by making off with the goods while leaving him to face the music. However, Bunch Gurney is on to her plot. He gets the pearls AND then kidnaps the girl, taking her away out to sea to rape and pillage!

Next up is “The Black Widow” by Hazlett Kessler, an author best known for westerns. “Big Tom” Flint arrives in a remote town to pursue the love interests of local black widow beauty, Rose le Coigne. Rumor has it that this insatiable beauty has had more lovers walk into her loving embrace than walk out of her isolated cabin alive. Seeking to conquer her, he beats her when necessary and ties her up at night to keep her from killing him. She eventually breaks down his intelligence by coyly playing up sexually to him, over time. One day, she eventually runs him through with a long knife, makes off with his money and flees town, because, unlike prior occasions of murder, this time murder can not be concealed. For all its simplicity, it is a good story.

Red Ribbons” by Denslow M. Dade is a sea-horror story, of sorts, but simply doesn’t quite grip you. A fellow leaves a bunch of evil sailors to face death in the hold of a ship that catches fire. Rather than let them out and save their lives, he leaves the hold barred, in order to save a young girl that the kidnapped upon shore. Having saved the girl, the ship burns to a cinder but the man goes through life always hearing those screams, until, one day, he is found dead, frozen to death in a meat locker.

George Lowestoft presents us with a short tale involving a restauranteur siccing one of his useless staff upon an eccentrically wealthy woman. She is a raving lunatic and the owner likes to keep a proper, quiet atmosphere. She refuses to calm or leave, so he baits her with his staff member, a young, very handsome foreigner. They vanish, and the owner later receives a phone call stating that the fellow quits and the woman, well, “She Married the Bait.”

Special Pressure” is a one-page vignette by John Cogswell. Guy is hanging up coat in men’s closet at a party. Woman wants him to get her compact from her husband’s coat pocket. They look for it together and then they have an illicit affair right there. The husband walks in but only laments that his top-hat is squashed. Um, okay….

Jon Swan brings us “Hot-Water Baggers.” His wife drives his bonkers with hot water bottle requests. Eventually he divorces her for a hot young thing whom years later cheats on him as he did on his first wife and she puts him off repeatedly by lamenting the usual wife story to all us poor slobs of husbands, my back hurts, I’m tired, get me a hot water bottle, etc. So, the story repeats itself, until, she puts some detectives on him and catches him in a precarious position. Now he pays her a monthly alimony and continues her love affairs but is smarter than he was: she doesn’t marry!

Any pulpster knows the name Wyatt Blassingame, right? Maybe not, but he supplies “No New Answers” to no new questions. It’s the old story of a decent, innocent girl coming into a police station being evicted due to inability to pay rent and can’t get a job, but the landlord won’t let her back into her rooms to obtain her clothes, etc. The cops refuse to help her, since the landlord is within their rights! She leaves, disheartened. Many months pass, she is brought in, arrested, and no looks the part of a hardened hooker. On her heels, comes another young, decent, innocent girl, with the same origin story…we all know how THAT will end.

Bill Gray’s “The People’s Choice” is a clear bell-ringer for this mag’s cover art. A political story involving a man running for office finally realizes that he is dead broke and NOT going to win despite his backers lying to his face and assuring him that he will. Finally, he cracks and they send him to a hotel to rest up, before pushing his butt out the door to finish his bid for office. Waking up, he finds himself on the wrong end of a gun, and the dame is confused why HE is in THAT hotel room. Turns out the Senator (the backer) usually sleeps there on his hideaways, and the woman was one of his affairs! Wanting to plug him for ditching her, she got a job at the hotel. Leaving him at the hotel, she seeks out the Senator, and lo, what should happen? The Senator is a smooth talker, convinces her to take up with him again, and he’s in such a good mood, relinquishes his seat to allow the guy in the hotel run now for Senate!

Killed” is a simple yet ironic tale by Kenneth Andrews. While making out and proposing, Bill confesses to robbery and murder in a prior life but has mended his ways and that he is no good for her. She forgives him and informs that he is not the same man he was before and she loves him forever. But, when he flips the story and says it was all a lie, a “test” to see how much she really loves him, she drops him like a hot potato, stating that he has killed her love for him after that, swifter than a murderer could.

Thomas Edgelow supplies one of those smart-set sort of human interest stories with “Earth and Earthly,” in which a country girl in the city learns that just because a man claims to love you, and put you up in a house, doesn’t mean he really does love you or will ever marry you, especially if he already is.

Gerald Jenks rips the gut-buster with “One on His In-Law.” Horace is sent upstairs to stop his new neighbor, whom has a dog, from peeing on the balcony, which is slatted, and ruining his wife’s clothes. Upon knocking, the door is opened by the most startlingly young and beautiful girl ever. Truly, this ruins the story, as she is far from the focus of the plot. She could have been an ugly hag for all that she matters. He meets the dog, Bingo, whom goes out onto the balcony that moment, and sprays a fine gusher …. down on top of his mother-in-law’s head !!! He is now best friends with Bingo.

Fledging” by Eustace L. Adams, is slightly a weird ghostly tale. A young lady is in love with an aviator pilot that is old enough to be her father. She fears for his life, since he is a risk-taker and daredevil. Famous for his deeds, many rise for his autograph, etc. But, when she and he approach the civilian airport to pick up his son, whom is returning from school, she sees a younger version of her heart-throb and becomes emotionally confused. The father is upset because his son has a fear of flying, and prefers to be an architect. While his father is a way on the California coast, he secretly decides to prove his father wrong, by taking up flying lessons. The girl watches him from the ground. Deciding to take things to the extreme, and commits the plane through dangerous maneuvers and then decides to die a quick death by dashing the plane to bits on the ground, but in the end pulls her out of the uncontrollable spin and dashes up to safety, but only after his ghostly father shows him how to pull out of the death dive and right his plane. Believing that his ethereal father was with him in spirit, he finally lands, happy, knowing that he has conquered his fear of flying and that his father will be proud, even if he still intends to become an architect. But, his glee is dashed when the girl approaches with news that his father died in a plane crash and would never see the son fly, to which, he proclaims, “He–he did see it!”

Hollywood Friendship” by Lawrence Bowen insinuates that you can’t trust anyone in Hollywood. When Sigmund divests himself of New York interests to pursue a directing career in Hollywood, he learns that New York play conquests mean nothing in the home of the silver screen, and friendships are hollow.

Walter Brooks supplies the time-worn beaten-to-death classic “The Worm Returns.” In this tale, Petheridge is under the ruling tyrannical thumb of his wife, whom, despite all things, he truly loves. He caves in to her every desire in his interest toward keeping her happy. But, when she tosses his newly acquired affection for a certain musical instrument out the window, he becomes enraged and leaves her. Leaving a note of abandonment behind, she informs the local society that he went big game hunting, rather than face the fact that she has been dumped. Years pass, Petheridge went to Europe to become properly trained in the instrument. Returning to the United States a changed man, both inside and physically in appearance (sporting a messy beard, etc), he purchases a home behind hers and watches through binoculars as suitor after suitor make plays on her. However, this once quiet man of society knows all these rich men, and knows intimately their digressions. He writes each one letters of warning, threats, etc and each one vanishes to parts unknown. Eventually, he comes across his estranged wife at a function, and they “date,” sort of, then he informs her that she will marry him, whom, by the way, lives under the name of Protheroe. He takes things too far when he commits the ultimate mistake: he takes out the musical instrument and plays “Onward Christian Soldiers,” a song that only HE would play. She immediately discerns his true identity, laughs in his face, and tells him to cough up the instrument, with the intention, clearly, of tossing it out the window. He nearly caves, then, pockets the piece, bends her over his knees and spanks her repeatedly. Initially she laughs but when he ceases to relent and continues, it is she who begins to break down, begging Mr. Petheridge to stop. Mister WHO? he says!!! Protheroe, she corrects. Yup, he beats into her that Petheridge is no more and that he is now Protheroe. Weapingly, she begs forgiveness and prays that if he still loves her, play something nice for her. So, he tortures her, by playing the same song, again, and again, and again, and again…..

The mag wraps up with “Hey! Hey! Hotcha!” by C. Douglas Welch is a vignette filler that should never have been included, let alone, hardly as the last piece to this mag when the prior tale by Brooks was sensational enough, even if redundant in nature. This tale is a short narrative of a guy trying to convince a woman to dance the rhumba with him then decides she is better suited for something safer, like a waltz.


Hardboiled (No. 2) – November 1936

Short Stories – October 1924 – Australian Edition

Recently, I purchased a bunch of miscellaneous pulps, booklets, and assorted magazines, purely for my reading pleasure, at $1.00 each.

When the box arrived, I paused and took a gander at the pulp Short Stories. Something about it struck me as funny; I immediately compared the contents against FictionMags. Well. The contents were identical to my copy, on the inside, which was a relief, since mine lacks a Table of Contents page.

Short Stories 1924 October front cover

However, much to my chagrin, I noticed that the cover was NOT the same as the American original published by Doubleday (Garden City Publishing) nor the UK Edition (The World’s Work). I traced my cover to the American July 25 1923 edition. Same cover art, different text layout. That is when I noticed that my copy stated October 1924.

Was there a date under that infernal Aussie 1/3d sticker on the cover? Placing it beside a high-powered lamp, I found that the only thing under the sticker was a 1/- cover price. No, this pulp, unlike the American and British Editions, was issued MONTHLY. One might ask: why did you not look at the spine for confirmation? I did. The upper spine is missing, leaving me only the last few letters of the month.

Short Stories 1924 October spine

So, I had a mystery on my hands that might appear to be cooler that reading the pulp. Okay, maybe not.

To recap: different cover (art recycled from an issue entirely different from the USA and UK edition), a monthly (instead of twice-a-month), and the Contents page missing.

Well, I sincerely doubted that this magazine was re-issued with a new cover, altogether. Here is what I suspect: the UK publishers, World’s Work, stripped off the covers and Table of Contents page(s) to all remainder stock, and recycled a different cover that they still had available and slapped on fresh text. The American publishers would hardly have troubled with this task (in my  opinion). I do not think that a new contents page was issued for foreign distribution. Furthermore, it is entirely possible that this edition was distributed to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and anywhere else World’s Work did business, abroad.

Currently, this is the only known example of a possible Australian edition, from this period. Three decades later, we know of a handful, but, are they related? Doubtful. This publication will intrinsically remain a mystery until another period-sample surfaces with further data “intact” for comparison.


Short Stories – October 1924 – Australian Edition

“Texas Men and Texas Cattle” by E. E. Harriman

With Book 64, the publishers, Garden City Publishing, focused entirely on westerns, a clear indication that this genre outsold all other genres in the original series.

The rear covers on second-state editions announced forthcoming titles along with dates of publication, each on a monthly basis, beginning with this title, “Texas Men and Texas Cattle,” by E. E. Harriman, published 1st February 1926.

This edition also marks the first shift from 124-page to 188+ page volumes. The thicker volumes allowed the publishers a ready option to bind remainder stock later as hardcovers (which they did, on many of the future titles).

This long novelette hails from the July 1925 edition of Frontier. The cover art, by Nick Eggenhofer, originates with the 10 July 1924 edition of Short Stories.

The story is straight-forward from the onset, and heavily padded to the point of feeling quite dull at times. It’s neither a good book, nor a bad book, just the author’s choice of dialogue and dragging pulls down the value of this to me.

64 Texas Men And Texas Cattle

Will Stratton owns a ranch and is deep in debt. Loan sharks tricked him into a higher interest rate than verbally quoted, and years gone by, he is near bankruptcy. However, when a man from out West spends the night, traveling East, he learns that while cattle in Texas is worth pennies, folks in Arizona and California are in dire demand of beef, spending $25-40+ per head.

Breaking the law, he herds his cattle, along with two other neighborly ranchers, West, fighting their way past stampeding buffalo, Comanches, Apaches, rustlers, etc, before landing in Arizona and facing off against corruptly deputized men from Texas, serving a warrant. However, prior to this, the men had successfully sold the entire outfit and Stratton, by express, has posted due funds back to Texas, to his lawyer.

The three are intermittently jailed and post bond, await trial, and after two weeks go by, no word returns by express to set Stratton his fellow ranchers free. Thankfully, as luck would have it in the closing pages, an express man runs into the courtroom carrying a Texas-stamped envelope, with a letter from Stratton’s lawyer. The situation is deftly handled, and our men are free to roam….

“Texas Men and Texas Cattle” by E. E. Harriman

“Devil Marked” by Edwin L. Sabin

59 Devil Marked

Book 59 is “Devil Marked” by Edwin L. Sabin, returning to the series for the first time, since his inclusion with Book 2 in the original run.

The tale was originally printed in Argosy All-Story Weekly (1922 Sep: 9, 16, 23) in three installments, and also credited H. Bedford-Jones as a co-writer.

The date and era are never properly given to the reader, although we understand that it takes place some time during the mid-1800s. We are given real-life Governor Armijo, along with Bent’s Fort already being in existence.

The story opens with a backstabbing murder during a game of cards in New Orleans. A fourth player at the table steals away into the night and the remaining two take the money and likewise disappear.

Fast-forward a number of years, and we have two Cuban refugees (a boy and a girl) on a river boat. Of upper class, their parents are dead and they are seeking to locate their uncle in Santa Fe. While aboard, the boy is tricked into a game of cards and loses his family fortune. However, a brute of a man calls the bluff and announces the game to be “fixed.” Going by the name of Captain Badger, he takes he pair of Cubans under his assumed protective wing, while his true intentions are the gold doubloons.

Also aboard ship is the brother (Duprez) of the assassinated card-player. He has been hunting the killers his whole life, but is unaware that Badger is the backstabber.

After disembarking, Badger places the pair in a semi-reputable hotel (of sorts) and the girl stashes the gold among chimney ashes. The boy is lured away that night to play cards with Badger and company. Hours later, deeply drunk, he is duped by a note to hurry back to his sister. Likewise, the sister is informed that her brother is injured. She foolishly leaves hotel and gold behind, and is led away and confused in the by-streets and alleys, before the leading villain disappears without a trace. Lost and alone, she is shocked to find Duprez there and he brings her back to the hotel, only to find that ruffians are (falsely) assaulting the boy and Captain Badger.

Duprez vanishes too. In truth he snuck into the hotel, found the gold, and seized it for safekeeping, realizing the Captain to be a scoundrel.

However, one of the villains spotted Duprez depart the hotel and they convince the boy that he is a thief. The boy is entirely a (schmuck) throughout the entire novel, earnestly believing Badger and his claims.

Hiring a couple wagons to train down to Santa Fe, Badger insists on freely escorting the pair to the town. Meanwhile, he has abandoned the gold and wishes to avail himself of the girl.

Things go slightly awry, as the gold is recovered by the gang after they ambush Duprez in the desert and leaving him for dead. However, despite having been shot in the head (likely only grazed) he stalks the wagons and when a band of marauders attack the wagons, he rides in to save the day, only to ride out again when the girl is kidnapped.

Badger and the gang spot Duprez among the marauders and convince the boy that it was Duprez himself whom abducted the girl, and, has the gold, too! when in fact Badger has the bag of gold.

The whole story eventually shifts climatically to Santa Fe, where Duprez and Badger fight it out with large knives. You know the rest. Duprez slays Badger, gets the girl, and a ton of other details hanging in the wind prior as irrelevant suddenly manifest as important, but I rather not bog down this blog by ruining the background plot devices at work.

Unless “Loaded Dice,” this novelette here is far superior to that horrendous earlier piece, and while I dislike this genre, I do great dishonor to the tale itself were I not to recommend it for future reading among you fellow pulpsters!

“Devil Marked” by Edwin L. Sabin