this is the 99th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
Roscoes in the Night by Robert Leslie Bellem, © 1934-1950, collection © 2003, Adventure House, 2003 oversized trade paper, featuring Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective – mystery – pulp short stories
What a marvelous book! Several years ago I came across this while browsing pulp collections and bought it not having read any of, or even heard of, Dan Turner or Robert Leslie Bellem. John Wooley’s informative introduction provides background on the author and stories.
This is a reproduction volume; the stories and illustrations accompanying them are photo-shots of the original pages, warts and all, so there are typos, odd punctuation, the occasional missing letter in a word. So what, these stories are a kick in the pants. Bellem was a master of hard-boiled slang. Not the thoughtfully applied jargon used by Hammett, nor the artful, literary language used by Chandler, this is slap-dash, half invented on the spot, “B” movie (or lower) language, loose and free and a little silly, which is just right for these stories. In Bellem’s lexicon, women are frails, skirts, dames, cupcakes, dolls and cuties. You get the idea, and there’s plenty more. Turner doesn’t just look at something, he lamps it, gives it a swift squint, tabs it. You gotta love it when you read a sentence like “I cocked a snook at the wig-wag, yeeped at the guard and went through the door with my roscoe ready for action.”.
The plots aren’t that complex or clever, but these were pulp novels (really novelettes) appearing in Spicy Detective and Hollywood Detective. This is great fun and is highly recommended.
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The rest of the Friday Forgotten Book posts
can be found at Patti Abbott’s blog Pattinaise