this is the 108th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
The Cobra – The King of Detectives by Richard B. Sale – stories © 1934, 1935, this collection © 2009, Altus Press 2009 trade paper, short story collection, mystery pulp reprint, with an introduction by Will Murray
From the publisher’s website: “A slithering collection of Richard B. Sale’s reptile-related pulp stories, several of which are reprinted here for the first time. This selection includes all three appearances of The Cobra, Sale’s early pulp hero. Includes articles by Sale for writers’ magazines of the day as well.”
That summary gives you a general idea of the subject matter, or at least it might. These are stories which originally appeared in Ten Detective Aces, Secret Agent “X” and Thrilling Detective. The first three stories are those featuring The Cobra, and they may well be the best of the six stories (there are also two “articles” in the boo) in the collection, though I liked them all and wish there had been more.
I have read a couple of Sale’s Daffy Dill stories, and frankly though I liked them, I liked these even better. Maybe it was the well described settings including their spooky elements, maybe it was just the rainy day outside the window, but for whatever reason I raced through this book and was sorry to turn the last page.
The Cobra, as did many similar pulp heroes, had a gimmick. In his case it was a cigarette holder that doubled as a blowgun through which he fired small darts poisoned with cobra venom. The effects were immediate and deadly, and adversaries feared The Cobra, his real identity unknown to the world, so much that the mere rumor of his presence in the area was enough to make them tremble. Sale was one of the better pulp writers, and this collection well worth reading.