PULP FICTION: THE DAMES edited by Otto Penzler

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This is the third volume of pulp fiction short stories that have been mined from various pulp fiction magazines from the 1920s, 30s and 40s.  These were the golden years of pulp fiction were the men were men and the women were … well women.   The dames of pulp fiction were usually draped over the front covers wearing low-cut outfits and being menaced by some burly, scarred and tattooed ruffian.  PULP FICTION: THE DAMES has short stories which don’t only have women on the outside – they have women inside too.  Reporters, jewel thieves gangster molls, femme fatales and tarts with hearts are all represented within these 23 short stories.  While there are no female PIs, these broads certainly make their presence known, stealing the scenes from the males in the stories.

The stories themselves are mixed – some are really stand out – and others barely raised a yawn.  Some of my favourites were ‘Angel Face’ which is about a stripper trying to save her little brother from the electric chair – he’s been found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit. ‘A Shock for the Countess’ is light-hearted look at the theft of a necklace, and ‘Snowbound’ looks at a battle for power between Queen Sue and a drug dealer called Suds.

Overall this is a good bedside book – you can pick it up, tired and sleepy and peruse a story or two before lights out.  These are adventure stories for the most part, none of them are really dull – they may not be as good as others – but everyone is worth reading.  There is lots of action, gunplay, devious double crossing cynical women and bodies galore.  But the criminals just get on with it and the authors twist the plots, throwing in sex and violence for good measure.  These are noir stories, hardboiled detectives and even more hardboiled women


Wearing a low-cut dress or sweater - usually in tatters - and menaced by a group of muscular thugs or a single, scarred villain, the cliched cover girls of pulp fiction magazines stole the limelight from their rather more spirited sisters concealed within. From the pens of writing legends like Dashiell Hammett, Cornell Woolrich and Raymond Chandler, stories of the greatest grand dames of the pulp genre have been gathered together in this unique volume. Its pages are rich with female jewel thieves of a certain elegance, feisty reporters in pursuit of an exclusive, gun molls with gangster boyfriends, avenging angels, tough broads and out-and-out hoodlums. Tailor-made for pulp novices and hard-boiled fans with a soft spot for the masters, "Pulp Fiction: The Dames" shows that some writing has an edge that time just can't dull.

Preface - Otto Penzler
Introduction - Laura Lippman
Angel Face - Cornell Woolrich
Chosen to Die - Leslie T. White
A Pinch of Snuff - Eric Taylor
Killer in the Rain - Raymond Chandler
Sally the Sleuth - Adolphe Barreaux
A Shock for the Countess - C. S. Montanye
Snowbound - C. B. Yorke
The Girl Who Knew Too Much - Randolph Barr
The Corpse in the Crystal - D. B. McCandless
He Got What He Asked For - D. B. McCandless
Gangster's Brand - P. T. Luman
Dance Macabre - Robert Reeves
The Girl with the Silver Eyes - Dashiell Hammett
The Jane from Hell's Kitchen - Perry Paul
The Duchess Pulls a Fast One - Whitman Chambers
Mansion of Death - Roger Torrey
Concealed Weapon - Roger Torrey
The Devil's Bookkeeper - Carlos Martinez
Black Legion - Lars Anderson
Three Wise Men of Babylon - Richard Sale
The Adventure of the Voodoo Moon - Eugene Thomas
Brother Murder - T. T. Flynn
Kindly Omit Flowers - Stewart Sterling

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