For years now I’ve been hearing about the adventure fiction of H. Bedford-Jones, a pulp historical writer famed as being one of those guys who wrote an astonishing amount of prose. Some people love him. Until now, though, everything I’ve read by the guy has been… competent, and I figured maybe that’s what you’d get out of a guy who mass produced his fiction — high competence but maybe not a great deal of characterization or sophisticated plotting, maybe a guy who recycles plots, or who doesn’t really revise much.
But after talking with Tom Roberts of Black Dog Books at Windy City, he reminded me again of that H. Bedford Jones book he’d given me a few years back, and I pulled it off the shelf — and man, does it start with a bang. It’s far and away the best thing by the writer I’ve ever read. Will it hold up as I get deeper into the book? I dunno. Are there other good stories by H. Bedford Jones? Maybe so. I wonder who’s done the digging through his immense catalog to discover which by him are the very best?
Any of you out there Bedford-Jones fans? I’d love to hear if there are other fine tales out there by him.
And here’s a link if you want to pick up a copy and read along with me.
On link days I usually point my visitors towards a whole slew of sites, but today I’m only sharing one, Paperback Warrior. I’ve just started poking around there and already I found it necessary to comment in two of the most recent posts, most recently, Fargo, and the post before THAT on a Harry Whittington title I haven’t tried but now want to. It looks like a site just chock full of info on cool old titles.
I’m a huge fan of Ben Haas, the guy behind the Fargo books, and have written about him at length previously. Here you can find how to get to the books, and here you can get my own ringing endorsement of the writer himself.
As long as I’m discussing ringing endorsements, let me AGAIN mention how fine that Howard Browne Paul Pine collection was from Haffner Press. Dang, but those were good mysteries in the Chandler style, and DANG, but that final complete novel in the collection is one fine book. They’re all really good, but the fourth one is a masterpiece. Highly, highly recommended not just for anyone who likes a good mystery, but for anyone who likes great storytelling. Get your copy, pronto!
I arrived in Chicago on Thursday, on the way visiting my cousin Lisa from my mom’s side and my Aunt Carol on my dad’s. It had been more than a quarter century since I’d seen Lisa, and three or four years since I’d seen Aunt Carol, so it was an immense pleasure to reconnect.
The drive to Windy City was a long one, but I amused myself by listening to what had been an impulse choice from the library, the audio book Rogue Heroes by Ben Macintyre. The history of Britain’s secret special forces outfit in WWII ended up being so gripping that once I arrived at the hotel I sat in the car for a few more minutes letting the chapter finish before I headed inside.
I met up with John O’Neill for supper. It was the first time in four or five years that we’d been in the same place, and it was a real pleasure to see him. We treated ourselves to a great sushi meal, then carried in a few dozen boxes to John’s booth in the dealer room. I looked around for my contact on the Dungeon Crawl Classics team, Deiter Zimmerman, and realized then it would have been clever of me to have gotten his phone number beforehand. Then I visited with John and I crashed in his room. I slept poorly and got up early for a little writing, a habit that continued throughout the convention. The sleeping poorly, I mean. Eventually I slept so badly I wasn’t up for much writing. Read More
I’ve finished the prose part of my Windy City recap now and just have to transfer the photos in from various electronic devices. I’ve received the preliminary pass of Tales From the Magician’s Skull issue 2 and am reviewing that, and I’m addressing some final changes in my novel. I’m also getting ready to paint the ceiling of our basement.
In other words, it’s a busy week!
I wanted to point all my visitors over to some nifty things I think they’ll find of interest…
I’m still working on a lengthy convention post about Windy City. I don’t honestly know how interested people are in reading convention reports, but I always figure that if you’re not there it’s interesting to see what they’re like. Let me know if I’m wrong.
Of all the treasures I picked up, the one that called to me first was Halo for Hire, which I picked up from Stephen Haffner of Haffner Press. As I mentioned last time, it collects all four novels featuring Paul Pine, along with a short story and a novella. I know there was some speculation about who the cover had been modeled off of the last time I mentioned the book, but that’s NOT Bruce Willis. That is, in fact, Trond Flagstad, the husband of the author Howard Browne’s daughter. He makes a pretty cool looking private eye, doesn’t he?
I like Browne’s writing so well that rather than starting with the book in the collection I haven’t read I just began at page one.
Like all Haffner Press books, it’s a beaut. The spine is lettered and so is the front of the hardback beneath the dust jacket, and the paper quality and binding is top notch. It’s not the kind of book you sit down with to read in one hand while you munch your sandwich. You want to settle into an easy chair for this one.
And if you like a good mystery and good writing, you really owe it to yourself to check it out. The fourth novel in the collection, The Taste of Ashes may actually out-Chandler Chandler. Same writing style, elegantly polished, without any Chandler plot issues or digressions. The others I’ve read are quite strong as well, but The Taste of Ashes is a bonafide masterpiece. It’s about time it got the deluxe treatment it deserved. Thanks, mighty Haffner!
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