Pop Culture Gadabout
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
      ( 4/17/2012 06:16:00 PM ) Bill S.  

“THE WORD THAT SUMMED HER UP WAS LUSH.” As a storyteller, Robert Silverberg is primarily recognized for science-fiction (Nightwings, The World Inside, the Majipoor novels, many more), but like most hard-working free-lancers, the writer went through a period when the publishing options in his favored genre were slim. At the end of the fifties, when a distribution crisis put a lot of s-f mags on the verge of extinction, young Silverberg aimed his pen at other writers’ markets under a variety of pseudonyms -- soft-core erotica, historicals and crime fiction, primarily -- that kept him busy until the s-f market re-emerged. Among these was a hard-boiled pulpish novel about a government agent pursuing counterfeiters in Philadelphia. Initially appearing in the November 1962 issue of a crime mag entitled, Trapped, Blood on the Mink is receiving its first book publication fifty years later as a part of the Hard Case Crime series.

Those who know Silverberg from such elaborate science-fantasy constructions as Lord Valentine’s Castle may be taken aback by the young journeyman’s work here: Mink is leanly written pulp closer to the series character fiction of writers like Lester Dent -- with more than a trace of Mickey Spillane tossed into the mix. Silverberg’s hero, who we only know as “Nick” (in homage to Nick Carter, perhaps?) is a hard-bitten undercover man who specializes in convincingly impersonating thugs and infiltrating gangs. In Phillie, he pretends to be a West Coast gangster named Vic Lowney to strike up with a deal with the “Mr. Right of the queer-pushers,” counterfeiter Henry Klaus.

Klaus is holding a Hungarian refugee named Szekely for his counterfeiting skills, while Szekely’s strong-willed daughter looks to our hero to rescue her papa from the gangster’s clutches. Complicating matters are Klaus’ shapely moll Carol, who cozies up to “Vic/Nick” so he will help take down her crime boss lover -- along with some competitors looking to horn in on the lucrative counterfeiting racket. Our hero struggles to keep his false identity intact amidst multiple double-crosses and gunfights -- and, yes, somebody’s mink does get bloody. Story highlight is a shoot-out on the empty late night streets in the City of Brotherly Love.

To fill out the slim pulp-sized novel, the paperback appends two crime short stories from the same era, also featuring gangsters and counterfeiters. The first, “Dangerous Doll,” is a somewhat stolid yarn with a dull-witted protagonist and a flatly executed twist, though the second, “One Night of Violence,” proves crisper. The story of a traveling salesman who inadvertently gets caught between two feuding Chicago mobsters in the wilds of Wisconsin, “One Night” captures our innocent hero’s predicament convincingly and suspensefully.

Silverberg’s fictions hold up as period genre work, though I suspect most of his fans will consider this reissue an unnecessary distraction from the stuff that matters: namely, the s-f work that he began writing after this economically driven detour into other genres. Crime fic aficionados should get a kick out of Mink, though: another diverting piece of pulp archeology from the gang at Hard Case Crime.

(First published on Blogcritics.)


# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:

A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page

Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine


Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery


Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett


Michael's Movie Palace

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag


News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

Peter David

Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Marc Bernardin

Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby


The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter

A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.

My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Roy Edroso


Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman


Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends

Blogcritics: news and reviews
Site Feed

Powered by Blogger

    follow me on Twitter