Posse McMillan: More on Nisbet

Noted book and pulp collector Kevin Cook sent in a few thoughts on the recent death of Jim Nisbet:

I was saddened to hear of the death of Jim Nisbet at age 75.

Nisbet was a tremendously uneven author. I still have no idea whether he got better or worse as he got older, because Dennis McMillan advised me that his novels were published completely out of the order in which he wrote them.

Also, after I met him he allowed Dennis to send me copies of the novels (then) unpublished in the US. The one that I always thought was wildly funny was Ulysses’ Dog, Nisbet’s take on the PI novel. Nisbet never quite equaled the quirky humor of Charles Willeford, but then who else did?

Still, he could write humorously and also seriously as he did in his stone-cold masterpiece Dark Companion.

I did thank Nisbet for the recommendation he provided me at Noir Con to read Derek Raymond.

Posted in DMac, Lit | Tagged , , |

Rediscovered: The Latest “Doc Savage”

Brian Leno said he was going to read the new James Patterson “Doc Savage” novel — and he dood it:

A few days ago my mail carrier dropped off The Perfect Assassin, the new novel by the writing team of James Patterson and Brian Sitts. The cover proclaims: “A Doc Savage Thriller.”

It appears that Clark Savage, Jr., didn’t spend all his time fooling around with his crime fighting pals, but also raised a family. The Doc Savage this book concerns is the original Doc’s great-grandson, Dr. Brandt Savage.

I approached it with some trepidation. The same authors gave us a revamped Shadow about a year ago and that novel was pretty bad. So bad it now languishes somewhere in my basement, never to be opened again.

I didn’t think this book would be any better and to prepare myself I reread The Polar Treasure and The Thousand-Headed Man, just to get a little authentic pulp Savage back in my blood.

I figured it wouldn’t be as good as Lester Dent’s Doc, and it wasn’t — but it was far better than Patterson’s Shadow. 

It’s a fast-paced thriller and won’t take up too much of your day. The chapters are short and the writing isn’t exactly attention demanding. We’re not dealing with James Joyce here.

In a nutshell, the book relates the tribulations Brandt encounters as Kira Sunlight trains him to become the perfect assassin to assist her in her plans of ridding the world of some awful mean bad guys.

Kira is the great-granddaughter of arch fiend John Sunlight, who appeared in a couple of Doc pulps. Everything seems to fit, doesn’t it?

While I enjoyed the book it was really just the typical thriller that hits the bookstores these days, no weird elements, no lost cities, nothing that sparks the reader in a journey back to the days of pulp magazines.

Read it if you enjoy the James Rollins or Clive Cussler novels, but don’t expect to find Doc or any of the imaginative antics of the “Kenneth Robeson” writing crew.

While I know I should never say never, now I’m done with Patterson’s Doc Savage, should new adventures arise. I’ll stick to rereading the real Doc, and enjoy the antics of Ham and Monk and that ever resourceful porker Habeas Corpus.

Nostalgia. The older I get I realize just how important that is.

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Rediscovered: Derleth’s Last Book — Well, In His Lifetime

John D. Haefele — author of Lovecraft: The Great Tales, A Look Behind the Derleth Mythos, etc. — just popped up an article further investigating how many — or how few — copies may exist of the last of many, many titles published in August Derleth’s lifetime.

For all the book collectors out there.

As of this moment, Haefele calculates that out of the run a total of five copies signed by Derleth survive.

Of course, as an arch-collector he owns one — cover seen at the top, John Hancock below.

Posted in Lit, News | Tagged , , , |

Tour: Just Over Twenty Years Ago. . .

Our pal Mike Humbert sent a couple of images winging around the net, with the info line:

“Two pics from me taking the Dashiell Hammett tour for the first time, October 27, 2002.”

Twenty years ago and change. Image at top features Mike on the left and me on the right. We’re standing on the sidewalk in front of John’s Grill in the first block of Ellis Street.

Image below features the late great Bill Arney, in his short-lived mustache era, allowing the Hammett Tour that day to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the apartment in 891 Post where Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon.

Clews suggest Bill hadn’t been in the room all that long by that point. He’d barely begun scraping and uncovering the woodwork, as witnessed by the frame of the Murphy bed, revealing its original stain. Eventually the mirrored door part would get the later white paint pealed away, too. And other woodwork would emerge.

For those who care for such things, the stain in the photo would be the stain on the woodwork Hammett lived with for a couple of years. Authentic.

After over a decade in the apartment, Bill moved out and the guy who took over the rent paid a crew to polish the place up. Superficially, the restoration is very nice — surf over to check out a pic of Mike, me and Bill standing in front of the Murphy bed.

But the stain is the wrong stain.

Probably no one but me — well, maybe Mike, too — is bothered by the restoration, but I’d have preferred to see Bill’s meticulous work kept intact.

Posted in Frisco, Tour | Tagged , , , , |

Rediscovered: Mansfield

And Brian Leno wraps up today’s gallery of Ripperish autos, but you know, I bet he has lots more against the next time he notices an anniversary coming up:

Richard Mansfield was a well respected actor during the time of The Ripper, and one of his greatest roles was portraying both Jekyll and Hyde in a play based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous book.

He had the unfortunate timing to put on the play during the height of The Ripper murders.

The card shown with his autograph blurrily displays Mansfield turning into Hyde. So uncanny was this transformation that some theatre goers wrote to the London police, convinced that Mansfield was the killer then stalking the streets. 

Posted in Lit, News | Tagged , , , , |

Rediscovered: Warren

Brian Leno offers another auto in the rogue’s gallery of Jack the Ripper:

Charles Warren is not really a serious suspect for The Ripper, but in Stephen Knight’s very interesting Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution is presented as being an instigator in keeping the killer’s identity secret, for political reasons.

He was Metropolitan Police Commissioner during the Whitechapel murders and was obviously inept in his fruitless search for Jack.

He resigned on November 9, 1888, the day Mary Jane Kelly’s body was found. I doubt anybody was sorry to see him go. A good man, perhaps, but nabbing The Ripper was beyond his capabilities.

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Rediscovered: Miles

And more “suspects,” courtesy the curiosity cabinets of Brian Leno:

Frank Miles was an artist and shared a house with Oscar Wilde — at least they shared accommodations until they possibly got into a lover’s spat and Miles kicked Oscar out.

Miles loved to paint beautiful women, incorporating floral designs with their portraits. Lillie Langtry posed for the artist in his and Wilde’s house.

Not a serious Ripper suspect, Miles might have been a monster himself, supposedly enjoying intimacy with young girls under the age of consent.

The note reads “My dear friend, when will your ship come in, I mean your quarter be paid. I assure you I would not write this, if it were not important to me.”

Evidently someone owned Miles some money and wasn’t paying.

By the way, some nitwits also list Oscar Wilde as a potential Ripper suspect.

Posted in Lit, News | Tagged , , , , |

Rediscovered: Treves

Another Ripper suspect pool, per Brian Leno:

Dr. Frederick Treves has only been lightly considered as a potential Ripper suspect, and even one of his patients has come under investigation.

Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man.

Now, only a bonehead would ever consider either of these two as Rippers. Can you see Merrick shuffling around Whitechapel, and not drawing any attention?

Not so much.

Treves was portrayed by Anthony Hopkins in The Elephant Man.

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Rediscovered: Stephen

Brian Leno brings out some of the myriad suspects in the Ripper annals:

The book that really got my interest going with The Ripper was Michael Harrison’s Clarence, which stated James Kenneth Stephen and the Duke of Clarence were lovers. After this situation hit the skids Stephen supposedly began his bloody habits.

If you like your Ripper with a little poetry then Stephen is your man. Cousin to Virginia Wolfe — his small book of poetry, Lapsus Calami, shown here.

My copy is one of the initialed ones, a true treasure to me.

Thrown from a horse and striking his head, JKS was never quite the same afterwards.

He died in an asylum, in 1892. Where else would The Ripper die?

Posted in Lit, News | Tagged , , , , |

Rediscovered: Ripper

On These Mean Streets I’d think Brian Leno is best known in his role as a maniacal Autograph Hound, but his first appearance as a Guest Blogger back in 2011 featured a side hobby, dabbling in Ripperology.

Of course he has a run of signatures connected to the Jack the Ripper case, and thought to trot out a few to commemorate today’s 134th anniversary.

Here’s Brian:

I’m the early morning hours of November 9, 1888, Mary Jane Kelly unknowingly welcomed Jack the Ripper into her home in Miller’s Court, London.

The Ripper already had killed at least four women, and had butchered them savagely, but he hadn’t, so far, been given the time to really indulge his twisted fantasies upon their bodies.

Mary Jane Kelly would be the unfortunate one. She closed the door and, without realizing it, locked herself in with a killer whose ferocity surely slipped over into insanity as he now had all the time he needed to leave her body in complete ruin.

Her breasts were severed and her liver and kidneys were cut out and scattered in various positions on her bed. Her face was savagely attacked, and he was far from finished.

Anyone who wonders as to why The Ripper still fascinates (if that’s the right word) need only view the grim picture of Kelly as she was found by the police. 

What could have been lurking in his brain, spurring him to commit such atrocities?

Obviously we will never know, but it’s a question that has been pondered now for 134 years and there is no end in sight.

While no one knows The Ripper’s true identity — and don’t kid yourselves, no one ever will —there have been some pretty far out names brought forward, most notably in Mike Holgate’s Jack the Ripper: The Celebrity Suspects.

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