Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pulp in the paper: I review Day Keene in the Philadelphia Inquirer

My review of The Case of the Bearded Bride and Other Stories: Day Keene in the Detective Pulps, Vol. #4 (Ramble House) appears in today's Philadelphia Inquirer.

The book is a collection of stories that originally appeared in pulp magazines covering two periods in the prolific Keene's career: 1931-35 and 1942-1950. 

The first group, written under Keene's real name, Gunnard Hjerstedt (spellings of both names vary by source), shows affinities with the wisecracking, fast-talking detective tales that had become popular in the late 1920s, such as Frederick Nebel's long-running Kennedy and MacBride tales. The later stories, written as John Corbett, move in darker territory that may evoke Cornell Woolrich and David Goodis.

That facility in widely different styles will likely be the most fascinating aspect of the volume for crime readers in today's era of specialization: Keene could write anything for a market that demanded everything. He was an earlyish representative of a crime fiction tradition whose last examples include Donald Westlake and Lawrence Block.

That's one reason this review, though a bit out of my territory, was among the most fun I've written. A tip of the battered old fedora to the editor who asked me to write it.

Here, again, is the review, And here are the Keene entries at Gold Medal Corner and the Thrilling Detective Web Site. Not only did the man write everything, he wrote lots of it and for a long time.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

Wow, a comparison to Woolrich and Goodis? Those are tough guys to emulate well.

I always enjoy your PI pieces. Thanks for sharing.

September 09, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You're welcome, and thanks for the compliment.

I'm not sure it's a matter of emulation; Keene's career overlapped Goodis' and Woolrich's. In any case, what impressed me was Keene's ability to write light, frothy, wisecracking stories, and much darker ones as well, regardless of who may have been emulating whom. That's what pros did back then, I guess. (Though I liked the book's darker stories better.)

September 09, 2013  
Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

"Emulate" was poor word choice on my part. How 'bout "those are tough guys to garner comparisons to?" -- excuse the dangling preposition.

September 11, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

How about "... Woolrich and Goodis? The man moved in some fast company."?

September 11, 2013  

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