SPIES AND MORE SPIES, Edited by Robert Arthur

Spies and More Spies, edited by Robert Arthur (Random House, 1967)

spy story collections pulp

Original hardcover edition.

Once more I delves back into the books of my youth with Spies and More Spies, another anthology for young adults by Robert Arthur. Now if I just had my Man From UNCLE  briefcase with the radio that turned into a rifle. I wasn’t lucky enough to get the James Bond attaché case. At least mine had the hidden camera built into it.

There are 12 stories in this selection. Arthur did select quite a few literary gems. The Saul Lambert illustrations are economical and to the point. I wonder how many kids thrilled over this collection when they took it home from the school library.

My own favourite is “The Future of the Service” by Michael Gilbert. A spy has been detected with information detrimental to the future of an unnamed nation (I assume Britain). An assassin is dispatched to take out the spy before he can make contact with his handler. But the spy is killed by someone else not connected withy the service. Why?

Robert Arthur reprints his own story, “The Adventure of the Four Quarters” from the earlier Alfred Hitchcock’s Solve-Them-Yourself Mysteries (1963). Two teenagers are kidnapped by a pair of foreign agents because their father holds the secret to an atomic formula. They are allowed one message to him to prove they are safe. The pair is able to send their father coded information and they are rescued.

There’s also a Dr. Gideon Fell story by John Dickson Carr. Called “The Proverbial Murder”, Fell is brought in to solve a murder which implicates a spy. Naturally, his extensive library of knowledge comes to play. It’s nice to see a mystery icon included in this book.

Spies and More Spies is an interesting variation for a Robert Arthur short story collection. Unlike Thrillers and More Thrillers, there are no supernatural stories. Nor does the volume come with an introduction. But it’s still a fun read on a rainy afternoon


Karl Edward Wagner’s “Best Horror Novels” Lists: Common Themes

Year Published
pulp kew list Hell! Said the Duchesspulp kew list
MIchael Arlen1934Supernatural HorrorBlack Magic
pulp kew list The Burning Courtpulp kew list
John Dickson Carr1937Supernatural HorrorBlack Magic
pulp kew list Alraune (Frank Braun Trilogy) (Volume 2)pulp kew list
Hanns Heinz Ewers1911Supernatural HorrorMedical Experiments Gone Too Far
pulp kew list Dark Sanctuarypulp kew list
H.B. Gregory1940Supernatural HorrorBlack Magic
pulp kew list Falling Angel: A Novelpulp kew list
William Hjortsberg1978Supernatural HorrorBlack Magic
pulp kew list Maker of Shadowspulp kew list
Jack Mann1939Supernatural HorrorAncient Sorceries
pulp kew list The Yellow Mistletoepulp kew list
Walter S. Masterman1930Supernatural HorrorLost Civilizations
pulp kew list Melmoth the Wanderer (Penguin Classics)pulp kew list
Charles Robert Maturin1820Supernatural HorrorCurse of Immortality
pulp kew list Burn Witch Burn!pulp kew list
Abraham Merritt 1933Supernatural HorrorBlack Magic
pulp kew list Fingers of Fearpulp kew list
J. U. Nicolson1937Supernatural HorrorSinister Family Secrets
pulp kew list Doctors Wear Scarletpulp kew list
Simon Raven1960Supernatural HorrorAcademic Terror
pulp kew list Echo of a Cursepulp kew list
R. R. Ryan1939Supernatural HorrorSinister Family Secrets
pulp kew list Medusapulp kew list
E. H. Visiak1929Supernatural HorrorJourney To The Unknown
pulp kew list The Deadly Percheronpulp kew list
John Franklin Bardin1946Non-Supernatural HorrorPsychological Manipulation
pulp kew list Psycho: A Novelpulp kew list
Robert Bloch1959Non-Supernatural HorrorPsychological Terror
pulp kew list Here Comes a Candlepulp kew list
Frederic Brown1950Non-Supernatural HorrorPsychological Terror
pulp kew list The Screaming Mimipulp kew list
Frederic Brown1949Non-Supernatural HorrorPsychological Terror
THE FIRE-SPIRITS: A ROMANCE ... Translated from the German by J. Eglington.pulp kew list
Paul Busson1929Non-Supernatural HorrorPsychological Manipulation
pulp kew list The Crooked Hingepulp kew list
John Dickson Carr1938Non-Supernatural HorrorSinister Family Secrets
pulp kew list The Sorcerer's Apprenticepulp kew list
Hanns Heinz Ewers1910Non-Supernatural HorrorPsychological Manipulation
Vampire,pulp kew list
Hanns Heinz Ewers1921Non-Supernatural HorrorJourney To The Unknown
pulp kew list Fully Dressed and in His Right Mindpulp kew list
Michael Fessier1935Non-Supernatural HorrorPsychological Terror
pulp kew list The Shadow on the Housepulp kew list
Mark Hansom1939Non-Supernatural HorrorPsychological Terror
pulp kew list The Torture Gardenpulp kew list
Octave Mirabeau1899Non-Supernatural HorrorJourney To The Unknown
pulp kew list Master of the Day of Judgementpulp kew list
Leo Perutz1921Non-Supernatural HorrorPsychological Terror
pulp kew list The Subjugated Beastpulp kew list
R. R. Ryan1938Non-Supernatural HorrorPsychological Manipulation
pulp kew list The Death Guard (Roc)pulp kew list
Philip George Chadwick1939Science Fiction HorrorFutility Of War
pulp kew list Final Blackoutpulp kew list
L. Ron Hubbard1940Science Fiction HorrorFutility Of War
pulp kew list VAMPIRES OVERHEADpulp kew list
Alan Hyder1935Science Fiction HorrorAlien Invasion
pulp kew list The Quatermass experimentpulp kew list
Nigel Kneale1953Science Fiction HorrorAlien Invasion
pulp kew list Quatermass and the Pitpulp kew list
Nigel Kneale1958Science Fiction HorrorAlien Invasion
pulp kew list The Cadaver of Gideon Wyckpulp kew list
Alexander Laing1934Science Fiction HorrorMedical Experiments Gone Too Far
pulp kew list The Flying Beastpulp kew list
Walter S. Masterman1932Science Fiction HorrorLost Civilizations
pulp kew list The Black Corridorpulp kew list
Michael Moorcock1969Science Fiction HorrorPsychological Terror
pulp kew list Land under Englandpulp kew list
Joseph O’Neil1935Science Fiction HorrorMind Control
pulp kew list The Cross of Carl. An Allegorypulp kew list
Walter Owen1931Science Fiction HorrorFutility Of War
pulp kew list Freak Museumpulp kew list
R. R. Ryan1938Science Fiction HorrorMedical Experiments Gone Too Far
pulp kew list Frankensteinpulp kew list
Mary Shelly1818Science Fiction HorrorMedical Experiments Gone Too Far
pulp kew list The Day of the Triffids (20th Century Rediscoveries)pulp kew list
John Wyndham1951Science Fiction HorrorScience Gone Too Far

Every since finishing the lists of Karl Edward Wagner’s best horror novels, I’ve been itching to go through it and find some common themes. Fortunately, I’ve put together a table of all the novels  of the lists, which you can view at the top. Since the publication of KEW’s lists in the old Twilight Zone magazine in 1983, many of these novels have come back into print. As a matter of fact,you can purchase them all, with two notable exceptions. Clicking on the title or the cover of the novel in this chart takes you to the Amazon affiliate account. Only Vampire by Hans Ewers and The Fire Spirits by Paul Busson are not to be found on Amazon (I was forced to use inter-library loan to get my reading copies).

There are three novels under the science fiction horror category which have “Medical Experiments Gone To Far” as their theme. This is not too surprising since KEW was trained as a psychiatrist, but left medical school over his disgust at the way the patients were being treated. And it is not surprising that Psychological manipulation and terror show up in nine other books. The use and misuse of the psychiatric profession was an issue close to him. It pops up in one of KEW’s Kane novels, Dark Crusade. The Land Under England has Mind Control as a theme throughout the book which fits neatly into this area.

Black Magic is another theme to be found in the novels on KEW’s lists. It’s also a common theme in the Kane novels and stories. So it’s not surprising to find this in the list of books. KEW always considered his Kane novels as horror fiction.

My choice of themes for the novels on the list is open for argument. I sifted through common ideas I found in these books and tried to label them. Someone else might have another concept.Recently, a writer suggested KEW deliberately included books that would be very difficult for anyone to locate. It did take me 30 years to finish reading the novels on these lists.

A link to all my reviews of the novels on the lists can be found in this article.

Another Bookstore Closing

book stores

Books 4 Gone

Books 4 Less bookstore at the Upland Square shopping center has closed. It’s last day of operation was 7/27/14, My birthday oddly enough. I don’t know when the place opened, but i recall it being one of the first stores in the Upland Square when that opened about 6 years ago. Located on Route 100, just NE of Pottstown, PA, the Upland Square was one of the most recent shopping districts constructed.

I didn’t spend too much time in Books 4 Less after it opened. I did interview for a job there when it was first scheduled to open and met the owner, who seemed to be a nice southern gentleman. I first heard about Boarders’ problems from him.I didn’t get the job.

When it first opened, Books 4 Less seemed like a cozy little place. It was always stocked with used books, since the “buy-back” policy was their business model. But over the years the place seemed less warm. Every time I walked into the store it was stacked full of sacks of books waiting to be valued. The one time I did inquire about selling a book, I was told I’d half to wait at least a week. This was different from the used record stores of my past where the steely-eyed clerks could value an album just by glancing at it.

The one section I always checked out was the vintage paperback shelf. I added to my spy novel collection from what I could find there. And not just espionage novels; the section was 70’s and 60’s paperback gold. Some of the paperbacks still had those annoying cigarette ads in the middle. I never made a startling find at Books 4 Less- no sudden discoveries of Nigel Kneale books, such as the time I was down on The Mainline.

As impersonal the place was, I’m still sorry to see Books 4 Less go. Every time a bookstore closes, another angel cries.


Kim Oh #5: Real Dangerous Fun by K. W. Jeter (Editions Herodiade, 2014)

thriller novels pulp kim oh

K. W. Jeter’s femme fatale is back again for another round in Kim Oh #5: Real Dangerous Fun. In a just world, we’d all be running to the paperback rack every other month to read about the adventures of Kim Oh, the petite Korean-American gun for hire. But in Universe A, we’re forced to wait years for another Kim Oh book.

At the start of Dangerous Fun, Kim is still recuperating from her last adventure, spelled out in Real Dangerous Place. One of her gunslinger buddies, Elton, is still recuperating in the hospital. Kim is running dangerously low on funds when she gets a call for a job.

By now, you’d think any prospective employer would have second thoughts about hiring Kim. Her previous employers have all met with gruesome ends. The last one was very dramatic, involving a helicopter and a building. All of her former employers have been arrogant rich bastards, so it was a little hard to feel much sympathy for any of them. Still, if I needed to hire Kim, I’d do it through someone else. No reason to tempt the fates.

Kim is hired as a bodyguard for a rich girl. The girl in question is going on a spring break vacation to the exclusive South American country of Meridién. The girl’s father is concerned his little investment might run into some unsavory characters, so he hires Kim as the protection. But, as always in a Kim Oh novel, the job isn’t all that it appears to be.

To complicate matters, Kim is forced to take her handicapped brother Danny along for the trip.Danny isn’t too much of a problem,so long as he has his laptop computer on hand to play NASCAR. But Danny hooks up with a college girl named Mavis on the way down. Mavis, it turns out, isn’t heading south to party,but to study the mating rituals of the upper classes.

Soon after checking into the hotel, Kim goes to check on Lynndie, the girl’s she’s been hired to protect. Once inside the suite of rooms,Kim is dealt a pistol whip from a thug, sending her to never-never land. When she wakes,Lynndie is gone and the suite is filled with signs of a struggle.Now Kim has to find out who kidnapped her client’s daughter and why. To describe more of the plot would spoil it for the reader.

The novel is short, my kindle edition runs 158 pages. But it’s detailed and nothing important is left out. As in the last 4 Kim Oh novels, it’s told from Kim’s point-of-view. So the reader is treated to Kim’s wise-cracking comments on the world around her. Such  as this observation on why blondes want you to think they’re dumb:

“Trust me on this one. I learned this through experience, not out of some book. They’re not as dumb as they want you to think they are. Some of them, in fact, are downright evil. They’re smiling away and acting all air-headed and stuff, and meanwhile, if you listen really carefully, you can hear the little gears inside their skulls, turning and meshing while they’re putting together some scheme. Come on, it stands to reason – naturally they’re going to want you to think they’re poodles, not human Rottweilers. It’s camouflage. And while they’re working on becoming the next Master of the Universe, everybody else is falling for that cliché Dragon Lady line about Asian girls, that we’re all inscrutable and stuff, when really most of us are just trying to qualify for a business loan to buy a convenience store in Compton. But it’s all karma in the end – it’s the people who fall for all these stereotypes who wind up getting hosed, losing half their net worth in the divorce settlement. Don’t let it happen to you.”

The book isn’t without its faults. There’s a situation where Kim leaves her guns unchecked in a bad situation. This moves the plot along and figures into the resolution of it, but you’d think a real professional would be more careful.

I’m still eagerly waiting for the next novel in the series.


The Assassin And The King (1968)

Here’s another little obscurity from Italy, The Assassin And The King. Kerwin Matthews plays a government agent from the US who’s trying to protect a monarch from the middle east on tour in Europe. The US wants to work out an oil deal with him, but foreign agents have other ideas. Not a bad little film, just wish there was a better source print.

There’s plenty of action as Matthews tries to stop a paid killer from knocking off the king. Said killer has a way of leaving candy wrappers as a calling card, which is the reason this movie is also known as The Killer Likes Candy. Muscleman Gordon Mitchell is also in this film.

Kerwin Matthews was never a big Hollywood star, although he did appear in a number of films. Most of us remember him from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. He was stuck in the later 60’s and 70’s playing in drive-in flicks such as The Boy Who Cried Werewolf.

Spy Pit (1967)

Here’s a fun take on the usual Super Spy movie: have the hero be something other than the usual square-jawed Anglo. And it works. Roger Hanin Plays “Saint-Dominique” who travels all over the world trying to uncover a sinister plot to Destroy Civilization As We Know It. And it has Margaret Lee as a love interest.! Also known as Berlin Apocalypse.