Black Mask 1: Doors in the Dark: And Other Crime Fiction from the Legendary Magazine

Black Mask 1: Doors in the Dark: And Other Crime Fiction from the Legendary Magazine

Audio CD(Unabridged)

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Black Mask 1: Doors in the Dark: And Other Crime Fiction from the Legendary Magazine 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
wdwilson3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The audio book selection from ¿Black Mask Stories¿ presents five pulp fiction selections from the classic magazine of hardboiled crime. I found it an extremely mixed bag. I think the inclusion of the entire introduction on the audio book was a mistake. It¿s lengthy (over half of the first CD) and refers to many selections that are not on the CD, which I found pointless. The first story, ¿Come and Get It¿ by Erle Stanley Gardner, didn¿t impress me, either. Gardner¿s writing never was to my liking, but withstanding that, this is the middle episode of a three-parter, therefore hard to follow at first. It also features a ¿crook with a heart of gold¿ type of character who was better done by others. In this instance, he offers smug self-congratulatory asides at every turn as he thwarts the crime boss ¿Icy Eyes¿.I confess to being a Dashiell Hammett fan, so it¿s little wonder that the second story, ¿Arson Plus,¿ written using the pseudonym Peter Collinson, was my favorite. It¿s a Continental Op story, and I¿ve read it before, but Alan Sklar¿s reading was excellent, convincingly portraying the Op as he methodically pieces together the crime. An early Hammett work, it still is impressive in its spare language.¿Fall Guy¿ by George Harmon Coxe follows, a Flashgun Casey story. The tough guy newspaper photographer and crime solver doesn¿t seem particularly capable in this tale, but blunders into solving the case after many of the main characters are shot and killed. Coxe wrote better.¿Doors in the Dark¿ by Frederick Nebel features a hardboiled police captain and his sidekick, an alcoholic wisecracking newspaperman. I¿ve always thought that if it requires a long explanation of what went on and why at the end of the story there was something amiss in its telling, but maybe that¿s a matter of taste. It was a fairly absorbing puzzle, well narrated by Pete Larkin.¿Luck¿ by Lester Dent made me think of John MacDonald¿s Travis McGee stories, not just because the protagonist is a hard-up detective/sailor. It¿s a brawl from start to finish, and does strain the credulity that anyone could take as much punishment and be alive at the end. It was an OK story, and held my interest. Listening to these stories from the Twenties and Thirties was fun. I hope that more of the best Black Mask tales find their way to audio book in the future.
charlottem on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought the introduction and background was very interesting. I have read a lot of the works from these authors but do not know much about the pulp magazines. I like anthologies for the variety and for quick reads. I listen to audio books in my car and partly judge them by whether I have to keep replaying parts of them when my interest wanders. This only happened with the story, Fall Guy.
RDHawk6886 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Solid listening. I am a noir fan, however, my wheelhouse tends to run from the 1940-1960s in terms of the stories that I liked best. To me, many of the selections tended to play like old time radio more so than what I would typically equate with ¿noir¿ fiction. I do enjoy old time radio, although, on a different level than noir fiction. Perhaps different than other reviewers, I actually found the history of the pulps and Black Mask to be possibly the most interesting part of the installment. I found the fact that it is difficult to trace the authorship of the stories and the ownership of the magazines to be fascinating. Not to mention, the strategies involved in establishing a market for the pulps. In terms of the stories, Hammett and Dent¿s stories were high points. Hammett¿s story was noticeably superior in terms of plotting, writing and execution. I agree that Dent¿s story was a precursor to Travis McGee and I liked it. Highbridge offers superior quality in terms of audiobooks. I must mention I was disappointed with the first couple of readers, but the voice quality improved with each story. I thought Jeff Garner, who read Dent¿s story, to be superior.
jazznoir on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Black Mask Stories 1: Doors in the Dark (Audio Edition) is a collection of selected pulp stories culled from the pages of the magazine during its' heyday. Skip the introduction. Its long winded banter about the history of the pulps, Black Mask magazine and the authors it published, had me wishing there was a booklet or liner notes to follow along. There's plenty of good information, but its hard to grasp it all in one sitting, and I was getting an earful. I'd recommend listening to the fast, terse narratives of the stories themselves. First up was "Come and Get It" by Erle Stanley Gardner, author of the beloved Perry Mason series. This tough, twisty tale featured Gardner's other popular character Ed Jekins, a con artist known as the Phantom Crook. Oliver Wyman's slow cowboy drawl rendition gave it a subtle subtext of how the hardboiled genre grew out of the earlier western pulps.Alan Sklar's grouchy growl was perfect for Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op serial, "Arson Plus." His deep baritone delivery was as straightforward as the story itself.My favorite narrator was Pete Larkin. He read George Harmon Coxe's, "Fall Guy" in an entertaining, flashy manner. It's been noted by other reviewers, but it bears repeating; "Black Mask, get Larkin to read more stories." His high spirited, jaunty voice sounded like a sports announcer giving a play-by-play of this femme fatale tale.Larkin's good-natured storytelling style continued on the next track, "Doors in the Dark," by Frederick Nebel. His differentiation of the vocals of the various characters made it easy to follow. His wisecracking motor-mouthed interpretation of ace reporter Kennedy is spot on, as is his gruff sounding Captain MacBride.The last cut featured an unpublished draft of Lester Dent's detective/sailor, Oscar Sail. "Luck," later known as "Sail," hooks you in right away. Jeff Gurner's by-the-book, tough-guy narration gave this suspenseful, fast-paced and very violent story quite a wallop.Overall, the audio anthology did its old-time magic. Now when visiting the secondhand bookstores and thrift shops, I have an informal reading list to help me find more authors associated with Black Mask magazine and other pulps.
jrr731 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great way to pass the time while driving. Enjoyed the history of the magazine at the beginning. The stories were a great representaion of the Pulp era. Looking forward to more.
prosfilaes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's not the master collection of hardboiled stories, but it's a decent collection in any case. It starts out with an overlong and dry introduction that was clearly meant for the print version this is a subset of. Arson Plus was slightly frustrating; it tossed out monetary amounts and drew conclusions from them, which is slightly frustrating for a modern listener who can't convert 1920s cash amounts in their head. The readers were generally good, except for the one for Luck, who left noticeable unintended breathing sounds in the recording.
aardvark2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a 6-disc audio collection of stories from the pulp fiction magazine "Black Mask". The stories were first published in the 1920's and 1930's and sound dated to the current-day ear, but they provide a fascinating look at what life was like in those years. I was only familiar with two of the authors, Erle Stanley Gardner and Dashiell Hammett (writing as Peter Collinson). The other four authors, Keith Alan Deutsch, George Harmon Coxe, Frederick Nebel, and Lester Dent, were unknown to me after many years of reading mystery and detective fiction. There is a lengthy history of Black Mask in the Introduction. I personally found this somewhat dull, but someone with an avid interest in the history might find it to be very informative. Each story is preceded by a brief introduction of the author, which I enjoyed. I found all of the readers of the stories to be entertaining.I found this collection to be interesting and enjoyable. To me, the main value of these stories was in looking back at how life was lived in those distant decades.
Dorritt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy classic pulp fiction, you could do worse than this anthology of tales from Black Mask magazine, the magazine that pretty much created and popularized the pulp mystery/noir genre. The first 1/8th of this anthology is devoted to an extensive introduction that provides history and context for the stories to come, which should intrigue fans as well as noobs to the genre. And the stories themselves as produced with loving care, featuring talented voice actors who do a uniformly competent job of making the characters and ambiance of the stories come to life. The first story, "Come and Get It," a fairly pedestrian story by Erle Stanley Gardner, known more widely for his Perry Mason stories. Of all the tales in this collection, it probably comes closest to the "soiled knight errant" noir model favored by Hammett and his ilk. It features a reformed con man, Ed Jenkins, who's trying to anticipate and foil a big heist on behalf of the high society flapper who he loves but knows he can never possess. "Arson Plus," by Dashiell Hammett (writing as Peter Collinson), is a breath of fresh air after the first tale - crisply written, unsentimental, and purposefully clever. Although you may figure out the denouement before the Continental Op does, you'll listen to the end anyway out of sheer admiration for the Hammett's craft. I found the third tale, "Fall Guy" by George Harmon, the hardest to get through. Perhaps because I already felt like I "knew" the protagonist, Flashgun Casey (aka Casey, Crime Photographer), from the many 1940s radio plays that featured the character in the story, I found this "beta" version of the character, a newspaper photographer who keeps getting entangled in the crimes he's covering, to be a disappointment - plodding, unimaginative, and mostly unsympathetic. The story, revolving around a blackmail plot, is fairly ordinary, the characters 2-dimensional, the plot unnecessarily complex, and the denoument formulaic."Doors in the Dark," by Frederick Nebel, features a police captain who refuses to believe that an acquaintance of his committed suicide, despite seemingly iron-clad evidence to the contrary. Some of the plotting is a little sloppy, but there is imagination here, and some decent writing."Luck," the final tale in the collection, requires the most work to get through. The setting is a marina, the protagonist an aging adventurer with complex and dubious morals, the plot a tale of gangsters and sunken treasure. The author, Lester Dent, spends the first 2/3rds of the novel dropping clues and relying on the reader to piece them together, which might not appeal to some folks but which I enjoyed. Unfortunately, however, Dent then hedges his bets by explaining pretty much everything, after which the tale becomes a procedural rather than a puzzle. According to the forward, Dent extensively reworked the tail before finally publishing it as "Sail" - would be nice to think he found a way to even out the inconsistencies in this uneven but promising tale.Wouldn't say that these are the best stories ever to appear in Black Mask magazine, but do believe they collectively represent the best and the worst of the pulp mystery/noir genre - the plots range from predictable to clever, the language ranges from pedestrian to brilliant ... but the voice is always uniquely edgy and American.
cameronl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent audio collection of short stories from the golden age of hard boiled detective fiction. Most notable was the fascinating history of the genre in the introduction. Each story was well read by some terrific voices. I could picture them sitting at an old fashion radio mic, wearing a trenchcoat, with a tooth pick stuck in the sides of their mouths as they read.
kellyslist on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed most the stories in this collection, although I did just skip through the last one, "Luck". That one just couldn't hold my attention. And the introduction was defniitely dry. It was fun listening to the tough guys work their way through to the truth. And the language of the time was interesting, too. "Do the Dutch" for suicide, "machine" used over and over for automobile, "instrument" for telephone. One note about the CDs - for some reason they wouldn't work in my car stereo, but would work on computer. I guess my 2002 car is too old for them?