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The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original) Paperback – September 21, 2010


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The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original) + The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps + The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Let's put it straight, like a fist in the face: this treasure trove of more than 50 stories and novels offers the best value ever for fans of hard-boiled detective fiction. In the pulp magazine Black Mask (1920–1951), Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler made their bones, with Erle Stanley Gardner and other heavyweights at their heels. As Penzler (Agents of Treachery) notes in his intros to each selection, an amazing number of these writers moved on to movies and TV. Highlights include the complete The Maltese Falcon, the original version from the pulp, unreprinted for 80 years. (Hammett made a couple of thousand changes for the hardcover novel.) The novel Rainbow Diamonds, featuring Raoul Whitfield's Filipino detective Jo Gar, appears in a book for the first time. The iconic story "Sail" by Lester "Doc Savage" Dent shows up in a variant draft, preferred by the author. The only way Penzler can top this one--a bigger book of Black Mask!
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From Booklist

This isn’t the first anthology of Black Mask, the seminal and venerated mystery pulp magazine published 1920–51, but it certainly is the biggest. And anthology machine Penzler, whose crime-fiction bona fides are unquestioned, selects a superb list of stories. Some alumni went on to become household names, such as Erle Stanley Gardner, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and John D. MacDonald, while others are better known to aficionados, such as Fredric Brown, William Campbell Gault, Day Keene, and Cornell Woolrich. Still others will be known only to hard-core fans (anybody remember Norvell Page?). Notable entries include but are not limited to “Luck,” an early, unpublished draft of Lester Dent’s oft-anthologized “Sail”; the serial version of Hammett’s Maltese Falcon, which is different from the book; “Bracelets,” by Katherine Brocklebank, the only woman known to write for Black Mask; and Chandler’s “Try the Girl,” whose protagonist, Carmady, was renamed Marlowe after the success of The Big Sleep. New author biographies plus original artwork and introductions add to the fun. Any serious collection of pulp fiction needs this tome on the shelf. --Keir Graff
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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original
  • Paperback: 1136 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (September 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307455432
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307455437
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Otto Penzler is the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop (www.mysteriousbookshop.com) in New York City and is regarded as the world's foremost authority on crime, mystery and suspense fiction. He founded The Mysterious Press in 1975, which he later sold to Warner Books (1989). He reacquired the imprint in 2010 and it now publishes original books as an imprint at Grove/Atlantic, and both original works and classic crime fiction through MysteriousPress.com (www.mysteriouspress.com), in partnership with Open Road Integrated Media.

Penzler is a prolific editor, and has won two Edgar Awards, for Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection in 1977 and The Lineup in 2010. The Mystery Writers of America awarded him the prestigious Ellery Queen Award in 1994 and the Raven--the group's highest non-writing award--in 2003.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Manly Reading on August 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It took me about 6 months to read this book at one story a night, its so damn big. 1100+ pages of stories out of Black Mask Magazine from 1920-1950, with an introduction or two. As a newcomer to the crime genre, this worked as a pretty good introduction to how it was: I don't know I have become a avid reader of the field, but on the other hand, I have read a heck of a lot of it just by reading this book. In fact, just to test myself upon finishing the book I started again at the beginning, and it was like reading it all over again afresh, it had been so long. In theory you could read this book over and over, I suppose.

There are some classics here - The Maltese Falcon, for one. Its the best in the book, I think, but there is a lot of other memorable stuff too. All sorts of PI fiction is here - a locked room, a "supernatural" case, murders, robberies...you name it. Not all of it was to my taste, but I did enjoy a lot of it. I don't know what a genre enthusiast would get out of it, but as a newcomer it was an excellent start.

Lastly, I should say this is a big heavy book. Its not really feasible for reading on public transport - its not a Complete Calvin & Hobbes volume, but you'd have to be really really keen to successfully read this on a busy train, not to mention lugging it around all day in between.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Johnboy1 on July 23, 2011
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I read both of his books, and enjoyed each one immensely. I sure hope there will be others in this series. I wasn't even born when these stories were written, but thanks to Otto Penzler, I have had the opportunity to do just that. If you like murder mysteries as much as I do, don't pass these books up (Black Lizard Big Book Of Pulps and Black Lizard Big Book Of Black Mask Stories). Together, they afford a reader many hours of immeasurable enjoyment. Please, Mr. Penzler! Give us more!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Pard on December 31, 2011
Format: Paperback
I bought this on a lark and I'm so glad I did. There are a huge number of very famous crime authors who got their start with these stories and each story is better than the one before. Makes excellent casual reading, although some of the stories are full-length crime novels.

I love the old detective/crime stories and I'm a huge fan of the black and white 1930's and 1940's films, and this book is another way to get a crime fix; in fact, I'm going to buy the other collections too.

The printing in the paperback edition was done a bit on the cheap and like another reviewer said, the book is so big that it's hard to carry on the plane or elsewhere. But I can highly recommend it and the writing and stories are excellent if you like the tough-guy, hard-boiled, film noir crime and detective genre.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dan McFist on June 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I realized The Maltese Falcon was in this book, I felt ripped off because I'd already read it. After reading the serial version in this book, I wanted to kiss the editor's ring for including it. It is far superior to the novel version.

Also included is the superb William Campbell Gault story, The Bloody Bokhara. Gault's story draws the reader into the personal life of an immigrant Persian rug dealer's son, who himself is drawn into a world of crime and passion. It's about people instead of characters, people so real and vivid that you'll think you know them personally.

A pulp treasure trove!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By frequent buyer on December 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My husband and son love pulp. I got it for my husband and then for my cross-country son. Now all they talk about on the phone are the stories. They have another series of his, and he's the host of crime movies on TCM, which gives him special attention on our favorite channel. Mommy gets no credit for finding the book and I'm locked out of the conversation!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Meyers on October 16, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you love great pulp crime stories, this book is indispensable . It's worth the price of admission just have to complete version of the Maltese falcon by Dashiell Hammett. Buy it now!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ceecee on July 25, 2013
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This book with its collection of stories from Black Mask magazine is an absolute treasure. These stories from the so called pulps comprise examples of the best kind of story telling. Short and to the point they establish, plot and character quickly and economically and then wind through their twists and turns to a resolution within a very few pages. The writing is unrivalled in its descriptive nature using a wonderful economy of expression to achieve a maximum of impact. All of the stories are uniformly good although one has one's favourites. None of them are unreadable and the short introductory piece prefacing every tale tells us all we need to know about the author. Not surprisingly many of these writers also wrote scripts for Hollywood in its golden days and these authors penned almost every script for the wonderful film noir movies that featured the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Cagney, Edward G Robinson and many less famous but equally talented actors. This book and its companion piece are great buys and represent amazing value.
I loved them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dr. John T. Webb on April 11, 2014
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Mr. Penzler has indeed compiled an excellent collection of stories that seem for the most part to be ageless - they could have happened in our 'modern' era, and not a hundred years ago! Isn't it a miracle that many crimes and criminals have not evolved?
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The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original)
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