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The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps Paperback – Unabridged, November 6, 2007

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The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps + The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original) + The Big Book of Adventure Stories (Vintage Original)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1168 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (November 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307280489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307280480
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #196,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This impressive anthology of pulp-era crime stories from veteran editor and publisher Penzler reveals not only tales with surprising staying power but also some of high literary quality. To be sure, there are some selections sure to offend modern sensibilities and others whose extravagant prose now comes across as laughable or ludicrous. But aside from questions of quality and taste, these tales laid the foundation for most branches of the crime fiction genre as we know it today. Raymond Chandler's Red Wind is as effective now as it was when published in 1938. An unexpected treat is Faith, a previously unpublished Dashiell Hammett story. Multiple offerings from Erle Stanley Gardner, Hammett, Chandler and Cornell Woolrich add luster. Divided into three sections—the Crimefighters, the Villains, the Dames—with cogent intros by Penzler to each entry, this comprehensive volume allows the reader to revisit that exciting time when the pulp magazines flourished and writers pounded out fiction for a penny a word or less. (Nov.)
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From The New Yorker

In the mid-nineteen-twenties, under the editor Joseph (Cap) Shaw, the magazine Black Mask turned to stories favoring character and atmosphere over intricate puzzle-plotting. Led by Dashiell Hammett, the monthly’s roster of cynical, hardboiled innovators inaugurated a golden age of American crime fiction, spilling into the pages of Dime Detective, Gun Molls, Spicy Detective, and dozens of other inexpensive publications. This huge collection of stories (plus two novels originally serialized in the pulps) aims higher than previous greatest-hits anthologies: alongside expected names like Chandler and Cain, it offers the violent primitivism of Carroll John Daly, entertaining gimmickry from Erle Stanley Gardner, and moments of inspiration in otherwise rote work by lesser writers. Penzler’s scholarship and his eclectic enthusiasm have produced an anthology designed to satisfy established fans and newcomers alike.
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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A wonderful introduction into the best of American pulp fiction.
M. F. Gonzales
Every once in a while a book comes along that you just know is going to be great before you even read it.
Terry Sunday
I have this paperback, but as it is a very hefty book, wanted to get the kindle version to read.
Bob Grabowski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

189 of 191 people found the following review helpful By John W. Woolley on November 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a terrific collection of pulp stories, no question about that. But watch out! This volume consists of two other separately published volumes, bound together in one. If you already have "Pulp Fiction : The Crimefighters" and "Pulp Fiction : The Villains", you'll be sadly disappointed by this book! (And Amazon is doing their "Buy Them Together" thing with this book and one of its two component volumes. Bad Amazon! Bad!)
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72 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Mark Shanks VINE VOICE on November 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
This telephone-book sized anthology (clocking in at nearly 1200 pages!) lives up to its aspiration to be "The best crime stories from the pulps in their Golden Age". It is divided into sections "The Crimefighters", "The Villians", and "The Dames", with an appropriate introduction for each. Of course, the true masters are well represented: Raymond Chandler, Dashiel Hammett, Cornell Wollrich, Erle Stanley Gardner, James M. Cain et al. But there are plenty of lesser known authors to round things out. One oddity is "Sally the Sleuth", a comic-strip style from "Spicy Detective" - apparently created solely for the purpose of having most of her clothes ripped off. Obviously many of the best stories have been anthologized before, but can you believe there is a Hammett story that has never seen print? The only drawback is that this might be too much of a good thing -at just about three pounds, it's a real wrist-bender of a volume! There are minor illustrations scattered throughout, although I would have sacrificed a couple of stories for a selection of pulp covers. At this price, why would any pulp fan pass - go for it!
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Romine on December 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
Let's say you're somewhat interested in the crime pulps of the golden age. This is basically where you should start. Due to it's massive size, you also might just end here too. Which isn't a bad thing because there isn't a throwaway in the bunch. You have your classic authors and forgotten gems.

Probably the best anthology I've ever had the joy of reading. Required reading for any mystery fan.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Dedman on June 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
Editor Otto Penzler, Edgar-winning proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop and founder of Mysterious Press, has picked out fourteen fast-paced and tightly-written tales (mostly from Black Mask magazine) from 1928 to 1942: an era of diamond-studded gangsters and glittering gun molls, a time long before political correctness.

There are tough private eyes a-plenty, armloads of femmes fatales (a surprisingly large number of them redheads), honest "harness bulls" and corrupt cops, criminal lawyers as well as virtuous ones, even an heroic newspaper photographer.

There's a Raymond Chandler Philip Marlowe story, `Red Wind', which alone is worth the price of the book. On a night when the Santa Ana is blowing and "Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.", Chandler's world-weary knight-errant witnesses a murder in a bar, and finds himself trying to sort through the mess created by an over-ambitious blackmailer in a way that will spare the innocent.

It's a beautifully written short piece, not just for its dialogue and prose, but for its characterization, its wonderfully tight little plot, and Marlowe's personal code of honor.

Similar in tone, if less polished, is Erle Stanley Gardner's `Honest Money', the tale of a young attorney's first case. Ken Corning accepts the job of defending a woman arrested for bootlegging and attempted bribery. Almost instantly, he's visited by a cop from the liquor detail, then by the man who tells New York's mayor what to do.

Corning soon discovers what "the ring" is prepared to do to defend one of its own - and not in a courtroom. It's a cynical but oddly pleasing tale from the writer who'd later become famous as the creator of Perry Mason.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jason Harman on April 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first bought this book in paperback a few years ago, but gave it away because its sheer size made it difficult to carry to work on the subway.

I subsequently bought the electronic version of this book for $9.99 because it is so great. I returned it for a refund shortly afterward though because the e-book did not include a substantial portion of one of the longer stories, "The Third Murderer" by Carroll John Daly, in its entirety (it was a 70-80 page omission). I left a complaint with at the time that the book was not complete.

Fast forward to last week - I bought the e-version of this book again, because I enjoyed what I had read of it the first time and I figured that the e-version of the book had been fixed by now. However, the price offered here was double what I originally paid for it, $19.99!. Additionally, the e-book is priced to cost more than what is advertised for the paperback version of the book. Nuts!

After receiving the e-book a second time, I checked whether the publisher had included the complete version of "The Third Murderer". They haven't. Double Nuts! It is difficult to understand why such a substantial defect in the electronic version of this book has not been fixed in the approximate two years period between my initial and subsequent purchase of it.

Bottom line - DO NOT buy the e-version of this book. I am thinking seriously about asking for a refund or for an alternative e-book, even though the stories in this collection are totally great.
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More About the Author

Otto Penzler is the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop ( 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 (, 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.
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The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps
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