- Paperback: 200 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (January 1, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1494871394
- ISBN-13: 978-1494871390
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,751,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The New Adventures of Foster Fade, The Crime Spectacularist Paperback – January 1, 2014
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Now thanks to Pro Se Press's Pulp Obscura line, that all changes. The Lester Dent estate has allowed them to publish a collection of new stories with one of Dent's gadget heroes: Foster Fade, the Crime Spectacularist.
Foster Fade was the third of Dent's gadget heroes, published in early 1934 in Dell's All Detective Magazine, and collected in Altus Press's "Hell in Boxes" collection. See my review here on Amazon.
For those that missed that review, a quick overview. While Fade is a gadget hero, his shtick is different. While he is a private detective, he works for a newspaper called The Globe, which is a big selling "yellow journalism" paper. His beat is to find spectacular crimes and solve them, having them written up by his assistant Dinamenta "Din" Stevens, a platinum blonde writer for the paper. His gadgets (we are told the paper has two mechanics on salary creating them for him) are setup in his office and are items he carries and uses. If these are written up in the articles on him (as hinted) wouldn't that give away a lot of their value?
The original Fade stories are pretty much standard detective stories. What makes them interesting are the gadgets he uses and the deadly schemes used in the stories (not fully explained until the end). I felt this was a problem with the stories. The mysteries are not very mysterious once we find out what's going on: gun running to Latin American rebels, treasure from Chinese war lords, sunken treasure of smuggled diamonds. What makes the stories are the strange means of death: the Aroma Assassin, white-hot corpses, and dead-men with mysterious cuts on them.
As always when I approach a collection like this is how true to the character did the writers stay. If the stories are an improvement, I can accept that, and would actually see that as an improvement. But if the characters are out of character, that's an issue.
This first collection has 6 stories by 5 authors.
Adam Lance Garcia gives us a story of a serial killer who is bumping off criminals, then taunting Fade by mailing him the murder weapons. Can Fade figure out who is doing it before more are killed?
Derrick Ferguson gives us a tale of the Cider King who appears to have died naturally, tho Fade shows its murder. The case becomes more complicated when Fade finds out the Cider King was a former government assassin! Was he killed in revenge? Can Fade figure it out.
This story got the name of the paper's owner correct, but added some features that I don't recall in the original, like Fade having his own private laboratory and an apartment off his office.
H. David Blalock has Fade deal with Voodoo magic in a story that does a lot of name dropping. Will he succeed in stopping the next Voodoo victim? Will readers get all the allusions?
David White pits Fade against an opponent who is probably worth his while. He's figured out how to control vermin. Can Fade stop him?
Aubrey Stephens has a story of revenge that makes no sense. Someone has it in for Fade and is setting up bombs, but why? Can Fade figure out what is going on and who is against him before more die?
Garcia has a second story, which has Fade go after a killer who had killed a friend of his. The story was left a bit unresolved. Hopefully we'll see a conclusion. In layout this one was the most different from the originals.
Check out these attempts at new stories with Dent's minor gadget hero and see if they've done a good job. Will we see new Lynn Lash or Lee Nace stories next, or more Foster Fade?
You see, I had never heard of Foster Fade before. It turns out he is a Lester Dent (Doc Savage’s creator) creation.
Knowing absolutely zero about the character I went in and read the book from cover to cover. It was an interesting character in that he was so far removed from a Doc Savage type of hero as to be a polar opposite. The only thing they had in common is that both were brilliant men who designed and built devices years ahead of anyone else. Otherwise Fade was a thin, gangly type with an acerbic personality. I found him at times to be extremely annoying myself. But in other stories to be fairly interesting. Fade has a gorgeous female reporter who works with him chronicling his exploits for the newspaper they both work for. Her name is Dinamenta Stevens or as he refers to her ‘Din’. She travels with him to crime scenes where she takes pictures and he bounces theories off of her.
Most of the stories in this collection were excellent and could be very easily enjoyed, even if like me, you knew nothing about the character.
Fade is a criminologist employed by the newspaper so the police have a love/hate relationship with him. He has no friends really on either side of the law, which is kind of unique, because he’s not a vigilante. What he is, is a pompous ass at times who likes to overshadow the police with his brilliance.
But the police realize he’s the best at what he does and do begrudgingly work with him, most of the time because they have no choice one way or another.
In Dead man’s guns by Adam Lance Garcia, Fade is taunted by a delivery of guns to his office which turn out being murder weapons used sometimes only hours before.
The Cider King Murder by Derrick Ferguson is a tale of a man who had a hidden past that finally caught up to him.
The Voodoo death by Aubrey Stevens is about what appears to be voodoo murders in the city by an ancient evil spirit whose mere name is used to frighten children and adults alike.
The Pied Piper of Harlem by David White concerns two men who terrorize the city in a terrible and horrific manner. (My favorite of the book, BTW)
Grudge Match by H. David Blalock is the story of someone who feels Foster Fade outshined him in his work and now seeks revenge by implicating Fade himself in ongoing horrific crimes.
The Black Rock Conspiracy again by Adam Lance Garcia is about a train trip that turns decidedly deadly.
All in all a very enjoyable anthology. I liked it even though I knew nothing of this character at all. Give it a whirl, it’s a fun book.