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Domino Lady-Volume One (Volume 1) Paperback – April 9, 2015
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The best part of writing a pulp story is adding to the history of the character and hopefully building on it. The Domino Lady only had six stories from the Age of Pulps compared to Doc Savage or the Shadow. There is just something about her though that is much greater than a slinky dress and a syringe full of sedative. As far as I'm concerned, she is the archetype of the "tough broad" brought to life by actresses like Barbara Stanwyck and Bette Davis. I'm very happy to join the list of caretakers who have added to her legend and hope to do more in the future.
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Pulp Fiction For A New Generation!
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That said, I found this collection of short stories immensely entertaining. Each author brought something different, a unique voice, to the character. Hatcher's tale is easily the most intellectual of the stories, and manages to embed his progressive 21st century mentality in a much earlier setting. He manages to capture the Domino Lady's sexiness without being overly salacious, and makes her acceptance of a character's homosexual relationship believable in an era in which such things were not as openly acknowledged. Her sharp mind is put to the task by a brilliant foe who seems to be one step ahead of her the entire story.
Gene Moyers' "The Domino Lady Rolls the Dice" is more of an action story, probably the closest to what I imagine the pulp novels were like. Yet Moyers understands that, in order for the Domino Lady to be believable, she cannot be superhuman. So while she is athletic and the story is much more of an action piece, she isn't besting men who are far bigger or stronger than her. Moyers' pacing and dialogue are right on the mark.
I struggled with the third piece, Madness & Murder by Tim Holter Bruckner, the most. In his post-story essay, Bruckner argues that Ellen Patrick could not have been the Domino Lady without a large support network behind her. Yet this very concept, as reasonable as it might be, is what bothered me. Too many people know her secret identity. Eventually, someone is going to spill the beans and ruin the whole thing. Plus, her allies just too conveniently show up at the right time and place.
Kevin Findley's final work is a fitting conclusion. Part gumshoe detective work, part action figure, part sex symbol, all the elements of the Domino Lady come together. However, her physical capabilities stretch the imagination a bit as she poses a physical challenge for a brutal mob henchman. The mafia setting doesn't quite work for me as one mob leader fears another a bit too much. But the tale is thrilling, and the Domino Lady's need for assistance works much better here as her allies have no clue as to her real identity, except perhaps for Col. Mayfield who seems to have guessed at it.
My quibbles aside, however, the book is quick and easy reading, and very enjoyable. I suspect I'll be looking for other Domino Lady titles in the future.