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George Chance-The Green Ghost Volume 1 Paperback – March 21, 2014
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The contents of this typo-marred but atmospherically illustrated (by Zachary Brunner) slick volume are:
1. “The Phantom Elephant of the Coney Island” by Michael Panush: This action-packed story uses the sordid saga of the so-called Pleasure Parks in the early days of 20th Century New York as the backdrop as well as the driving force of the narrative. It’s macabre, violent, and not a good place to get introduced to George Chance who, despite using all sorts of violence, doesn’t solve the problem in this case. However, once you get through this story, it’s better if you forget about this persona, because the other stories are decidedly better.
2. “The Case of the Ectoplasmic Escapist” by Greg Hatcher: Brilliantly evocative of the Daniel Stashower series about Harry Houdini solving murders, this story is all about the world of illusions & betrayal. It also builds the character of both George Chance and the Green Ghost quite nicely.
3. “The Case of the Rocketeer Ripper” by B.C. Bell: Another superior story that allows Chance’s associates to occupy substantial space, while giving him scope to do the work of a proper detective, in the backdrop of wartime America, with red herrings thrown in for good measure.
4. “Murder in Sound Effects” by Erwin K. Roberts: Despite a nice beginning and a superior build-up, the ‘mystery’ wasn’t anything worthy of applying the Grey Matter, and the reason for murder turned out to be farcically inane.
Overall, I would follow the literary career of Greg Hatcher, read stuff written by B.C. Bell, may also read stuff written by Michael Panush and Erwin K. Roberts, but I think I’m done with Green Ghost and his activities.
George Chance, The Green Ghost was a pulp character created by GT Fleming Roberts. Chance, an ex circus performer and stage magician uses a Lon Chaney style makeup job to become the death faced crime fighter The Green Ghost. Chance is aided in his endeavor by girlfriend and assistant Merry White; former circus performer Tiny Tim Terry, a midget and Chance's best friend; houseguest and bodyguard Joe Harper; and Chance's double Glen Saunders. Saunders is always there to prove that George Chance could not possibly be The Green Ghost.
Unlike some pulp detectives, Chance has the full confidence and approval of Police Commissioner Edward Stanley and Doctor Robert Demerst, Chief Medical Examiner.
This book consists of four short novellas featuring The Green Ghost and his crew by four bright, up and coming pulp authors.
The Phantom Elephant of Coney Island by Michael Panush.
The derelict Pixie Park area of Coney Island has been purchased by local crime boss Lucky Leo Lorden. But the place is apparently haunted by the ghost of Titan an elephant electrocuted for the deaths of three men who were tormenting the beast.
When George Chance and crew investigate, the ghostly elephant attacks. Soon The Green Ghost discovers that nothing is what it seems. A deeper mystery lies behind it all.
What is the elephant's ghost? Who is the strange man and his trained tigers? What secret lies within an elephant shaped hotel on the property? And why does Lucky Leo Lorden want the place? For that matter, who is Lucky Leo?
Like a master painter, Mr. Panush adds layers of mystery and then reveals them slowly until the mystery is resolved. I give this tale five out of five stars!
The Case of the Exctoplasmic Escapist by Greg Hatcher
Barret Bourdain, an escape artist who was George Chance's mentor, dies horribly in a botched escape from a flaming box. The same night the warehouse of crime boss Raintree, who supplied illegal services during and after prohibition, burns to the ground. George Chance witnessed his friend's demise and now plans to put on a show at the Bourdain home, now a museum ran by Jim and Martha Abbot. Other performers who knew Bourdain will also be doing shows in the deceased escapist's honor.
But death stalks the museum. A young magician named Blake Anthony is murdered. When the Green Ghost investigates, he is shot in the arm by Jim Abbot as a prowler.
Who killed Anthony and why? Was Jim Abbot really shooting at a prowler or The Green Ghost? What is the secret of the dead escapist's favorite straightjacket? And is anything really what it seems?
As a pastry chef would layers of a cake, Greg Hatcher builds suspense and when the reveal is made it is definitely worth the read! I also give this story five out of five stars! Bravo!
The Case of the Rocketeer Ripper by BC Bell
George Chance goes to visit an old friend who is now a famous rocket scientist. Before he reaches the home of Doctor Judd Walters, the police inform him that his friend is dead. Judd Walters has been decapitated, and the lack of blood at the scene reveals that his body was dumped there.
The Green Ghost investigates, but each discovered deepens the mystery. Where and how was Walters beheaded? What caused a broken pane of glass in the scientist's wind tunnel? Who is to blame for a number of materials frauds going on in the area? And why is it significant that both Walter's boss, Stannard Reinhardt of Aerodyne Industries and Mayor Edmund MacAfee dye their hair?
Note by note the song of suspicion builds as Bell orchestrates a near perfect symphony of suspense! Yet another five out of five stars!
Murder in Sound Effects by Erwin K Roberts
George Chance is given an invitation to appear on the Who's In Town? radio show. When all the invited are on set, the show begins. Murray "Splat" Robbins, the sound effects man opens a small door to indicate the fiction front door has opened. When he goes to close the door, it won't shut. A man's hand, covered in gore, has fallen through the small door and into the studio.
The dead man proves to be Joseph Parkinson, and he has been knifed in the back. While investigating, The Green Ghost discovers a labyrinth of pipes and air vents crisscrossing the entire building and into several others including military property.
What is really happening at the Rockefeller Center with all the tunnels? Why is the Vinegar Hill district all connected subterraneanly? Why was Parkinson killed? And who is the mysterious men who drift through the ductwork? Could they be Nazi spies?
Deftly, Mr. Roberts builds his story as a man might build a ship in a bottle, waiting for the ideal moment to raise the masts and reveal a masterpiece! This makes another five out of five stars, and this book has gone four out of four! I highly recommend this book. And if you get the chance to read some classic Green Ghost Detective tales, I am certain you will enjoy those as well!
Quoth the Raven...
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crime-fighter from those thrilling pulp days of yesteryear.Read more