Lester, we hardly knew ye
Over on Davey Crockett's Almanac http://davycrockettsalmanack.blogspot.com/ writer Evan Lewis reviews the Lester Dent novel Dead At The Take-Off, which I immediately ordered on Abe.
Dent's always fascinated me. He wrote something like eighty Doc Savage novels and maybe forty Avenger novels plus numerous other pulp stories all the while wanting to be taken more seriously by his peers. He seemed to be on his way with his story Anglefish, which is still frequently reprinted. That was his Black Mask story and he was convinced that editor Joseph "Cap" Shaw was going to teach him how to be a better writer. Then Shaw left Black Mask and Dent's dreams went with him.
I didn't pay much attention to Dent's crime novels until Hardcase published Honey In His Mouth, a book you really have to read. As I mentioned to Charles Ardai "This is the damnedest book I've ever read."And I'm not exaggerating. The protagonist is the worst person in the book, a sociopathic con man who is presented with cunning and real wit. But the book is filled with sociopathic con artists. And the plot, so wild it threatens to careen out of control every few chapters, is resolved with breathtaking skill. Dent was a real writer, a sly, very modern, very intelligent wordsmith.
I always picture him working nights in that little telegraph office in small town Missouri back before he got invited by Street and Smith to come to NYC. Reading all those pulps and knowing he could do a lot better.
BTW I'm sure pulp experts will correct some of my half-facts here.