Book Review: Tough Guys and Dangerous Dames (1993) edited by Weinburg, Dziemianowicz, and Greenberg

This book represents the best book value I’ve gotten all year. The book weighs in at 605 pages. I paid $.33 for it at Hooked on Books. That amounts to 18 pages per penny, friends, and you won’t find dime detective fiction any cheaper.

The book collects a number of short stories from the 1930s and 1940s from the pulp detective fiction. The authors include Raymond Chandler, John D. MacDonald, Erle Stanley Gardner, Paul Cain, and Robert Leslie Bellem (as well as Robert Bloch, Fritz Lieber and others). The language? Oh, yeah:

I grabbed her gently, but firmly; pulled her close to me. “No look, Frenchis, I like you, see? Your glims are like stars. Your stems belong behind footlights.”


Unfortunately, as with any book of this size, the authors feel the need to include stories that wander into the fantastic, including two Depression-era Robin Hoodesque superheroes, some Scooby-Dooish pseudo-supernatural thrillers, and a midget detective. Crikey, if I wanted to re-read The Defective Detective, I would have, or I would have gotten its sequel (if I could find it for three-for-a-buck).

Still, the book mixes the stories up, so when you read about a special mad scientist murder method in one story, you can rinse your mind out with some mindless two-fisted, slug-of-scotch action in the next.

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