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Black Mask 1: Doors in the Dark

Fiction: Mystery & Detective / Short Stories
Unabridged   7 hour(s)
Publication date: 09/01/2011

An Audies® Finalist
A Library Journal Best Audiobook Selection

Black Mask 1: Doors in the Dark

And Other Crime Fiction from the Legendary Magazine

Available from major retailers or BUY FROM AMAZON
Audio CD ISBN:9781611744583
Digital Download ISBN:9781611744590
2 Review(s)

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Customer Reviews

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  1. A Great Deck of Classic Pulp Stories from Black Mask Review by jazznoir

    Black Mask Stories 1: Doors in the Dark (Audio Edition) is a collection of selected pulp stories culled from the pages of the magazine during its' heyday.

    Skip the introduction. Its long winded banter about the history of the pulps, Black Mask magazine and the authors it published, had me wishing there was a booklet or liner notes to follow along. There's plenty of good information, but its hard to grasp it all in one sitting, and I was getting an earful. I'd recommend listening to the fast, terse narratives of the stories themselves.

    First up was "Come and Get It" by Erle Stanley Gardner, author of the beloved Perry Mason series. This tough, twisty tale featured Gardner's other popular character Ed Jekins, a con artist known as the Phantom Crook. Oliver Wyman's slow cowboy drawl rendition gave it a subtle subtext of how the hardboiled genre grew out of the earlier western pulps.

    Alan Sklar's grouchy growl was perfect for Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op serial, "Arson Plus." His deep baritone delivery was as straightforward as the story itself.

    My favorite narrator was Pete Larkin. He read George Harmon Coxe's, "Fall Guy" in an entertaining, flashy manner. It's been noted by other reviewers, but it bears repeating; "Black Mask, get Larkin to read more stories." His high spirited, jaunty voice sounded like a sports announcer giving a play-by-play of this femme fatale tale.

    Larkin's good-natured storytelling style continued on the next track, "Doors in the Dark," by Frederick Nebel. His differentiation of the vocals of the various characters made it easy to follow. His wisecracking motor-mouthed interpretation of ace reporter Kennedy is spot on, as is his gruff sounding Captain MacBride.

    The last cut featured an unpublished draft of Lester Dent's detective/sailor, Oscar Sail. "Luck," later known as "Sail," hooks you in right away. Jeff Gurner's by-the-book, tough-guy narration gave this suspenseful, fast-paced and very violent story quite a wallop.

    Overall, the audio anthology did its old-time magic. Now when visiting the secondhand bookstores and thrift shops, I have an informal reading list to help me find more authors associated with Black Mask magazine and other pulps. (Posted on 1/9/12)

  2. Pulp Crime from the Classic "Black Mask" Review by wdwilson3

    The audio book selection from “Black Mask Stories” presents five pulp fiction selections from the classic magazine of hardboiled crime. I found it an extremely mixed bag. I think the inclusion of the entire introduction on the audio book was a mistake. It’s lengthy (over half of the first CD) and refers to many selections that are not on the CD, which I found pointless. The first story, “Come and Get It” by Erle Stanley Gardner, didn’t impress me, either. Gardner’s writing never was to my liking, but withstanding that, this is the middle episode of a three-parter, therefore hard to follow at first. It also features a “crook with a heart of gold” type of character who was better done by others. In this instance, he offers smug self-congratulatory asides at every turn as he thwarts the crime boss “Icy Eyes”.

    I confess to being a Dashiell Hammett fan, so it’s little wonder that the second story, “Arson Plus,” written using the pseudonym Peter Collinson, was my favorite. It’s a Continental Op story, and I’ve read it before, but Alan Sklar’s reading was excellent, convincingly portraying the Op as he methodically pieces together the crime. An early Hammett work, it still is impressive in its spare language.

    “Fall Guy” by George Harmon Coxe follows, a Flashgun Casey story. The tough guy newspaper photographer and crime solver doesn’t seem particularly capable in this tale, but blunders into solving the case after many of the main characters are shot and killed. Coxe wrote better.

    “Doors in the Dark” by Frederick Nebel features a hardboiled police captain and his sidekick, an alcoholic wisecracking newspaperman. I’ve always thought that if it requires a long explanation of what went on and why at the end of the story there was something amiss in its telling, but maybe that’s a matter of taste. It was a fairly absorbing puzzle, well narrated by Pete Larkin.

    “Luck” by Lester Dent made me think of John MacDonald’s Travis McGee stories, not just because the protagonist is a hard-up detective/sailor. It’s a brawl from start to finish, and does strain the credulity that anyone could take as much punishment and be alive at the end. It was an OK story, and held my interest.

    Listening to these stories from the Twenties and Thirties was fun. I hope that more of the best Black Mask tales find their way to audio book in the future.
    (Posted on 10/22/11)

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