HighBridge Audio

Skip to Main Content »

Category Navigation:

Search Site

Review Details

Black Mask 1: Doors in the Dark

Average Customer Rating:

Black Mask 1: Doors in the Dark

Product Rating:
Product Review (submitted on January 9, 2012):

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The last cut featured an unpublished draft of Lester Dent's detective/sailor, Oscar Sail.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.