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Adventure Stories

Authors represented include: Edward S. Aarons, James Axler, Jack Finney, Bill Granger, Michael Hartmann, Don Pendleton, Joseph Rosenberg, Dick Stivers, and Ed Wood.

The Hot and the Cool

Edwin Gilbert
New York: Popular Library, 1954.

The vibrant world of fifties jazz comes to life in this tale of the Wade Stuart Sextet, featuring Kip Nelson on piano. The group can be found playing nightly at the Music Box, a smoke-filled roadhouse just across the George Washington Bridge from New York City. In addition to Kip, there's Davey on bass, Eli on guitar, Buzz on alto sax, Red on drums, and Wade himself, the front man with the trumpet. Despite the fact that it's Wade's band, Kip is the emotional heart and soul of the group. He pushes them, drives them and holds them together with his dream of one day cutting their own record and achieving big-time recognition in the jazz world. When a gorgeous young vocalist named Andie is tossed into the mix, Kip fears that the lovely newcomer will destroy his combo's cohesiveness and the group's ability to explore new musical directions. But Andie's passionate intensity is intoxicating, and Kip finds himself drawn to her in a relationship that forces him to come to terms with the physical and emotional scars from his past.

The Venetian Blonde

A.S. Fleischman
Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett, 1963.

Meet Skelly, once the "smoothest talking, fastest dealing, honest dishonest card player in the business", but now reduced to the rumpled suit on his back and forty bucks in cash. Washed up as a card shark, Skelly is trying to stay one step ahead of the hired guns who are hot on his trail, and he drifts into sunny Venice, California. There he meets the beautiful but dangerous Maggie, an ex-dancer now operating as Evangeline Barlow, director of the Institute of Spirit Research. Desperate for some quick cash to pay off his gambling debts, Skelly agrees to join Maggie in an elaborate million dollar con game. Their plan is to convince a wealthy widow that her beloved dead nephew has returned from the grave, bilking her out of a cool half million in the process. Nothing proceeds according to plan however, and there are plenty of surprises in store for Skelly along the way, including the fact that the dead man isn't really dead at all, and psychic illusion cannot conceal the reality of cold-blooded murder.

Assignment: Budapest

Edward S. Aarons
Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett, 1957.

Fearless Sam Durell, code name "Cajun", is a seasoned veteran of the CIA's secret "K" section. Cool and calculating, Durell is frequently called on to fight his country's war of espionage in the far-flung corners of the globe. When his superiors present him with a difficult assignment, not even the heartfelt pleas of his devoted girlfriend can interfere with Sam's objective: "I do what has to be done. It's my job." His current mission: track down the infamous Bela Korvuth, former general in the Hungarian secret police and master of political assassination. Korvuth has secretly slipped into the United States disguised as a refugee, and is considered a major threat to national security. Korvuth is under orders from the Communist regime to eliminate Durell, and kill or kidnap an important Hungarian physicist who escaped to the United States shortly after the Russian invasion of Hungary. The trail to locate the physicist and elude Korvuth ultimately leads Durell to the bombed-out streets of Budapest, where he confronts his dangerous rival in a grim showdown set against a backdrop of traitors, terrorists and freedom fighters.

The Young Punks

Leo Margulies
New York: Pyramid, 1957.

According to the editor, the eleven short stories in this collection "were written to shock you," so it should come as no surprise that the characters are an extremely vicious and nasty bunch. They include adolescent killers, youthful gang members seeking revenge at all costs, and teenage drug addicts who live and die according to their own code of ethics. "Sinner's Alley" introduces young members of the Black Gang, toughest group of hoodlums in Los Angeles, who confront an undercover cop investigating a brutal case of rape and murder. Teenager Johnny Trachetti of "Runaway" knows trouble when he sees it, and takes to the streets when the cops question him about a homicide. Tough-talking Eddie Kelder, of "New Man in Town" is convinced there's not enough action in the small town of Williston until he's caught unaware in a violent trap set by members of the local gang. Despairing and desperate, these are The Young Punks who live in a world of violence, betrayal and fear as seen through the eyes of pulp masters including Frank Kane, Richard Prather, Hal Ellson, and Evan Hunter.