‘A (Black) Gat in the Hand’ is back!!!!

Powell_OClockPoster2For the third summer in a row, A (Black) Gat in the Hand has taken over my Monday morning slot at BlackGate.com.  Today marked the 52nd post in the series. June is all about movies and television shows, with radio shows on tap next month, leaving stories and authors for July.

So far this month, I’ve looked at Dick Powell’s noirish Johnny O’Clock, Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson in Bullets or Ballots (one of my favorites), and today, Powers Boothe’s Philip Marlowe, Private Eye. That was HBO’s first original series back in the day.

Each post has links to every prior post in the series, so keep checking in for a new entry every Monday, and roam around and see what some friends and I have had to day.



Cry Wolfe – Writing a lot over at Black Gate

Wolfe_PictureI haven’t posted here on my site in quite a few months. However, I have been writing a lot in 2020. I have not missed one post in my Monday morning slot over at BlackGate.com this year. And I’ve even put up a couple bonus posts. At about 1,000 words a post, we’ll just say 25,000 words there.

And, starting with a chance post at The Wolfe Pack’s FB group page, I almost became an old-school pulp writer. Sort of. I live in Columbus, OH, and Ohio was one of the first states to respond to the not-yet-Pandemic. Stay at Home started here in Ohio early, and one day, I wrote up a short scene of Archie Goodwin complaining to Nero Wolfe about having to shelter in place. Then, a couple days later, when Ohio called off Voting Day, I wrote another scene with the same happening in New York; Wolfe always votes.

And that gave me the idea to do a series of ‘excerpts’ from Archie’s notebooks, as he deals with being in lock down with Wolfe. Which wouldn’t be easy! And I posted every day for 43 consecutive days, covering 41,580 words. It’s the most concentrated writing I’ve ever done.

I finally ran out of ideas and was straining at coming up with almost a thousand words every day, while working a temp job all day (I was not at home during stay at home), and took a day off. I did write a post each of the next two days, but I’ve only done four posts in the past fourteen. It’s on an intermittent break.

My other Wolfe writings have all been set between the thirties and the sixties. I like vintage Wolfe. But, due to the nature of the series, these are set today. But I didn’t incorporate very much modern day technology, and I think it’s got the classic feel. That’s what I like to read, so that’s what I tried to write. And I think I have Archie’s voice, along with Wolfe, Cramer, and the others, down fairly well.

I have bundled up the first thirteen posts into five essays over at Black Gate. If you are  fan of Rex Stout’s gargantuan detective, check them out. Here’s the most recent, with links to the earlier ones at the bottom of the post.

As soon as I slowed down on the daily Notebooks posts, I started fooling around with a story, set back in the forties, with Groucho and Chico Marx coming to Wolfe’s office about a body found at The Big Store. I’m winging it, and it’s mostly just excuses to write some Groucho bits. But it’s fun. That’s also at The Wolfe Pack FB Group page.

Heck – I’ve written a novel’s worth of words this year. Maybe I should actually write a novel!





Free Sherlock Holmes Story at BlackGate.com!

The Jarvis Pendragon Files: ‘The Adventure of the Speckled Band’ is up for my Monday morning column over at Black Gate.com. Sherlock Holmes receives a letter from the world’s first Detective Consulant, containing a critique of Holmes’ work at Stoke Moran.

Holmes has not heard the last of  Jarvis Pendragon, unfortunately. Click on over and read a very short Holmes pastiche.

Black Gate – Hard Boiled Holmes

Chandler_SimpleArtMurder.jpgI’ve been blogging over at World Fantasy Award-winning website BlackGate.com, since March of 2014. My mystery column, The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes (a tip of the deerstalker to Vincent Starrett there), ran every Monday morning for three years.

I still toss in a mystery post here and there. I founded Modular, an RPG column written periodically by various Black Gaters, and have contributed quite a few gaming posts.

I’ve organized two major Robert E. Howard-centric series, with rosters of all star guest posters: Discovering Robert E. Howard, and Hither Came Conan. I even managed to win a 2018 Robert E. Howard Foundation Award for my Black Gate contributions.

And with some more help from my friends, I’ve managed two rounds of a hardboiled/pulp column: A (Black) Gat in the Hand. And that’s a tip of the fedora to Raymond Chandler.

I think I’ve written some pretty good stuff – I hope my short stories can become as good as my nonfiction is! But one essay I’m pretty pleased with, is Hard Boiled Holmes.

Originally written for Sherlock Magazine (I was a columnist for that print mag), I trace the elements of classic hardboiled, back to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s enduring detective. It might sound like a stretch, but I think I do a pretty credible job of making my point. Click on over and see.

I’ve written so many posts at Black Gate, I’m going to be sharing them weekly here on my own blog. Stay tuned!

‘A (Black) Gat in the Hand’ is Back for Round Two!

Murray_SpiderEvery Monday morning last year, from May 14th through December 31st, with some help from my friends, we had a hardboiled/pulp column at BlackGate.com. We covered a wide range of topics, with some great stuff.

In fact, it went over so well, I brought it back this past August for a shorter run. And with another round of excellent guest-posters, we’ve worked on a wider pulp field than just hardboiled, which is my area of expertise.

This week’s post is from Will Murray on that pulp originator, the Spider. And every week, each post includes links to EVERY essay in the series; this year’s, and last.

Click on over!

Hither Came Conan Was a Success!

Hither_XuthalWTinteriorEDITEDEven though Robert E. Howard only wrote twenty-one original Conan tales, we managed twenty-eight posts, from some of the biggest and best names in the Howard-verse. And they turned in some fantastic stuff.

Gabe Dybing’s final post wrapped things up, and it includes links to every prior post in the series. Everyone did a great job, and every essay is worth reading. Even mine!

So, click on over and check out some of the best Robert E. Howard writing of 2019.

Chapter Two : The Carless Cuff – A Nero Wolfe Pastiche

Here’s the second chapter of an adaptation of an old Nero Wolfe radio show, starring Sidney Greenstreet. It won’t make much sense if you don’t read Chapter One first. Heck, it might not anyways, but at least there’s a chance!


Wolfe picked up his book, indicating that he had no more interest in the discussion until our would-be-client arrived. Knowing that Porter would be here soon, I updated a few more records, waiting for the doorbell to ring. Which it did, just shy of fifteen minutes later.

Since Fritz wasn’t home, I went out into the hall and to the door. I looked through the one-way glass and sized up our visitor. Charles Porter did not impress. He was a couple inches shorter than me, and under his light-weight coat, he didn’t look like he carried any extra pounds. Or even enough of them. He didn’t appear to be very happy with his lot in life at present, but a lot of folks on that stoop weren’t, so I didn’t hold that against him. I opened the door and said, “Mister Porter?”

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Chapter One: The Careless Cuff – A Nero Wolfe Pastiche

I’m working on my second adaptation of a Nero Wolfe radio play, starring Sydney Greenstreet. Here’s the first one, Stamped for Murder. Below is chapter one, which is mostly of my own devising. The radio play didn’t have much depth before the second telephone call. Hopefully, with all of my BlackGate.com projects going on, I can still get this done sooner, rather than later. Enjoy!


Nero Wolfe was the most brilliant, and also the laziest, detective in the world. He rarely left his brownstone on West 35th Street, and never on business. I lived there, eating the amazing grub prepared by Fritz Brenner, a wonderful chef (do NOT call him a ‘cook’) and a gentle soul. But also a good man in a pinch. His war experiences had hardened him more than appearances might indicate, and he had the scars to prove it. The fourth and final occupant was Theodore Horstmann: more on him in a moment.

Wolfe used his brain, which was only slightly smaller than his prodigious waistline, and his even more massive ego, to pay for the upkeep. Which was considerable. I doubt too many other citizens of New York City ate as well as Wolfe did. And he probably could have bought his own brewery with his beer bill. And of course, there were the orchids.

No matter what some detective stories might lead you to believe, crimes can’t be solved solely from an armchair. Another surprise: crimes don’t only take place while you’re a guest at a country estate. Although, there was that affair of the missing rubies while I was staying at Lily Rowan’s Westchester digs. But that’s another story for another session at the typewriter.

I am a private eye, duly licensed by the State of New York. I earned my keep and salary by doing the physical work in Wolfe’s cases, which often involved tasks only slightly easier than bringing him the moon. The guns in the house were mine, I drove the Heron Sedan which Wolfe bought, and I ventured into the (according to Wolfe) wild outdoors, as required.  I also took care of my room, which was on the second floor, and my desk, where I spent much of my time. A man’s got to have his castle. Even if it’s inside another man’s castle.

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3 Good Reasons – Nero Wolfe’s Best

NotQuiteDeadEnoughHither Came Conan has been a sucess over at BlackGate.com. Probably becuase I rounded up some excellent Robert E. Howard scholars to write the essays, instead of doing it myself! We’re just over halfway through the run. Here’s this week’s post, which includes links to all the prior ones. Make sure you check it out.

I’m currently writing some essays for another Conan-centric column I plan on doing after Hither Came Conan wraps up. That one is a secret, for now.

But today, I want to tell you about yet another column I’m working on over at Black Gate. It’s only going to run once in awhile for the rest of this year. But when I’m done with Robert E. Howard and Conan for a bit, at the end of the year, I’m going to turn my keyboard to Nero Wolfe.

I’ve written some Wolfe posts before, over at Black Gate (and even for Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine). Now, I can more than hold my own about Sherlock Holmes and Solar Pons. And I’ve written free, online newsletters to prove it! But the Wolfe and Archie stories by Rex Stout make up my favorite series of them all. Even more than the Travis McGee books from my favorite author, John D. MacDonald.

So, in 2020, I plan on writing a LOT about Nero Wolfe. And the cornerstone of Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone is going to be a look at several dozen of the stories, explaining why THAT one is the best of the bunch. Of course, since I’m not just picking the one I like the most…this should be fun. Here’s a link to the first entry in the series. See what you think!

You can also get to my other Nero Wolfe posts from that one.

Hither Came Conan – A New Series at BlackGate.com

conan_frazettafrostgiantsWhile I haven’t posted here in a while, I have been busy on the web.

A (Black) Gat in the  Hand, my hardboiled pulp column ran every Monday morning over at BlackGate.com from May 14th through December 31st. I looked at some neat stuff, and I had some friends help out with some great guest posts. It was a successful series, and there was a LOT more stuff I would have liked to tackle. It’s conceivable that I could bring it back for a limited run in 2020 or 2021. Here’s a link to the last post for the column: about Dwight V. Babcock and the famous West Coast Black Mask Writers Dinner.

It also includes a listing and links to EVERY post in the series – give it a look.

Because I figure if I stop contributing, the powers that be at Black Gate will change the password (or put somebody with actual talent into that Monday morning slot…), I started a brand new series on January 7th! Discovering Robert E. Howard was a fantastic series we ran a couple of years ago, with guest posts from some of the most knowledgeable Howard folks around.

hither_phoenixwt1I wanted to do something Howard-related again. But this time, focusing on his most famous creation: Bran Mark Morn. Just kidding! So, because it’s clear that my best work for Black Gate comes when I organize, as opposed to actually working at the keyboard, I rounded up another fantastic slate of guest posters – and randomly assigned one of Howard’s original Conan stories to each of them. And they have turned in outstanding posts, showing what is great in each story. Here’s an intro post for the series, which talks about how I came up with the idea and who is on board.

Bobby Derie kicked things off last week with a look at “The Phoenix in the Sword.” It’s a terrific essay! Later this morning, Fletcher Vredenburgh.

We’ll be back, every Monday morning at 9 AM EST, with a new essay covering all twenty-one completed Howard tales; and “Wolves Beyond the Border” as well.

Plus a few bonus posts from me (hey – it’s my series!) on various Conan-ish topics. We’re gonna run this series right into the summer. So, make it a point to check out each week’s essay – an PLEASE, join in the discussion in the Comments section. I think there’s going to be some great stuff there.