The recent interest that's being generated in the pulp fiction writers of the 1920s has lead to many of the books of that genre being resurrected and read once again. For modern-day readers, these represent what are now called “airport-lounge reads” and ideal for those few hours that you have to kill waiting in an airport or railway station, while traveling or on holiday, when you don't want anything too heavy to weigh you down.
Pulp fiction, so called because the books were generally printed on cheaper paper made from recycled wood pulp, had certain characteristics. The novels were usually around 128 pages long, the size of the book was a handy 7x10 inches and the covers were highly colored and lurid. In fact, many well-known literary figures started off as pulp fiction writers and continued to churn them out even after they achieved fame, though they generally preferred to use a pseudonym. Many famous authors also used the vehicle of pulp fiction to generate extra income, since literary novels generally don't bring in as much money as they do awards. The advent of the paperback novel spelled the doom of pulp fiction. But pulps reached their peak of popularity in the 1920-30s, when a new issue could sell out a million copies within days.
32 Caliber by Donald McGibney certainly falls into this category.
The story is narrated by the hero, Bupps, who is an amateur detective and professional lawyer. His sister Helen is in the throes of a painful and acrimonious divorce with her husband Jim who also happens to be Bupps' best friend. She is now involved in a torrid affair with a man called Frank Woods who, as Bupps discovers doesn't enjoy a very clean reputation. Woods is a war-profiteer and his transactions have a seamy side. Things take a menacing turn when Jim is found mysteriously dead in a car accident. Bupps' suspicious are aroused by certain strange circumstances that occurred during the accident. From here on, the plot takes readers on a roller coaster ride through sinister Bolshevik conspiracies, high society country clubs and deadly pursuit through barren landscapes, ending in a most unexpected denouement.
Told in first person, the book's hero exemplifies the typical pulp hero – tough, uncompromising and smart, yet with a tender heart beneath! Modern-day readers may recognize the forbears of James Bond and countless other best-seller heroes in 32 Caliber.
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