by Cynthia Chow
In 1934, Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler testified as to the existence of a group of wealthy businessmen planning a coup d’état during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Pulp mystery author Gary Phillips uses this premise as a jumping-off point for an anthology of short stories by both veteran and rookie noir authors. Jeri Westerson, Paul Bishop, and Joe Gentile are among those who join him in creating tales of daring-do, evil villains, and femmes fatales.
In twelve stories by nine authors, we follow the adventures of Jimmie Flint, secret agent X-11 of the Intelligence Service Command. His mission it is to protect America from the nefarious Medusa Council, which plans to overthrow the government and take out the president. While Jimmie is armed with high-tech weapons that would be the envy of secret agents today (much less the 1930s), he also receives considerable help from the Phantom Detective, The Black Bat, and the Green Lama. “Spunky” reporter Kara Eastland succeeds in rescuing her boyfriend almost as often as he rescues her; she is the embodiment of the smart-mouthed, ambitious investigative journalist hot on the trail of a good story.
Despite a few real historical characters threaded throughout the pieces, these tales are really a tribute to great pulp and noir fiction. Continuous action, evil enemies, and elaborate plots to destroy the nation take the reader on an endless thrill ride. Despite the authors’ differing backgrounds—ranging from historical fiction to graphic novels to police procedurals—the anthology feels like one cohesive story. The stories are written by Ron Fortier, Adam Lance Garcia, Gary Phillips, Paul Bishop, Jeri Westerson, Eric Fein, Tommy Hancock, Aaron Shaps, and Joe Gentile.
Editor Gary Phillips has created a collection that brings back the best of pulp action stories and their unique and memorable characters: these are comics brought to life without being comical. The unbeatable Jimmie Flint is a hero who can banter with women, save America, and accurately shoot a rifle while dangling one-handed from a ledge. He never gives up, and we wouldn’t want him to.
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