Friday, December 10, 2010

Forgotten Books: AS TOUGH AS THEY COME -- Will Oursler, Editor




This 1951 anthology features some names that are familiar to everybody, some that are familiar to fans of hardboiled pulp fiction, and some that might not be familiar at all. The only writer represented by two stories is Bruno Fischer, a guy whose Gold Medal originals I find highly entertaining, though judging by the prices the bring on eBay, I'm the only one who does. The story that opens the book is a crime tale, but it gives plenty of evidence of Fisher's experience in the shudder pulps. Surely by now everyone's read the Hammett selection, and the Cain story is pretty easy to find, too. The Day Keene offering is one I haven't seen elsewhere (that doesn't mean much, though). It has a sure-of-himself narrator who's not quite as smart as he thinks he is. The reader is always a step or two ahead of him, but that's what makes the story so much fun. Brett Halliday's first-person narrator's not much like Mike Shayne, but he tells a fine story of greed, gold, Mexican bandits, and revenge. I knew what the old switcheroo would be in Hugh Pentecost's story almost from the start, but that didn't make it any less fun to read. I'm saving the other stories for later, but I've read enough to be glad I picked this book up. I've had it for years, but for one reason or another I'm just getting around to reading it. I'm glad I finally did.

3 comments:

George said...

TOUGH AS THE COME is one of my favorite hard-boiled anthologies. I read it back in the early Seventies and that launched me on a binge of reading private eye novels and noir.

Todd Mason said...

Was there a unifying theme beyond this being as Tough? They all from Popular Publications cf pulps, or somesuch?

I have occasion to mention Bruno Fischer in my review this week, too..."The Dog Died First" was probably the first story I read by him some decades back, and it left me favorably disposed...

Bill Crider said...

I think "tough" is the theme. Oursler thanks Cap Shaw for his help in putting it together.