Saturday, August 2, 2014

Buddha’s Whisker by George F. Worts

This 1991 Starmont facsimile edition reprints “Buddha’s Whisker” from the May 26, 1934 issue of Argosy followed by the six-part serial “The Monster of the Lagoon” from 1935. I bought this from Bob Weinberg at a convention although I don’t recall which one. I still have the cool Virgil Finlay bookmark that came with it. I don’t have many of these Starmont editions, but I read them happily and re-discovered them in a cobwebbed box not long ago. Both stories are Singapore Sammy tales and well worth your time. Worts was pretty damn good, typical of the pulp industry, complete with highly imagistic prose such as this tidbit: “A brass lamp shed soft golden rays on her pretty brown face, and the rainbow hues of the tamen wound tightly over her ripe young breasts. It fell in soft, bright folds below her knees. Sammy saw that she had dainty ankles and naked little feet. Bright, fragrant malla flowers from the jungle were like colored stars in her blue-black hair, which was arranged in an elaborate coiffure glistening with coconut oil.” What High School composition teacher wouldn’t love to encounter a student that can write like that? Better yet, certain New York Times bestselling series authors might take a lesson in creative writing by studying the pulps. In “Buddha’s Whisker” Sam and his pal Lucky Jones get hoodwinked out of their ship and hatch a scheme to get it back that involves retrieving the legendary Buddha’s whisker which has already been stolen. But with a tip on where it’s located they endeavor to get it back and return it to their rightful owners for the reward, and thus set matters straight with the dame that took advantage of them. What ensues is pure pulp adventure and highly entertaining. This story is sequentially followed by “The Monster of the Lagoon” which is referred to in the last paragraph of “Buddha’s Whisker.” I believe other publishers including Black Dog books have since reprinted the Singapore Sammy stories. These are the only two I’ve read but knowing that Black Dog Books has reprinted more is a clue as to what you’ll see me reviewing at a later date.

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