Friday, February 27, 2015

The Spectre of Suicide Swamp by E. K. Jarvis and It’s Magic You Dope by Jack Sharkey


This Armchair Fiction double novel reprint pairs The Spectre of Suicide Swamp by E. K. Jarvis with It’s Magic, You Dope by Jack Sharkey. That makes for a breezy combination. Both books are easy to read and often nonsensical, but altogether enjoyable. The Spectre of Suicide Swamp is about a washed up Hollywood actor named Duke Harley who gets cast with washed up starlet named Kathie Dawn in grade-B thriller called, naturally, The Spectre of Suicide Swamp. They both take the job because both are out of work and need the money. Once on the backlot, a quirk of fate switches their bodies with two real-life swamp people, Tom Lewit and Ginny Hays. After some initial confusion, both couples take to their new lives with Duke and Kathie caught up in a real swamp mystery about a menacing robot with gleaming eyes; and Tom and Ginny embrace their lives as Hollywood actors working in a bad movie about an event they experienced first hand. The plot falls apart at the end, but it’s as fun as a drive-in movie, and equally as cheesy. The second novel, It’s Magic, You Dope, is much better. Bored librarian Albert Hicks finds himself on a world called Drendon where the familiar is unfamiliar. His prim and proper girlfriend, Susan is suddenly a hot little number named Lorn, and she’s a woodnymph. How did he get here? And what can Hicks do about? This is the thrust of It’s Magic, You Dope. Drendon is an odd place, described as a “mythophile’s dream,” there are werewolves, wyverns, beasts and dangers all about. The plot gets a bit complicated and you’ll need a scorecard to keep track of everything. Both It’s Magic, You Dope and The Spectre of Suicide Swamp date from the early 1950s. I liked both stories but I have to give a stronger nod to It’s Magic, You Dope. I’ve purchased several of these Armchair Fiction paperbacks and my buying choices fall into two categories: One: I’m familiar with the author, or Two: I like the cover. In this case, E. K. Jarvis was a pseudonym used by multiple authors working for Ziff-Davis Publishing and the actual author of The Spectre of Suicide Swamp is unknown; and I know very little about Jack Sharkey. These are typical early 50s fantasy schlock, fun to read, drive-in movie style literature all the way. And I do like the covers.

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