Jewel of The Java Sea by Dan Cushman. Dougherty is a huge man, ex football player from San Francisco, but years in the Java Sea islands has hardened him even more. He is a lover of music, a piano player, a geologist, and seller of weapons, drugs or women. He’s hoping to make a big score and return to his beloved San Francisco. That may just happen when he buys a diamond from a flyer. It appears the diamond may be from a larger batch, worth a lot of money, and if an American killer and the Chinese gang don’t kill him, and the women don’t play him false, he might make that rich deal finally. This is a nice tale, with a number of twists. There are several beautiful native women, but he doesn’t know if he can trust any of them. The author got his start in pulp magazines, writing jungle and South Sea stories for JUNGLE STORIES and ADVENTURE. Although he turned his hand to westerns, it is still these adventure novels that are his best.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Affair In Hong Kong by Dorothy Daniels. Once in a while you find a good story where you least expect it. Dorothy Daniels is known for her Gothic Romance novels, but she is also noted for being the wife of pulp scribe Norman Daniels. Dorothy assisted her husband with his pulp writing for twenty years, and then went on to help him in the paperback field after the pulps ceased. She was very familiar with mysteries and intrigues in novel writing. In fact, when this book came out, Norman was writing the Baron of Hong Kong series, and had written the Man From A.P.E. espionage series prior. Both series were very similar. I found one of the Man From A.P.E. novels very strongly similar to Dorothy’s writing, so it’s not surprising to find a nice little intrigue in this current novel. Airline Stewardess, Janis Lowell falls in love with one of her frequent passengers, Bruce Doran. When Bruce asks her for a date, her heart is all a flutter, but during the dinner, he has her perform a small favor that makes her think of espionage. Then later, when a Chinese gentleman mysteriously dies before boarding the plane, she learns it is murder, and she may be involved in some way. A Chinese espionage agent is after something the dead man supposedly concealed, and Janis knows where it is. But why is Bruce acting so strangely. Even though he tells her he loves her, and wants to marry her, does he know more than he’s revealing? And what is in the strange package she has in her possession that the Chinese will kill for? There isn’t a lot of action, like fights and gun battles, but Janis continues pulling dumb stunts that almost gets her killed, and the intrigue is definitely heavy. Not a bad story, regardless of the lack of action.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
House In Shanghai by Emily Hahn (Originally published as Miss Jill in 1947, and released in an AVON paperback edition in 1950 as Miss Jill From Shanghai; then again in Fawcett Crest edition in 1958 as House In Shanghai. Jill is a sweet young prostitute working in a Shanghai red light district. Her story is interesting; though she’s British but comes from Australia. Her mother appears to be living in Australia with different men, and often places the young Jill in the convent. At about 15, and highly intelligent, she meets a rich Japanese man, and wanting to learn languages becomes acquainted with him she is soon his paramour. He takes her around the world with him, his wife and daughters, and pretends she is merely a friend of the daughter. In Japan they are forced apart, and she is put on a boat to Shanghai where she meets a count, who is a rounder and takes her money. She ends up with the house of prostitution. She is a white girl with soft blond hair. It might be noted, too, that girls from around the world were being forced into brothels from white slavery markets at the time, so she wasn’t the only white girl in this situation in Shanghai. Jill makes the best of her life, as she struggles as a prostitute. When Japan makes a bid for world conquest, she is placed in a POW camp in Hong Kong with other British subjects, where she reforms with the help of a priest, and upon liberation sets out on a new path. This is likely the influence for such novels as The World of Susie Wong, A Girl Named Tamiko, and others.
Emily Hahn was a newspaper writer, Harvey Girl, spent time in Africa and China, and lived in the red light district of China (her bio doesn't say she worked in the red light district, however). She lived with several Chinese writers and poets; she eventually married an Englishman, was an Opium addict, and wrote numerous novels during her long career. I'm surprised there has never been a movie chronicling her life. She was an American, though of Asian descent, and graduated with an engineering degree. This was in the early 1900s. She broke many barriers as a woman, an Asian in America, and something of a rebel. She was in China when Japan invaded, and slapped her Japanese interrogator. Whew! Plus, she was very beautiful.