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Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Damp Fedora

THE DAMP FEDORA introduces 1940’s detective Nelle Callahan, gal gumshoe with gumption, with a case that struts its stuff like the breeze off a good Narragansett sail. Brisk. Brash. Knowing where the wind’s coming from, and yet...wondering. Nelle’s job? Cut through some slick con’s shadow, lift a corner of chintz off the mist, let some truth shine in for the chippies and the chopper squad—you know—menfolk who measure themselves by how big their tommy guns really are. In this outing, Nelle finds herself helping a damp fedora wearing Harry—who’s not a Harry— Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus, MLB pitcher Paul Katcher and her OSS handler-agent, none other than former White Sox catcher Moe Berg.

The Damp Fedora (Noir Pulp)
By Kate Pilarcik
Down & Out Books
ISBN-13: 978-1943402410
Price $11.49
130 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“A Bit of Slight of Hand.”

When we meet Nelle Callahan, she’s waiting in her office for a client when a fella walks in with a damp fedora on his head. Failing to give his name, he just says something is missing and wants her to find it. Well, Nelle says let’s cozy down to the Hill O’ Beans for a cup and Joe and discuss this case. From there things start happening and I do mean fast. Some mysterious fella is sitting in a back booth with a newspaper in front of his face, and Nelle tries to convince her new client to spill the beans – not the café’s beans, but his own. While this is going on a gangster walks in and demands protection money from the owner of the café/bar, but the owner tosses hot grease on him and Nelle shoots him in the leg. This is only for starters. Nelle makes an excuse to call a friend and the fella in the back booth attacks her – well, he lets her go real quick before she punches him out. He also has a case for her.

Well, any more and I’ll spoil the whole case for you. First, this is a fun novelette, written with humorous dialogue between fast action spurts. The author has a way with words that will make you smile, or even down right giggle a time or two. Nelle is an OSS agent, and being a private detective is a cover for other activities. In fact, this whole case could be labeled as one of her OSS cases, as the reader – or her clients – don’t see what’s coming before the cases are wrapped up. I found the story a lot of fun, especially the author’s writing. I was reminded a bit of an older pulp series character by the name of Dorrit Bly that appeared in the late 1940’s issues of DETECTIVE FICTION WEEKLY. Dorrit Bly was an ex Army G2 agent, and had a photographic memory and was highly intelligent. After the war she couldn’t get a license as a private detective, so had to do other things. She met a fumbling gentleman office worker who dreamed of being a detective, but didn’t have the mind for it, so Bly did the investigation using him as a front man and foil. She also was witty and solved the cases for her male counterpart. The author of the series was Frank Bunce. Nelle Callahan is in the same mold of the earlier series, and I think the reader, and especially pulp fans, will find Kate Pilarcik’s writing a delight. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson


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