Title: The Complete Casebook of Cardigan: Volume 1: 1931-32 by Frederick Nebel
Authors/Creators: Frederick Nebel, with Introduction by Will Murray
Format: Trade Paperback, Altus Press
It is no secret that I am a fan of private detective stories. Nor is it classified information that I am not only a writer and publisher of New Pulp, but I am an avid reader of Classic Pulp. Fortunately, both of those things often combine into the wonderful privilege to read Private Eye tales that were first published in Classic Pulp magazines. Now, even though this is something I thoroughly enjoy doing, that does not mean that I like everything I read of that type. As a matter of fact, and this may be unfair to say, I may at times be a bit harder on mystery stories from the Pulp magazines simply because I do love the good ones so much when I find them.
Fortunately, Altus Press’ The Complete Casebook of Cardigan: Volume 1: 1931-32 is one I don’t have to be hard on at all.
First appearing in Dime Detective Magazine in Novemer, 1931, Cardigan, as written by Pulp great Frederick Nebel, is as hard boiled as they come. Even though there are others who set the mold and the standard, Cardigan hits every point to be called a tough as nails, two fisted private dick and even, in some ways, raises the standard.
Cardigan is an operative for the Cosmos Detective Agency, headed up by George Hammerhorn. He’s not liked by most cops, but does run across one or two that don’t mind him so much. Cardigan definitely has a set of rules he plays by and, for the most part, his rules are defined by what he feels is right and what case he is working on. Not to say that he’s not got a bit of the capitalist in him, as he is often making sure that he and those working with him will likely come out in the black financially. He’s a fighter, both of the street and the strategic variety. Putting on dumb often, Cardigan has a mind that often sees around the next corner, puts the pieces in place just waiting for his fists to knock them in.
Though cut from the same cloth as other loners, Cardigan plays well enough with others when they follow his orders. Patricia Seaward, another Cosmos operative, shows up in a few of the stories in this volume and she’s definitely a welcome feature. A definite dame from top to bottom, Pat is also something else that wasn’t as common in the classic Pulps. Not that she doesn’t get into trouble sometimes, but she’s definitely no ill equipped fainting frail in distress. Cardigan watches out for and worries for her, but he gives her assignments that most other Pulp heroes wouldn’t even think of having a lady handle. And for the most part, boy, does she handle them.
Cardigan Volume 1 is most definitely a five page read. If You’re a fan at all of really well done, classic hard boiled fiction that actually knows how to deliver emotion and humor in the right way for such a story, this is your collection.
This also gets a fully loaded six out six bullets by my scale. The Will Murray introduction sets the eleven stories in the volume up well and Mr. Nebel’s writing doesn’t not only not disappoint, but comes packed with a few wow moments.