Showing posts with label Kendell Foster Crossen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kendell Foster Crossen. Show all posts

Friday, April 28, 2023

The Rest Must Die

Kendell Foster Crossen (1910-1981) was a popular author that created and wrote the crime-fiction series Milo March and the pulp superhero Green Lama. He contributed to a number of genres, including radio scripts for series titles like The Saint and Mystery Theater. Crossen used a variety of pseudonyms like M.E. Chaber, Clay Richards, Christopher Monig, and Bennett Barley. I am a huge fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, so I was attracted to Crossen's The Rest Must Die. It was published by Fawcett Gold Medal in 1959 under the pen name Richard Foster. 

The author introduces readers to a handful of characters in the opening pages of the book. The locale is New York City and the two main protagonists are Bob, an advertising agency for Chaber, Crossen, and Monig (get it?), and a longshoreman named Joe. These are the guys you want on your team when a nuclear bomb wipes out the entire city. Conveniently, Bob and Joe, who don't know each other yet, each head to subway stations when they hear the siren wail of a bomb warning.

Inside Penn Station and 53rd Street Station, the survivors huddle together and listen to the ominous sounds of seven nuclear bombs pound the city into dust. Thankfully, Bob, Joe, and a dozen other survivors possess the wherewithal to understand that nothing above ground exists and that their only hope of survival lies in organizing roughly 3,000 people into small groups, each assigned to a group leader. 

The book's first half, roughly 90 pages, was mesmerizing as survivors traveled the subway on foot gathering supplies from the basements of pharmacies and department stores. Like any good post-apocalyptic novel, the true terror is humanity itself. It only takes a couple of days before people begin to spiral into savage depths of greed. The groups begin to war with each other, but the biggest threat is a mobster and a cop who team-up, oddly enough, to create a faction loaded with a supply of guns the mob had kept in a hidden underground locker. It's up to Bob and Joe to hunt down the faction's members and eliminate them. 

As you can imagine, I loved this book. It really has everything a good doomsday novel needs to be memorable and exciting. The bombs, fallout, radiation, rationing, dividing, conquering, it's all right here in these 200 pages. The novel still remains relevant today with many of the survivors dividing based on preconceived notions of stereotypes and former jobs. Bob is quick to notify everyone that whoever they were in a former life no longer matters. Despairingly, he reminds the survivors that they are now simply subway residents with no family and no home. By minimizing, Bob is able to calm most of the surviving population. It was so elementary, but a brilliant reminder that life resets often. The book's not-too-preachy message is that there's never an ending, only a reset and continuation. Sort of like Jeff Goldblum's Jurassic Park mantra - "Life Finds a Way". 

The Rest Must Die is an easy recommendation for anyone that loves post-apocalyptic fiction. It's a realistic look at how humanity is quick to turn on each other when the chips are down. But, the author laces the message with a lot of action and excitement. It simply doesn't get much better than this.

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Green Lama #01 - The Case of the Crimson Hand

Author Kendell Foster Crossen (writing as Richard Foster) was editing “Detective Fiction Weekly” in 1939 when he was asked to compete with the successful “The Shadow”, who's prominence began in 1931. By 1939, lots of publishing companies were attempting to cash in on the craze (“Centaur's Amazing Man”, “The Black Bat”), and Crossen was chosen to do so. Originally deeming him “The Gray Lama”, more vibrant, colorful artwork was requested and “Gray” became “Green”. The very first 'Green Lama' story, “The Case of the Crimson Hand”, appeared in “Double Detective” in April, 1940.

Crossen named his hero Jethro Dumont, a Harvard graduate with a Ph.D. in “oriental religions”. He inherits ten million, and then travels to China to study Buddhism. Miraculously, these studies allow Dumont to acquire a host of crime-fighting tricks and techniques that he carries back to New York to become THE GREEN LAMA. Dumont walks around in the daylight as Reverend Dr. Pali, and at night dons a green robe and hood, a red scarf and a ton of luck to become a vigilante. The Green Lama operates out of a penthouse laboratory and has a Tibetan servant named Tsarong. He also has an ally in the now reformed mobster Gary Brown. 

“The Case of the Crimson Hand” is a familiar one. An evil villain named The Crimson Hand has stolen a handful of Dr. Valco's deadly capsules. These capsules contain a lethal dose of radium that will wipe out a cubic mile of the population. The Crimson Hand and his squad of goons plan on releasing all of the capsules in major cities, thus killing off the population and making room for him to guessed it...the ruler of the world. 

This short novella displays The Green Lama in all of his various techniques: he can touch a face and cause instant paralysis. He can hide in plain sight. He can choke but not kill with his handy red scarf. He can survive plane crashes, bombs, bullets and beatings, but he isn't immortal. He has a magic catchphrase of “Om! Ma-ni pad-me Hum! Om! Ma-ni pad-me Hum!”. I don't know what this does...but he says it a lot. Essentially, The Green Lama just goes from hideout to hideout routing out the bad guys, stopping their evil plans and putting The Crimson Hand behind bars. Lama teams with both Gary Brown and the secret, behind the scenes operative named  Magga, the mysterious lady from Lhasa. Collectively, they're rough and tumbling through 90-pages of pulp action mayhem. It is pulp for the pulp enthusiast, and in that regard fans and readers should have a great time. 

Altus Press has this story included in their 2013 release “The Green Lama: The Complete Pulp Adventures Volume 1”. Along with this story is “The Case of the Croesus of Murder”, “The Case of Babies for Sale”, The Case of the Wave of Death”, “The Case of the Man Who Wasn't There”, “The Case of the Death's Head Face” and “The Case of the Clown That Laughed”. The stories are prefaced by author Will Murray's introduction and professional commentary. Altus Press has a total of three volumes encompassing 16 total stories.