Deal Me In Story #2: Angelfish by Lester Dent

Deal Me In Short Story Challenge Queen of Hearts

Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, The Continental Op, these are the hardboiled detectives. Tough and no-nonsense, they fought crime in the pages of pulp magazines like Black MaskDime Detective and Detective Fiction Weekly. Some of their stories are collected in The Hardboiled Dicks, edited by Ron Goulart, where this week’s Deal Me In story comes from.

Card Drawn: Q♥

Anthology: The Hardboiled Dicks edited by Ron Goulart

Story: “Angelfish” by Lester Dent, 1936

Black Mask Magazine December 1936

“Nan Moberly surged up violently on the bed, straining against the white rope until her arms and legs trembled.”

When I was choosing and organizing my short stories for this year’s Deal Me In Challenge, I was excited there was a story by Lester Dent on my list. Lester Dent is the author of one of pulp fiction’s greatest heroes, Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze. In the 1990’s I had a great time collecting and reading the Doc Savage Bantam paperbacks, so I really looked forward to reading his hardboiled story, “Angelfish.”

The story features Oscar Sail, “a long brown man, dressed in black–black polo shirt, black trousers, and black tennis shoes.” This is the second of two stories Dent wrote about Sail, who lives on his boat, aptly named Sail. In this story he finds himself embroiled in a deception that soon turns deadly. Like most hardboiled fiction, “Angelfish” is gritty, violent, and action-packed, but it didn’t grab me liked I hoped it would. There were a few unexpected twists, however, and I liked Dent’s tough-guy writing style. So, while I think Dent’s Doc Savage stories are better, “Angelfish” was still a decent read.

“Angelfish” was originally published in Black Mask in December, 1936

My Rating: ⭑⭑⭑✩✩

Deacon Nick

Nick Senger is a husband, a father of four, a Roman Catholic deacon and a Catholic school teacher, vice principal and technology coordinator. He taught junior high literature and writing for over 25 years, and has been a Catholic school educator since 1990. In 2001 he was named a Distinguished Teacher of the Year by the National Catholic Education Association.

5 Responses

  1. N@ncy says:

    Love some of these tough guy chararacter names…’Oscar Sail’ . But the al time winner of ‘tough guy’ names remains The Soprano’s Paulie Walnuts! I have to laugh every time I say it!

  2. tracybham says:

    The Hardboiled Dicks sounds like a great anthology. I am going to have to find a copy of that.

  3. Jay says:

    Love that Queen of Hearts card and how you’re superimposing the card images on top of a story pic – mind if I ask what software you’re using to do that? I may have to get it… 🙂

    • Deacon Nick says:

      Thanks, Jay. I’m actually using the stock Preview app that comes on Macs. I cropped each anthology cover down to the size I wanted then I paste a different card each week. The Preview app allows me to resize and arrange the card after pasting it. I’m not sure what type of computer you use, but I imagine Microsoft Paint could do the same thing.

      • Jay says:

        Thanks for the info, Nick. I do most of my photos (at least ones combining images) from a cheap iPad app called Pic Stitch which is – at least the ‘free’ version anyway – pretty basic and often tedious. I’ll explore some of the options with Paint. Appreciate the help. – Jay

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