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Coming Next Week: THE PURPLE EYE

Posted in Classic Pulp Reprints,Murania Press,Upcoming Books on October 2, 2015 @ 4:58 pm

We’re happy to announce the availability of the latest volume in Murania’s Classic Pulp Reprints series. William Corcoran’s The Purple Eye, originally published in the August 1933 issue of Dime Mystery Magazine, isn’t just a rattling good yarn. It’s an historically important one as well, being the template for such Popular Publications hero pulps as The Spider and Operator #5.

The protagonists in those magazines didn’t battle pretty thieves or racketeers. Month after month they were pitted against megalomaniacal master criminals with enormous armies of henchmen. These power-mad malefactors waged war against entire cities (most often New York) and terrorized citizens with the constant threat of mass annihilation caused by various means—a plot device we’ve dubbed “death from everywhere.” The Purple Eye was among the earliest such criminals to appear in pulps, and, fittingly, he appeared during the darkest days of the Great Depression, when readers hungry for escapist entertainment accepted stories dealing with apocalyptic menaces—no matter how fanciful—because everyday life was only slightly less difficult to cope with.

Corcoran, who generally wrote for such classy pulps as Argosy, Blue Book, and Adventure (and briefly edited the latter title), was among the better storytellers plying their trade in rough-paper magazines. He is little known today, but we’re hoping that republication of The Purple Eye, back in print for the first time in more than 80 years, will boost interest in this forgotten pulpateer.

As for the Purple Eye . . . well, we’ll let him introduce himself, in this preface (probably written by an editor rather than Corcoran) to that 1933 Dime Mystery book-length novel:

It is almost too easy, this business of terrorizing a great city. That is, it was easy—until the man called Wayne Saxon arrayed himself against me. Since then things have become more difficult. Several of my most carefully planned murders have unexplainably miscarried. And one or two of my enemies, safely within the net, have made good their escape. Something which never before occurred! For once a man has stood before the Purple Eye and received sentence—that man must die!

But enough of Wayne Saxon and the slight trouble he has caused me. His death now is merely a matter of days. And in the meantime I shall dwell for a little upon more pleasant things. . . .

One of the secrets of my success is the fact that, unlike the ordinary criminal, I have made no attempt to conceal myself in the usual way. I do not hide from the police; I ignore them. And being ignored, they have so far seen no reason to suspect me. Even Saxon, thought he has fought me in the open and undercover in various clever ways, has not the slightest idea of my real identity.

I have killed a man as he rode beside my enemy in New York’s crowded streets. I have kidnapped his best friends from beneath his very eyes. I have brought despair to the police and terror to the rulers of the underworld. Millionaires tremble in their hand-made boots when they receive my grim warning of death to come. And shop-girls grow afraid of the dark when they hear of my latest exploit.

The city of seven million souls is mine to do with as I please. I am its most exalted king—and the wages of my court is death!

Once more the ancient Brotherhood of Baktuun has seized the reins of power from hands no longer strong. And the fear of violent, ugly death is present in very home, on every city street, in every office and workshop!

Mine is the greatest criminal mind the world has ever produced. And I have no foolish modern qualms about my calling. I like murder . . . I glory in it!

Millionaire sportsman and globetrotting adventurer Wayne Saxon returns to New York during the Eye’s reign of terror and, for reasons of his own, dedicates his life to finding and eliminating this madman—within the law when possible, but without when necessary. Will he succeed?

You can order The Purple Eye now right here. Shipping begins next week.

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