cover image The Phantom Patrol

The Phantom Patrol

L. Ron Hubbard. Galaxy, $9.95 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-59212-327-8

Hubbard was a popular writer of the pulp fiction era, and this short novel, first published in the January 1935 issue of Five Novels magazine, shows why: it features nonstop action and a hero to root for. Coast Guard skipper Johnny Trescott, who's hot on the trail of drug-runner Georges Coquelin, changes course to answer an SOS from wealthy James Ferguson, whose plane has ditched in the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, Georges arrives at the scene in time to kidnap Ferguson and shanghai Johnny, his crew, and his boat. Johnny eventually escapes, only to find that piracies Georges committed with Johnny's Coast Guard scow are being blamed on him. Though much of the writing is generic, the story moves briskly and maximizes the scenes of gunplay and hand-to-hand combat. Hubbard knew how to fulfill reader expectations for this sort of tale. (Oct.)