cover image Mouthpiece


L. Ron Hubbard. Galaxy, $9.95 trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-1-59212-356-8

The four crime stories in this collection hark back to a time when the gangster's greatest enemy was an everyman with a righteous chip on his shoulder, and when pulpsmiths like Hubbard (The Phantom Patrol) reveled in writing up their dust-ups in Thrilling Detective, Phantom Detective, and other crime fiction magazines. In the title tale as well as in the arson extravaganza "Flame City," indignant sons single-handedly combat crooks who have discredited their fathers' reputations. "Calling Squad Cars!" is the tale of a disgraced police dispatcher who decides to clear his name by going after the mobster who set him up. "Grease Spot" tells of a wrecker who illegally accesses the police band to get the jump on tow jobs, and who then has to hold off the hoods for the boys in blue when his latest job detours into criminal territory. All four stories show Hubbard's grasp of the hardboiled idiom and his skill at slinging the lingo necessary to make these tales memorable until the next month's magazines replaced them at the newsstands. (Mar.)