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Larry Loman cover

The cover, from Amazon.co.uk

Edgar Wallace wrote a lot of books, and even more short stories. I have bookshelves full of them, and more on my Kindle, and there are even more that I’ve borrowed from the library and don’t own myself. ‘Edgar Wallace’ was a pen-name, but he also wrote under other pen-names — and as he wrote for many, many magazines in many different genres during the first three decades of the twentieth century there are probably many, many of his stories still to be discovered.
But it’s always nice to find an unexpected book by a favourite author, so I was delighted to discover a few days ago that Pearl Necklace Books have just made another one available. The Strange Lapses of Larry Loman is a collection of three short stories first published in The Grand Magazine in 1917, and republished in The Popular Magazine in 1918. The premise of the stories is intriguing: Larry Loman is a detective who suffers lapses of memory at crucial moments, so that half way through a case he has a memory blackout and ‘comes to himself’ some hours later. When he comes to, he finds himself in some embarrassing or very strange situation, and the rest of the story is spent explaining how he got there.
It’s a clever idea, and we can imagine Wallace and his friends working out situations for Larry to be in, and then trying to work out how he could have got there — and how he gets out again. But it’s frustrating for the reader, who feels that s/he has been cheated of the excitement of the story: we find out the outcome but miss the adventure. So although the stories are fun, it’s not surprising that after the 1918 reprint Wallace seems to have dropped this plot device: I certainly don’t know of any other examples in his vast canon.
The volume also contains two other full-length stories, Angel Esquire (1908) and A Debt Discharged (1916), both of which will already be familiar to fans.
The Strange Lapses of Larry Loman and Other Mystery Tales is available via Amazon.co.uk for £0.77 and Amazon.com for $1.29. Excellent value.

(By the way, the nearest thing I know to a complete list of Edgar Wallace’s works is the list produced by Roy Glashan, here.)

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…is the title of my friend’s latest Rheged book: another exciting tale set in 5th-century northern Britain, with abduction, murder, mystery and an exciting chase to capture the villain before he murders again. Meanwhile, I haven’t done any of my own writing since March; my day-job leaves me completely brain-dead. But there are times when a writer has to take a rest from writing and read, so that’s what I’ve been doing.

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It’s because I’m too tired to write, or I need to put together a cover picture (… hmm: pictures of 1924 fashions wanted, please!) or because I’m reading. At the moment I’m beta-reading my friend’s book The Theft of Samthan, set in the kingdom of Rheged in the fifth century. She’s blended together history, imagination, her knowledge of local geography and a mystery-plot to make a relaxing story that keeps me reading.

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