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The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  658 ratings  ·  116 reviews
Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men?

Take a journey back to the desperate days of America post the Great Depression, when the country turned to the pulp novels for relief, for hope and for heroes. Meet Walter Gibson, the mind behind The Shadow, and Lester Dent, creator of Doc Savage, as they challenge one another to discover what is real and what is pulp.

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Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Vintage (first published May 23rd 2006)
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Prior to reading this novel, my experience with pulp fiction was limited to a Tarantino movie and a few stories I read as part of a Master's course in crime and detective stories. I came to the book with no knowledge about Walter Gibson or Lester Dent and no real interest in pulps. How much of the novel is true? I'd say about 1/4 truth, 3/4 pulp. But truth is not the point--the story is everything in this novel and, as the narrator says, "never let the facts get in the way of a good story."

A rollicking old style – and yet somewhat post-modern – adventure story in which Walter Gibson (the writer of The Shadow), Lester Dent (the writer of Doc Savage) and the young L. Ron Hubbard investigate a mystery which starts – in part – at H.P. Lovecraft’s funeral.

Dent and Gibson are authors totally unfamiliar to me, and even though I know Hubbard’s name it isn’t really because of the books he wrote. Yet Malmont is able to conjure up what these men’s work was about, to make the reader understan
Jan 07, 2008 Jeff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dixie the dame with a monkey on her back. I envy that monkey.
“Look at this book!” He said as I was sitting in the break room.
He held it aloft, showing off his prize. CHINATOWN DEATH CLOUD PERIL the book title read. It looked good. He knew I had a longstanding belief that you could indeed judge a book by its cover, and this cover looked good. It had the flair of CARTER BEATS THE DEVIL, which is a book I adore. It had the historical novel feel of THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY. And I wanted to read it.

This book was about pulp writers, which I
A debut novel that casts the rivalry between two of pulp fiction's legendary writers...Walter Gibson (THE SHADOW) and Lester Dent (DOC SAVAGE) into an AMAZING STORY in its own right.

My own experience of the Pulps is limited to a collection of radio broadcasts of THE SHADOW from the 1930s and 1940s...on cassette tape. These tapes are rather fragile now (though I purchased them in the 1980s..i played them a lot) I still get a shiver when I hear that LAUGH..and the stories ain't half bad. I also re
Stu Horvath
May 15, 2007 Stu Horvath rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Summer Readers
Shelves: literata, reviewed
I'm of two minds about this book. On the one hand, it was an excellent read: I breezed through it in a couple days and stayed awake long after the sun came up this morning to finish it. Malmont does a great job painting New York of the late 30s, and has an excellent, informative grasp on the inner workings of the pulp scene. On the other hand, the action of the story didn't feel pulpy at all. The monsters weren't scary, the villain wasn't larger than life, everyone makes sensible decisions and n ...more
Julie Davis
Saw that Scott and Jesse interviewed this author about his sequel to this book, which somehow had escaped my notice. I love the Dallas Library, I've gotta say. They got me a copy in a few days. So I'm dipping my toes in to see how I like it. So far it looks like a love letter to pulp fiction with L. Ron Hubbard as the young go-getter who is determined to make his fortune writing for John Campbell's Astounding Stories magazine. Also featured so far are Lester Dent (Doc Savage) and Walter Gibson ( ...more
Feb 29, 2008 Vulgrin rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pulp lovers, sci-fi / fantasy / mystery lovers
Recommended to Vulgrin by: Scott Miller
This is a "good" book, but not a "great" book. Not really ever being a reader of pulps, I didn't feel either way about the subject matter going in, but now I definitely want to go back and read some Shadow and Doc Savage novels. (In fact, I think Paul Malmont should write his own pulp style novel - it's very obvious he knows the genre backwards and forwards)

I didn't really ever feel "attached" to the characters - and it certainly wasn't a book that I couldn't put down. The story starts off prett
Nathan Alderman
I welcome any new novels that follow in the pulp footsteps of Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay," and Malmont's is a particularly fine example. Real-life authors Lester Dent and Walter Gibson, each as accomplished and fascinating as the dime-novel heroes they created, become the protagonists in a deliciously pulpy tale of diabolical plots and mysterious cults. Literary Easter eggs abound -- including a wonderfully appropriate use of H.P. Lovecraft -- and if they lean ...more
James Carmichael
I really enjoyed this book; it's maybe not for everyone. If you like pulp fiction and/or comic books, you'll probably like it. And if you like or are interested in the history of those things, you might really like it. It's basically a somewhat meta pulp story where the heroes are all famous pulp fiction authors. It works, for me, because the story and the characters are clear and very fun and the referential stuff provides an occasional lagniappe that's amusing (Siegel & Shuster make an app ...more
For someone who's into the old pulp-era stuff, this is a wonderfully fun metafiction book. I think that the high-concept idea of having the two pillars of the "pulpateer" writer community star as the heroes in their own pulp adventure really works. The author generally pulls it off, though I thin that there are a few promises that he could have come through with a bit stronger. Maybe one or two too many "heroes of the day" showed up in the story, and my suspension of disbelief was shaken a bit. ...more
Jun 09, 2007 Liz rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: you,if you're not bothered by mixing genres
I'm not sure whether to classify this as a mystery/thriller, action/adventure, sci-fi horror, historical fiction, or "pulp," which is what the author calls it. It features a cast of "real" characters -- people who actually existed -- the "pulp" writers of Dperession-era America (including a pre-scifi, pre-Dianetics L. Ron Hubbard) who band together to solve the mystery of their fried H.P. Lovecraft's mysterious death. It'n not great -- certainly no Kavalier and Clay -- but it's engaging and ente ...more
It is the 1930's. The writer of "The Shadow" and the writer of "Doc Savage" end up forming a team to stop a renegade army officer and a Chinese warlord from releasing the eponymous peril upon New York City.

H.P. Lovecraft knew the nature of the peril, but may have died before revealing the antidote. It falls to Walter Gibson (the Shadow) and Lester Dent (Doc Savage), along with a get-rich-quick schemer known as L. Ron Hubbard and some other figures you may have heard of (Robert Heinlein, Stanley
Jan 31, 2008 Rob rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pulp fans
Shelves: 2007
Malmont manages to pull off some neat tricks with this book. Using some of the classic pulp authors as his protagonists, he creates his own pulp about them -- a delicately over-the-top yarn full of larger-than-life villains, narrow escapes, square-jawed heroes, and a skin-of-their-teeth ending. And he does this all rather thoughtfully: he stays true (or true enough) to the pulp style while giving it his own, somewhat more modern spin.

And he manages to blur his own lines of "what's real and what'
As a big fan of hard-boiled fiction and the pulps, I'm really looking forward to this one. I've only read the first chapter, but how can you go wrong with a book that opens with Walter Gibson and Lester Dent debating pulp writing in the White Horse Tavern while Ron Hubbard looks on? And then the first sentence of the next chapter indicates it's told from the perspective of Howard Lovecraft. I have high hopes for the next 350 pages or so.

Update - Really enjoyed this one. The plot flew along, some
Great tribute novel to some of the major pulp writers of the Golden Age. Writing a novel about writers and the process of writing (the imagination) should not have worked -- especially for a first time novelist. Well, it does. Malmont captures a special time with all the enthusiasm of his subjects -- who are portrayed (good news) with some depth. (I really liked these characters.) Zombies, poison gas, China, intrigue, treasure, magic, and always, Pulp. This one is a lot of fun.
Bryce Wilson
More of a 3.5. I have the affection for Paul Malmont that I have for anyone who has a true love about what he writes. That said this book would easily have been five stars if it had been a little more Kavilier and Clay and a little less Scooby Doo.

Still it's impossible for me not to love a book in which the men who invented Doc Savage and The Shadow teem up with El Ron Hubbard, Bob Heinlein, HP Lovecraft, and Louis Lamour to thwart a mad chinese warlord's plan for REVENGE!!!!
Dan Schwent
This book exceeded my expections. I loved it. Gibson and Dent both made interesting characters. The best part was all the little easter eggs scattered throughout, references to golden age figures of pulp and comic books. The story got really tense near the end and I ended up staying up about an hour too late finishing it. I'm definitely digging some pulps out of the reserve stash after this one.
Apr 20, 2007 Warren rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fan boys
Shelves: fiction
"That's pulp!"

It's a claim heard more than once in this impressive, but uneven meta-version of mid-20th Century adventure stories. H.P. Lovecraft, zombies, communists, death gods, and a pre-Scientology L. Ron Hubbard all make an appearance. And yet the book doesn't really get going until the halfway point. That's an awfully long time to wait for a cliffhanger.

Recommended for fans of the genre.
Fun book. Set in the 1930s among a group of real life pulp writers--one of which is the young L. Ron Hubbard before he creates his cult that celebrities flock to--as they go on an adventure. It's about pulp and kind of pulpy--violence, sex, magic, Chinatown, suspense, heroic action know, pulp.
I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I had read it over a more condensed period of time and had more of a background in the pulps. That said, I always enjoy a story with superfluous adverbs, magic, dastardly villains, and zombie boat cruises.
Oct 29, 2007 Matt rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of pulp characters but also modern writing
Great use of "real life" authors with all of the pulp themes that populated those same authors books -- Doc Savage, The Shadow, etc. All my childhood favorites and the accompanying themes put into a book an intelligent book for "grown ups".
Paul Malmount places two of America's most famous pulp writers, Walter Gibson and Lester Dent at the center of his debut novel 'THE CHINATOWN DEATH CLOUD PERIL'. When Walter Gibson is called to the funeral of a friend, what he thinks was a tragic but simple case of stomach cancer turns out to be something much more sinister. Gibson's natural writers curiosity forces him to do a little digging into his friends murder only to land him face to face with his very own creation...The Shadow. As Walter ...more
This is the first of Paul Malmont's books honoring the pulp era, early adventures and sci-fi in particular, and is great fun to read even if you've never had much exposure to the originals. I certainly haven't, and I think if you can envision a pre-television world you can see what role the pulp fiction magazines played. "B" Movies were similar - a training ground for the makers and light, simple entertainment for the audiences. I liked the second book as well (Amazing, Astounding, and Unknown) ...more
I enjoyed "The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril." It was a bit of slow going at first, but I got into the story quickly and the relationships between the characters and the action of the story carried me along. If you're not familiar with the "pulp" fiction of the early 20th century, this book will teach you a thing or two.
In fact, most of the characters are pulp fiction writers. Names like Walter Gibson and Lester Dent are no longer household names (though they both worked under pen names, so I gue
Margaret Sankey
In 1937 New York, a disgruntled Chinese warlord and a ruthless American Colonel find an unclaimed stash of Chinese Republic bank notes and a stash of WWI poison gas, which they plan to use to tip the war in China after assassinating an old enemy in Chinatown. The only people standing in the way are two pulp novelists--Walter Gibson (the Shadow) and Lester Dent (Doc Savage) who stumbled onto the outrageous plan. They'll have to turn to the skills and character that define their fictional creation ...more
Jul 17, 2008 John rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of Heinlein & The Shadow.
Recommended to John by: an employee at BookPeople.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
PROTAGONIST: Walter Gibson, Lester Dent, Ron Hubbard - pulp writers
SERIES: Debut novel
RATING: 2.75

It's 1937, a time when pulp novels reigned supreme. Coming out of the Great Depression, Americans turned to the pulps for larger-than-life stories of derring-do and courage. The Shadow, Doc Savage – these were the characters who took people away from the troubles of their daily lives.

THE CHINATOWN DEATH CLOUD PERIL offers the reader a peek into the world of the pulp fiction writer. Several writers
Since I’ve essentially become obsessed with the Hard Case Crime book club, I was incredibly excited to find a book like The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril while I was perusing the bargain books at Barnes & Noble a few weeks ago. It looked like it had everything I was currently interested in as well as some really cool looking cover art work. This looked to be pulp adventures at their best. Unfortunately the saying “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover” is very true in this case.

Chinatown starts
This book came highly recommended from a friend of mine, based solely on my penchant for H.P. Lovecraft. "The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril" is a comical tribute to Lovecraft and all of his pulp writer cronies. William Gibson, Lester Dent, L. Ron Hubbard, and even Robert Heinlein, serve as the all-star cast in this fictional pulp-romp throughout 1930's New York, (Lovecraft himself is a small, but important, presence in the book). All of these men, though egomaniacally proud of their character crea ...more
While researching Nicola Tesla on Wikipedia I clicked on the "in popular culture tab." I don't recall why I was researching Tesla. I noted some of the shows and movies he'd been mentioned in and that I'd seen. It appeared that he is featured in "The Amazing, Astounding and the unknown." Also featured in the book are Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov! I gotta read this book, I thought to myself. Dang. It's a sequel to "the Chinatown death cloud peril," featuring the pulp writers of the 30s authors ...more
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