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The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  789 Ratings  ·  129 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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Mar 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kick-ass, blog
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."

Oct 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 19, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  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
Mar 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: required reading for all fans of the 1930s mystery & adventure pulps

If you have ever been a fan of the great pre-World War II mystery/adventure/horror pulps, you'll love this.

The beloved authors of The Shadow and Doc Savage, Walter Gibson and Lester Dent team up with the infamous L. Ron Hubbard to fight a uniquely pulpish threat to the world.

Thrill-a-minute tribute to the Great Pulps with numerous cameos by some of your favorite authors from the Golden Era.

My hardback edition features an absolutely gorgeous pulp-art cover.
Wish I knew who the artist is.

Dan Schwent
Feb 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulp
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 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me about 50-60 pages to get into this book, or maybe it took a mood shift. But once I got into it, I loved it. Great atmosphere.
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
Dave Sanders
Feb 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: pulp lovers, sci-fi / fantasy / mystery lovers
Recommended to Dave 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
Feb 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
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
T. Gilbert
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I purchased this book some time ago and when I read it I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought Paul Malmont did a very good job writing it. I actually think what he did was rather clever. He wrote an actual pulp book and the characters were pulp writers. The book has real characters used fictionally. The heroes are Pulp Fiction icons -- Walter Gibson, Lester Dent being the main two. But also included are L. Ron Hubbard, H.P. Lovecraft and a surprise character that I don't want to give away. (I see m ...more
Jan 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it liked it  ·  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
Oct 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 23, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  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'
Bryce Wilson
Feb 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!!!!
Apr 19, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  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.
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.
Mar 27, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
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.
Mark Birchall
May 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love the blend of reality and pulp . Think you need to be a fan of the pulps to get this although I am a relatively recent convert . A touch overlong and some parts lost my attention but overall a worthwhile read.
Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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".
Jun 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This story is anti-climatic, which is why it only gets three stars. However, you can't have a story that stars REAL pulp fiction writers like H.P. Lovecraft and L. Ron Hubbard and not give it couple stars. The story was quite well done, until the end, very pulpy.
Tim McGregor
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What do you get when you follow the pulp writers of the 30's like H.P. Lovecraft, L. Ron Hubbard, Will Gibson (creator of the Shadow) and Doc Savage writer Lester Dent?

Action! Mystery! Beautiful molls! Ghosts! Evil supercriminals! This book rocks from the first page to the last.

Aug 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard to get into. Very aware if itself as "pulp". Didn't love the main characters being pulp writers...enuf already. But last act was a page turner. Tho by the end, just wanted it to end. More entertaining than others I've rated a two, but not as good as some of my other 3s. Thumbs sideways.
Jan 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book that is mostly history but partly fiction concerning the exploits of the original pulp novelists? Awesome! A great pulp novel starring the original pulp novelists and maybe even one of the great pulp heroes (sort of)? Even better. A great book? Absolutely.
Feb 11, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
Jan 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing love letter to the pulps and the writers that created them.
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
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Madison Mega-Mara...: The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril--Challenge Book 1 3 Mar 30, 2012 08:28PM  
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