Once upon a time, Richard Blakemore led a double life. Hardworking pulp writer by day and the masked vigilante only known as the Silencer by night. But those days are over, for Richard Blakemore, in the guise of the Silencer, was found guilty of murdering mafia boss Antonio Tortelli and sentenced to death. But now, with Richard Blakemore on death row in Sing Sing and the date of the execution drawing closer, the Silencer has reappeared to stalk anybody involved in the case, insisting that Blakemore is innocent. So did Richard Blakemore really murder Antonio Tortelli. And is he really the Silencer?
Read an excerpt.
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Some background information:
- This story is 9500 words long and was first published under the title “Silencer” in Double Danger Tales No. 48 and reprinted under the title “Countdown to Death” in Thriller UK No. 30.
- The Silencer is my homage to the heroic pulp vigilantes of the 1930s such as the Shadow, the Spider and Doc Savage and the writers who brought them to life. The Spider, whose high-octane and high emotion adventures I enjoyed enormously, is probably the closest inspiration.
- All Silencer stories are set in the mid 1930s, a period that fascinates me because of the juxtaposition of political and economic turmoil and some of the most beautiful fashion, architecture, design and popular culture of the 20th century.
- Like all great pulp heroes, the Silencer is based in New York City. However, the Silencer’s New York is closer to the fantastic pop culture New York of zeppelins, pulp heroes and Art Deco buildings than to the actual New York City of the depression era. All of which is a fancier way of saying that I have taken some poetic license in bringing the Silencer’s world to life.
- There are three complete Silencer adventures, all of which are forthcoming from Pegasus Pulp, as well as a handful of unfinished stories. One of those not yet finished Silencer stories is “The Scarlet Executioner”, which chronicles the first meeting between Richard Blakemore and Constance Allen and is referred in “Countdown to Death”.
- Police captain Justin O’Grady, pulp publisher Jake Levonsky, butler Neal Cassidy and newspaper magnate Randall J. Whitman are all recurring characters in the Silencer stories.
- There is an actual Richard Blakemore (as a matter of fact, there are several), a microbiologist at the University of New Hampshire, as I found out when someone googled the name and landed on an excerpt from an unfinished Silencer story on my old website.
- The cover is supposed to imitate to lurid covers of the pulp magazines of the 1930s. The cover image is digital art by PhilCold via Dreamstime.
- The original cover can be seen here. The main image is the great clock inside Bremen central station, the shadowy figure is a manipulation from an actual pulp illustration of the 1930s.