Wounded and weary after a long night of crimefighting, all Richard Blakemore a.k.a. the Silencer wants is to go home. But then he spots a young woman being stalked by three thugs, so the Silencer has to jump into the fray once more. However, when the Silencer follows the woman and her pursuers into a dark alley, he finds far more than he bargained for…
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- Mean Streets and Dead Alleys is a short story of 6300 words. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
- Foiling attempted muggings in dark alleys is pretty much standard procedure for urban heroes. We’ve seen Spider-Man or Batman, who are after all the spiritual descendants of the pulp heroes of the 1930s, foil such mugging attempts dozens of times. Hence I was surprised, when I realised that I have never written a story where the Silencer foils a mugging, and promptly wrote one.
- Like The Great Fraud and Elevator of Doom, this is a more low-key Silencer adventure. It’s also far more akin to a typical night out for the Silencer than any of the other stories.
- None of the Silencer’s usual supporting cast appears, though Constance is mentioned.
- Failed mugging victim Lillian Hark is loosely based on British musical actress Lilian Harvey who was a star in Germany during the Weimar Republic, briefly went to Hollywood, didn’t like it there and eventually returned to Germany. Her career stalled out due to disagreements with the Nazis and never recovered after the war.
- Turns out that Richard is a Weird Tales fan and has a particular soft spot for sword and sorcery, judging by his enthusiasm for Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian and C.L. Moore’s Jirel of Joiry. Now I wonder whether he ever tried his hand at sword and sorcery himself. The issue Richard picks up at the all-night drugstore is the January 1936 issue, by the way.
- A Florentine hat was a type of decorated straw hat that was extremely fashionable in the 1930s.
- Gino’s All-Night Diner is entirely fictional. However, the various Times Square eateries mentioned, Childs, Rector’s and the Horn and Haddart Automat as well as Whelan’s 24-hour drugstore are all businesses that actually existed on Times Square in the 1930s and 1940s and can be seen in many historical photos from the period.
- There really was an elevated subway running along Sixth Avenue, as can be seen at the bottom of this photo of Herald Square, the intersection of Broadway and Sixth Avenue. The elevated Sixth Street line closed in 1938 after business owners complained about the noise and the soot.
- The bag of ground pepper Lillian keeps in her handbag and uses to fight off the thugs is an actual trick used by my grandmother as a defense against potential rapists and muggers. Basically, this was the 1930s and 1940s equivalent of today’s pepper spray. The trick is also mentioned in The Spiked Death.
- The cover image is digital art by PhilCold.