“Mouthpiece” by L. Ron Hubbard

Being a comic book fan I’ve always been drawn (pardon the pun) to the pulp magazines from the early to mid 20th century. Actually, the pulp magazines were printed between 1896 and into the 1950s. Pulp magazines with their thrilling over the top stories and characters and sensational cover art could easily be said to be the founding fathers of comic books. With authors such as Isaac Asimov, H.P. Lovecraft and L. Ron Hubbard the stories were often more valuable than the mere 10 cent cover price of the pulps. Many well known authors wrote for the pulps and provided a plethora of short stories that have been nearly forgotten. The pulps are making a comeback, thanks in small part to the old Quentin Tarantino movie, but the biggest reason for the comeback is the efforts of Galaxy Press and Galaxy Audio.

Since 2008 Galaxy Press/Galaxy Audio have been publishing the stories L. Ron Hubbard wrote for the pulps. This not only preserves the stories for the future, after all the original pulps were printed on cheap paper (thus the name) and not meant to last, but this re-releasing exposes the readers of today to some fun stories in nearly every genre; mystery, sci-fi, adventure, westerns and more. The added bonus is that Galaxy Audio is releasing each of these books, which contain one to four stories each in a pulp magazine feeling edition, into audiobooks.

The audiobooks from Galaxy Audio capture the feel of the original pulp magazines of the pulp era by dramatizing each book in the manner of radio shows from the same era. They use great vocal talent that are able to bring these over the top characters to life, sound effects that keep the story going and incidental music that fits perfectly with each genre and story. Each time I listen to one of these audiobooks, I’m always amazed at the escapism provided. By the end of each book I’m left wanting more yet still feeling satisfied by the great stories provided. Then I have to wait another book for the next issue to be released. (Actually you could buy the “ePulp” through their website, which is an iPod classic preloaded with all 80 audiobooks with lots of extras including photos, glossaries, videos and more, and not have to wait.)

This time around I gave the February, 2012 release of “Mouthpiece” a listen. This audio pulp release from Galaxy audio features for stories from the Mystery genre of L. Ron Hubbard’s pulp writings. These stories were perfect Hubbard stories in that they not only were fun to hear but they included the inevitable Hubbard story twists and turns that keep you guessing until the very end.

The first story in this collection is, “Mouthpiece” originally published in the September, 1934 issue of “Thrilling Detective, and tells the story of Mat Lawrence who returns from building a power dam in the desert to track down the murderer of his gangster father. It had been a long time since Mat Lawrence went to the city. Only something urgent could take him from his job something as urgent and shocking as the grisly murder of his father. His father was a big-time gangster so it was no big surprise, Mat was an honest man but shared his father’s temper which gets him to seek revenge on his father’s murderer. Seeking the help of his father’s attorney, Mat goes after the murderers and the million dollars that has gone missing.

Story number two is “Flame City,” originally published in the February, 1935 issue of “Thrilling Detective” and tells the story of Fire Chief Blaze Delaney whose job is in jeopardy because of a rash of fires hitting the city. Blaze gets help from his son to stop an epidemic of fires and bring the arsonists to justice.

The third story is “Calling Squad Cars!” originally published in the April, 1934 issue of “Phantom Detective” and tells of a police dispatcher suspected of helping a gang of bank robbers. When he is fired as dispatcher he fights back by tracking down the gang. When he is taken hostage by the gang he soon learns how they were able to put out false reports on the police band to cover up their actual heists. Now the dispatcher must use his skills as an expert radio man to foil the gangs criminal antics.

The final story is “The Grease Spot,” originally published in the July, 1936 issue of “Thrilling Detective” and tells the story of former race car driver now owner of a wrecking company who has been warned against using the police band as a means to get his tow jobs. He soon finds himself a captive, at gunpoint, and needing help from the men in blue, or can he turn it around and help them out?

All four stories in superb audio drama form are the perfect companion for anyone who loves a good mystery.

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