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The Hound With the Golden Eye –

The Hound With the Golden Eye

Sunday , 7, January 2024 Leave a comment

Years ago, I read Ron Goulart’s The Dime Detectives, a history of the detective fiction pulps. I learned some things including the author Merle Constiner. Goulart had this about the “Luther McGavrock” series:

“For Black Mask Constiner wrote of Luther McGavrock, a private eye who was headquartered in Memphis and worked on strange and wondrous cases across the rural South. The eleven McGavrock noveletes were as full of odd lore and quirky characters as those about the Dean, and they featured Constiner’s odd, dark humor. Some of the small backwoods towns of the tales are as nasty and inbred as any of the weird New England hamlets that H. P. Lovecraft celebrated.”

Only one Luther McGavrock story was ever reprinted that I am aware of: “The Turkey Buzzard Blues” in The Hard-Boiled Detective (Vintage, 1977). Steeger Books has been collecting and publishing collections of various series from Black Mask magazine.

The Hound With the Golden Eye is Luther McGavrock #2 published in 2023. I picked it up at Pulpfest.


Title Issue of Black Mask
Kill One, Skip One


The Hound With the Golden Eye


Killer Stay “Way from My Door


Until the Undertaker Comes


The book is trade paperback format, 339 pages with fairly large type. Each story is around 80-90 pages in length. So, these are novelettes spreading into novella territory.

Each story generally has McGavrock sent to some small town in Tennessee on the request of a client regarding a property crime. There is invariably a murder and McGavrock solves it by the end of the story. There is always a collection of characters and red-herrings on the way. McGavrock does not have much personality. He is small, wiry, with some gray at the temples.

There is not much action in these stories. McGavrock does have a .38 pistol but often does not carry it. The story has a series of intoduced characters and clues with often a hasty and to my view unconvincing wrap up.

I really did not care for the Luther McGavrock stories. They were not particularly hard-boiled. They could be adapted as episodes of Murder, She Wrote. I have read a couple westerns by Constiner that I liked. The writing is fine, I am just not into reading mystery stories. I liked the description of Dashiell Hammett’s “Continental Op” stories as “urban adventures.” My reading interest lie more in that direction.

Around ten years ago, there was a panel at Pulpfest on Black Mask magazine. I remember John Wooley saying that during WWII, the detective pulp magazines pulled back that things were not that bad. Then after the war, things went totally nihilistic (i.e. Manhunt). The Luther McGavrock stories fit the description of pulling back on the hardness.

If you are interested in reading these stories, you can order from Steeger Books.

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