The Best Crime & Detective Pulps

There were countless crime and detective pulps, of course, and almost all of them would, occasionally, publish some real gem of a story featuring a private eye, but remember that these were the pulps, and most of the stories, even in the hallowed pages of Black Mask or Dime Detective, were more often than not pure crap.

Still, the following pulps had a higher batting average than most...

  • Black Mask (1920-51)

Hammett, Chandler, Whitfield, Daly, Gardner... need I say more? It may have started out as a rather mediocre general fiction magazine (really mediocre, in fact), but under Cap T. Shaw it became what is generally regarded as the finest detective pulp magazine ever published.

  • Clues (1926-43)
  • Detective Fiction Weekly (see Flynn's)
  • Detective Story (1915-49)

The first pulp magazine devoted solely to detective fiction, it was actually a continuation of the Nick Carter dime novel series. It ran for an astounding 34 years, much of it on a weekly basis, eventually numbering over a thousand issues.

  • Detective Tales
  • Dime Detective (1931-53)

The most successful of Popular Publication's line of detective pulps, it paid better than Black Mask, and encouraged its writers to create series characters, making it arguably more consistent than its legendary rival. Writers included Raymond Chandler, Norbert Davis, Merle Constiner, D.L. Champion, Frederick Nebel, Day Keene, Frederick C. Davis, John Carroll Daly, John D. macDonald, Hank Searls and more.

  • Dime Mystery (1932-49)

First known as Dime Mystery Book Magazine, it ran a "complete novel" and a few short stories, and intended as a companion to its sister mag, Dime Detective, and concentrated on the same sort of hard-boiled fare. But it soon shifted gears with the October 1933 issue, dropping the longer pieces and focussing on novellas and short stories. But more significantly they began delving into a whole new genre: "weird menace," a combination that bounced between stories of hard-boiled mystery or terror that occasionally included elements of both, while amping up the violence and sadism. By 1938, the "shudder pulp" genre had more or less run its course and the magazine began focussing on what has become known as the "defective detectives" -- detectives, mostly private eyes, who had to overcame assorted terrible physical handicaps and afflictions.

  • Flynn's (1924-51)

Known alternately as Flynn's Weekly, Flynn's Detective Weekly, Detective Fiction Weekly (after the June 1928 issue) and a slew of other titles over the years, Flynn's was one of the most popular and longest running of all the detective pulps, racking up 929 issues over its twenty-eight year run.While it neverr enjoyed the commercial success of Black Mask or Dime Detective (with which it was eventually meged), its longevity alone earns it a spot on this list.

  • Hollywood Detective
  • Mammoth Detective
  • Mammoth Mystery
  • Mystery (1917-29)

Another pulp that started as a dime novel, but switched to pulp (in 1926)

  • New Detective
  • Popular Detective
  • Private Detective Stories
  • Private Eye Stories
  • Prize Detective
  • The Shadow
  • Speed Detective
  • Speed Mystery
  • Spicy Detective
  • Street & Smith's Mystery
  • Super-Detective
  • Sure-Fire Detective
  • Ten Detective Aces
  • Ten Story Detective
  • Ten Story Mystery
  • Thrilling Detective (1931-53)

Our namesake, although I swear that at the time I came up with the title for this site I had no idea there was a pulp that had gone by the same name. Definitely not in the top tier, although it did feature some good stuff from the likes of Stewart Sterling, Steve Fisher, George Harmon Coxe, Frank Gruber and John D. MacDonald. Its most famous editor was Leo Margulies. The first of Ned Pines's long line of pulp magazines.


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