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“The Blue Ghost Patrol” by Lester Dent

Link - Posted by David on April 10, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Lester Dent is best known as the man behind Doc Savage. But he wrote all number of other stories before he started chronicling the adventures of everyone’s favorite bronze giant. Here we have an intriging tale which seems to be the start of a character he never got back to—The Black Bat. From the October 1932 issue of Flying Aces we present “The Blue Ghost Patrol!”

Hot on the trail of those two traitor ships from his own base flew the Black Bat, famous Allied secret agent whose face no man had ever seen. Suddenly five Albatrosses swooped down and sent him crashing into the sea. But in the next second they had gone on—and their Spandaus were hammering at the two traitor ships!

 

If you enjoyed this story, Black Dog Books has put out an excellent volume collecting 11 of Lester Dent’s early air stories set against the backdrop of World War !. The book includes this story as well as others from the pages of War Birds, War Aces, Flying Aces, Sky Birds and The Lone Eagle. It’s The Skull Squadron! Check it out.

And as a bonus, here’s a plucky article from Lester’s home town paper, The LaPlata Home Press, about his early success selling stories to the pulps while working as a telegraph opperator in Tulsa, Oklahoma!

 

LaPlata Man Known As A Writer

Lester Dent Sells Stories Written In Liesure Hours
The LaPlata Home Press, LaPlata, MO • 12 June 1930

Lester Dent, a graduate with the Plata high school class of 1923, is building a name for himself in Oklahoma as a writer of adventure fiction.

Mr. Dent is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Bern Dent, who live three quarters of a mile north of the Santa Fe lake. After finishing high school here, Mr. Dent attended Chillicothe Business College, taking a course in telegraphy. Recently he has made talks on short story writing before the journalism extension class of Oklahoma University, and the Claremore, Okla., writers club.

Lester Dent

Part of a feature article which appears in the Sunday World, Tulsa, Okla., reads:

Lester Dent, who writes air, action, adventure and mystery stories for the all-fiction magazines, is a press telegraph operator on the “Hoot Owl” trick—midnight until 8 o’clock in the morning—in the wire room of the Tulsa World. In his spare time, Mr. Dent manages to write and sell several hundred dollars’ worth of short stories and novelettes a month. Since January 1, he has placed featured novelettes in Popular, Air Stories, Top Notch, etc.

Besides having “pounded brass” as a telegraph operator in a dozen middle west cities for oil companies, the Western Union and the Associated Press, Mr. Dent has apprenticed as a horse wrangler, cowboy and sheep-herder in Wyoming during which period he contributed materially to the success of a number of pulp paper magazine publishers by reading all of their thrillers he could buy, borrow, or get hold of otherwise: has been a pipeline roustabout, trapper, stenographer, punched a “Mux” tele-graphtypewriter, and “put in a number of summers working like the devil on a farm near LaPlata, Mo., for no visible purpose but to raise enough corn to feed a span of voracious Jack and Jinn mules through the ensuing winter.”

He attended Tulsa University law school long enough to discover there was hard work entailed in the business of being a lawyer, and declares he lost interest. In addition, he says he is a radio operator, although “rather rusty,” and “a terrible flier, one eye being off the job and the other showing a peculiar brand of judgment when it comes to distances.”

Mr. Dent is 24 years old, is something over six feet tall, and weighs around 225. He started writing fiction slightly more than a year ago when, he says, he “suddenly discovered it was the racket for any nitwit who wants an easy living.”