By Joe R. Lansdale
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Pub Date: November 30, 2016
Rating: 3 & 1/2 out of 5 stars
Dead on the Bones; Pulp on Fire is all pulp though. It is best to think of this as a tribute. The twelve works of fiction included in the collection, with one exception which we will get to later, breathes more pulp than Lansdale. Three stories are heavily influenced by Edgar Rice Burroughs, an author that Lansdale singles out in the introduction. One of the works, "Tarzan and the Land That Time Forgot" is a pastiche blending together the Tarzan tales , Pellucidar, and another Burroughs creation mentioned in the title."Under the Warrior Star" and "The Wizard of Trees" are more original but are definitely in the style of Burroughs and other writers of early pulp fiction. The Gruesome Affair of the Electric Blue Lighting" blends Edgar Allen Poe's amateur detective C. Auguste Dupin with a hint of Lovecraft. "The Redheaded Dead" and "King of the Cheap Romance" are dedicated to Robert E. Howard and Ardath Mayhar respectively. "Naked Angel" would fit well in any horror or suspense pulp magazine. In the later years, I would like to believe Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine would have picked it up despite its supernatural tones..
Which leaves the title story, "Dead on the Bones". This story of conjured fighting matches feels the most like Lansdale. Its setting and imagine plot fits well with anything he writes thus it is all Lansdale. It is my pick for best fiction in the collection.
Not that the other stories aren't good . They are quite good. And I especially liked "Under the Warrior Star" which, again from the introduction, seems to be a very early story by the author recently revamped. If you are a fan of Burroughs or the Weird Tales roster of writers you will really enjoy this. While it may not be what some would call typical Lansdale, I still recommend it for the nostalgic feel and the imaginative storytelling.