Author Frederick Faust (AKA Max Brand) spins a tale of mystery and melodrama as Samuel Loring battles to save a girl unjustly accused of murder in a story never before reprinted. Originally serialized in seven installments in Flynn’s Magazine, Champion of Lost Causes was one of Brand’s earliest works to be filmed as a movie. This edition includes an all-new introduction by Brand expert William F. Nolan (Logan’s Run).
6" x 9"
April 25, 2016
William F. Nolan
The Argosy Library
Andrew Salmon (verified owner) –
So well known for his Westerns, it’s always a treat when one of the many non-Western Max Brand (Frederick Faust) yarns returns to print. It doesn’t happen as often as this fan would prefer, let me tell you.
This one was written for Flynn’s debuting in the October 10th issue of 1924. Unlike his Westerns, which somehow possess a timeless style, this one reads like it was written in the 20s. That’s not a bad thing, especially for pulp fans long familiar with the pulp era but I thought it worth mentioning as the style contrasts with Faust’s other work.
The story begins in a offbeat manner. Our adventuring hero has just partaken of a poker game where he has seen a man lose heavily. He tries to help the man out but the broken man seems inconsolable. Intrigued, and possessing an adventurous nature, our hero, Loring, is compelled to follow the man. This leads him to a rich family and, of course, a beautiful daughter. Loring barely has time to get his bearings when the man he followed is murdered in the house! And all evidence points to the father of Loring’s new object of affection as the killer.
The story picks up steam at this point. Midnight searches, police arrests, the looming trial and Loring is in possession of the key piece of evidence. This is great stuff and the story continues to build. At first Loring doesn’t know which way to jump once caught up in this nest of intrigue and his reluctance to help reveals his roguish nature.
Finally he is left with no choice but to take desperate action, using himself as bait to draw the murderer in. What follows approaches Woolrichian levels of suspense and desperation as death closes in on Loring from all directions.
This is a tale you have to stick with to get to the great stuff. It begins slowly, the style is typically stilted 1920s which Faust does not master but holds his own very well. As the plot unfolds, Faust begins to shine and the last half of the book is the pulp master at his best. I’m glad I had a chance to read it seeing as it’s been slowly crumbling to dust for 92 years! It’s a novel worth saving, worth reprinting for today’s audience. I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up!