Lackland Ask

Created by Colin Deerwood
Pseudonym of Pat Nolan

“Lackland Ask is the name.  ‘Lack’ to my friends, ‘Don’t’ to those who think they’re funny. You might have seen my portrait on the cover of Black Mask, the crime friction magazine. This is my story.  It starts with a blonde.  This kind of story always starts with a blonde.”

If you’re not getting enough pulp fibre in your diet, may I suggest Dime Pulp, an online fiction magazine started up in the midst of COVID, posting original fiction on a monthly basis. It started up in 2021 and, as you may have guessed, pledges its allegiance to the crime and detective magazines of the thirties and forties.

There you’ll find all sorts of genres there, including the  likes of 1940s hard-boiled private eye LACKLAND ASK, whose business card promises “Confidential Matters Investigated.” His turf is Raleigh, North Carolina, and in his first serialized novel, the long-running and seemingly never-ending Better Than Dead: A Detective Story, he’s a “battered wise-crackin’ tough guy looking to get revenge for a double-cross.”

Or something.

I can verify that he does indeed crack wise (and often), slinging slang and similes all over the place, and peppering it with loads of tough talk, although your mileage may vary. Like, I thought his response when his nationality was challenged (“No, pal, I’m as American as a sawed-off shotgun. What of it?”) was a hoot, but sometimes the avalanche of adjectives and argot–at least for me–gets to be a little much.

Likewise, the plot machinations twist and turn and shimmy and shake and pile up at a dizzying rate. There are bombs and stolen gems and foreign agents and a mysterious dame and people with faces like “a large pickled strawberry” and names like “Three-Fingers McKay” and all sorts of good pulpy fare.

Where it ends, nobody knows. Including, I’m beginning to suspect, the author. Which may well be the plan—a never-ending saga of pure pulp, where it’s the journey that matters—not the destination. And it’s all available for free, on the web site.

I love the concept, and once you fall into the rhythm of the author’s style, the action may carry you away. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next… for both Lackland and Dime Pulp. And along the way, it’s obvious the author’s having fun. You may, too.


According to Dime Pulp, Colin Deerwood is an amateur historian who claims to have been inspired to write his period piece after contemplating the cover of an issue of Black Mask. He claims to be from Montreal, but all the cool kids say that. 🙂


  • Better Than Dead: A Detective Story (January 2021–, Dime Pulp)


  • April 18, 2023
    The Bottom Line: The seemingly never-ending saga of a hard-boiled 1940s North Carolina dick. A bold online meta literary experiment, or just some pulp nut yanking our chains? Who cares, when everyone’s having this much fun?
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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