Pulp fiction has been looked down on as a guilty pleasure, but it offers the perfect form of entertainment: the very best storytelling filled with action, surprises, sound and fury. In short, all the exhiliration of a roller-coaster ride. The 1920s in America saw the proliferation of hundreds of dubiously named but thrillingly entertaining pulp magazines in America - Black Mask, Amazing, Astounding, Spicy Stories, Ace-High, Detective Magazine, Dare-Devil Aces. It was in these luridly-coloured publications, printed on the cheapest pulp paper, that the first gems began to appear. The one golden rule for writers of pulp fiction was to adhere to the art of storytelling. Each story had to have a beginning, an end, economically-etched characters, but plenty going on, both in terms of action and emotions. Pulp magazines were the TV of their day, plucking readers from drab lives and planting them firmly in thrilling make-believe, successors to the Victorian penny dreadfuls of writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dickens. These stories exemplify the best of crime and mystery pulp fiction - its zest, speed, rhythm, verve and commitment to straightforward storytelling - spanning seven decades of popular writing.
Maxim Jakubowski is a London-based novelist and editor. He was born in the UK and educated in France. Following a career in book publishing, he opened the world-famous Murder One bookshop in London in 1988. He compiles two acclaimed annual series for the Mammoth list: Best New Erotica and Best British Crime. He is a winner of the Anthony and the Karel Awards, a frequent TV and radio broadcaster, crime columnist for the Guardian newspaper and Literary Director of London's Crime Scene Festival. His latest thriller is I Was Waiting for You.