It's Paul Malmont's first novel. It's-- It's both familiar and unlike anything I've read.
H'mm. First off, The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril is the good stuff, a rousing and well-written adventure/mystery with interesting protagonists. Second, if you like the pulps, it's as fraught with terror and triumph as any of 'em. And the heroes are a bunch of people you may already know: pulp writers, from Doc Smith to H. P. Lovecraft, not to mention a medically-retired USN officer and a few others you might recognize. At the heart of it, Walter Gibson (who wrote The Shadow) and Lester Dent, the man behind Doc Savage. (Norma Dent, too, and about time). Most of the minor characters are writers, too; I'm not sure I recognized them all, though trying is part of the fun.
Malmont has done his homework and they all ring pretty true to their real-life counterparts; he's done his homework in other ways, too, as he hews fairly close to Dent's "Master Plot" and generally eschews anachronism.
...And it's a splendid book! It would have been terribly easy for him to slide off into a purple pastiche on one side or a dusty bit of in-group scholarship on the other, but instead he drives straight and true for mystery and adventure. If you don't know Thurston the Great or "Otis Drftwood" from the middle of next week, don't fret; you're still in for a heck of a ride.
(He's written another in similar vein, The Astounding, the Amazing and the Unknown. Must read!)
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
8 months ago