“Lassington Dhal was condemned to die of pleasure. What was the secret that had earned him free grog, free women and a drunkard’s death?”
Today’s Pulp Friday is a wonderful specimen of Asian themed Australian pulp fiction, Sin in Hong Kong by James Workman, published by Horwitz Publications in 1965.
You can almost smell the polluted water of Kowloon Harbour and feel the beer sweat oozing from the pores of this book. The combination of the cover illustration and the suggestive title do a wonderful job of evoking a sense of the mysterious, sleazy Orient, one of the mainstays of pulp publishing in the fifties and sixties. Criminals, Communists, Asians. What’s the difference? Remember, this was 1965. The Cold War was in full swing, Vietnam was just starting to wind up, Australia was years away from recognising Red China, fear and ignorance of Asia was widespread (and it could be argued in some quarters still is).
As is the case with nearly every local Australian pulp cover I present on this site, I’ve no idea who did the art work for Sin in Hong Kong.
James Workman appears to have been one of the many house pseudonyms used by Horwitz. In this case, the real author appears to have been well known Australian novelist James Edmond MacDonnell.
MacDonnell served in the Royal Australian Navy for 14 years, then went on to become a prolific paperback writer. He joined Horwitz in 1956 and wrote 12 novels a year for them over a lengthy career.
The best known are his so-called ‘nautical pulps’, tales of daring navy do set during World War Two, which can still be seen gracing the shelves of opportunity shops today. But he also wrote medical pulp, adventure stories, and spy novels under the name of James Dark which were published in the US by Signet and had great titles such as The Bamboo Bomb and Assignment Tokyo.