FORGOTTEN BOOKS ~ HIGH HAT BY GREG MANDEL!
In 1992, entrepreneurial publisher Randy L. Byrd got it into his head that it would be a good idea to package mini-novels (AKA: short stories) as 3”x4” paperbacks, in 12 different genres, publishing a new batch once a month, selling them via mail order, hotel gift shops, and those supermarket checkout racks which feature zodiac / puzzle / diet secret books secured above the tabloids and next to TV Guide (the old version), Archie Digests, and Reader’s Digest. However, after two months, or possibly three, old Larry decided his Dime Store Novels idea was a bust and folded his tents.
I have the first 24 of these curiosities that I’ve hung onto for all these years – more as a reminder of how to commit publishing suicide than for the worth of the mini-novels themselves. Still, there are a couple of titles I remember fondly, including High Hat by Greg Mandel – featuring the Pope as a private eye, an idea so outrageous and blasphemous you have to love it.
High Hat – He’s ready for mystery. He’s ready for danger. He’s ready for Lent. He’s the High Hat, a hardboiled Pope with a night job, the Vatican’s only private eye, and his up to his pointy dome in trouble.
Deep in the bowels of the Holy City, the big Pontiff comes face to face with his nemesis, the Amish Mafia, and uncovers a fiendish plot to steal St. Peter’s bones. Now the hardboiled holy man must slip into his alter ego to crack a caper that mixes dangerous dames and the Mennonite Menace with a load of dynamite and a very hungry octopus.
As you can tell, there is something here to offend everyone. Perhaps not surprisingly, High Hat is the only title from the Dime Store Novels series that has had an extended life. It appears an longer version of High Hat was recently re-released by Ken Arnold Books (who?) in 2008.
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