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Boston Blackie is the novelization of a group of pulp short stories by Jack Boyle (1881-1928). Blackie, an ex-con with a college education, is a jewel thief based in San Francisco, who outwits the cops with the help of his wife Mary. The character was altered for a later series of popular films and radio shows to become a “reformed” jewel thief turned private eye. (Summary Boston Blackie is the novelization of a group of pulp short stories by Jack Boyle (1881-1928). Blackie, an ex-con with a college education, is a jewel thief based in San Francisco, who outwits the cops with the help of his wife Mary. The character was altered for a later series of popular films and radio shows to become a “reformed” jewel thief turned private eye. (Summary by Winston Tharp.)


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Boston Blackie is the novelization of a group of pulp short stories by Jack Boyle (1881-1928). Blackie, an ex-con with a college education, is a jewel thief based in San Francisco, who outwits the cops with the help of his wife Mary. The character was altered for a later series of popular films and radio shows to become a “reformed” jewel thief turned private eye. (Summary Boston Blackie is the novelization of a group of pulp short stories by Jack Boyle (1881-1928). Blackie, an ex-con with a college education, is a jewel thief based in San Francisco, who outwits the cops with the help of his wife Mary. The character was altered for a later series of popular films and radio shows to become a “reformed” jewel thief turned private eye. (Summary by Winston Tharp.)

30 review for Boston Blackie (LibriVox Audiobook)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Zain

    Criminal! While in prison for one of a series of petty crimes, Jack Boyle began his writing career. Boston Blackie began as a magazine serial, which became so successful that it was developed into a television show. In the stories, Boston Blackie is a “gentleman thief.” Maybe a Robin Hood figure at times. I don’t know if I really feel this way, since the only people Blackie ever helps are other criminals. He is even loyal to a fault and so he believes everyone else should be. Especially women. Every Criminal! While in prison for one of a series of petty crimes, Jack Boyle began his writing career. Boston Blackie began as a magazine serial, which became so successful that it was developed into a television show. In the stories, Boston Blackie is a “gentleman thief.” Maybe a Robin Hood figure at times. I don’t know if I really feel this way, since the only people Blackie ever helps are other criminals. He is even loyal to a fault and so he believes everyone else should be. Especially women. Every chapter is filled with the schemes and shenanigans of Boston Blackie and his criminal friends and Mary, his loyal, faithful, criminal wife. Although Boston Blackie is a “lovable, honorable, hero,” you are still holding your breath throughout the book waiting for his final capture and arrest. Unsurprisingly, Blackie manages to outwit and escape every cop in San Francisco. When will he get his comeuppance, or does he continue to live under a lucky star?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I picked-up this book because I really enjoy the radio show from the 40s of the same name. This book picks-up where the radio show ends (before the TV series, which I had no idea existed until a friend told me). It is really great to see the same characters again as well as have them placed in clever situations that were highly enjoyable to read. I didn't have much hope for this book when I started, but was pleasantly surprised after the first couple of chapters. This is a collection of short st I picked-up this book because I really enjoy the radio show from the 40s of the same name. This book picks-up where the radio show ends (before the TV series, which I had no idea existed until a friend told me). It is really great to see the same characters again as well as have them placed in clever situations that were highly enjoyable to read. I didn't have much hope for this book when I started, but was pleasantly surprised after the first couple of chapters. This is a collection of short stories that are intertwined making me think they were released as a serial in a monthly magazine. Good writing and stories; makes me wish there was more from Jock Boyle, but I haven't been able to find anything else written by him except for this title.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    Gave up. Too 19th century ... in writing, plot, attitudes. Boring and semi-offensive. Not that some 19th century authors aren't very readable. Gave up. Too 19th century ... in writing, plot, attitudes. Boring and semi-offensive. Not that some 19th century authors aren't very readable.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Boren

    This is a good book in the crime/mystery genre that is also a throwback to the mid to early 20th century. Boston Blackie is a reformed safe-cracker, and jewel thief, who has a strict code of honor. He will not snitch on anyone, even if it means it goes poorly for himself. This is a very enjoyable read, and it made me look up some of the old movie and TV series from long ago about the famous Boston Blackie. I would recommend this to anyone who has a nostalgia for crime stories the way they used to This is a good book in the crime/mystery genre that is also a throwback to the mid to early 20th century. Boston Blackie is a reformed safe-cracker, and jewel thief, who has a strict code of honor. He will not snitch on anyone, even if it means it goes poorly for himself. This is a very enjoyable read, and it made me look up some of the old movie and TV series from long ago about the famous Boston Blackie. I would recommend this to anyone who has a nostalgia for crime stories the way they used to be, before vulgarity and porn took over.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bill Groom

    Boston Blackie is a book, a radio show,movie, and tv show. This book gives you a hint of why they all state that this crook who live by a code " is a enamy to thouse who make him an enamy, and a friend who has no friend." this story written around 1919 is a great example of the values and speech of the time along with being a great read. Boston Blackie is a book, a radio show,movie, and tv show. This book gives you a hint of why they all state that this crook who live by a code " is a enamy to thouse who make him an enamy, and a friend who has no friend." this story written around 1919 is a great example of the values and speech of the time along with being a great read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence

    interesting look at the book that led to movies, books and classic radio shows. People who lived inthefirst half of the Twentieth century will find this book from 1919 interesting reading.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Melvyn

    Excellent read! Keep in mind vintage 1919 and it will be most enjoyable!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Charles H Berlemann Jr

    This is a collection of the short stories that Jack Boyle, himself a crook and who wrote these while in prison in California, wrote of a crook named Boston Blackie. The radio and movies that were using these short stories as basis for a character seem to sell the character of Blackie as a Robin Hood who was turning his life around, a modern day heroes who helped the down trodden. The reality is that these stories were sort of about the crook doing on to other crooks and saving folks that seem to This is a collection of the short stories that Jack Boyle, himself a crook and who wrote these while in prison in California, wrote of a crook named Boston Blackie. The radio and movies that were using these short stories as basis for a character seem to sell the character of Blackie as a Robin Hood who was turning his life around, a modern day heroes who helped the down trodden. The reality is that these stories were sort of about the crook doing on to other crooks and saving folks that seem to have run afoul of major syndicates, the long arm of the law or those that were just found to be needing some help and somehow turned Blackie's heart. Most of the stories are from Pre-WW1 and show a pulp feel in both the stilted phrasing and the quick resolutions to a couple of the stories, or the cliff hangars that seem to run from chapter to chapter in the longer stories. In the end, they weren't great, but they weren't totally bad. It just went and showed me that yet again what Hollywood gets their hands on a popular character they totally rearrange that character to help sell the movie, tv or radio version. This is really for a fan of pulp detective or action stories and those that know what sort of hack like or even trope like writing they are getting into. Anyone who has read modern action or detective stories would find these dull and the language hard to read, to which I would say you aren't missing much if you pass this up.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Boyle, Jack. Boston Blackie. 1919. MysteriousPress.com/Open Road, 2014. I first encountered Boston Blackie in old films on 1950s TV and Saturday matinees. He never impressed me as a kid, but the name stuck with me. I could never figure out from the films why he was called Blackie or what he had to do with Boston, because the filmmakers had cleaned up and so downplayed the character’s back story that one could easily confuse him and his wife Mary with Nick and Nora Charles of Thin Man fame. Boyle, Boyle, Jack. Boston Blackie. 1919. MysteriousPress.com/Open Road, 2014. I first encountered Boston Blackie in old films on 1950s TV and Saturday matinees. He never impressed me as a kid, but the name stuck with me. I could never figure out from the films why he was called Blackie or what he had to do with Boston, because the filmmakers had cleaned up and so downplayed the character’s back story that one could easily confuse him and his wife Mary with Nick and Nora Charles of Thin Man fame. Boyle, who had done time in prison for crimes committed to feed a substance abuse habit, intended him as a cat burglar and jewel thief, whose crimes often serve to right injustices. He saw the police as often corrupt and the prison system as unfair and cruel. Blackie was a figure in the Boston underworld who did time in San Quentin and moved his operation to San Francisco. The novel, a cobbled together set of short stories from Red Book, have a hardboiled edge tempered with some sentimentality and overwrought prose that would be at home in a Dickens story. We Americans love to make heroes of our bad guys, but we also like to sand down their rough edges. By the time the movies got him, Blackie was a wise-cracking amateur detective and his cops comic foils. Nevertheless, Blackie had an almost forty-year run in popular culture, testimony to the endurance of the formula.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Georgia

    Because of naustalia, I tried this book as I remember seeing a movie of Boston Blackie when I was young. The book, however, is not for me. It's almost like Robin Hood paying retribution upon those breaking the criminal code of ethics. He is a thief no less. The book is like short stories of different instances involving crooks or when Blackie is successful on a heist. Because of naustalia, I tried this book as I remember seeing a movie of Boston Blackie when I was young. The book, however, is not for me. It's almost like Robin Hood paying retribution upon those breaking the criminal code of ethics. He is a thief no less. The book is like short stories of different instances involving crooks or when Blackie is successful on a heist.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michael Bierbaum

    As Good As You're Gonna Get! San Francisco, a hundred years ago. The fog conceals the crook lurking in the dripping shadows. The City sleeps. Another jewel heist, another impenetrable safe cracked, another robber baron separated from his ill-gotten gains. A movement in the gloom, the pearlescent glow momentarily illuminates a flinty determined face: Boston Blackie. . . As Good As You're Gonna Get! San Francisco, a hundred years ago. The fog conceals the crook lurking in the dripping shadows. The City sleeps. Another jewel heist, another impenetrable safe cracked, another robber baron separated from his ill-gotten gains. A movement in the gloom, the pearlescent glow momentarily illuminates a flinty determined face: Boston Blackie. . .

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maura DeJaynes

    The detail in these older works is refreshing. The protagonist in this novel reminds me of someone such as Red in the blacklist. He's a criminal yet you find yourself wanting him to succeed because hes not all that bad. The detail in these older works is refreshing. The protagonist in this novel reminds me of someone such as Red in the blacklist. He's a criminal yet you find yourself wanting him to succeed because hes not all that bad.

  13. 5 out of 5

    John Williams

    I got no use for Coppers! This i a wonderful Read! It's from the Old Days, when life and how you lived it, mattered. When you loved and you lived like you knew your love was important, to you, to your people, yeaa, even to strangers. And it made you strong, lovely, rich, alive. I got no use for Coppers! This i a wonderful Read! It's from the Old Days, when life and how you lived it, mattered. When you loved and you lived like you knew your love was important, to you, to your people, yeaa, even to strangers. And it made you strong, lovely, rich, alive.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    loved this tale of post WWI cops and robbers..

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sue J

    Glad I read it. I remember Boston Blackie from when I was very young. Good to catch up to him.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bert

    I listened to the Livrovox recording of this book by Winston Tharp. He did a fabulous rendition which harkened back to the old radio shows. I highly recommend both the book and the recording.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jerry Chick

    Boston Blackie in this book is certainly different than the movie character. But, still a good read where you keep wondering how Blackie is going to get out of each predicament.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jeremiah Horner

    Enjoyable potboiler. I listened to the Librevox version, well read by Winston Tharp.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Booth

    Reads like a page from Guys & Dolls It's tells yous guys the review, I like it! It reads like a page from Guys & Dolls with people!!!!! Reads like a page from Guys & Dolls It's tells yous guys the review, I like it! It reads like a page from Guys & Dolls with people!!!!!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Yvonnica

    Very cool, old style crime book in the style of the old radio show. Quick fun read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sally Spoelstra

    Entertaining While Boston Blackie and his wife Mary are the main characters, there are many short stories with other characters dominating. Very well written.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Hodge

    It was great to learn where the radio show and television series started from! I love Boston Blackie!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jim Lyons

    OK - who didn't think first of "I wish I had a pencil-thin mustache..."? This has been a fun "slow read" written in very plain language, with lots of cigarettes, gold bars, capers, and prison breaks - what's not to like? (Adding - this is over 100 years old!) OK - who didn't think first of "I wish I had a pencil-thin mustache..."? This has been a fun "slow read" written in very plain language, with lots of cigarettes, gold bars, capers, and prison breaks - what's not to like? (Adding - this is over 100 years old!)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael Mcfarren

    Wrong or right Honor among thieves. Is it morally right to break the law for good reasons? That's what I kept thinking throughout this book. Yes I routed for the hero, but wondered why he chose this life. Dystopia readers will see many parallels with this story. Wrong or right Honor among thieves. Is it morally right to break the law for good reasons? That's what I kept thinking throughout this book. Yes I routed for the hero, but wondered why he chose this life. Dystopia readers will see many parallels with this story.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Arthur Tashiro

    Boston Blackie by Jack Boyle (New York: H.K. Fly Co., 1919) Jack Boyle was an ex-convict who wrote about a master thief. This book collects seven stories published in magazines from 1914 on. It’s available for download from online sources such as Munseys, and used hard copies show up in various places; maybe these versions derive from a 1979 reprint by Gregg Press. There is a website (http://jackboylefan.wordpress.com) that goes into the history of the author and his other work. Boyle wrote in a s Boston Blackie by Jack Boyle (New York: H.K. Fly Co., 1919) Jack Boyle was an ex-convict who wrote about a master thief. This book collects seven stories published in magazines from 1914 on. It’s available for download from online sources such as Munseys, and used hard copies show up in various places; maybe these versions derive from a 1979 reprint by Gregg Press. There is a website (http://jackboylefan.wordpress.com) that goes into the history of the author and his other work. Boyle wrote in a sentimental vein like O. Henry’s, about to be displaced. BOSTON BLACKIE was published the same year as Sherwood Anderson’s WINESBURG, OHIO and only a year before Black Mask appeared. Because it’s obsolete, BOSTON BLACKIE is worth a look. It shows what modern realism and hardboiled fantasy worked to escape. Also, Boyle’s sort of fiction evolved and persisted. Blackie himself became the radio and movie detective played by Chester Morris in the 1940s and the TV private eye played by Kent Taylor in the 1950s, whose pencil thin moustache Jimmy Buffett admired. In these later appearances, Boston Blackie was a lighthearted adventurer with a girlfriend named Mary. He was a reformed thief who solved crimes to prove he hadn’t committed them. Boyle’s Blackie hasn’t reformed. He’s a hero of the underworld, a hard man like Donald Westlake’s Parker. But in 1919, he had a wife named Mary and they had shockingly prim ideas about marriage, motherhood, and duty. The mix of grim crime and greeting-card sentiments comes from 19th-century melodrama. Melodrama’s dogma was that any uncorrupted heart knows a natural code of human decency. Stories traced struggles of spontaneous good against both unjust authority and bestial villainy. The declaration of strong feelings was in itself a thrilling spectacle: “My boy is going to live, live, live!” In a wildly trembling hand she waved the newspaper she held. “It's a miracle—it's the miracle I've prayed for.” In Boyle’s vein of fiction in 1915, such scenes were the turning points and payoffs. For a modern reader, these moments disrupt what seems like normal storytelling. Though to us such fervor seems normal in tweets about the desserts in a restaurant. So the Boston Blackie stories are valuable samples of history, if you put aside modern priorities to read them. Then you’ll find they’re trite. They contain interesting conflicts in Blackie’s “crook-world” and some early portrayals of police corruption and prison brutality. But Boyle’s idea of human behavior is one lie after another—it’s inept sentimentality, tone deaf melodrama. Blackie is robbing a mansion when a little boy interrupts him: “Who is you?” lisped the little fellow, smiling confidingly up into Blackie's perplexed face. Then with suddenly increased interest: “You isn't Santy, is you? No, you isn't Santy 'cause that on your face is a hanky, not beards.” The boy can’t sleep unless someone watches over him. Blackie stays with him, saying “I’d do it if the whole house was full of coppers.” This was written around 1914. O. Henry had already made fun of the situation in 1910, in a story called “Tommy’s Burglar.” Little Tommy says, “I’m sure it’s neither agreeable nor usual for a kid of my age to butt in when a full-grown burglar is at work and offer him a red sled and a pair of skates not to awaken his sick mother. And look how they make the burglars act. You’d think editors would know—but what’s the use?” “Well, let’s get through with it, “ the burglar says, and promises not to burglarize another house till the June magazines are out.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Robert Morrow

    Boyle is similar to Rosewater's description of Kilgore Trout, "My God, if the man could only write!" That said, he certainly created an intriguing and original character in Blackie, who has a strong sense of morality, even if that morality is out of sync with society. I've found that I remember more about the details of some of the stories in this book than I do about the book I read last week, particularly those of Blackie's stretch in prison and the boat heist. While Boyle will never be confus Boyle is similar to Rosewater's description of Kilgore Trout, "My God, if the man could only write!" That said, he certainly created an intriguing and original character in Blackie, who has a strong sense of morality, even if that morality is out of sync with society. I've found that I remember more about the details of some of the stories in this book than I do about the book I read last week, particularly those of Blackie's stretch in prison and the boat heist. While Boyle will never be confused with Dickens or Flaubert, he certainly achieved something when he created the fascinating persona of Boston Blackie.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Timothy VanderWall

    It's a bit dated, having been originally published in 1919; but it is a good read nonetheless. Boston Blackie is a gentleman crook who lives by a straight code of life, which is good and honorable (but not necessarily lawful). Even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances, Blackie is true to his code. Originally a series of short stories, it was pulled together into a single volume that flows fairly well. I would especially recommend it to Old Time Radio Mystery fans and those who enjoye It's a bit dated, having been originally published in 1919; but it is a good read nonetheless. Boston Blackie is a gentleman crook who lives by a straight code of life, which is good and honorable (but not necessarily lawful). Even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances, Blackie is true to his code. Originally a series of short stories, it was pulled together into a single volume that flows fairly well. I would especially recommend it to Old Time Radio Mystery fans and those who enjoyed the Boston Blackie TV series back in the day. Originally published in 1919, it has recently been republished by MysteriousPress.com as an ebook. Check it out.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Phil Clymer

    Boston Blackie is presented as a larger-than-life criminal mastermind with a conscience, a modern era Robin Hood only without the giving to the poor part. Blackie has a personal code of conduct that he follows to the letter, but in one of the stories he tricks a woman who is about to leave her husband into a reconciliation with same, but he suffers not a bit of remorse for lifting from her the heirloom jewels in her possession. That being said, the stories are well written and entertaining. It i Boston Blackie is presented as a larger-than-life criminal mastermind with a conscience, a modern era Robin Hood only without the giving to the poor part. Blackie has a personal code of conduct that he follows to the letter, but in one of the stories he tricks a woman who is about to leave her husband into a reconciliation with same, but he suffers not a bit of remorse for lifting from her the heirloom jewels in her possession. That being said, the stories are well written and entertaining. It is a relatively short book and a quick read, and I feel is worth the time and effort.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    Fanciful But Fun to Read Criminal Code of Honor Novel In a world where imagination becomes reality, where a criminal code of honor exits, & where even black hearts beat with a measure of good stands the safe-cracker Boston Blackie a cut above Everyman, a genuine man's man. Crime story author Jack Boyle uses some sappy cops & robbers lingo in the narration to impart a sense of time & place—Frisco shortly the Great San Francisco Earthquake. Overall I found Boston Blackie a nice surprise. I enjoyed Fanciful But Fun to Read Criminal Code of Honor Novel In a world where imagination becomes reality, where a criminal code of honor exits, & where even black hearts beat with a measure of good stands the safe-cracker Boston Blackie a cut above Everyman, a genuine man's man. Crime story author Jack Boyle uses some sappy cops & robbers lingo in the narration to impart a sense of time & place—Frisco shortly the Great San Francisco Earthquake. Overall I found Boston Blackie a nice surprise. I enjoyed reading the book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    BJ Haun

    Picked up the book because I found the old radio show as a podcast on iTunes a year or so back and really enjoy it. Curious to see where the characters came from, I decided to read this. Unfortunately, the book is no where as good as it's descendents. Whereas the radio show features some good witty dialogue, the book is loaded with some almost painfully flowery dialogue. The book is a product of it's time, and unfortunately doesn't translate well into readability by today's standards. Picked up the book because I found the old radio show as a podcast on iTunes a year or so back and really enjoy it. Curious to see where the characters came from, I decided to read this. Unfortunately, the book is no where as good as it's descendents. Whereas the radio show features some good witty dialogue, the book is loaded with some almost painfully flowery dialogue. The book is a product of it's time, and unfortunately doesn't translate well into readability by today's standards.

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