Pete Carse is a man down on his luck. A former circus strongman turned proprietor of an inter-island airline
|Lester Dent, looking the part.|
The guy can do no more than identify himself as "Agile Sharp" and force himself to vomit up a scrap of paper, folded tight and wrapped in rubber, before dying of a gunshot wound taken during the scrap. Taking the piece of paper, Carse finds a tiny map to a tiny island.
Finding the island proves surprisingly easy for Carse, eager to retrieve his stolen plane. Once there, he finds Sharp's daughter Theresa, sunburned and eager to avenge her father's death; her companion Jool, a tough-talking giant of a black man; Largo and his gang; and a secluded lagoon filled with a couple hundred years' worth of derelict vessels, the rotting skeletons of their crews still sprawled across their decks. Jool calls it the work of a devil, and Carse knows he's stumbled into something far greater than a stolen sea-plane...
As much as Dent maintained no illusions about the quality of his work, once famously describing his output as "reams of sellable crap," "Hell Cay" is pretty good stuff. The plot's a bit threadbare, for sure, and I don't feel like the one-sentence explanation of why Largo was after Sharp in the first place really serves its expository purpose, but such is life, and such is pulp.
What I really liked in the story is the "Devil" at work in the lagoon. I won't spoil it for you, readers, because it's something to be read and experienced for one's own self, but I will say it's simultaneously wholly believable and the sort of thing Pulp is for. It's killed hundreds on this tiny, nameless island and it nearly claims our heroes as well.