Talisman of Doom – James W. Marvin (1935)

sascoverFlaming death rattled from Brad Langdon’s gun. Yeah, baby!

In WWI The Great War, when men were men, women were women, and planes were bi, Langdon and his boys are attacked by nine German Fokkers (heh, heh).  Langdon gets his Mann, sending him “screaming to earth in a billowing black cloud of smoke.

Sadly, one of his mates is shot down and the other is being pursued by the eight remaining Fokkers (heh, heh).  He is able to identify the plane as his brother’s because of the titular talisman fluttering from the strut, “a girl’s brassiere that Rocky had brought triumphantly back to the tarmac with him from his last leave of absence in Paris.

The Germans shoot down Rocky’s airplane.  He is already dead as he falls from the cockpit and no chute is seen, his last words being, “Yo Ardennes!”  Langdon, in a rage, dives after them, but they retreat back to Deutschland without engaging him. He can see Germans on the ground already swarming over his brother’s crashed craft.

Back at HQ, Colonel Higgins tells Langdon that three ammunition dumps have been bombed that month.  It is believed German spies are secretly sending intel from France to Germany — written on items of lingerie.  When the Germans see such an item fluttering from a strut, they focus their attack on downing that particular plane to get the info.

Langdon knows the name — Jeanne — and address of the mademoiselle who gave his brother the bra.  He bravely volunteers to remove another bra from this French babe. War is hell.

Langdon goes to her maison and is surprised to see Jeanne is “a girl, half-child, half-woman.”  Which makes sense —  the Germans had tried using more voluptuous women, but their bras made the planes fly in circles.  She gets over Rocky pretty quickly and Langdon stays the night.  She gives him her bra as a souvenir.

The Colonel writes a new message in the bra and Langdon goes on a suicide mission to deliberately get shot down for having a bra on his strut.  If the target the Colonel wrote in the bra gets bombed, then they will haul the French girl in and shave her head; and maybe work on those ‘pits too.[1]

The plan works.  Langdon is shot down, but does not fall like a Rocky — he is able to make a controlled landing in his damaged craft.  Flight Commander Higgins [3] is then able to rescue him before the Germans get to the site.

When the bogus target is bombed, Langdon goes to Jeane’s house.  He tells her he had to abandon the titular talisman she gave him.  She gamely offers the bra off her back to replace it.  He rips the bra off, and for the third story so far, a character exhibits a weird fetish for piercing a woman’s left breast:

  • Talisman of Death: He trained [his service automatic] at her naked left breast. 
  • Black Murder:  The figurette was unmistakable — it was Wynne Dana herself, entirely nude, with white jutting breasts tipped and pointed.  The head was lowered over a long, shiny pin that transfixed the left breast.
  • Suez Souvenir:  Buried to the hilt in the firm white flesh of her young, virginal, rounded left breast was a short oriental scimitar.

One of the better stories in the collection — this one actually had a plot.  This one also did the best job at making nudity actually be both German and germane to the plot — not essential, but appreciated.


  • [1] I had a link to pictures of French women getting their heads shaved after D-Day for sleeping with Nazis.  Even though they are likely dead and they did offer comfort to the enemy, it seemed a little mean-spirited at this point.
  • [2] On the other hand, I did learn that their act was called “collaboration horizontale”  That’s even more awesome than my idea of “aiding and a-bedding the enemy”.
  • And way, way better than my first draft “providing aid and a comforter to the enemy.”
  • [3] Either this is the same guy as Colonel Higgins, or the service back then was literally a Band of Brothers.
  • First published in April 1935.

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