Presenting a story featuring Steve Costigan. It was first seen in Fight Stories, volume 3, number 8 in January of 1931. Initially, it was a story about Mike O’Brien but got a rewrite focusing on Steve Costigan following a rejection. According to Howard’s letters, it was accepted by Fight Stories in June 1930. He got $80.00 for this story.

See also “Alleys of Peril (synopsis)” and “Untitled synopsis (Alleys of Peril)“.

From the letters

In a letter penned to Tevis Clyde Smith around June 1930, Howard reveals:

Well, I sold “Alleys of Peril” to Fight Stories for $80.00. I haven’t heard from the others I have out.

Howard dispatched a copy of Fight Stories, with his story, to Lovecraft. We gather this information from a letter to Lovecraft in January 1931:

But I’ve rambled enough, and I hope I haven’t bored you. I’m sending you some stuff under separate cover which I hope may be of interest. These are some snap-shots, a magazine containing a story by me, and a tale of A. Merritt’s which recently appeared in Argosy. My story hasn’t any particular merit but it may serve to amuse an idle hour. The magazine containing it, and the pictures are yours to keep, and there’s no hurry about returning the Merritt yarn.

Lovecraft responded after reading Alleys of Peril. In a letter addressed to Howard dated January 30, 1931, he shares:

I read your fight story with keen interest and enjoyment, and believe you succeeded admirably in its creation. It hangs together finely, and has enough varied turns and incidents to satisfy the most exacting popular craving for action. It is lifelike, too, despite the necessary strain on probability, and gives one a real sense of the breathless adventure in unknown and sinister labyrinths. Steve is a likeable chap, for all his simian resemblance; and the reader ends up with three cheers for his indomitable spirit! I never heard of Fight Stories before – surely the “pulp” magazine world is going in for intensive specialisation!


In “Alleys of Peril,” Steve Costigan, a sailor aboard the Sea Girl, is pitted against Red McCoy from the rival ship, the Whale, in a boxing match at the Waterfront Fight Arena in Hong Kong. The fight is refereed by Jack Ridley, first mate of the Castleton, whom Steve immediately dislikes. During the match, after an evenly contested few rounds, Steve is disqualified by Ridley for an alleged foul against McCoy, leading to a controversial loss that enrages Steve and the crowd, sparking a brawl.

After the match, seeking retribution against Ridley, Steve is manipulated by a woman known as the White Tigress. She falsely claims to be a victim of Ridley’s deceit and convinces Steve to confront Ridley in the dangerous Alley of Rats. However, the real motive behind the Tigress’s request is to have Steve unwittingly assist in a plot to steal a valuable ruby from Ridley, which was entrusted to him by To Yan, a powerful figure in the Chinese underworld.

Steve’s journey for vengeance leads him through the murky underworld of Hong Kong, culminating in a violent showdown in a hideout of the White Tigress’s gang. Steve defeats several of the Tigress’s thugs in a brutal fight to save Ridley, who is being held captive. Despite their past conflict, Steve chooses to release Ridley instead of seeking further revenge. Ridley admits his mistake in the boxing match and apologizes to Steve, revealing that he too was deceived by the White Tigress.


  • Steve Costigan: The protagonist, a sailor and boxer from the Sea Girl.
  • Red McCoy: Steve’s opponent, a boxer from the ship Whale.
  • Jack Ridley: First mate of the Castleton and the referee of the boxing match.
  • The White Tigress: A criminal mastermind who manipulates Steve for her own ends.
  • To Yan: Mentioned as a powerful figure in the Chinese underworld, entrusting Ridley with a valuable ruby.
  • Smoky: A thug involved in the plot against Ridley.
  • Squint-Eye: Another thug involved in the plot.
  • Snake: Another thug involved in the plot.
  • The Dutchman: Another thug involved in the plot.
  • Wladek: Another thug involved in the plot.
  • A Cockney: A thug who initially guides Steve and then tries to manipulate him.
  • A stoker from the Castleton: Provides Steve with information about Ridley’s whereabouts.
  • Various thugs: Members of the White Tigress’s gang who attack Steve and Ridley.
  • Mike (Mike the bulldog): Steve Costigan’s loyal bulldog, not directly involved in the main events of this story but mentioned in passing as part of the broader narrative surrounding Steve Costigan’s adventures.


  • Sea Girl: The ship on which Steve Costigan serves.
  • Whale: The ship of Red McCoy, setting the stage for the rivalry.
  • Castleton: The ship on which Jack Ridley serves as the first mate.

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