Monday, October 14, 2019

MYSTERY OF THE AMERICAN YETI


MYSTERY OF THE AMERICAN YETI
(A Hollywood Cowboy Detectives adventure)
By Darryle Purcell
Buckskin Editions Westerns
166 pgs

Reading a new Darryle Purcell book is like having your favorite sweet dessert. In this, his latest Hollywood Cowboy Detectives tale, he pulls out all the stops and offers up another fast paced, action packed adventure that is pure pulp. 

In 1929 a newsreel crew disappeared in the Cascade Mountains of northern California while searching for the legendary creature known as Sasquatch. Years later, one of their film cameras is found in a charity auction held in an isolated mountain town. The head of Republic Pictures assigns top press writer, Curly Woods and studio chauffeur Nick Danby to go and investigate. Curly immediately contacts retired silent screen actor William S. Hart known to have a cabin in the area. Then he, Nick and western star Hoot Gibson, drive to up to rendezvous with Hart, who will guide them on this particular hunt.

Upon arriving in the Cascades they are ambushed by several members of the American communist party which only adds to the puzzle. What are Reds doing in the area and what is their connection to the missing film crew? This is followed by an encounter with a smelly, hairy beast and then an attack by a mechanical robot of unbelievable power.

From monsters, to spies and eventually a hidden underground city, our heroes never get a moment of rest as their quest leads them to an amazing discovery that underscores the dangers facing the world. Once again, Purcell invites his readers along displaying a genuine love of his characters, both real and fictional, and his understanding of the times. “Mystery of the American Yeti,” is a rootin-tootin’ gem.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

SABBATH


SABBATH
By Nick Mamatas
Tor Books
302 pgs  

Hexen Sabbath is an 11th Century British knight who enjoys his life of battle and pillaging. He considers himself a Christian warrior and meets his death in combat when he refuses to slay an innocent boy. Centuries later he awakens in modern New York brought back from the dead by an Angel to complete a mission for God. The seven deadly sins have been personified in human form and are planning to destroy the world in a nuclear holocaust. It is Sabbath’s mission to find them and slay them all by decapitation thereby saving mankind.

Before he can begin his gruesome work, Sabbath is befriended by a young woman of Russian descent named Jennifer. Realizing he needs a guide in this new age, he reveals his identity to her and his mission. To his surprise, she reluctantly becomes his ally. By doing so she instantly becomes a target of Sabbath’s most cunning opponents, Pride. In our world, Pride is a powerful politician with aspirations to become the President.

“Sabbath” is dark, humorous romp through today’s sensibilities as it satirically depicts each of the Seven Deadly Sins in all too recognizable personas the readers will be familiar with. There is also lots of blood and gore along the way. It is a daring romp with no quarter given as philosophy meets spirituality head on. This books rocks.

Monday, September 23, 2019


LAST STAGE TO HELL JUNCTION
(A Caleb York Western)
By Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins
Kensington Books
224 pgs

It is always fun to see writers known for a particular genre wander off into unknown territories. Which is exactly what transpired with mystery/crime writer Max Allan Collins took it upon himself to novelize a western movie script by the late Mickey Spillane. The result was four cowboy actioners featuring former gunfighter turned sheriff, Caleb York.

We read book one, a few years ago and thought it a very decent western. Having just finished the fourth in the series (yes, we know, we’ll have to find 2 & 3 eventually) we have to say Collins has adapted to the genre like a cowhand to his Stetson.

At the start of this novel, three of Trinidad’as most well known citizens board a stagecoach for Los Vegas from where they plan on catching a train to Denzer. One is Raymond Parker, an influential business man in the little New Mexico community. The others are rancher Willa Carter and saloon owner Rita Filley. Only a few miles out of town, the stagecoach is waylaid by the Hargrave gang, the driver and shotgun guard murdered and the passengers taken hostage. It is the outlaws’ plan to demand a hefty ransom from Parker’s business partners in Denver.

By the time Sheriff York learns of the incident, it is too late for him to successfully track the bandits. Somewhere in the nearby hills exist an old ghost town and a hotel that offers its services solely to outlaws. The Hargrave gang has made their headquarters and where they are holding their prisoners. Such outlaw lairs were not uncommon in the years after the Civil War. In fact there were actual documented histories of actual “outlaw” towns.

Once York does lean of Hell Junction, the rest of the book is focused on his out-thinking Hargrave and finding a way to rescue his friends, the two women especially dear to him. For a story that is somewhat claustrophobic in that it doesn’t cover a lot of ground, Collins manages to keep the narrative moving forward. As ever, just when we readers need some action, Caleb York’s .44 is there to provide it in a seamless fashion. This is solid story-telling with fascinating characters and could easily be transferred to the big screen by some enterprising movie producer. We can only wish. In the meantime we have the books and that in itself is a pleasure.

+++

Now we don’t usually do this, but with this paperback edition we simply could not hide our distaste for the cover. Having grown up in the 50s and 60s, we were treated to western paperbacks that sported painted covers by some of the finest artists in the world, ala Robert McGinnis and many others. Whereas this title looks totally photo-shopped with the supposed hero looking like a Chippendale model from Beverly Hills. If we were female and a devotee of Harlequin romances, then we might it find it appealing. But not for a rough and tumble, old-fashion shootem-up. Publisher…take note.  Please.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

BY FIRE ABOVE


BY FIRE ABOVE
(A Signal Airship Novel)
By Robyn Bennis
Tor Books
367 pgs

Among the more than fifty novels we read last year, one of our favorites was Robyn Bennis steampunk adventure “The Guns of Above.” Now she has given us its sequel, “By Fire Above” and it not only as good as her first outing, but in many ways far superior. Simply put, it’s a page-turning delight.

We are reunited with the Garnian airship Mistral and its crew of stalwart men and women led by the no-nonsense Captain Josette Dupre; aided by the flamboyant and witty Lord Bernat Hinkal. The same Lord Hinkal who just happens to be her mother’s lover. There’s also recently promoted Ensign Kemper and Sgt. Jutes among others. Believe me, within a few pages of introucing each, Bennis fleshes them out brilliantly.

In the previous novel, Josette’s hometown of Durum had fallen to the enemy forces of Vinzhalia. In the first half of this book, she learns how to gain favor among the Garnian royal court in hopes of persuading the Command Staff to approve the retaking of the town. With the help of Bernat and his older brother, Roland, she miraculously manages to gain an audience with the King and then is stunned to learn he is willing to grant her wish; the army will march on Durum with Mistral flying support.

Bennis’ satirical depiction of court life and politics is both insightful and funny. Yet it is only the prelude to the heart of the adventure. Once the campaign to retake Durum is underway, she pulls out all the stops and the action ramps up to full speed ahead. It is so fast and precise; you’ll have trouble catching your breath from chapter to chapter. Her weaving of multiple, fascinating characters throughout explosive, suspense filled combat is simply amazing.

Bennis is one of the finest writers we’ve ever had the pleasure of discovering and her Mistral adventures exceptional in every way. Think C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower in the sky and you’ll get the idea. If you love imaginative action, adventure and truly remarkable characters, please, do not miss “By Fire Above.”

Saturday, August 24, 2019

THE OTHER REALM


THE OTHER REALM
Book Three of the Utgarda Trilogy
By Joab Stieglitz
Rantings of a Wandering Mind
185 pgs

In the first two books of this trilogy we were introduced to Father Sean O’Malley, a Catholic priest, Anna Rykoy, a Russian anthropologist, and Dr. Harold Lamb. The three of them encountered strange occult happenings at a north-east college which in turn led them to New York and the strange disappearance of pulp writer Brian Teploy. At the conclusion of the second novel, the trio discovered Teploy had been committed to a sanitarium having suffered a mental breakdown and were off to find him.

“The Other Realm” picks up where the last ended only to have our heroes uncover a startling revelation. Aliens from another dimension have been visiting our world and in doing so run afoul of a scientist with delusions of grandeur. He ultimately goes insane with the power he is able to leech from them. At the same time he manages to kidnap Teploy and imprison him in another dimension actually constructed from the pulp writer’s own imagination.

The only way to save Teploy, according to alien beings, is for Anna and Harry’s minds to enter that fictional world and become a part of it. Thus after two books clearly set in a normal 1920s background, Stieglitz then throws us into a sword and sorcery adventure that reads like a blending of H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Rice Burroughs. He offers up a dangerous quest unlike any we’ve ever encountered before.

“The Other Realm,” is as enjoyable as the first two books and the added genre twist gives it a surprising romp we were not expecting. At the conclusion the author sets the stage for possible future adventures with O’Malley, Rykoy and Lamb. We’d like nothing better.

Friday, August 09, 2019

TORRID TWINS


TORRID TWINS
A Tokey Wedge Swinger
By Jack Lynn
Grizzly Pulp
168 pgs

Tokey Wedge is an old throw-back Private Eye ala Shell Scott. Operating in the big city with a couple of friends on the police force, Tokey has a way of getting into trouble when it comes to hot-blooded dames. In this outing, he’s hired by a rich tycoon named Langland, to protect his precious rock, the Black Opal. The financier has serious money troubles and Tokey is convinced he’s planning on stealing the gem himself to collect the big insurance policy.

Adding dangerous spice to the situation is Langland’s wife, a buxom sex-pot named Virginia who is into a local mobster for serious gambling debts. She needs the cash to get her neck out of the noose. As if she wasn’t dynamite fleshly delights enough, Virginia has an identical twin sister who was once her husband’s former lover. Abbigail, nicknamed Nabby, is an alcoholic lush who despises her sister for stealing her man. So Tokey has two raging nymphos two handle…pun intended. But the trouble doesn’t end there. The case also offers up a third femme-fatale in the shape of Langland’s beautiful stepdaughter from his deceased first wife, Sonya. Though only a lowly 36 C, the half-Japanese Sonya makes a living as a bra-model.

“Torrid Twins” is so true to its sweat-mags roots as to propel the reader on a pulp time-travel adventure. The raunchy humor, the two fisted punches and the flying hot-lead resound with genuine authenticity from a time long gone. If you recall those days with fondness and need a good laugh, grab a copy. As Tokey might say, “It’s a handful of action.”

Monday, August 05, 2019

JACE OF THE JUNGLE


JACE OF THE JUNGLE
A Snapshot Novella
By Dale Cozort
121 pgs

I’ve been a big fan of writer Dale Cozort’s unique Snapshot books since the start. In them he envisioned an all powerful race of aliens who could duplicate any part of human history on our planet and duplicate it perfectly, molecule for molecule. Imagine these god-like beings creating an exact duplicate of Argentina in 1920, meaning everything in that country at that time would then exist in a bubble…while the original Argentina would still exist here on Earth. Thus there would be two, with the “snapshot” double now at the whims of these aliens, where by they could attach that bubble to another that might contain France in 1955 and then allow the people in both bubbles to cross a zone tunnel and interact.

Okay, so yes, it gives us headaches too. The thing is Cozort is crafty enough to use this world building to his story-telling advantage. In his latest Snapshot Novella, “Jace of the Jungle” he totally goes all Edgar Rice Burroughs with a young eleven year old white boy living in a hodge-podge Africa that features ape-people, Roman Legions, lost cities and dinosaurs. See what I mean? This is pulp-weaving and he pulls it off with so much fun and enthusiasm, this little 121 pg book is a tease appetizer leaving us wanting a whole lot more.

Like ERB? Like romantic jungle adventures? Like action and adventure galore? Then what are you waiting for? “Jace of the Jungle” is waiting for you.