Monday, July 20, 2020

MURDER in the RUE DUMAS


MURDER IN THE RUE DUMAS
By M.L. Longworth
Penguin Books
296 pgs.

We confess to not reading all that many new books from other countries and perhaps should do so more often. “Murder in the Rue Dumas” comes to us from France by way of M.L. Longworth. She actually resides in Aix, the setting of this story and so generously paints a warm and beautiful picture of the area. Enough to have us wondering how delightful a town it would be to visit. Just not when people are being murdered there.

The head of philosophy department at the nearby college is planning to retire and several of his colleagues are hoping to be his replacement. The position not only comes with prestige and a raise, but also included is a fabulous apartment suite on the campus itself. Some actually believe the apartment if more valuable than the title itself and there is the fact that once awarded, it is a lifetime position. Things go awry when at a party in his apartment, Prof. Moutes tells his friends he has changed his mind and is not going to retire. The next morning he is found dead in his office, his head smashed in.

Enter Judge AntoineVerlaque and Inspector Bruno Paulik to systematically interview the usual suspects from among the faculty and student body. Longworth never rushes the plot along and some readers may be distracted by several of her musings on travel, cooking and love, but we found each delightful. Each of these digressions enhanced our overall enjoyment of the story. Of course the mystery is solved in the end, both by intuition and solid clues but honestly, with “Murder in the Rue Dumas,” it is the journey to it we appreciated most.

Maybe its time to see if our passport is still valid.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

WHO'S WHO in NEW PULP


WHO’S WHO in NEW PULP is now available at Amazon. Here are 222 bios of the finest New Pulp writers, artists, reviewers, editors and publishers. All proceeds from sale of the book to go to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  Note – all participants can purchase copies directly from Rob Davis – Art Director Airship 27 Production.
Thanks to all who helped make this book possible.
AMAZON LINK –
(https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946183830?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860)

Sunday, July 05, 2020

MIAMI HEIST


MIAMI HEIST
By Van Allen Plexico
White Rocket Books
230 pgs

Two years ago, Pulp Factory Award winning sci-fi writer, Van Plexico turned his considerable writing skills to produce a crime thriller. It was called “Vegas Heist” and went on to win his second Best Novel Pulp Factory Award, making him the only writer to have done so in the group’s fifteen year history. As one of the reviewers of “Vegas Heist,” we immediately joined the chorus of readers urging him to do another and here it is much to our unadulterated delight.

Back in action are thieves Harper and Salsa and this time their target is a stash of Nazi good bars hidden on a small island off the coast of Miami, Florida. It’s 1966 and a full year has passed since the duo’s successful Vegas caper. But rather than continue to live leisurely off their ill-gotten gains, the guys are getting restless. Which is when Salsa learns the rumor of the lost Nazi gold on Ruby Island and persuades Harper to help him investigate whether it’s a mere folk tale or in fact has some validity.

Disguised as bridge card players attending a tournament, the two, along with their lovely ladies, travel to the island owned by millionaire Landsdale to scout out his multi-room mansion serriptiously. Harper considers it a wild goose chase until, but pure accident, actually uncover the gold. Rest easy, there are no spoilers here. Needless to say, once they know there is a wealth of gold ready for the taking, Harper quickly begins making a plan and assembling a team. Whereas the closer the day of the heist approaches, several incidents arise which have him second-guessing the entire caper.

By the time the actual robbery is under way, Hurricane Inez hits the area and things quickly begin to fall a part. Like all such tales, there is plenty of suspense, surprises and betrayals all leading to a wet and bloody climax none of the characters could have ever predicted. Once again, Plexico delivers a blistering story that had this reviewer turning pages so fast as to blur the words. This is a new classic crime thriller and a very welcomed addition to what we pray is a series only getting warmed up.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

THE GIRL WITH THE DEEP BLUE EYES


THE GIRL WITH THE DEEP BLUE EYES
By Lawrence Block
Hard Case Crime
Titan Books
234 pgs

With this novel, Block tips his noir fedora to the late novelist James M. Cain who wrote both “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and “Double Indemnity.” Both are considered crime fiction classics and both revolve around a beautiful femme fatale who seduces her lover into helping her murder her husband.

Doak Miller is a divorced, retired New York cop living in Florida and doing a little P.I. work. When the local sheriff asks his help in setting up a sting, it is to catch a beautiful young woman looking to hire someone to kill her older, rich husband. But once Miller sees a photo of Lisa Yarrow Otterbein, he falls for her like the proverbial ton of bricks. Which poses the immediate problem of extracting from the trap she is in and then convincing the sheriff she actually changed her mind about wanting her spouse six feet under.

Once Doak confesses to Lisa he is on her side and the two become lovers, it is only inevitable they will again confront the same problem; how to get rid of the old man so they can both live high off his riches. Doak, per his experiences as a police officer, knows the odds against them being able to successfully get away with it. The sheriff already has Lisa on his radar and should hubby suddenly drop dead, regardless of how it happens, he would logically focus on Lisa as his primary suspect.

Block is a mean writer and not for the squeamish. His characters are raw unlikeable people and yet still mesmerizing in their own tragic ways. Doak’s dilemma boils down to his being unable to keep “it” in his pants. A subject that comes up all too often and one he never shies away from, even with Lisa; the flesh and blood embodiment of all his past sexual fantasies. Can this be true love?

One can’t help but relish the scenes in which Doak is glued to his TV set watching noir classis on the Turner channel, to include both “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and “Double Indemnity.” He can’t help but reflect that both are versions of his own story and wonders if their calamitous climaxes are fated for him and Lisa as well. Whereas they are only the products of a fevered writer’s imagination, Doak and Lisa are all too real. Once started, you will have a hard time putting this one down.

Monday, June 29, 2020

THE LONG HIGH NOON


THE LONG HIGH NOON
By Loren D. Estleman
Forge Books
271 pgs

There are writers who are so damn dependable, you can pick up anything they’ve done and know before even opening the cover you are going to be entertained to the max. One such pulp scribe, is Loren D. Estleman. Though known primarily for his mysteries, Estleman is also highly regarded for his down to earth, folksy westerns. His knowledge of history is spot on and as wild and colorful as his western characters may be, they always appear on a realistic stage to tell their tales.

Such is the case with this wildly insane comedy from 2015. Cowboys turned gunslingers, Randy Locke and Frank Farmer are feuding but neither can remember why. The only thing they know is each wants to shoot the other dead. And thus begins this chase after one another that goes from the 1880s up through the start of the new century. From all over the west, to Barbary Coast of California, to the Oklahoma Territories, the gold fields of Alaska and the oil fields of Texas. It is a journey both men will endure numerous hardships and deprivations to eventually satiate their obsessive goal; to kill the other in a fair gunfight.

If you think the plot is outlandish, you are correct but Estleman’s way with the times, the birth of a nation and the people who parented it are part of the magic he imbues in Randy and Frank. In them is the good and bad in all of us, fighting to achieve even a modicum of purpose in this mystery we call life. “The Long High Noon” is one of the most unforgettable books we’ve ever read. If you like originality, so will you. Count on it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

EIGHT AGAINST THE DARKNESS


EIGHT AGAINST THE DARKNESS
By Mark Allen Vann
Xepico Press
147 pgs

The real pleasure of writing this blog is discovering talented New Pulp writers like Mark Allen Vann. This, his first book, is a collection of eight stories all debuting a new pulp hero created from the familiar tropes of the classics from the 30s and 40s. In these pages the reader will find a Warrior Prince, Victorian Agent, Mentalist, Adventurer, Witch Hunter, Sky Pirate, Masked Vigilante and of course an Occult Detective.

Vann, in his insightful afterwards to the collections, makes no apologies for using those tried and true hero molds as he was raised on the super-charged tales of Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, Johnston McCauley and Walter Gibson, among so many others. Rather, he is wise enough to put his own personal twist to each character and very effectively makes them new and fresh. No small achievement, believe us. We’ve seen lots of other young writers attempt such only to fail miserable with their copycat inventions.

Corr maybe related to Conan, but except for swinging a mean sword and being one hell of a bruiser, that’s where the similarities part ways. Alistair Synne may have gone to school with Solomon Kane, but he clearly graduated with his own peculiar skills, including to flintlock pistols that fire bits of his soul every time he shoots them. Then there is the beautiful steampunk sky pirate, Red d Havick, captain of the Scarlet Mistress adventuring on a world where massive islands float.

We would be hard pressed to name a favorite among the eight action packed tales in this collection. What we will say is, all of Vann’s heroes totally deserve lots more stories; each is that much fun and exciting to follow. This is one of the most audacious new pulp debuts in a long time and if Vann is thinking of a sequel, we’d really like to see his take on a western. Bottom line Mark Allen Vann is a name you will soon be hearing a whole lot more and that, dear readers, is a wonderful thing. Count on it.

Saturday, June 13, 2020


LEGACY – OM NIBUS Vol One
By Warren Murphy and Gerald Welch
Destroyer Books
454 pgs.

In our last review, we were reminded how Pinnacle books appeared on the scene shortly after we came home from Vietnam in 1968. They released two paperback pulp series; The Executioner by Don Pendleton and Created – The Destroyer by Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy. As we discussed Mack Bolan last time, with this review we’re going to take a look at a new spin-off series that sprang from the elements of the Destroyer saga. But first, let’s give you some background.

The Destroyer novels were about a U.S. government agent named Remo Williams. The hero first appears as a Newark cop framed for a crime and sentenced to death. His death is faked by the government so he can be trained as an assassin for CURE, a secret organization set up by President Kennedy to defend the country by working outside the law. The head of CURE is Harold W. Smith, a man selected by the President not only for his brilliant mind but also because of his integrity. Remo’s trainer father-figure is Chiun, a deadly assassin and the last Master of Sinanju, a Korean based martial art far superior than any other such fighting techniques.

Unlike the realism of the Mack Bolan adventures, the tales of Remo and Chiun were outlandish escapades bordering on fantasy. Remo could dodge bullets and Chiun walked on water. This was pulp exaggeration to the max and the books never took themselves seriously. They were spot-on satires jabbing at political tomfoolery under the thin veneer of action stories. In time, Sapir and Murphy parted ways and ghost-writers were brought on to continue the series which would run to 150 books. There was even a movie which starred Fred Ward as Remo and Joel Grey as Chuin. Though a box-office bomb, it struck a nerve with fans and remains a cult classic.

Eventually Pinnacle sold the series to Tor books. Sapir passed away in 1987 and the rights reverted back solely to Murphy. Once he had control of his creation, Murphy set about expanding the Destroyer concept and began working with young writers to assist him in launching both a new Destroyer series continuing the exploits of Remo and Chuin, but along with young writer Gerald Welch, he produced a spin-off titled Legacy which would introduce the world to Remo’s two children, Stone Smith and his half-sister Freya. After Murphy’s passing in 2015, Welch continued to sibling stories maintaining the same style and effervescences associated with the characters.

Having read and enjoyed those early Destroyer paperbacks, we were actually taken by surprise upon receiving “Legacy – Omnibus” as we had no idea that series had been revived and evolved in this exciting new version. The giant sized omnibus collects the first three Legacy titles, “Forgotten Son,” “The Killing Fields,” and “Overload.” All are terrific and expand upon the new characters from Stone and Freya to their grandfather, “Sunny Joe Roam.” It also fleshes out an historical back-story about Sinanju and its splinter group, an actual Native American tribe living on a reservation in Arizona. Now if that isn’t wonky pulp fare, we don’t know what is. “Legacy – Omnibus” is a grand introduction to the new world of The Destroyer and not only has those first opening chapters but is packed with bonus “extras” that enrich the entire reading experience. It is an awesome package any pulp fan would treasure. It now has a special place in our own library. If like this reviewer, you are an old fan of the series, then this is cause for celebration, The Destoryer(s) is back!