Thursday, February 28, 2008


By Everette Bell
Creative Guy Publishing
52 pages

NO QUARTER is gritty short story. It calls itself a novella and is printed as a chapter book, but with only 52 short pages, it is really a short story. Having said that, it is one hell of a terrific, in your teeth explosion of drama and violence that displays a very strong writing talent. Three men rob a bank, killing several people in the process and then attempt to flee in a stolen vehicle. They are stopped by the cops and forced to take shelter in a tattoo parlor, where once again they unleash a storm of cold blooded violence.

Ace is the punk of the trio, wanting to get to this brother and apologize for turning his sister-in-law into a crack whore. Cuz is the white giant who simply wants to inflict as much pain as he can before he is gunned down. Finally there’s the black man, Juice, who although educated, sees his life as tragedy predetermined by the fates long before he committed his first misdemeanor.

Opposing them is veteran police sergeant James, himself a tough, professional with no illusions about life and the great beyond. James takes the bad with the good and in his confrontation with the three desperate killers, arrives at his own moment of truth.

NO QUARTER is a hard slap to the face that entertains more than its slim package would suggest. Sadly it comes and goes like so much fast food, leaving the reader truly hungry for much, much more. Bell should be honing those storytelling muscles and tackling novels. He has a lot to offer crime fans. Let’s hope he realizes his own potential soon.

NO QUARTER is available on-line at (

Saturday, February 23, 2008


By Natasha Mostert
New American Library
395 pages

Before getting into the review of this book, I have to take a minute and applaud Carla Bolte and Spring Hoteling. Who are they? They are the extremely talented designers who made this book so beautiful. We bibliophiles don’t only to read books, we also appreciate the very objects themselves and are fully aware of the tasks involved in producing a product that is pleasing to the eye. The moment I pulled this book out of its package, my breath caught in my throat. So beautiful was the cover, its colors, fonts and over-all design composition, I simply held it for a few minutes appreciating the true skills of its designers. Take a bow, Bolte & Hoteling, you do exceptional work and I’m sure because of it, lots of people are compelled to pick this book off the store shelves and take a closer look. That is, after all, what book covers are for.

Gabriel Blackstone is an industrial thief who uses the latest wireless computer technology to steal. His best friend is a geek hacker named Isadore and the two of them have a lucrative business going for themselves in the heart of modern day London. People from various scientific and financial companies are their primary clients, as all of them are willing to pay large amounts to know what their competitors are doing. It is a colorful, if often times boring, life and Gabriel is most content with it.

He is not at all happy when the wealthy husband of a former lover approaches him with the request to find his missing son. Gabriel wants nothing to with the man or his offer. Within days of turning him down, he is visited by the man’s wife, his former paramour. It is through her we are informed that Gabriel is a gifted psychic who, at one time, worked for a special organization using extra-sensory abilities to help the police. During a kidnap case, Gabriel refused to use his talent and a young woman was brutally killed before the police could track down her abductor. Blaming himself for her death, Gabriel left the group and ceased using his gift. Now, Frankie, his lost love, wants him to use that talent in finding her missing stepson and Gabriel, still harboring feelings for her, reluctantly acquiesces to her request.

Here the story moves into the realm of an arcane, erotic thriller. It seems Robbie, the lost youth, was last seen in the company of two wealthy and beautiful sisters who consider themsevles witches. Upon meeting them, Gabriel is instantly mesmerized by their sensual graces, their quick intellects and their bravura joie de vivre. As he delves deeper into their mysterious lives, he soon learns that the young man he is seeking is dead, drowned by one of the sisters. But which one? And why? Then, as if that wasn’t enough of a puzzled, Gabriel is attacked psychically and the entire matter takes on horrific implications. His sexy unknown advisory is capable of killing with her mind!

As a writer, Mostert is wonderful at building a very deceptive pacing that seems leisurely. Her choice of words and descriptive passages paint complete atmospheres that captive the reader and pull us into the world of the two sisters. Yet each scene seems to come along like a literary freight train, each moving swiftly towards a taunt, gripping duel that takes place in ever shifting realm of pure thought. Her characters are well drawn and believable, enough to earn the reader’s empathy from the start and to elicit emotional investment.

This is a one powerful, highly entertaining novel that I will remember for a long, long time. If you enjoy tales of modern witchcraft and fantasy, look no further. SEASON OF THE WITCH is your cup of herbal tea.

Monday, February 11, 2008


A Wraith Adventure
By Frank Dirscherl
Coscom Entertainment
162 pages.

In the past five years there has been a tremendous resurgence in pulp fiction centering on the old heroic pulps. Young writers have started taking up the mantle of old masters like
Walter Gibson and Lester Dent and begun creating their own avengers in tales of genuine purple prose. Among the best of this new generation of wordsmiths is Australian, Frank Dirscherl and the exploits of his modern pulp paladin, the Wraith.

VALLEY OF EVIL is the second novel detailing the crusade of this macabre vigilante against the criminal forces that threaten the good citizens of Metro City. In his first adventure, the Wraith battled a mysterious fiend named the Cobra and vanquished him soundly. As this second adventure begins, a new threat arises even deadlier and more insidious. Someone has created a plague of epic proportions and randomly unleashed it. Thousands are dying in the streets of the city and officials are powerless to stop it. Enter the Wraith and his two devoted allies, Max, his mechanic and genius inventor, and Leena, his gutsy girlfriend, who knows no fear when fighting by his side.

As the plot moves along, the Wraith discovers the villain behind the plague is none other than the beautiful Natalya Blackova, the Cobra’s chief aide, along with his former enforcer, the deadly Magnus Khan. Now it is up to the Wraith to find Blackova and Khan and stop them before they destroy the city he has sworn to protect.

Of all the classic heroes, Dirscherl clearly emulates the action-packed tales of the Spider and chronicled by the late Norvell Page, as his plots are always bombastic, over-the-top disasters where the body counts add up faster than the average reader can keep count. The atmosphere is moody, the action relentless and the villains always meet the fates they deserve at the hands of our warrior hero. VALLEY OF EVIL is no exception and wonderfully carries on this pulp tradition without reservation.

My singular quibble with the Wraith adventures is they occur in modern times and that is always an awkward fit, a 1930s hero operating in today’s computer saturated environment. Note, the pulps were never about logic and most of them ignored mountain size plot holes for the sake of action and melodrama. In reading a pulp, you accepted these flaws for the benefit of the ride. The Wraith’s setting just make that road a bit bumpier than it should be. It’s a venial sin I’m all too happy to forgive in lieu of Dircsherl’s writing. This is grand pulp!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Two mysteries by Gil Brewer
Stark House Press
286 pages.

If you, like me, enjoy good, crime fiction, then allow me to point you in the direction of Stark House Press. Here you will find some of the finest mysteries and pulp noir thrillers ever penned by the masters of the genre. Stark House specializes in reprinting long lost classics in thick, wonderfully designed volumes that are jammed packed with good stuff. Each, such as this particular title, contains two complete novels by a particular writer, essays on his life and career and occasionally a short story or two to complete the package. When I wrote editor/publisher, Greg Shepard, last year requesting to be put on their reviewers list, I had no idea the first book he would send me would be such a gem.

Tolbert O’Shaugnessy is a con man. The trouble is he is not a very good one. O’Shaugnessy has a conscience, a real liability in the grifting game. He also has a weakness for alcohol, which tends to aggravate his delicate stomach, and another for beautiful women which almost gets him killed.

At the start of the book, O’Shaugnessy has been romancing Miriam Kindott, a sexy socialite who lives with her wealthy grandmother. His plan is to romance as much of that money from her as he can. It’s a good plan, but unfortunately for O’Shaugnessy, Miriam is two steps ahead of him and hires a private eye to look into his background. When she shows him the report detailing his checkered past to include a stay in the Colorado State Prison, he figures his ticket has been punched. But exposing him for the sake of ending their association is not Miriam’s intent. She likes the fact that O’Shaugnessy is a grifter because she wants him to help her murder Old Lady Kindott and inherit all her wealth.

Many years ago the old woman had a grandson, one Joe Lancaster, who at the age of eight was taken away to live overseas with his father. Except for a few letters over the ensuing years, the boy then disappeared. Grandma Kindott never forgot him and he is the sole recipient of her will. From the same investigator, Miriam has discovered that Lancaster died in England and she wants O’Shaugnessy to impersonate him to get into the old woman’s good graces. Once securely a member of the household, they would murder her, make it look like an accident and together run off with the inheritance.

It sounds simple enough, but O’Shaugnessy is a crook, not a killer. Although he allows Miriam to recruit him in this deadly con, he has nothing but reservations from the moment he comes to live at the Kindott mansion. There he meets Grandma’s beautiful secretary, Ann Elliot, and learns the old lady has a wild South American monkey named Gargantua as a household pet, believing it to be possessed with the spirit of her dead husband. If that wasn’t screwy enough, within a day of moving into the estate, O’Shaugnessy discovers a dead body hidden the basement. The identity of that corpse and its connection to his presence there all begin to crowd in on the reluctant con man. Events begin to spin wildly out of control and he soon begins to suspect he’s the real patsy in a much deadlier game.

A DEVIL FOR O’SHAUGNESSY is expertly written and effortlessly pulls the reader along, with enough twist and turns to keep things interesting. There’s even a very nice, completely rational surprise ending that I enjoyed a great deal. After this, the book showcases three of Brewer’s nasty short stories. My favorite was easily “Love…and Luck,” but each is a gem and wonderful bonus in this collection. It is followed by the second novel.

THE THREE WAY SPLIT tells the story of Jack Holland, a down and out guy who barely makes a living chartering his fishing boat out of Tampa, Florida to rich and bored tourists from the north. On one particular excursion, Jack is forced to dive into the clear waters of the gulf to retrieve a necklace that has fallen from the neck of one of his drunken passengers. In doing so he discovers the wreck of an old sailing ship, the type known to have carried valuable cargos of gold and silver.

Upon his return to his slip, Jack is anxious to tell two people about his amazing discovery. The first is Sally, the girl he loves and hopes to marry and the second is an old sailor named Mike Wales who is expert on ancient wrecks and diving. But his plans are suddenly knocked askew when his con man father, Sam, shows up with mob killers hot on his tail. When the old man learns of the sunken treasure, he muscles himself into the deal, much to Jack’s displeasure. Jack can sense his father’s involvement will lead to no good and his instincts prove correct when a hit man arrives on the scene. Murder follows and Jack’s dreams of a big strike become a nightmare that threatens to destroy him and the woman he loves.

Brewer was a skilled craftsman and he builds suspense slowly and deliberately, leading the reader down an unavoidable path of doom that is the hallmark of classic noir. His characters are flawed, desperate and always believable. That he is considered one of the finest crime writers of his generation is no surprise, it is a title he truly deserved as these two books clearly demonstrate.

So there you have it, two terrific novels and three shorts, all wrapped up like a nice noir gift between two covers. Do yourself a big favor, go to (, find this book and check out all the other great titles available there. Tell them Fortier sent you.

Friday, February 01, 2008


By Van Cort
Berkley Medallion
158 pages

This book was published in 1966 and sold for all of fifty cents, most likely off some drugstore spin rack. What kind of route did it travel through time and through how many different hands before it reached mine? The answer to the last part is simple enough,
my fellow reviewer, Troy “Doc” Holaday found this somewhere, read it and then sent it along to yours truly. But not before registering it on-line at More about that after I’ve reviewed this really terrific western drama.

Clay Rand is a young 19 year old out west to seek his fortune. At the offset he gets in with cattle rustlers and the book opens with Clay and his new found friends about to be hanged for this attempted crime. For reasons unknown to him, the foreman of the lynching party spares Rand’s life and lets him go with a warning. Days later, while traveling alone and still emotionally numb from his brush with death, Rand meets up with a savvy outlaw named Connie Blackwell who imparts a little frontier advice to the boy and gives him one of his extra hand guns. From that point on Clay Rand’s life is buffeted by outside forces and he soon finds himself using that outlaw gun to survive.

Gaining a reputation as a gunslinger, Rand is soon the object of much interest amongst town politicians, ranchers and even the local sheriff. Being handy with a six iron is a marketable talent, he soon discovers. Still, how long before an even faster gun comes along and ends his troubled life? Cort writes an adult story and is very authentic in his portrayal of the burgeoning west with its many complexities, challenges and dangers. In the end, Rand’s journey is very much of self discovery and he is a better person for it. This is an excellent read and if you can find a dog-eared copy in some used book shop, I recommend it highly.

Bookcrossing is an organization made up of thousands of readers from all over the world who enjoy sharing books back and forth. The process is simple enough. Once you’ve registered at their site ( you can list a book, give it a specific identification number, which you then paste somewhere on the book, usually the inside front cover. Then merely send it to someone else and allow them to read it and do the same, after logging on and leaving their own comments or reviews. This is referred to as Read & Release. I’ve yet to decide who I’m going to send JOURNEY OF A GUN to, so if you’d like to have some fun with this, by all means drop me a line.