Sunday, December 31, 2006


by Andrew Salmon
327 pages
Available at (

This is a straight out science fiction detective thriller that fires on all cylinders. In the not too distant future, the world has been ravaged by a series of natural disasters that have decimated the population. To help rebuild societies around the globe, mankind has taken to producing clones. But not just any clones, rather those created from the DNA of dedicated police officers and fire fighters. The idea here is to produce, from old stock, a new cadre of selfless guardians to protect the fragile remains of humanity.

Into this world comes clone, Peter Reilly, grown from the cells of a much decorated Vancouver detective. Once out of the vats, C-Peter Reilly, the prefix obviously designating his artificial origins, soon learns that something has gone terribly awry in his maturation. Clones are grown with the memories of past lives erased so that they don’t have carry around baggage of lost tragedies. Minus these emotional hang-ups, they can enter this new world with a clean slate. But something is wrong with Reilly. He has memories of his first life, of his wife and children and the world before the devastation.

Such information is considered taboo amongst the governing councils responsible for cloning and should his secret be discovered, he would instantly be mind-wiped. Reilly must keep the fact of his memories to himself, at the same time attempt to cope both mentally and physically with his “second” life.

Salmon’s writing reminded me a great deal of the late Robert Heinlein. He approached classic science-fiction with a new perspective grounded in believable characters so that the reader is never overwhelmed by the strange new worlds the tale unfolds in. Rather C-Peter Reilly is so fully realized, he draws us in to his frightening and exhilarating life. How he copes with his loneliness, anger and ultimate resolve is the true core of the book. If I’ve any real criticism, it is the fact that THE DARK LAND is the first in a proposed series, and too much time is spent on the existing social make up of this post-holocaust environment. I would have preferred more action and focus on the actual murder mystery Reilly is assigned to solve. It seems to take a back stage chair until the climax where it is wrapped up much too quickly. Hopefully future chapters will even the action pacing with the exposition.

All in all and solid thriller that should sought out. Salmon has a bright future ahead of him.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Robbie's Wife
by Russell Hill
Hard Case Crime
258 pages
Due 27 Feb 07

Jack Stone is a sixty year old, divorced Hollywood screen writer trying to stop his life from simply falling apart. He travels to England with the thought of losing himself in some backwater village, away from the confusion that has become his life. Finding solitude, he hopes, will rekindle his passion for writing again and produce something he can sell the movie studios. Stone is a cynical character and he doesn’t have any real hope his exile getaway will produce anything positive. Rather he believes he’ll simply disappear off the face of the globe and no one will give a damn.

Which is exactly what seems to be happening until a wrong turn on a lonely country road brings him to Sheepheaven Farm and Maggie Barlow.

Maggie is an earthy woman, wife and mother, also trapped in a life she abhors. Her husband, Robbie, is a sheep farmer barely making ends meet, which is why they rent out the spare bedroom as a Bed & Breakfast operation. Their ten year old son, Terry, is a precocious lad that Jack takes to immediately. What he doesn’t foresee is how he easily he becomes obsessed with Maggie.

Maggie is a forceful, sexual creature that soon poisons Jack’s every waking second until he is obsessed with her like the tide with the shore. In classic noir fiction, people get sucked into dark deeds almost as if against their will. The passions of the heart overrule the intellect until they are lost in a maze of evil. Jack Stone is a good man who finds himself in love with another man’s wife and will do anything to possess her. He is quickly ensnared in a deadly spider’s web of his own making.

Russell Hill writes deceptively simple first person prose that is froth with psychological complexities. All the while I was reading this book, I kept hoping that Jack would come to his senses and escape his doomed fate. The suspense never lessened until the very last page where the finale is a bitter, honest revelation. This book is a terrific crime thriller destined to become a classic in the genre. They just don’t get any better than this.

Monday, December 11, 2006


The War of the Worlds Murder
by Max Allan Collins
Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
234 pages

Recently there has been a lot of good press concerning the publication of Paul Malmont’s book, THE CHINA DEATH CLOUD PERIL. It seems that all of pulp fandom has been enamored by this fictional account whereby writers Walter Gibson and Lester Dent experience a real adventure vis-à-vis those they created paper. I was one of those reader/critics who loved that book and recommended it to all my pulp loving friends. Well, I’m here today to showcase another book that does the same thing as Malmont’s effort and just as well. Unfortunately this one did not have the luxury of a being a hardcover or getting a marketing blitz to make P.T.Barnum envious as the other did. Which is the real crime here and one I hope to help correct.

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS MURDER is one in a series of murder mysteries set against the backdrop of an historical disaster; all written by the master of this genre, Max Allan Collins. Previous titles in the series were THE TITANTIC MURDERS, THE HINDENBERG MURDERS and THE PEARL HARBOR MURDERS to name a few. Now the twist with this particular entry is it tells the story of the most famous bogus disaster of them all, the 1938 War of the Worlds radio program devised by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater of Air for CBS.

Those of you unfamiliar with that event should immediately dig out your history books or Google and do some reading. On that All Hallow’s Eve, Welles and his cast dramatized H.G.Wells
Martian invasion tale as if it were real and they were news broadcasters bringing the horrifying details to the public. By altering Wells story to a modern setting, the Martians landed in a farm field in New Jersey, the inventive Welles and his crew were able to convince thousands of listeners that we were actually under attack. Hundreds of families packed their kids and belongings into their cars and headed north with all possible speed, clogging up major roadways leading to and from the New Jersey area detailed in the bogus reports.

To be fair, Welles had read a disclaimer explaning the dramatization at the start of the program, but the those people who tuned in late were not privy to that announcement and believed every terrorizing word they heard that night. That this mass hysteria did not cause a single loss of life was nothing short of a miracle. Once the hoax was revealed, the authorities clamored for Welles’ head on a pike, but after a few days, the furor slowly died down and people began to appreciate the dark humor that had so thoroughly tricked them.

Into this setting, Collins plants pulp writer, Walter Gibson, the writer/creator of THE SHADOW. Welles contacts Gibson at his Maine retreat and invites him to New York to work on a proposed screenplay for a Shadow movie that he wants to produce. Gibson, eager to meet the young boy-wonder, agrees to come down. He arrives two days before

Halloween and immediately gets caught up in the War of the Worlds presentation. Collins has fun with Gibson and sketches the writer/magician expertly. He’s clearly a fish-out-water around Welles and his troop of actors, but relishes being among them like a kid in a candy store. He is unaware his role is about to change dramatically.

An hour before the show is to go on the air, a missing young woman, the studio’s receptionist, is found murdered in an empty broadcast room, her throat cut. The weapon by her body, a keen edged blade, belongs to Welles. Shocked by the discovery, Welles turns to the famous mystery writer and pleads with him to solve the murder and clear his name. Thus, as the Welles sets about scaring the wits out of America, Walter Gibson goes on a hunt for a killer who may still be roaming the cavernous halls of the Columbia Broadcasting building.

THE WAR OF THE WORLDS MURDER is just as much fun as THE CHINA DEATH CLOUD MYSTERY and actual trumps it in one important detail, the main plot background is real and actually happened as described. Whereas most of Malmont’s book is pure fabrication. If you are one of those many people who picked up Malmont’s book, then do yourself a big favor and find THE WAR OF THE WORLDS MURDER. It’s like visiting an old neighborhood again, one where you always had a rollicking good time.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


After The Fall
by Peter David
Pocket Books
369 pages

Perhaps no single science fiction franchise has spawned as many books as Paramount's STAR TREK, based on the 60s television show created by the late Gene Roddenberry. Now I don't presume to know how many of these books based on that original series and the its four subsequent sequels have been released. I know I've read lots of them, most of which were from STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION, my personal favorite of all the incarnations of Roddenberry's dream of "the final frontier."

By far the most popular series of all the Pocket Book Star Trek is not based on any of those television shows or the feature films they launched. Rather, the most amazing, original, and thoroughly satisfying adventures based on the Star Trek franchise are those invented by writer Peter David and aptly called New Frontier.

The New Frontier books, of which AFTER THE FALL, is the 18th, center around the Federation Starship Excalibur as helmed by Captain McKenzie Calhoun, a one-time junior warlord, savior of his planet and protege to Captain Jean Luc Picard. McKenzie and his bizarre, fascinating and always intriguing alien crew are the most realized characters ever to populate the Star Trek universe. From the rock-humanoid Kebron to Burgoyne, who is a half-female/half-male Hermat. I won't ever try to explain that; read the books. David has filled his crew with the supporting players from the various TV shows, to even include a couple from the short lived animated Star Trek series, mixing them beautifully with his own creations.

Having said all that, I do have to add that the books do not stand alone all that well. Each is a continuing chapter in an ongoing saga. So, although AFTER THE FALL, is a terrific read, unless you've read the previous books, you are going to be completely lost as to who these people are and what they are about. Still, if you like fast paced, absolutely unique and powerful characters, then I would urge you to make the effort; find those early books and jump on board. It's one hell of a fun ride. One Roddenberry would have truly appreciated.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Lucky At Cards
by Lawrence Block
Hard Case Crime
222 pages
Available in Jan 07

Since arriving on the publishing scene two years ago, Hard Case Crime, has set about reprinting classic crime novels. That it's not surprise that LUCKY AT CARDS is the third such book they have acquired from Grand Master Lawrence Block. No one, except maybe the late Jim Thompson, captures the world of confidence men, and women, better than Block. One has to wonder at his own background. I find it hard to believe that his intimate knowledge of the hustle could be acquired simply by research. Maye some day he'll write an autobiography and fill us all in on how he does it.

For now, we have this 1964 thriller back in print for an entire new audience of mystery-thriller fans. Bill Maynard is a second rate stage magician who gets pulled into the world crooked card games when he is taught how to use his hand dexterity to manipulate a deck three-ways-from-Sunday. Sleight of hand used to cheat people. No longer an honest, two-bit performer, he becomes what is referred to in the criminal circles as a card mechanic.

When fate, and a few broken teeth, land him in a small, out-of-the-way town, Bill plans on sticking around long enough to see a dentist, shill a few locals in a poker game and then beat it for greener pastures. All well and good until he meets Joyce Rogers, the sexy wife of the insurance salesman in whose home the poker game is being held. When Joyce arrives at his hotel room a few hours later and confesses she is from the wild side of the tracks and sees him for the hustler he is, things begin to heat up. Joyce is going crazy stuck in the role of dutiful housewife and desperately yearns for excitement in her life.

Before you can blink, she and Bill are naked and devouring each other physically as if the world were going to end the next day. Joyce Rogers is a femme fatale of the deadliest sort. She wants to run away with Bill, but not without her husband's money. Together they hatch an elaborate sting to achieve that goal. Like all good noir stories, this one has some very unexpected twists and by the end, both Bill and Joyce discover that even a square, unimaginative man like Murray Rogers can become a deadly opponent when the tables are turned and the cards hold a hidden joker.

Block captures all the nuances and tightrope morality of people who live in the shadows with extreme poignancy. He never white-washes them into Hollywood stereotypes, but rather finds the core ambiguousness of their natures. After all, why would anyone in the world want to spend their lives cheating people? Yet, every day, hundreds live that life and are very, very good at it. Reading LUCKY AT CARDS may not explain why they do it, but it will show you how they do it. Get ready for an education.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


by Bobby Nash
FYI Comics
242 pages

Superheroes have been around since Superman first took flight from the imagination of Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster. The thing was no one ever took them seriously. Once the American comic book was fully established by the end of the 1930s, it was as a media of make-believe directed solely towards children.

In the 196os, Stan Lee began to chip away at this immovable label by writing characters that were both amazing with incredible powers while at the same time still very much human as they grappled daily with the same problems all of us face. This new pseudo-realism would reach its culmination peak with the publication of Alan Moore's maxi-series, THE WATCHMEN. Suddenly there was an earthy, fragile unmasking of what true heorics meant to all of us. It was an adult story for an adult audience and superheroes were no longer the exclusive reading material of children. They had grown up.

It wouldn't take long for other venues to latch on to this new found, dramatic maturity. Although the 70s, 80s and 90s would give us new film interpretations of Batman and Superman, they were still mired in adolescent mentality, as is evidence with how quickly the Batman franchise quickly spun out of control with each new entry and was ultimately relegated to a live-action-cartoon status. The movies might have had the right intentions, but they simply didn't understand the true concept of superheroes.

Along comes M.Night Shyamalan and UNBREAKABLE. The first true, adult superhero movie ever made. Bruce Willis' character doesn't have an origin story. He doesn't come into his powers easily or eagerly. They frighten him. There are no lofty vows to fight evil and corruption. Rather the film is a journey of self-discovery and clearly puts forth the theory that evolution isn't quite done with the human race. Can REAL superheroes some day walk among us?

Time jump to the present. The hottest new hit on the boob tube is HEROES, a show about every day people suddenly discovering themselves possessed of truly supernatural powers. What happens next? From week to week the writers of this teleplay have begun a weaving, mesmerizing, completely addictive series that tries to answer that very question. Be they villainous, or heroic, the characters on HEROES are finding their way and it seems millions of us have come along for the ride.

Likewise this new thriller by Bobby Nash. FANTASTIX is a story of a world where superheroes have been around for a long-long time. Now something is systematically killing them off and therein lies the mystery of both their beginnings and their future. Nash, himself a comics writer, has a leg up on his writing peers as he gets what the true underlying core of heroism is all about. As we follow Rob Temple, once known as Visage, on his own journey of self-discovery, the road leads to sacrifice for there can never be heroism without selflessness...and selflessness is at the heart of sacrifice.

The story begins when Dominus, a thinly disguised Superman archetype, is found brutally battered to death. The police, the government and a secret agency, known only as Haven, all become embroiled with the fate of the world's meta-humans. Temple and his young sidekick, Mouse, soon find themselves allied with three very unique people; Frisk, the sexy black chick who is practically invulnerable; Lore, the shy, quiet girl with the ability to bend people to her will, and a were-beast known as Kracklin.

Together they search out the truth behind their own lives and the dangers that threaten to destroy them all.

This is only Nash's second book and it is wonderfully executed. He has matured considerably as a writer since that first offering and the control with which he spins this yarn is both deft and entertaining. I really enjoyed reading this book and came to love these characters. If superheroes are your cup of tea, do not pass up FANTASTIX. It has a lot to say.

The book is available on-line from

Friday, November 17, 2006


The Last Match
by David Dodge
Hard Case Crime
313 pages

David Dodge was a bestselling travelogue and suspense writer back in the 50s & 60s. His most famous novel, TO CATCH A THIEF, was made into a popular film by Alfred Hitchcock and starred Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. Dodge's greatest passion in life was traveling and he used writing to support that wanderlust. He also had a real fascination for bunco artist, commonly referred to today as confidence men.

Dodge died in 1974, short after finishing THE LAST MATCH. The manuscript was filed away with his other papers and would not see the light of day again until 1998 when it was uncovered by his daughter, Kendal. An editor friend suggested she show it to Charles Ardai of Hard Case Crime. HCC had last year published Dodge's South American thriller, PLUNDER OF THE SUN, and was very eager to read this long lost novel.

Now, thirty-three years after it was first written, THE LAST MATCH, is published much to the pleasure of suspense lovers everywhere. The book is classic Dodge in that it begins in France, then jumps to South America, the US East coast and North Africa before ending on a small island off Sardinia. It is a book filled with wonderfully drawn characters, exotic locales and a very tight, twisty plot that delivers a marvelous and satisfying climax.

Curly, our hero and narrator, is a discharged GI who chooses to remain in Frnace after World War II. Curly is also a likeable grifter who sees unlimited opportunities for a man of his less than honest talents. In the course of plying his shady trade, he meets a sophisticated British blonde who seems obsessed with humiliating him at every turn. There are also a couple unsavory French and Corsican gangsters who cross his path. Throughout the first half of the book we follow Curly along on several elaborate scams. The guy just loves the con.

But when he starts running afoul of the law, Curly packs his bags and heads for warmer, safer climes and ends up in Peru and eventually the Amazon. There another series of misadventures results in a reunion with the straight-laced British femme fatale and a surprise development he is totally unprepared for.

THE LAST MATCH starts slow and builds methodically. Don't let it's steady, plodding pacing put you off. By the half-way juncture, things pick up and the Dodge amps the speed to a roller-coaster finale just as taut and suspenseful as any thriller I've ever enjoyed. This book isa treasure and kudos to HCC for bringing it to us at long last.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


by Dean Koontz
Bantam Books
476 pages

Many years ago a good friend handed me a paperback copy of the WATCHERS by Dean R. Koontz and told me to, "Read this." Since that time, I've become a big-time Koontz fan and have read dozens of his books since. THE WATCHERS still remains one of my favorite books ever. But in those intervening years, Koontz has been hit or miss with me. I've loved lots of his work, and others have left me very disappointed. So, whenever a new one comes out, I give it a very serious scrutiny before plucking down my hard earned bucks. I've discovered as a Koontz follower that he writes two different kinds of thrillers; the dark and deadly type that scares the pants off you and the light and whimsical kind. The latter often deals with issues of personal philosophy and our places in this world. Those are usually the titles that entertain me the most. LIFE EXPECTANCY is very much one of these and a real treat. If you are a Koontz fan, you'll love this book. If you've never read any of his books before,
well, "Read this."

On the night Jimmy Tock was born, his dying grandfather made a prediction that there would be five terrible days in his future. Within hours of his birth, a crazed circus clown named Konrad Beezo murders a doctor and nurse because his own wife dies in childbirth. He escapes into the night with his infant son. What is his connection with the Tock family and their newest member? Thus starts one of Koontz's most memorable yarns to date. Jimmy is a great, eccentric character who wants to live his life as peacefully and dully as is humanly possible. Unfortunately the five days of horror are coming as time passes and he has no choice but to confront them, one by one.

The ingenuity and heart of this book left me crying in several places, happily so. Like myself, Koontz believes there is a destiny shaped by a mysterious God and that each of is a unique piece of that cosmic puzzle called life. We can choose to play out our parts or rebel against them, but regardless, the tapestry of life will continue to be woven in an immortal image beyond our mortal comprehension. Such is the magic of every single human life brilliantly captured by this amazing book. Be prepared to be enchanted.


The Phantom Marshal
by Lance Howard
A Black Horse Western
157 pages

Writer Lance Howard is an avowed pulp enthusiast and when he first began writing for the British label, Black Horse Western, it was inevitable that he would bring some pulpish elements to his horse operas. THE PHANTOM MARSHAL is such a book as ti combines the traditional cowboy vengeance plot with touches from the hero pulps, especially the Shadow and the Black Bat.

Print Madsen was the marshal of a small New Mexico town called Blakewood. Everything was peaceful and quiet until the Gauvin brothers, Cort and Hank arrived. Both had ambitions that involvled breaking the law to get rich and famous. Cort started a big cattle ranch from ill-gotten gains and had dreams of becoming the state governor one day. Younger brother, Hank, opened a saloon and was willing to settle for simply running the town. Of course Madsen, and his younger brother, Mark, were going to be impediments to those grandiose plans. Thus the Madsens were attacked one night by a group of thugs led by the Gauvins. Mark was killed outright and Print was beaten to within an inch of his life and his broken body thrown into the river.

This is all back story. The book opens two years later when the members of that killing party, one by one, fall victim to a mysterious masked avenger in black. This murderous wraith strikes without warning and shows the badmen no mercy. On their bodies he leaves a marshal's badge in which a cross has been scratched. Cort and Hank recognize it as the same badge worn by the dead Print Madsen. Has his avenging spirit returned from the dead to wreak bloody retribution? Or is the masked rider someone else altogether with a different agenda? Before the book reaches its gun-blasting climax, many more hombres will fall at the hands of the Phatom Marshal.

A quick note. Although Black Horse Westerns are produced in England, they are easily available through in this country. Try one. They are much fun.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


by Charles Saunders
Night Shade Books
224 pages.

A long time ago, back in the 70s, DAW books published a trio of books starring a powerful black warrior named Imaro. Mirrored somewhat on Robert E.Howard's classical barbarian figure, Conan, Imaro strode a new and vastly unexplored wilderness few western readers were at all familiar with, Africa.

No, not the Africa of Tarzan and Trader Horn movies that so proliferated the American consciousness of the 1920s and 30s, but an Africa based on authentic myths and legends of that magnificent, nature rich continent. And all of this was the product of an imagination unlike any other to come down the literary halls of fantasy writing. Charles Saunders, like his brawny protagonist, is a large, imposing African-American with a ready smile, marvelous sense of humor and a gift for words that quickly established him as a strong new presence in the American fiction genre.

Sadly the editors of DAW fumbled the ball in marketing this new, and vibrant character and ended up labeling him either "the black Conan" or even more embarrassing, "the black Tarzan."
Imaro was/is neither. He is unique, an original hero who lives his life against the colorful background of a world that sprang from the true, authentic myths of the real Africa. Thus this lack of editorial understanding of the material presented to them, doomed the series to a very quick cancellation after only three volumes. Saunders had in fact written four and had a fifth well in development when this abrupt ending was forced on him. And on that day, fantasy and adventure readers lost something truly special. As one of the few lucky souls to have found and read those three books, I can attest to this loss personally. It seemed Imaro's legend would die before it had really begun.

Jump ahead thirty some years and along comes publisher, Night Shade Books, wanting to resurrect the charactre and the series. Luckily they were able to convince Saunders to dust off his remarkable creation, revamp some of his early chapters to better adjust to modern sensibilities (Saunders is all too aware of current African politics, recent wars and acts of genocide to allow his fiction to exploit such atrocities). And now, a brand new edition of IMARO is once again on the book racks of America, and hopefully this time, with a dedicated publisher, is going to find an eager audience that will soon be begging for more.

Having read both the original version of this book, the first chapter in Imaro's saga, and the new released edition, I'm here to give everyone involved a round of applause. This is by far one of the best adventure books I have read in years. Saunders has matured as a writer and his use of words to convey a sense of time and place is unrivaled among today's fantasists. Do not miss IMARO. You've been given a second chance at a classic, don't blow it. You'll be sorry you did.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


By Pete Hamill
Hard Case Crime

Do not be surprised if in the coming weeks and months you find lots and lots of Hard Case Crime titles appearing in this column. They are by far one of my favorite publishers and I am always eager to pick up each new title they put forth. HCC is about bringing back the true noir pulp fun of paperbacks that were so prevalent in the 60s & 70s via outfits like Gold Medal and Fawcett and Ace. And that's exactly what they do, combining terse, gripping fiction with brilliant new covers by today's finest painters.

Okay, enough about the company. Let's dig into the book itself First published in 1983, the setting is Ireland during a very turbulent time in its war between the North and South, Catholics and Protestants. It is amazing to think that in just twenty or so years we've all but forgotten about the bloody conflict that ravaged that island country, as we've now turned our attention on the Middle East and it's violent problems. Seems like one war after another, and still with some kind of fanatical religious underpinings. Pete Hamill's protagonist is a New York City reporter named Sam Briscoe, sent to do a story on the Irish Republican Army and their mysterious leader. In the process Briscoe is recruited to hand deliver a message from this shadow commander to IRA sympthizers back in America. He agrees to do so reluctantly and almost immediately comes to regret it when he is followed to Switzerland by gunmen. Briscoe realizes he has foolishly put both himself and his eleven year daughter at risk and quickly delivers her to Spain into the care of her mother, his ex-wife.

Back in New York, Briscoe attempts to the deliver the envelope only to have the intended receiver murdered in a terrorist bombing of an Irish bar. Then he discovers his daughter has been kidnapped and smuggled into America. Unless he cooperates with the kidnappers, she will be tortured and killed. Now he's on his own, realizing her safety depends on his ability to find her and deal with his enemies. That he becomes obsessed and ruthless in his quest is what drives the second half of this thriller and keeps the pages turning. Hamill is good at building suspense, but even more so at setting his stage with complex characters and twisty political knots that don't get unraveled until the very last chapter.

THE GUNS OF HEAVEN is effective, powerful drama. That it is tragic is also worthy of attention. People do have the power the make this a better world. This book wonders if they have the courage to do so?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


By Paul Malmont
Simon & Schuster
367 pages

Without a doubt, the two greatest pulp magazine heroes of all time were both published by Street & Smith Publications; THE SHADOW and DOC SAVAGE. Month after month the adventures of the Man of Bronze and the Dark Avenger thrilled thousands of readers across the country during the time of the Great Depression. These were pulp sagas of the highest order.

Now writer Paul Malmont has written a classic, pulp-like tale wherein the writers of these two heroes join forces to share their own, thrill-a-minute adventure. Walter Gibson, a divorced father of one, an expert on magic, teams up with his chielf literary rival, the larger than life outdoorsman and pilot, Lester Dent. Accompanied by Dent's beautiful wife, Norma, the two men find themselves embroiled in a mystery that starts with the death of horror writer, H.P.Lovecraft adn then climaxes in the streets of New York's Chinatown, where a fanatical madman has come to seek his revenge against those that murdered his beloved family.

Interweaving historical events that would precipitate the start of World War II in China, Malmont sets the stage and then populates it with a lively cast of characters as colorful as the purple prose they made their living from.

No fan of pulps should miss this true homage to a glorious, long-ago age when gifted writers made a penny-a-word living and in the process entertained an entire generation hungry for escapism and heroes. This book is a humdinger.


By Richard Stark
Hard Case Crime
221 pages

I don't think I've ever read a bad Donald Westlake book. And when he writes as Richard Stark, there seems to be an even harder edge to his work. This book is no exception.

Alan Grofield is a theater actor who moonlights as a robber to support his small, community theater. He is also a professional at his outlaw career and knows a bad deal when he hears one. Such is the case when he's brought on to a job being planned by a fellow named Andrew Meyers. Meyers is a flamboyant, loudmouth who wants to rob a manufacturing plant in upstate New York and escape over into Canada when the job is done. Grofield is invited into the heist by his long time friend and associate, Dan Leach.

When Leach and Grofield learn that Meyer's plan involves shooting down guards at the factory, both them exit the job immediately. Their walking away makes an enemy of Meyers, who in turn sets about stealing money from Leach that he had won at the local casino. Leach becomes obessed with Meyers and getting his money back. Grofield, on the other hand opts to cut his loses and return to his wife and the theater.

Unfortunately bad pennies like Andy Meyers have a way of resurfacing and eventually he murders Leach, who has come to stay at Grofield's home while he is away on another job. Upon his return home, Grofield learns the true depratvity of Andy Meyers. Thus is born his need for vengeance and he begins tracking down the psychopath with ruthless determination.

Stark's ability to make his characters live on the page is sheer genius and he uses subtlety to drive the suspense and tension throughout. Pages have to be turned, as the reader gets caught up in the tale with a feverish need to reach the climax. Where, as always, this master doesn't disappoint. The only true bad thing about any Westlake/Stark book is that it must end. Let's hope the next one is only a little ways down the road.

This is crime suspense by a master.


by Wayne Skiver
Age of Adventure Press
191 pages.

Ever since Lester Dent created the amazing hero, Doc Savage, few pulp writers have had the nerve to try and follow in his wake. Oh, there were a few half-hearted attempts back then, one of the most notable being Captan Hazzard-Champion of Justice. But his title lasted all of one issue.

Now, some 60 years later, a new Doc clone has taken center stage in a collection of fast-paced, totally over-the-top adventures written by Wayne Skiver. Prof.Stone is a cross between Doc Savage and Indiana Jones as a trained scholar, battler of injustice who travels the globe, pre World War II looking for adventure. It has no trouble finding him.

Among these exploits are his discovering an island full of dinosaurs, Nazis Robot soldiers invading England and even an encounter with the fabled Abominable Snowman. Each is a true pulp gem and I'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite. This is a fun read and only available right now through
It's worth the effort to go there and order a copy.

Still, early next year, Wild Cat Books, the leading publisher of new pulps, will be producing a brand new, deluxe edition of this book with new added material added. Keep reading Pulp Fiction and we'll let you know when it arrives. You're going to love this.

Welcome to Pulp Fiction

For the past few years I've been writing reviews of what I like to call modern pulp novels. Sadly, the internet sites where the column ran have all shut down over the past six months leaving me with no venue to continue. Then a few weeks ago, several of my friends with mutual reading tastes, directed me to the Blogging world and here I am.

Please stop by often as I will not set up any rigid schedule here but will merely review books as I read them. I also believe the pulp umbrella covers a very ecclectic genre range from western to thrillers, sci-fi to fantasy adventure. About the only style you won't found discussed here is romance. Ha. So drop on by. And please, feel free to post comments whether you agree or disagree with my reviews. Differning opinions are most welcome. After all, it's the American way.

Thanks, Ron