Tuesday, June 26, 2007


(When Strikes the Warlord)
by Van Allen Plexico
White Rocket Books
224 pages
Available from (www.whiterocketbooks.com/)

It is not often you find a book that is filled with exuberance for its subject matter. Such is the case with this amazing novel. That writer Plexico has a deep and abiding love for comic book superheroes is evident on every single page of this action packed look into the lives of a team of modern champions. In meeting the Sentinels, the heroes of this super powered adventure, I was instantly reminded of the early days of Stan Lee’s the Avengers.

Plexico is not so much interested in psychological terrain as he is in action, cause and effect. Much like the early golden age of comics, the characters of his cast come through when they are going toe to toe with the villains. In this particular case, a mysterious warlord from another dimension and a super android herald come to destroy our world.

It’s all grandiose storytelling done with gusto and panache and it captivated me. From Ultra, the powerful hero who has no memory of his past to Esro Brachis, the eccentric inventor who builds all the marvelous weapons used by the Sentinels, to Pulsar, a young college student suddenly thrust into this do or die world of the super fantastic.

As a opening chapter to a larger canvas, When Strikes the Warlord is a fantastic read and I am looking for to starting the second book in the saga. If you’ve fond memories of reading Justice League of America, X-Men or any other such team comics as a child, you would be very wise to pick this up. It’s very much like a long, overdue trip home.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


by Ken Bruen & Jason Starr
Hard Case Books
224 pages (Available in Oct.)

This is a sequel to this team’s first collaborative effort. In that book, BUST, we were introduced to Max Fisher, a shiftless businessman who operated a small computer software outfit. He plotted with his secretary, a gorgeous blonde schemer named Angela Petrakos, half-Irish and Greek, to have his wife murdered so they could collect her inheritance.

Without going into details, the wife did end up dead, but so did Angela’s psycho killer boyfriend who did the dirty deed, as well a New York city detective who stumbled on the pair by accident. At then end of BUST, Max somehow managed to convince the authorities he was innocent and was set free. Meanwhile, Angela had fled to Ireland.

SLIDE picks up months later, and nothing much has really changed for both of them. Angela has unwittingly ended up living with as yet another sociopath serial killer and Max finds himself penniless in a seedy southern motel with no clues as to how he got there. The genius of Bruen and Starr is their ability to invent some of the most memorable characters you’ve ever met this side of Quentin Tarrentino territory, with a heavy dose of Elmore Leonard thrown in for good measure.

By the time Max returns to New York with a scheme to become a big time crack dealer and Angela flies home with her Irish pscho in tow, you know damn well the bodies are going to start piling faster than you can turn the pages. And they do, with such cold-blooded, black humor, you can’t help but laugh aloud with each new gunshot, razor slash and rocket launcher explosion. SLIDE is a masterpiece of dark comedy taken to side-splitting limits that left this reviewer dizzy with glee. Not to be missed if you like your noir flavored with a heavy dose of wry comedy.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


by Will Thomas
275 pages

I love Sherlock Holmes and have enjoyed not only the original Conan Doyle stories but the hundreds of pastiches written over the years by various authors. What I have not relished are all the Holmes imitations that have tried to copy Doyle’s format. Several years ago I discovered a novel set in Victorian London that dealt with another Holmes’ contemporary but was refreshingly original. The book was SOME DANGER INVOLVED by Will Thomas and it was the beginning of a new detective series starring Cyrus Barker, agent of inquiry, and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn.

It was a terrific book and the character of Barker a joy to discover. A former sea captain with a mysterious past, Barker always wears sunglasses, is a student of martial arts, eastern philosophy and enjoys gourmet foods. Alike the more cerebral Holmes, Barker relishes action and is not afraid to get his fists dirty in a good scuffle for queen and country.

In this, the second volume in the series, Scotland Yard is bombed by Irish terrorists and the Home Office wants the culprits found and brought to justice at the soonest possible opportunity. To that end, the Home Secretary opts to hire an independent investigator, Cyrus Barker, whose underworld connections are well known throughout the intelligence community. It is hoped that Barker’s expertise and radical methods will prove more successful over the more traditional police agencies.

Barker’s gambit is to disguise himself as a famous German bomb-maker, with Llewelyn, posing as his young, Welsh apprentice and then manipulate circumstances whereby they cross paths with the Irish sympathizers in Liverpool. His plan goes off like clock-work and soon he and Thomas found themselves part of a grandiose plot to simultaneously blow up half a dozen famous London landmarks, including the private residents of the Prince of Wales.

It is a suspenseful adventure, as Barker and Llewelyn must never let down their guard for a second, as they carry out their subterfuge in hopes they will have enough time to foil the bombings before the attack is launched. During the mission, Thomas finds himself falling in love with one of the Irish terrorist’s beautiful sister, and finds his own loyalties questioned. Is his duty to England greater than his love for this winsome, Irish lovely? And can he possibly save her when the final confrontation?

TO KINGDOM COME is a fun new chapter in this series and one I enjoyed from start to finish. There is a third in print and I will be eagerly picking it up soon. So, as stated earlier, if you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes and would like to meet one of his more original peers, you can do no better than reading TO KINGDOM COME. Cyrus Barker is a man the great detective would have certainly called an equal.

Monday, June 04, 2007


by Peter David
Pocket Books
392 pages

This is the 19th book in the New Frontier series created and written by Peter David. It is without doubt the finest Star Trek book series ever produced thanks to David’s overwhelming passion Star Trek and his talent in telling great adventure stories. New Frontier centers around the exploits of the Starship Excalibur and her captain, the roguish former warlord, Mackenzie Calhoun and his populated by such a diverse supporting cast from so many Trek sources it is almost impossible to remember them all.

The only true flaw with the New Frontier books is the fact that they represent an on-going series and very few can stand alone. David writes in long, sweeping, and yes, epic, story arcs that some times take at least two or more books to complete. MISSING IN ACTION is the second half of a plot begun in AFTER THE FALL. So, if you wish to truly appreciated the complexities of this particular chapter, I would strongly recommend running out and picking up that first half.

Meanwhile, let me continue by commenting on the new book’s two strongest points. Over the course of his career, Peter David, has demonstrated a very poetic ability to create and write memorable female characters. In MISSING IN ACTION, this particular talent crystallizes when the action being played out comes to spotlight all the New Frontier’s unique and remarkable female cast. They are Admiral Elizabeth Shelby, Calhoun’s wife, to Kathrine Mueller, Captain of the Starship Ship, Robin Lefler, a Federation officer married to Si Cwan, ruler of an alien empire, Soleta, half Valcan/Romulan Captain of the Romulan spyship the Specter to name the major players. There are others.

When a bloody civil war erupts in Thallonian space, Calhoun suspects outside interference and attempts to uncover its source. In the process his ship is hurled into another dimension where he and his crew must deal with truly bizarre creatures to find a way home. Meanwhile, Admiral Shelby, and the others mentioned, are left having to deal with the escalating war. In the process, one of the New Frontier’s most endearing characters is killed. This single act brings the entire series to a new level of maturity and drama that loyal fans, though stunned by it, will come to applaud. David has proven he is not afraid to take Calhoun and the Excalibur to places no other Star Trek enterprise has ever gone before. Bravo!

MISSING IN ACTION is a terrific addition to what has become my all time favorite science fiction series. If Hollywood ever hopes to re-energize the Trek franchise, they need look no further than the New Frontier.