Friday, October 29, 2010


Greetings one and all.  Just wanted to post a quick message here to apologize for the lack of new reviews here.  The move from New Hampshire to Colorado was a radical operation and although we've settled in nicely to our new Fort Collins home, I'm still playing catch up with most of writing obligations and thus my own personal reading has taken a back seat.  Sorry about that.  I'm currently reading Barry Reese's fifth ROOK adventures and will post a review soon as I can wrap it up.  In the meanwhile, one of my own stories has just been released in Moonstone's new GREEN HORNET CHRONICLES.  I hope you'll pick it up, as aside my humble entry, it truly has some memorable tales of the verdant clad hero and his kung-fu sidekick, Kato.  Thanks for stopping by as always and Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010



Hard Case Crime Returns!

Titan Books to Relaunch
Acclaimed Pulp Paperback Series

“Wickedly voluptuous.”
--Janet Maslin, New York Times

“Hard Case may be the best new American publisher to appear in the last decade.”
-- Neal Pollack, The Stranger

One hell of a concept. Those covers brought me right back to the good old days.
-- Mickey Spillane

New York, NY; London, UK (October 19, 2010) – Titan Books and series creator Charles Ardai announced today that they are teaming up to relaunch the popular Hard Case Crime series of paperback crime novels.  Nominated five times in five years for the Edgar Allan Poe award, the mystery genre’s highest honor, Hard Case Crime has published such luminaries as Stephen King (the book that was the basis for the new TV series “Haven”), Mickey Spillane, Ed McBain, Donald E. Westlake, Lawrence Block, Pete Hamill, Max Allan Collins, Madison Smartt Bell and Roger Zelazny, to name just a few.  Each book features new cover art in the classic pulp style, including covers painted by Robert McGinnis, the legendary illustrator who painted the original James Bond movie posters.

Hard Case Crime has won praise from dozens of major publications ranging from Time, Newsweek and The Atlantic Monthly to Entertainment Weekly, Playboy and Reader’s Digest, and has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, NPR’s Fresh Air, and in every major newspaper in America (including repeated coverage in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and USA Today).

First launched in 2004, Hard Case Crime published 66 titles through August 2010, at which time its long-time publisher, Dorchester Publishing, announced it was exiting the mass market paperback publishing business after nearly 40 years.  After receiving offers from five other publishers (including two of the largest in the world) to continue the line, Charles Ardai selected UK-based Titan Publishing as Hard Case Crime’s new home.

“Titan has an extraordinary record of creating beautiful, exciting books with exactly the pop culture sensibility that Hard Case Crime exists to celebrate,” said Charles Ardai, founder and editor of Hard Case Crime and an Edgar Award-winning mystery writer himself.  “Titan is one of the few publishers that loves pulp fiction as much as we do.”

Titan’s first new Hard Case Crime titles, scheduled to come out in September and October 2011, include QUARRY’S EX, a new installment in the popular series of hit man novels by “Road to Perdition” creator Max Allan Collins; CHOKE HOLD, Christa Faust’s sequel to her Edgar Award-nominated Hard Case Crime novel MONEY SHOT; and two never-before-published novels by major authors in the crime genre (both recipients of the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America).

Additionally, Titan plans to acquire all existing stock of Hard Case Crime’s backlist titles from Dorchester Publishing and resume shipping those titles to stores immediately.

“Hard Case Crime has done a remarkable job in a very short time of building a brand known for outstanding crime fiction and stunning artwork,” said Nick Landau, Publisher of Titan Books and CEO of the Titan Publishing Group.  “We are thrilled to partner with Charles and look forward to bringing Hard Case Crime to a wider audience around the world, not only through the novels themselves but also through an innovative merchandise program.”

For more information, call Hard Case Crime on 646-205-2181 or e-mail; call Titan (US media) on 914-788-1005 or email; or call Titan (UK media) on +44 (0)20 7803 1906 or email

About Hard Case Crime

Charles Ardai founded Hard Case Crime in 2004 through Winterfall LLC, a privately owned media company responsible for a variety of print, film, and television projects.  The series has been nominated for and/or won numerous awards since its inception including the Edgar, the Shamus, the Anthony, the Barry, and the Spinetingler Award.  The series’ bestselling title of all time, The Colorado Kid by Stephen King, was the basis for the current SyFy television series “Haven,” on which Charles Ardai works as a writer and producer.  There have also been a number of feature film deals involving Hard Case Crime books, including “The Last Lullaby,” based on The Last Quarry by Max Allan Collins and starring Tom Sizemore as the titular hit man, and more recently Universal Pictures’ purchase of the film rights to Little Girl Lost and Songs of Innocence by Richard Aleas. 

About Titan Publishing Group

Titan Publishing Group is an independently owned publishing company, established in 1981. The company is based at offices in London, but operates worldwide, with sales and distribution in the US & Canada being handled by Random House. Titan Publishing Group has three divisions: Titan Books, Titan Magazines/Comics and Titan Merchandise. In addition to fiction, including novelizations of films such as Terminator Salvation, original novels based on TV shows such as Primeval and Supernatural and the popular computer game Runescape, and the celebrated Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series of novels launched in 2009, Titan Books also publishes an extensive line of media- and pop culture-related non-fiction, graphic novels, art and music books.

Friday, October 15, 2010


(A Barker & Llewelyn Novel)
By Will Thomas
Touchstone Books
289 pages

When a notorious Italian assassin and his wife are found stuffed in a barrel and floating down the Thames River, Scotland Yard puts out a call to Inquiry Agent Cyrus Barker to assist them in foiling a bloody gang war for the control of the London docks. A new criminal element has arrived from Sicily known as the Mafia and they want nothing less than complete control the entire London underworld.

THE BLACK HAND is the fifth in this series of mystery adventures starring the enigmatic Barker and his assistant, Thomas Llewelyn. Like the others that preceded it, the joy of this volume is the amount of historical research Thomas embellishes the background. He has a fondness for history and it shines throughout the book, as his accurate depiction of London during Victoria’s reign is vibrant and mesmerizing. He relishes offering up tidbits of long forgotten lore that adds a true richness to the world in which our heroes operate.

From the first time Llewelyn met Barker, he has been slowly piecing together his employer’s colorful and mysterious background as a ship’s captain in the Far East. In this book more is revealed about Barker’s past, filling in the gaps to a man who is clearly Sherlock Holmes’ equal and not some half-baked copy. Both Llewelyn and Barker are original characters and their exploits a joy to read. This time the body count mount quickly as the mysterious unknown agents of the Black Hand attack ruthlessly, brutally eliminating anyone in their path. In the end Barker must form a coalition of London gangs to challenge the Sicilians and put an end to their vicious threat.

If you’ve yet to pick up this series, I would urge you to do so immediately. Historical mysteries simply do not get any better than the Barker & Llewelyn books. I cannot wait for number six.

Monday, October 11, 2010


By David Weber
Tor Books
381 pages

Alien invasions are nothing new to both the science fiction and fantasy genres. Books like H.G.Wells WAR OF THE WORDS and Ron L.Hubbard BATTLEFIELD EARTH have all demonstrated the horrors of such a catastrophic event. In reading David Weber’s OUT OF THE DARK, it is impossible not to recall these previous exercises in intergalactic terror and the penultimate B-movie experience of INDEPENDENCE DAY.
They are all evoked wonderfully throughout this gripping adventure.

The plot is direct enough. The setting is the very near future, by only a few years. A warrior race known as the Shongairi have been given the permission of a space United Nations known as the Galactic Hemegony to invade and subjugate the Earth, based on early exploratory by other races of the Hemegony. Their reports indicated the planet’s inhabitants were a savage race and as the majority of the alien council was made up of peace loving beings, the Shongairi seemed the perfect choice to handle the Earth situation. Early on in the story, the commanding officer of the invading fleet espouses his own theories on the politics behind his people having been granted this so called privilege. He full suspects the Hemegony are hoping the Earthlings will prove difficult to the point of inflicting enough damage to weaken the Shongairi thus making them easier to handle. The Hemegony are all too aware of the Shongairi’s unbridled ambitions to expand their empire.

Of course the commander and his officers consider this a ridiculous idea as their own hubris is blinding them to the fact that all their previous victories were of Class One civilizations with no technology to speak of. Whereas the Shongairi scouting probes report the Earth has developed to a Class Two status to include nuclear capabilities that suggest other technological advances, particularly in military fields. Still, having never known defeat, the Shongairi launch their invasion by bombarding the Earth’s major capitol cities and within hours decimate a quarter of the world’s population.

Weber is a skilled military writer and he describes the destruction from outer space clearly and economically. Then he begins to introduce us to several strong willed individuals throughout the world who will be the book’s protagonists. A couple of former marine survivalists living in the mountains of South Carolina, an African American Marine Sergeant trapped in Romania with a handful of soldiers, a Russian engineer from Moscow and a U.S. Navy fighter pilot who manages to shoot down the Shongairi troop shuttles within mere hours of their attack. It is his actions that set the tempo for the remainder of the book, as his effective retaliation is the first actual loss the enemy aliens have ever encountered and all too soon pockets of human resistance begin popping up everywhere, striking back at the invaders with effective armament the likes of which they had never encountered before.

Weber lays it on fast and furious all of which leads to a dead road culmination for the Shongairi. If they cannot successfully defeat the human race, then they will merely retreat and bomb the planet to oblivion. The question then becomes, will the humans survive and is there any way they can possibly turn the tables and actual defeat the invaders? Therein lays the resolution that caught me by surprise because for the most part the book is science fiction and Weber’s solution strays afar into that other genre we alluded to earlier. In a way that some readers may not appreciate and I can sympathize with them. On the other hand, I was delighted with it and applaud Weber for having the literary bravado to pull it off, particularly in his being able to subtlety play on the book’s very title with that particular climax.

Bottom line, OUT OF THE DARK is a terrific read that had me from the first page and kept me enthralled to the very last. If you are willing to have fun with fiction of this type, then hang on and enjoy the ride. It’s a wild one.