Monday, April 27, 2020


By Jerry Gill
Ann Darrow Co.
216 pgs

Writer Jerry Gill’s savage reincarnated adventuress, Victoria Custer (nickname Vic Challenger) is back in this, her ninth adventure. It’s a non-stop, high octane story that never lets up for a second. In this outing, Vic hears about a so-called man-eating plant said to exist lost Mkodo jungles of Madagascar. Before the ink dries on her travel plans, Vic is in a small dhow sailing from the coast of Africa to the island nation.

Immediately her boat is attacked by pirated and though the entire crew is murdered, she manages to elude that fate and makes her way to land. After overcoming natural survival challenges as only she can, Vic soon reaches civilization and there outfits herself for her journey into the dangerous back-country jungles. Accompanying her is a young girl, Zarah, who has read Vic’s exploits in the international newspapers and wants to mimic her adventurous career. Once in the jungle, they encounter savage lemurs, bizarre acid producing plants, giant birds and deadly underground monsters.

As if that wasn’t enough to deal with, they soon learned they are being followed my jewel hunting mercenary named Moreau who will stop at nothing to achieve his dreams of wealth and power.

“A Savage Place” is another solid chapter in this remarkable adventure series that is so pulpish that when reading, we had to wonder if Jerry Gill wasn’t a time-traveler from the 20s. If you haven’t encountered the Queen of New Pulp yet it is high time you did.

Thursday, April 16, 2020


Edited by David Boop
Baen Books
250 pages

Here we have the third in Baen Books’ weird western Straight Outta series edited by David Boop. It’s a nifty collection of fourteen stories by both veteran writers and a few newbies. As always, we judge an anthology via a hierarchy of stories we thought exceptional, those we thought okay and finally those we simply didn’t care for. Then we tally it all up and if the pluses outnumber the minuses, we’ll gladly recommend the book to you, dear readers. So let’s get cracking.

Among our favorites were “The Hoodoo Man and the Midnight Train” by the always reliable Joe R. Landsale. A tale of dark magic and cursed gunslinger collecting doomed souls on his train from hell. “The Murder of the Rag Doll Kid” by editor/writer David Boop is poignant and beautiful told. “The Dead Can’t Die Twice” by Samantha Lee Howe is a chilling tale of a haunted gun seeing vengeance on those who did its owner wrong.  Julie Frost’s “Rara Lupus” is a different look at werewolves, while Kim May’s “Stealing Thunder from the Gods” offers up a transcontinental airship service encountering a Native American deity.

Also worth your attention are James A. Moore’s “Kachina” doing a nice job of pitting an ogre against a shapeshifter. “Ghost Men of Sunrise Mesa” by Jonathan Maberry has a bit of H.G. Wells thrown into the mix. Mercedes Lackey’s “As Long as Grass Shall Grow” centers around a land rush to claim prairie lands containing sacred spirits of the earth. It’s both fanciful and romantic. James Van Pelt’s “A Simple Pine Box,” is whimsical and fun while “Fang for Fang, Fire for Blood,” by Ava Morgan packed a nice surprise punch at the end.

Whereas we didn’t care for the other remaining four. We should mention that Irene Radford spins a decent tale, but honestly, it really isn’t a western, weird or otherwise and didn’t belong in this collection.

Final tally, ten of these fourteen get a big thumbs up and kudos to Mr. Boop for another stellar anthology. It’s a lot of fun and we recommend you pick up a copy. You’ll be glad you did.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020


Vol 2
By Jonathan W. Sweet
Brick Pickle Pulp
181 pgs

A few months ago, we had the fun of reading and reviewing the first volume in this new pulp reference series by Jonathan Sweet. That book shined a light on the classic heroes and villains of the pulps and ended with a section on writers’ biographies.

In this follow up, Sweet details the publishing histories of major pulp publishers of the times and lists all their titles alphabetically. It is an amazing documentation presenting the debut date and the final editons with the names of the primary writers who graced their pages. He breaks these up in the most popular genres from crime, to horror and spicy pulps. Every page is filled with captivating data and a credit to the author’s intensive research to include all the major titles.

Then the wraps it all up with the second half of writers’ biography picking up from where he left off at the end of volume one. Again, the material in these short histories is amazing, often times eye-opening and poignant to any lover of pulp fiction and its history. Reference books like these are invaluable to the true lover of pulp fiction and we tip our fedora to Jonathan Sweet and Brick Pickle Pulp.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020


A Mike Hammer Mystery
By Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins
Titan Books
220 pgs

Honestly, having writer Max Allan Collins turn in another Mike Hammer novel in this Legacy series is like our enjoying the gift that never stops giving. With this entry, we find Hammer starting to feel his age though his style of dealing with scum hasn’t softened in the least bit. When young Vincent Colby, son of a wealthy stockbroker, is nearly run over outside a swank Manhattan steak house, Hammer and Detective Pat Chambers are among the witnesses. Was it an accident and attempted vehicular homicide? Hammer isn’t sure, but that doesn’t stop him from agreeing to investigate the incident at the senior Colby’s request.

Having been banged up by the collision, the debonair young playboy begins to exhibit severe mood swings bordering on physical violence. His father believes these are the after affects of the trauma the boy suffered. A few days later, Hammer successfully tracks down the driver only to find him dead with his chest caved in. Then a retired homicide detective is found murdered in the same fashion, followed soon after by a dominatrix; all of whom had some connection with young Colby.

Is the rich kid being framed or is he suffering from some mental illness causing him to commit these killings? And there is the gruesome manner of death. What kind of force can crush a person’s chest as if it had been hit by a cannonball? With each new page the case twists and turns; enough to tie Hammer in what looks like an inescapable knot. Of course before he can manage that trick, the weary private eye will have to depend on his quick trigger finger and darkly creative imagination. Blood flows as is the norm in any Hammer caper with a conclusion we soundly approved of.

We think you will too.