Thursday, December 30, 2021




(An Amos Walker Mystery)

By Loren D. Estleman

A Forge Book

196 pgs

Loren D. Estleman has been writing stories about Detroit P.I. Amos Walker for a while now, as the inside list shows this new offering is nearing thirty published mysteries. Obviously we’re late to the party, but when “Cutthroat Dogs” dropped onto our review stack recently, we knew it was time to meet the guy.    

In the grand tradition of classic private eye heroes, Walker is a fast-talking wise guy who knows his city’s streets, the nice and the mean. He’s got a history with the boys in blue as well. A shooting in a local bank gains him a little press coverage which in turns attracts a young lady to seek his help. Her brother, Dan Corbeil, is serving a life sentence in prison for having murdered his college girl-friend, April Goss, twenty years earlier. Walker takes the job only to discover there are some powerful people who do not want the case reopened. First of among these is Ms. Goss’ father, Chester Goss, a TV celebrity who host a reality show entitled “Cutthroat Dogs” that uses the media to pursue lawbreakers.  

It becomes obvious to Walker that Goss’s prestige is due to the death of his only child and his public crusade inspired by it. But if Dan Corbeil is really innocent, then the real killer is still at large and despite Goss’s antagonism, Walker is chasing the truth wherever it leads him. All well and good until someone mugs him in his own office.

“Cutthroat Dogs” fires on all cylinders. It’s a fast paced mystery with a likeable, wise-cracking tough guy hero who loves his city. Classic stuff, mystery lovers and a solid read. Thumbs way up.

Friday, December 24, 2021




By Max Allan Collins

Thomas & Mercer Books

251 pgs


Born in 1875, Jacques Futrelle was a journalist turned mystery writer. He is best known for writing the short detective stories featuring Professor Augustus S.F.X . Van Dusen known at The Thinking Machine for his use of logic. While on a European tour with his wife, May, in 1912, Futrelle became melancholy missing their two teenage children. Shorty after his 37th birthday on April 9, he opted to cut the trip short and return to America. He booked passage for both of them on the newly christened cruise ship R.M.S. Titanic. Six days later, after assuring May’s safety in one of the few lifeboats, Futrelle become on hundreds of victims to drown as the unsinkable ship sank into the frigid waters of the North Atlantic; one of the most notorious tragedies in world history.   

A fan of the late writer’s works, Max Allan Collins makes him the hero “The Titanic Murders.” Once again employing meticulously researched data, Collins takes us back in time to a different age where people thought anything was possible. He details not only the magnificent ship, a true marvel of engineering, but introduces us to a small group of the some of the most famous and powerful people in America at that time. Among them is a pair of unscrupulous blackmailers who have hatched an audacious scheme to extort money from these rich celebrities.  

Meanwhile Jack, as he preferred to be called, and his beautiful May, are seduced but the opulent luxury that surrounds them and lovelingly envision the trip as a second honeymoon. We’ve been fans of Collins work for many years and have always been impressed by his ability to bring his characters to life. Whereas he has never been more sensitive and astute than in his portrayal of these two people. Their love for each other is endearing.

When one of the blackmailers is found murdered, ship owner J.Bruce Ismay and Captain Smith ask Futrelle to investigate considering his background as a journalist and mystery writer. With each passing day of the voyage, he, with May’s assistance, begins to interview his list of elite suspects. Much like his fictional character, Futrelle collects the evidence and soon closes in on the killer by staging a phony séance. All in all, the mystery is expertly laid out and its solution satisfying. 

Yet it is not what elevates the story. Rather it is the somber reality of all those lost lives. By the finale, we found ourselves moved especially at the end of Collin’s epilogue wherein he chronicles the actual last minutes of each of the characters. He ends appropriately with May and Jack’s final farewell. Crying, we put down the book.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Gary Phillips' HOLLIS P.I.



Edited by Gary Phillips & Morgan McKay

Pro Se Press

169 pgs    

From Pro Se Press comes this six story collection featuring Los Angeles private eye, Nate Hollis. Created by veteran pulp writer Gary Phillips, Hollis is a street savvy detective with the usual assortment of colorful supporting characters ala his grandfather Clutch Hollis who owns the Hideaway Bar and Irma “Deuce” Ducett, a one time female cop turned bounty hunter. All of them are terrific players and in this volume, Phillips not only pens two of the six tales, but invited four other new pulp writers to play in his sand box. The result is a treat for all lovers of hardboiled private eyes.   

Phillips kicks off the collection with “The Chuckles Job” wherein Hollis is kidnapped and severely beaten by an old foe. He manages to escape and investigate who and why he was targeted. All of which leads him to uncover a bizarre series of events that include a long forgotten heist, a young man with an eidetic memory and a single engine plane crash into an apartment house. The twist and turns are crazy in this one.  

Bobby Nash steps up to the plate next with “Naomi.” Hollis investigates the murder of a young woman caught up in the soulless porn business. It’s an emotional roller coaster for Hollis and by the tale’s finale; he’s managed to give the girl’s tortured parents some justice. Our favorite story in the book.

“Belly of the Beast” by Juliet Blackwell is the book’s third entry. In San Francisco for a few days, Hollis is contacted by an old flame. A billionaire business man into kinky sexual practices is found ritually murdered and a local Wicca practitioner arrested for the crime. Hollis’ job to prove her innocent and find the real killer. Having him operate outside of his usual L.A. haunts works extremely well in this fast paced, really well written story.  

“Twilight of El Perro” by Aaron Philip Clark has Hollis investigating the murder of one of his deceased father’s old informants named Fletch. Thing is Fletch died being ravaged by two trained pitbulls owned by El Perro, a sixtyish killer most people think is dead. Whereas this senior is anything but in a well plotted tale concerning greed and corruption.  

Number five is “Baby Daddy” by the late Derrick Ferguson. When a wealthy hustler tries to con a young actress with a phony murder scam, Hollis gets called into the matter to help unravel the real purpose behind the convoluted extortion. Another example of what the New Pulp community lost with Derrick’s passing.  

Finally Phillips wraps it all up with an Irma Deuce story, “Last Stand at Echo Villa.” She’s hired to find someone only to then discover she’s been set up. She and the prey have to fend off two hired guns in an abandoned shopping mall – apartment complex. Different kind of story that works extremely well.  

All total, “Gary Phillip’s HOLLIS P.I.” is an excellent collection of crime stories with some memorable characters. Worth your time and dime.

Monday, December 13, 2021

CAMELOT FOREVER - Lancelot's Redemption


CAMELOT FOREVER – Lancelot’s Redemption

By Robert W. Hickey & Bill Nichols

Published at Amazon

333 Pgs

Morgan LeFay is using her magic immortality to hunt down the descendants of King Arthur’s fabled knights in modern day England. Her chief killer in charge of her devil hounds is none other that her son, Mordred. Among this evil duo’s targets is a young woman named Elizabeth recently become a mother. She is also the great-great granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes. Somehow Holmes, over the years, became aware of the LeFay’s murderous quest and to thwart her began amassing magic arcane artifacts to protect his beloved Elizabeth.  

All of that is the basic plot and is dumped on the reader without much preamble. Rather  the authors throw us off into the deep end of the pool without much warning. As we read through the book, so much is related in flashbacks. We couldn’t help but think this was not the first in the saga as indicated but the second. Then to add more confusion to the tale, at the book’s end, the authors offer up what they call a “prequel-story” which actually details events we’d already been informed of in the character’s flashbacks. We really wish before publishing, Misters Hickey and Nichols had given thought to simply offering the “prequel” as the first chapters in the books. It would have certainly made their narrative so much easier to follow and thus enjoy.  

There is a good story somewhere in this book and with a more cohesive plotting, would have been doubly exciting. Sadly the execution left a lot to be desired.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021




By Chuck Dixon

Wold Pack Publishing

304 pages

 “Levon’s Hunt” is the eight entry in writer Chuck Dixon’s Levon Cade series. The stories revolve around a Marine Veteran living in rural Alabama with his daughters, one adopted. He’s a widower, having lost his wife to cancer. Like most returning combat veterans, Cade just wants to go back to living a normal life with his family and be left alone. Whereas trouble has a way of regularly intruding as it did in the previous chapter, “Levon’s Home” wherein Cade uncovered a sophisticated underground network of pedophiles. They were operating out of back woods homes where kidnapped boys and girls were kept as sex slaves.


This new book picks up with Cade using the intel he captured from the house he raided in the previous novel’s action packed finale. Now, with this new acquired data, he starts to climb up the chain of sickos. He targets molesters posing as one of them via their dark web sites. From those he ensnares, he discovers their members include high ranking officials in both local and state governments throughout the country. So powerful are these men, they include federal police officials, judges and elected congressmen and senators. It is a foul network that honest cops cannot effectively battle as their hands are tied in legal redtape allowing the guilty to skate away free and clear. 

There are several subplots within the bigger picture ala Cade finding another Afhan vet living up in the hills near his home and he befriends him. Then there’s the female U.S. Marshal investigating the dead bodies he leaves behind. She soon suspects Cade is involved, but before she can fully pursue her hunch, the FBI swoops in and takes charge of the investigation thus confirming her own suspicions in regards to corrupt bigwigs.  

Chuck Dixon cut his writing teeth on both the Batman and the Punisher, ergo he knows his way around the moral tightwire of vigilantes. What makes them tick. In Levon Cade’s case, it’s a deeply rooted love of country and family. He’s a patriot who will fight to protect the innocent and see justice done. Even if he has to do it alone. If you like action packed thrillers with believable heroes and villains, you have to meet Levon Cade. He’s a character you will not soon forget.

Friday, December 03, 2021




By Bernard Cornwell

Harper Books

320 pages

 This is the 23rd entry in the Sharpe saga; a series of historical fiction adventures by British writer Bernard Cornwell centered on the character of Richard Sharpe. The inspiration for the books came from C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower novels about a Royal Navy officer’s career from midshipmen to Admiral of the Fleet during the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Because he could not find a similar series for the British Army, Cornwell decided to write it himself.

His novels and short stories chart the career of a young London orphan who enters the army rather than go to jail. It begins in “Sharpe’s Tiger” with Sharpe a private in the 33rd Regiment of Foot who is continually promoted until he finally rises to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in “Sharpe’s Waterloo.” The books were so popular as to inspire a British TV series which starred actor Sean Bean.  

We are fairly certain Cornwell’s legion of readers will need no coercion from this reviewer to pick up this new chapter in Sharpe’s fantastic life. As this is our first exposure to the character, we trust our thoughts will inspire other novices to the fold.  

“Sharpe’s Assassin” begins only a few short days after the historic battle of Waterloo and Napoleon’s defeat. The French army is in tatters and fleeing south to Paris followed by the victorious British and Prussian troops. When the Duke of Wellington learns of a conspiracy among French officers to have him assassinated in retaliation for the defeat, he assigns Sharpe to proceed to the capital and there ferret out the assassins. Sharpe and his companions, junior officers under his command, begrudgingly take on the mission though all of them sick and tired of war that seems endless in their eyes.

Once in the City of Lights, Sharpe eventually finds evidence of a French battalion under the command of a skilled officer known as the Monster. From the reports he uncovers, this fellow named Lanier may very well be his equal in military tactics and ferocity. With days of the British Army’s arrival, Sharpe foils a plot to blow up the mansion in which Wellington and his staff are residing. Ultimately he confronts Lanier face to face and confirms his opponent is a very real threat and their eventual conflict will most likely leave one of them dead.

Writer Cornwell’s genius is terrific depiction of combat scenes. His knowledge of period weaponry is perfect and his ability to pull the reader into the action itself is masterful. By the books final battle sequence, we found ourselves cheering Sharpe and his men as they rally under his banner for one final, glorious victory. “Sharpe’s Assassin” is delight to anyone who appreciated good historical adventures. It made us wish we’d met Richard Sharpe a whole lot sooner.


Friday, November 19, 2021

DEAD JACK and The Old Gods



By James Aquilone

Homunculous House

255 pgs

Unlike the overwhelming majority of our colleagues in the pulp community, we have never been fans of writer H.P. Lovecraft. His elaborate myth of the Cthulu and the Old Gods always seemed too grandiose a concept to be effective as good old fashion, gut wrenching horror. Gives us a creepy Edgar Alan Poe tale anytime. Obviously we are the minority and over the years have had to endure countless stories wherein various popular occult detectives battled the cosmic deities with their giant batwings and elephant snouts ad infinitum. Everyone one of those left us bored silly.

Which brings us to James Aquilone’s third Dead Jack adventure in which, you guessed it, our cynical Zombie detective and his Pillsbury Doughboy homunculus pal Oswald, must save the world of Pandemonium from the Ancient Gods. Apparently someone has gotten their hands on the dark magic tome known as the Necronomicon and is all set to open up a dimensional portal by which Cthulu and company will make their appearance. At this point we were ready to stifle a yawn. That never happened in this instance is due to Aquilone’s brilliant solution to the whole Lovecratian mythos; make it funny. Which is exactly what does work.

Amidst their quest for the book, Dead Jack and Oswald are attempting to work out some very serious relationship issues left over from their last adventure. It seems Oswald has swallowed a magical Jupiter Stone which gives him amazing powers. Though unwilling to admit it, Dead Jack is envious. Succumbing to that emotion, he begins to verbally abuse his little buddy to the point they seek out couples-therapy. Somewhere in the middle of this merging of insane plots, it suddenly dawned on us who the two of them brought to mind. Jack and Oswald are the horror/fantasy versions of the classic Hollywood comedy team of Bad Abbott and Lou Costello. It’s all there, from their sniping attitudes towards each other in the midst of danger, to the underlying true sense of friendship and loyalty.

All of which plays itself out by the book’s cataclysmic no-holds-barred battle between their unified avatar and the alien God of Doom. Honestly, Aquilone surprised us again with another entry twice as much fun as the first two. With Dead Jack, things are never dull for a second. Oh, and before we forget, the writer offers up two bonus short tales that are mini gems. The hardest part of reading a Dead Jack novel is reaching the end and having to wait for more. Now that’s cruel.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021




(A Hollywood Cowboy Detectives Mystery)

By Darryle Purcell

A Buckskin Edition Western

163 pgs

This is the twentieth offering in this fanciful series starring many of the classic movie cowboy stars of the 30s and 40s. The primary characters featured throughout most of the adventures are Sean Curly Woods, public relations flack for Republic Pictures, Nick Danby a studio chauffeur and younger brother to Excecutive Producer Rick Danby and  one-time cinema western hero, Hoot Gibson. The three often work as the studio’s trouble-shooters heading off whatever problems might arise to plague a particular production.

In this outing, the studio has rented the supposedly haunted Winchester Mansion in which to film their new Man of the Mist cliffhanger starring the once Singing Cowboy, actor Dick Foran. A few days before shooting is to begin, the Mr. Danby receives a threatening note warning of disaster should Republic go ahead with their filming at that locale. Undaunted, Danby sends his Hollywood Cowboy Detectives to oversee the production. Which is when Curly is contacted by a ghost from the future. In fact it is the ghost of Dick Foran. Considering his past experiences, Curly takes this appiration in stride though he has a bit of trouble accepting the fact that ghosts can travel through time.

Foran’s ghost not only adds his own warnings but tells Curly the recent Winchester hauntings have become infested with alien beings from another dimension. See what we mean by complicated. Curly does his best to keep his head above water, while vainly relating these facts to Nick and Hoot who are never far away from a fresh bottle of beer.

Purcell’s imagination is unique to say the least and in this caper he pulls out all the stops. He even has a lovely young Dolores Cansino show up to add some exotic loveliness to the weird goings on. Needless to say, but the time our three roustabouts get to the bottom of things, they are knee deep not only in ghosts and monsters, but also a sinister Nazis plot to employ powerful occult forces to attack America. Did we say this one has it all, including the kitchen sink?  “Mystery at Winchester House” is a madcap fun ride with a colorful cast and is chock full of non-stop action. Once again Purcell hits the bullseye square.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

EPITAPH - A Novel of The O.K. Corral



A Novel of The O.K. Corral

By Mary Doria Russell

ECCO books

577 pgs

All nations have their cultural myths. Fantastic stories from their histories that helped define their national personas. In the Scandinavian countries it was the myths of the Norse Gods that inspired the Vikings. Great Britain was founded on the tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table whereas in America, the post Civil War era of the Wild West would forever shape our future character. And no single event from that period was more poignant in myth-making that the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

From books to movies, that thirty second gun battle on a dusty street in Tombstone, Arizona on Oct 26, 1881 has continued to spellbind us a hundred and forty years later. In her long and brilliantly written novel, Mary Doria Russell paints an all encompassing narrative of both the characters and the tumultuous times in which they lived. Her primary character through most of the tale isn’t either the Earps or their Cow Boy enemies, but one Josephine Sarah Marcus who would eventually become Mrs. Wyatt Earp.

Born in 1862, Josephine, called Sadie by her Jewish immigrant parents, grew up in Brooklyn and then San Francisco where the family moved when she was a teen. Her father was a baker and she learned the skill from him. Still Sadie had an obsession with the stage and at the age of 16 ran away with a theater group. It toured hundreds of cities throughout the west and ultimately landed her in Tombstone where she soon became the mistress of the Irish Town Sheriff, Johnny Behan.

In reading “Epitaph” we were constantly reminded of scenes from the wonderful film “Tombstone” which starred Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp and Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday. Yet Russell’s story rips away the sanitized Hollywood version for a more historically accurate portrayal of the Earp wives to include Sadie. She also delves into the psychological backgrounds of Wyatt, a quiet solitary figure, and the tragic melancholy Doc, a dentist turned gunfighter. In doing so she fills in so many gaps no mere two hour movie could ever reveal and offers up a very real, haunting story. One we thoroughly enjoyed and won’t soon forget.

Friday, October 15, 2021

THE NINE NATIONS - Book One - The Sliding World



Book One – The Sliding World

By Jim Beard

A Becky Books Production

192 pgs

The truth is we are not big fantasy readers. Oh sure, being involved with pulpdom, we’ve read our share of Robert E. Howard’s Conan and Charles Saunders African mythology books but not a whole lot more. In fact, we tend to avoid the genre these days in the place of masked avengers and noir mysteries. So why this one? Well, in all honesty because the author is someone of unusual talent whose past efforts have always entertained us. We opted to give it a go.

At the start of the tale, we learn that things are rather bleak in the world of the Nine Nations. Apparently the land mass upon which the varied countries are situated is actually sliding over the edge of a bottomless abyss. It’s as if Mother Nature has decided to destroy human kind and nothing can stop this slide to oblivion. Amidst this dismal predicament, something happens in the land of Complin that predicates an unusual quest. A notorious thief has stolen a pendant that is somehow mystically connected to the land and its retrieval becomes King Green’s singular goal. To that end he assigns his General Ketch to put together a small group of warriors and take the Warrior’s Road through other nations on a quest to find the pendant.

Ketch chooses an odd assortment of male mercenaries and a group of fierce maiden Horse Wardens of Uzzlin.  As this is transpiring, the King orders his chief law enforcer, High Warrant Jon Torck to accompany a magician named Stoan and a separate mission. It is the King’s belief that the mage may be able to divine a way to end the slide and save civilization. Torck, who abhors any kind of idol worship and mumbo-jumbo, is reluctant but acquiesces due to his staunch loyalty. Their journey leads them to the mysterious uninhabited zone known as the Graylands where nothing lives; not animal, vegetation or human. There, Torck will meet his destiny head on.

As ever, Jim Beard has woven a totally original story unlike any other sword and sorcery adventure. It is filled with intriguing, complex characters and the pace is relentless from beginning to end. Oh sure, there are the required fantasy elements, but it is how he weaves them into his narrative that we found refreshing. Like all good sagas, Book One ends on a cliffhanger and we are looking forward to it with relish. Don’t let us down now, Mr. Beard. We’re having too much fun.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Derrick Ferguson's DILLON - The Odd Jobs


Derrick Ferguson’s
DILLON The Odd Jobs

Edited by Derrick Ferguson, Ernest Russell, Michael Hintze, HC Playa

Pro-Se Press

173 pgs

Created by the late Derrick Ferguson, the modern day adventurer known as Dillon was one of the very first black pulp heroes to arrive on the New Pulp scene. Over the past decade Ferguson gave us lots of books, short stories and even a comic strip starring his stalwart hero. In the process, as most writers do, he created lots of amazing supporting characters along the way while building up a huge and devoted fan base. Thus it was only logically when one day he openly invited his writing colleagues to contribute stories to Dillon’s world. Four daring, and super talented scribes accepted the challenge and this wonderful book is the result of their efforts.

“Dillon and the City of Stone,” by Erik Fromme is the longest tale in the collection and a really terrific adventure. Fromme’s handling of Dillon is wonderful as he clearly knows the character and his nuances and is obviously having a great deal of fun with this story about Dillon’s running off to a small Mexican village for a little R & R. Isn’t often the globe trotting hero gets to simply chill with good, decent people living dull, unexciting lives. Right. Of course this idyllic vacation is interrupted when several of the village’s women and children up weird looking night raiders and carried off into the surrounding jungles. All of which leads Dillon and two brave villagers to a trail that will take them into a long lost underground city. Oh yeah, this Dillon pulp all the way.

Up next is “Dire Learning” by Russ Anderson Jr. reintroduces us to Mrs. Allie Pierri and her teenage son, Shon. Allie works for as an agent for the French Ministry of Defense and Shon, having been trained from an early age, often assist on her mission. They first appeared in the Dillon comic strip “Escape From Tosegio” and then had a major part in the book “Dillon and the Pirates of Xonira.” In this outing, Allie disappears while investigating a prestigious French secondary school. Unaware his mother is being held by a former ally turned assassin, Shon manages to get into the school as an exchange student to try and find her. In the end, both of them uncover embezzlement on the part of the Head Mistress while at the same time foiling a political assignation. This is another gem with both teenage hijinks and espionage mixed together well. Shaken, not stirred, Mr. Anderson. Bravo.

In “Dillon and the Sisters of the Machine,” Joel Jenkins picks up our hero Xonira after its bloody civil war hoping to find a little piece and quiet. Instead he’s the target of a self-aware computer calling itself the Great Machine. It unleashes four sexy female Terminator-like killers to eliminate Dillon before he can thwart the Great Machines world domination. It’s James Cameron country and Jenkins does it justice.

“Dillon and the Devil’s Mercy,” is the final tale as written by Mark Bousquet and has Dillon traveling to Zurich, Switzerland to help Idell Creed, the son of his beloved mentor, Eil Creed. There he encounters an ancient Russian myth, a plot to capture rich oil fields and a claustrophobic underwater adventure that would make James Bond proud. All in all a dandy fast paced thriller and marvelous addition to the volume.

“Dillon and the Writer’s Circle” is a look at the contributors’ bios and an informal history of Derrick Ferguson’s career focusing on the creation of his greatest character Dillon. It is a reminder of what we’ve lost with his passing. Though he may no long with us, his Dillon books are still out there. Do yourself a big favor and go read them now. You’ll be happier for it.

Monday, September 27, 2021

SATURN'S CHILD And Other Tales


SATURN’S CHILD And Other Tales

By Mark Allen Vann

Xepico Press

211 pages

Writer Mark Allen Vann has the marvelous talent of spinning old familiar genres around until they appear like something totally fresh and new.  He does this to perfection in his latest collection of stories, “Saturn’s Child And Other Tales.” There are a total of seven and each is wonderfully presented with seven new and original heroes battling all manner of villainy.

Saturn’s Child kicks off the collection wherein Vann does a flip on a classic Edgar Rice Burroughs off-world yarn. In this case it is the beautiful Saturn Princess Xian Xenn who, while fleeing assassins, is magical transported to the planet Earth. Specifically Los Vegas in the 70s where she encounters mobsters, berserk bikers and ultimately has a meeting none other than the King. We’ll be nominating this one for a Pulp Factory Award.

Secondly “Bad Medicine at Blackstone Gulch,” is a weird western that introduces us to Marshal Hollister Payne charged with bringing the deadly four Yancy Brothers to Silver City to be judged for their many crimes. Along the way they encounter the ghost of an Indian Shaman set on delivering his own blood-oath vengeance.

“Dented Halos and Dirty Faces.” Angel City was once a thriving metropolis protected by the Justice Squadron. Then the vampire invasion fell upon it and the heroes were defeated. Now the citizens cower in fear every night as the blood suckers seek out their new victims. Private Eye Jana Dhark, the former super-hero Jett, is hired to find a missing teenage girl by her father. But to do so will mean assembling a new team with the courage to enter the Dead Zone and confront an army of the undead.

“They Call Him…Iron Mask” is a really charming twist on the Superman origin, only this time the rocket ship that crash lands in Martha and Elroy’s farm backyard is carrying a humanoid shaped robot with good intentions. What happens next is both amusing and endearing. A story we personally love and will to be another award nomination for sure.

“The Lion of Llanaxa” begins well enough but simply doesn’t deliver by its conclusion. It’s a tale that goes nowhere and thus is the weakest one in the book.

“Through Fog of War” has World War II Navy sailor Colton Kendricks shipwrecked on a strange deserted island somewhere in the South Pacific. What he discovers on that island defies all reason and logic, but proves to be a very good opening chapter to what we hope is more to come.

Finally Vann wraps it all up with “Stalker in the Shadows,” the tale of Rick Mordane who lives in a world where the dead have come back to life. Well at least as visible, interacting ghosts if you will and he’s a private eye better identified as a Poltergeist Negotiator. What a hot looking redhead comes to him saying she’s being stalked by a former lover, Rick finds himself unable to resist her charms even though the case itself has more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese. A really wonky, fun story.

And there you have it, four terrific yarns, two genuine gems and one lackluster affair. Meaning this is another well crafted Xepico Press offering by a writer whose talent is only growing with each new collection. You don’t want to miss it.




Friday, September 24, 2021




Vol 1 No 3

Edited by Robert Deis & Bill Cunningham

Pulp 2.0

153 pgs

We came home from Vietnam in July of 1968. We were only too happy to return to civilian life and put that last year behind us. By March of 1969 we were working in a shoe factory and attending college at night. Sometime in that month we picked up a paperback novel called “The Executioner – War against The Mafia” by Don Pendleton. It was to be the first in a series from a new publisher named Pinnacle. A few weeks later they released, “The Destroyer” by Richard Sapir and Warren Murphy. After reading both of these initial adventures, we had one thought – the pulps were back! After having been a comic book reader since childhood, we eventually picked up some knowledge of those 30s and 40s yellow paged magazines that had entertained folks during the Great Depression. Reading Mack Bolan and Remo Williams, it was only too evident that they were new, modern “pulp” heroes for a new generation.

Sure enough within months, the drugstore racks were overflowing with new “hero” series ala the Death Merchant by Joseph Rosenberger, Piers Anthony’s Judomaster, Marc Olden’s Black Samurai, Paul Kenyon’s The Baroness. It seemed every possible classic pulp genre was covered to even include the occult ala Frank Lauria’s Doctor Orient books. Oh yeah, for the next decade, we readers would be the benefactors of the newest incarnation of pulps, which had morphed from the classic 40s volumes into the MAMs of the 50s and 60s and now the paperback boom of the 70s. We loved the stuff.

Whereas The Executioner books were by far our favorites and we followed them loyally from Pinnacle to Gold Eagle. Even enjoying the spin-off series as they emerged. At one point we actually corresponded with one of the ghost writers on Able Team. In the end we’d amassed well over two hundred paperbacks with name Pendleton painted across the covers before selling the lot in a yard sale to an employee of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in New Hampshire, whose purpose was to divvy them up amongst his co-workers there. So we were delighted they’d found a new and worthy home.

Now Bill Cunningham and Bob Deis have turned their magnificent creative spotlight on The Executioner phenomenon with the third issue of their “Men’s Adventure Quarterly” and it is by far their best issue so far. The volume is jammed packed with not only the history of this amazing ground-breaking series and its creator, but includes several excellent articles and pictorials. The piece on action-adventure writer Chuck Dixon is great and details his own work on such iconic characters and the Punisher and Batman in the comics to his own Levon Cade paperback adventures. There are also several short stories in the same vein such as the over-the-top “The Amputee Vengeance Squad’s Mafia Wipeout” by Jack Tyler. They also feature not one, but two “book bonus” reprints of the first two Executioner novels in their entirety as they appeared in two different MAMs.

As always Cunningham has an artist touch with his beautiful layouts; our favorites being the spread of Gil Cohen cover paintings and further into the issue the reproduction of the first dozen Executioner covers from Pinnacle. Seeing those unleashed a flood of great memories for this reviewer. Linda Pendleton’s memoir of her life with Don relives the early days when Mack Bolan was just an idea that had to be born. Wrap this all up with a little Bettie Page spread and you end up with one of slickest, expertly produced magazine packages ever assembled. Kudos to the Deis – Cunningham team. You boys are 3 for 3 at bat. Now that’s a damn impressive record.


Monday, September 20, 2021

NIGHTVEIL - Crisis at the Crossroads of Infinity.



Crisis at the Crossroads of Infinity

By Bobby Nash

Pro-Se Press

171 pgs

Several years ago AC Comics, one of the longest running independent comics companies in the country, joined forces with New Pulp publisher Pro-Se Press to produce several novels based on their colorful comic book characters. Writer Bobby Nash immediately signed on to write a book featuring AC’s female sorceress, Nightveil. The end result was “Nightveil – Crisis at the Crossings of Infinity.”

The adventure opens at a nexus point where all dimensions meet. There an obsessed Nightveil is battling another Nightveil from another world. Believing her world is being slowly destroyed by the creation of multiple worlds, this one time hero is now bent on eliminating all her doppelgangers. The opening chapter is a fierce encounter played out against the backdrop of infinity. Soon the world known as Wastelands is littered with the bodies of fallen Nightveils.

At which point Laura Wright, our world’s own Nightveil, becomes aware of this threat and nearly becomes the evil sorceress’ next victim. Realizing she cannot defeat the crazed Nightveil alone, Laura devises a plan to recruit other Nightveils and heroes from the myriad dimensions to help save infinity. All of which culminates in a cosmic encounter overseen by a powerful entity with the ability to change reality as we know it.

In reading this fast paced adventure, we were impressed with Nash’s ability to write all the various incarnations of the same person. He expertly moves from scene to scene and we are never once confused as to who’s who. In the end, the adventure works brilliantly and wraps with a satisfying climax.

In 2019 “Nightveil – Crisis at the Crossroads of Infinity” won the Pulp Factory Award for Best Novel; an award it totally merited.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021




Edited by Joe Gentile

Featuring - The Green Hornet & Kolchak

By Nancy Holder &

Johnny Dollar

By Tommy Hancock

Moonstone Books

55 pgs

Recently Moonstone Books has started publishing new short Green Hornet prose adventures by various New Pulp scribes in small booklets. Each features a GH tale backed up by a second story featuring another pulp character. In this edition, that is radio investigator Johnny Dollar.

Nancy Holder’s GH story, “House of a Thousand Screams” is fun in that a young reporter named Carl Kolchak shows up at Sentinel publisher Britt Reid’s office looking for a job. He tells read that if given a chance, he’ll uncover the identity of the Green Hornet within two weeks. As this develops, Kolchak also discovers murder at a rundown amusement park and actually ends up working GH and Kato to capture the bad guys. Again, lots of fun.

Then we have Tommy Hancock’s Johnny Dollar story “The For Jenny Matter” about a murdered young woman who worked as a secretary in the police station. At first it appears she is just another victim of a twisted serial killer, but things aren’t what they appear to me and slowly Dollar begins to suspects the real monster is someone he knows personally. This is by far one of Hancock’s best works and the ending is powerful in so many emotional ways. Look for this to get award nods at the end of the year.

All total a little book that packs a solid punch. Way to go, Moonstone!

Tuesday, September 07, 2021



By Jonathan W. Sweet

Brick Pickle Media LLC.

157 pgs

This is the second book in this series featuring Sweet’s original pulp hero and we are delighted. As much as we enjoyed his first outing, this one is twice as much fun. We’re given two really great adventures.

In the first the Jackal, with the assistant of actor Edward Van Sloan hunts a real vampire. Of course this is a delight in that Van Sloan portrayed Prof. Abraham Van Helsing in the film “Dracula” opposite Bela Lugosi. Sweet enjoys setting the tale in his own twin-cities backyard of Minneapolis and St. Paul and it works to perfection.

In his second outing, the Jackal teams with a former lover/vigilante, the beautiful Eurasian Charlie Becker aka the Black Wraith. She is after a killer who may be in possession of a lost manuscript supposedly penned by Edgar Alan Poe before his death. The man is attempting to sell the document to unscrupulous book dealers who are willing to pay exorbitantly for the lost tale. An added bonus to this particular adventure is basis of truth behind the story and Sweet actually reprints Poe’s original pages to the tale he never completed. Fascinating stuff.

All in all, “Ghosts of the Jackal” is simply terrific and Sweet a really polished writer who is clearly having a good time with this series. So much that his enthusiasm translates to every scene, pulling us readers along for the ride. Honestly, we want more.


Tuesday, August 31, 2021



The Shadowed Circle # 1

Editor/Publisher Steve Donoso

A Renaissance Press Publication

50 pages

From a wonderful cover image to the last stunning back cover pix, this little magazine is a pulp gem. Especially for those of you who consider the Shadow the greatest pulp creation of them all. Editor Steve Donoso and his staff have collected eleven insightful articles that cover a huge range of topics.

From Mr. Pulp Will Murray’s piece on Femme Fatales to Dwight Fuhro’s personal hunt for the most famous Shadow painting of them all. (Check out that back cover we mentioned earlier.) Each article is informative and well written. We knew nothing about the Shadow short-films until reading Joseph Gibson’s essay. All of this is solid fare for any true fan of the pulps.

Then Art Director John Sies does a magnificent job in laying out the pages and embellishing them with various images and drawings that are fitting to each segment. Some are familiar while others we’d never seen before. Each captures a different facet of the Shadow conveying the sense of mystery and danger he exuded whether on radio or in his own title.

In the end, it has been way too long since we’ve had such a delightful magazine devoted to this amazing character. Kudos to all involved and please, go get Ed Hulse to do a piece on Victor Jory’s Shadow serial. Something this reviewer would love to read.


Monday, August 30, 2021





By B.C. James


376 pgs

Often when reviewing a book we’ve absolutely loved, our most daunting challenge is getting that euphoria to you, dear readers.  “Mjolnir” is one of those books. From cover to cover it is a comedy-fantasy-action adventure and if all those elements blended together do not spell pulp, then we don’t know what does?

The plot is most imaginative. Odin, in dire fear of his own demise when the predicted Ragnarok occurs, banishes all the North Gods out of Asgard to Earth. Here, Thor, Loki, Freya and all the others finds themselves having to take on actual jobs to sustain themselves. Thor becomes a professional football player, Loki a savvy business man and Freya an expensive high class hooker. Quite the come down for the Goddess of Love. Of course Odin’s scheme has its flaws in that Loki still desires to knock off the Allfather and assume his authority and power. To do this he conspires with the other dimensional god, Surt.

Surt’s fee for this assistant is the sacrifice of a female Asgardian goddess. Loki agrees and sets his sights on Freya who has repeatedly spurned in the past. The final key element and the book’s title, is Thor’s powerful hammer, Mjolnir. He’s given it up and Odin believes by possessing it, he can thwart Ragnarok. Thus the book begins and within only a few chapters, a colorful cast of characters battling all over the U.S. in cataclysmic encounters the likes only seen in early Marvel comics.

B.C. James is a marvelous craftsman and his satirical wit is evident in every scene and line of dialog. So much that one has to wonder from magic elixir is he drinking. “Mjolnir” is a winner you really don’t want to miss. Don’t saw we didn’t tell you.



Wednesday, August 11, 2021




A Trash ‘N’ Treasures Mystery

By Barbara Allan

Guest Reviewer -Valerie Fortier

Severn House

194 pgs

Ron isn’t into Cozy mysteries and when this one arrived in the mail, he dropped it on my desk top with the suggestion I give it a go. Months later it’s still sitting there and I decided to give it a try. As a Mom myself, I totally get the mother-daughter dynamics. Sometimes they gel, other times they are nothing but oil and water.

I would recommend you take time to meet Vivian and Brandy. The mother-daughter team that never misses a chance to inject humor and fun while investigating a new mystery. I really enjoyed the book; especially the great twist at the end in regards to who done it. Just when you think you’ve got it solved, there’s more to be revealed.

The book offers up a truly wonderful cast of characters to “cozy” up by the fire and share some time with.

Final note – This is the start and end of my reviewing career. Thanks, Ron.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021




Killer Sharks in Men’s Adventure Magazines

Edited by Robert Deis & Wyatt Doyle

# new texture

192 pgs

With apologies to Peter Benchley, just when you thought it was safe go back into the Mam’s pulp library comes “Maneaters.” This is a collection of sixteen over-the-top tales of deadly shark encounters as offered in various Men’s Adventure Magazines during the 1960s, to include two wonderful cover photo and illustrations galleries. In all, these stories exemplify the horror thrills associated with these deadly sea predators and each entry provides more than enough blood and guts gore to engender some truly colorful nightmares and keep one from ever venturing out into the sea ever again.

Now we’ve all come to expect this kind of exploitive excellent from Deis and Doyle, but what elevates “Maneater” a notch above their previous titles is the afterwards provided by actual marine biologists who wonderfully debunk the various myths associated with sharks while at the same time offering factual data about these incredible fear inducing creatures.

“Maneaters” is a one kind of book that both applauds the imagination of Mams writers while at the same time demonstrating the dangers such fiction inspired. Today many species of shark are on endangered lists threatening to irrevocably upside the natural ecosystems of oceans around the world. A tip of the fedora to Deis and Doyle for both a fun read and a much needed warning that we must protect these magnificent beast from total extinction. Now that would be a real horror.