Saturday, June 25, 2022

A STUDY IN CRIMSON -Sherlock Holmes 1942





Sherlock Holmes 1942

By Robert J. Harris

Pegasus Crime

303 pgs


Like author Robert J. Harris, our first introduction to the Great Detective, Sherlock Holmes, was from the Universal movies featuring Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. Having been born after World War II, one of millions of Baby Boomers, we would discover these black and white films on televisions years after they had been produced and shown in theaters around the globe. We were instantly taken with Holmes cool and calculating powers of observations and Watson’s courageous loyalty, despite his often depredations as to the perils they were led into. In those days, this young boy had no clue as to who Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was. That would come later in our high school classes dealing with the history of English Literature.  

What we would only marvel at many years later was how successful the script writers at Universal had been in transferring Holmes and Watson to the 20th Century. It was a smooth and flawless transition and though some Doyle purists may have had their issues, most Holmes enthusiast relished these entries.

Now along comes writer Robert J. Harris, another fan of those films, with the marvelous idea of writing brand new mysteries set in those familiar years. With “A Study in Crimson,” we are once again in war torn London, as England bravely fends off the German Blitz fervently hoping that the United States will eventually enter the conflict. When the bodies of two murdered young women are discovered, each having been physically mutilated, Inspector Lestrade calls on Holmes for assistance. At the site of each murder, the words Crimson Jack are found painted in black clearly referring to the most brutal serious killer of all time, Jack the Ripper. Whereas it is unlikely Jack has returned from the grave, what the murders suggest is that a new fiend has arrived on the scene and is mimicking the original monster.

From the opening chapter, Harris brilliantly lays out his tale and it was impossible for this reviewer not to see Rathbone and Bruce, along with Dennis Hoey, Lestrade, in our imagination. This considerably heightened our enjoyment of the book. Bravo to Harris for recapturing that cinema magic while at the same time giving us a gem of a mystery. He plays fair, the clues are all there for the most diligent reader to discern and maybe, just maybe, solve the case before the Great Detective. All in all, a truly marvelous experience and we hope there are more of these 1942 mysteries in the works.


Tuesday, June 21, 2022




Editor/Publisher Steve Donoso

A Renaissance Arts Press Publication

66 pages


Once again, Editor Steve Donoso and his crew of enthusiastic Shadow devotees have put together another stellar issue cram-packed with informative and fun articles. All behind a terrific cover by Steve Rude.


Albert J. Emery’s query as to could the Shadow have ended World War II by taking out Hitler is thought provoking. Todd Severin and Keith Holt’s second part of the character’s history was professionally put forth. Will Murray always entertains, whether when writing his own exciting pulp tales or in this case, recounting his personal experiences covering the 1994 Shadow movie starring Alec Baldwin. His peek behind the glamour and glitter is fascinating. 

Our favorite article was easily the story behind “The Shadow’s Guy in the Chair.” As writer Tim King points out, in most series where the hero leads a team, there is always someone at the center of the web cleverly doing the boss’ bidding. With the Shadow it was the loyal and mysterious Burbank. A fun piece exploring the possible origins of the character as created by Walter Gibson. 

Part one of the Michael Uslan interview, “The Boy Who Loved The Shadow” by Darby Kern was enjoyable and we’re eager for the second half coming next issue. Likewise Steve Novak’s piece on the Shadow’s New York was a nice follow up from the period photo-essay on display in Issue # 2. 

Finally, “The Puzzling Adventures of The Shadow Magazine in Canada was really strange to say the least. Kudos to Tim Hewitt for his research and exploration of a little facet of publishing history before and during the years of World War II. Very little is ever written about Canadian pulps and this feature was most welcome.

Once again, “The Shadowed Circle” offers up a truly complete package with entertaining articles all beautifully laid out with clever compositions throughout. No Shadow fan should be without this wonderful mag.

Monday, June 20, 2022




A Pendergast Novel

By Preston & Child

Grand Central Publishing

385 pgs


As we said dozens of times before, our favorite new pulp series today is the Pendergast novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. “Bloodless” is the twentieth in the adventures of Special FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast and probably one of the most blatantly outrageous yet. Which is saying something as this series kicked off with Pendergast dealing with a mutated jungle monster loose in the Museum of Natural History to be followed by his encounter with a mysterious young lady well over a hundred years old but still retaining her physical youth. As we said, outrageous, and yet Preston and Child have so much fun telling these stories, the reader is instantly swept along for the ride and leaves all rationality behind.

In “Bloodless” the story begins with a retelling of the FBI’s most famous and still unsolved cases; the plane highjacking by the man known as D.B. Cooper who, after being paid his ransom, parachuted out of a plane over the Northwest and was never seen again. From this prequel, the book then springs to Savannah, Georgia today and the body of a murdered man washed up along the banks of the river…without a drop of blood in it. Pendergast, his ward Constance Greene and partner Agent Armstrong Coldmoon are assigned the case. Before too long, a second bloodless corpse literarily falls out of the sky one night nearly crushing a tourist couple out for a stroll. As events continue, the case simply becomes more and more macabre until our heroes are faced with the possibility that the killer may not be of this world.  

Like all such long running series, the Pendergast adventures have had their ups and downs. Some tales were a bit awkward and clumsy while others were spot on thrillers with panache. “Bloodless” may possibly the finest since our personal favorite, “The Cabinet of Curiosities,” book # 3.  Not to be missed, pulp fans because this is really what great pulp writing is all about.

Thursday, June 09, 2022




A Red Jackal Adventure

By Jonathan W. Sweet

Brick Pickle Media, L.L.C.

149 Pgs


The Twin-Cities rouge colored adventurer returns in a full length adventure that pits him against a mysterious criminal mastermind known by various names. For whatever nefarious reasons, publisher Blake Randolph’s secret crime-fighting persona has become the target of the sadistic villain who begins his campaign by systematically murdering the Jackal’s agents. Then the devious crook sets up an elaborate weekend getaway for half a dozen of the city’s elite personalities to a luxurious woodsy island retreat. There, one of fiend’s twisted killers, dressed as the Red Jackal, brutally murders several of the guests so as to put the blame on the battling avenger.

Never have the stakes been higher. As he attempts to uncover the identity of his obsessed foe, the Red Jackal begins to worry that his closest confidants, to include his brother David, police Lt. McDaniels and the lovely reporter Jennifer Jones, may become the madman’s newest targets. Once again, writer Sweet spins a fast paced tale set against authentic backgrounds and history to deliver a truly rewarding tale. This being the character’s third outing, we’re totally bonafide and hope there’s a fourth soon on the way. The Red Jackal is what good New Pulp is all about.

Monday, June 06, 2022




Three Novels

By Mickey Spillane

Rough Edges Press

316 pgs


Vincent Demar and his son Larry move to the Caribbean Island of Peolle to start a new life. Upon arriving they make friends with islander Tim Toomey and his son Josh. Soon the two teenage boys are inseparable and ready for whatever adventures may come their way. Enjoying what are primarily three Young Adult novels produced by a world famous tough-guy private-eye writer is just more proof on how versatile and talented Spillane truly was. Whereas since his passing in 2006, literary history has relegated him to the narrow confines of mystery and crime thrillers choosing to ignore the incredible amount of work he created in all kinds of genres from westerns to horror and yes, even Young Adult. 

This book collects “The Day the Sea Rolled Back” and “The Ship That Never Was,” the two previously published Larry and Josh stories along with “The Shrinking Island.” Published here for the first time. Reading these, we immediately see the formula the author established. Much like all traditional young adult stories, Larry and Josh become new versions of the Hardy Boys only with an exotic Caribbean background. As each tale opens, they come across some bizarre mystery, set out to explore it on their own, then become the targets of unscrupulous men seeking a long lost treasure and put the boys in jeopardy.  

In “The Day the Sea Rolled Back” the boys deal with a natural phenomenon wherein the sea actually rolls back exposing several miles of sea bottom around the tiny islands; never before seen real estate with several sunken ships now visible to all. With “The Ship That Never Was,” Larry and Josh discover an old sailor adrift in a hundred year old British longboat that could only have come off a classic British frigate. All of which leads to the strange history of what was considered a jinxed boat. And finally, with “The Shrinking Island,” our impetuous duo encounters a supernatural force straight out of an issue of Weird Tales.  

This is a fun package and having enjoyed them, we can only bemoan the fact that Spillane never wrote any others. Larry and Josh are terrific characters and it would have been fun to see where the series might have gone. That we’ll never know, but at least we now have this volume. A tip of the pulp fedora to Rough Edge Press and writer Max Allan Collins who offers up a terrific introduction.