Monday, October 23, 2023





Edited by Robert Deis & Wyatt Doyle

# new texture

295 pgs


One of the many reasons we’ve always loved the pulps was their outrageous mixing of fiction genres. Via their hundreds of monthly titles one might find one devoted to cowboy romances or another to vampire pirates. Somehow the wilder the mix-up, the more fun the stories. Which is why this latest anthology from Men’s Adventure Magazine historians Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle is easily one of their best releases to date. Devoted to preserving the history of MAMS, they’ve in the past offered dozens of amazing books. All these showcased the creative writers, artists and editors who took up the mantle of pulp fiction after World War II and filled American newsstands with some truly entertaining periodicals.  

Of course most of those MAMS were geared to the returning vets and their spotlight focused on action-adventure yarns for the most part. Still, every now and then, an odd duck sort tale would appear that was clearly something…else? Stories of aliens, bizarre monsters and creatures that echoed the fantastic yarns of the early pulps, especially the classic Weird Tales. Thus, it was only inevitable that Deis and Doyle would finally get around to assembling a collection of these so called “throwbacks.” We happy to say they’ve so with panache. 

Eliciting prologues from pulp authority Mike Chomko, and MAM fan Steven Dziemianowicz, they offer up 19 of the most sensational, out-there tales ever to assemble between two covers. From vampire hunting, to sex with gorgeous alien invaders, “Atomic Werewolves and Man-Eating Plants” delivers the goods with each story somehow even stranger than the one before it. The book is also gorgeously designed with actual art from the source magazines the stories were printed it in. All of which results in one of the most delicious reading entrees ever offered a pulp reader. Thanks gentlemen and please, do give us more.

Thursday, October 05, 2023




By Max Allan Collins

Hard Case Crime

293 pgs

“On June 5, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy was shot by Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California and pronounced dead the following day. Kennedy, a United States senator and candidate in the 1968 Democratic Party presidential primaries, won the California and South Dakota primaries on June 4. He addressed his campaign supporters in the Ambassador Hotel's Embassy Ballroom. After leaving the podium, and exiting through a kitchen hallway, he was mortally wounded by multiple shots fired by Sirhan. Kennedy died at Good Samaritan Hospital nearly 25 hours later. His body was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Kennedy’s assassination prompted the Secret Service to protect presidential candidates. In addition, it led to several conspiracy theories. It was the final of four major assassinations in the United States that occurred during the 1960s.”

For the record, we crimped the above from a Wikipedia page not wanting to repeat what most readers already know, or can easily become familiar with via that site or dozens of history books on Kennedy’s life and his death. What concerns Collins is the locale and the tightly packed hallway into the kitchen pantry where the murder took place. Relying on both voluminous research and his own gifted imagination, he pulls the reader into the midst of that chaos when bullets were suddenly fired into the crowed eliciting screams and panic. He sets Nate Heller, an old Kennedy friend, brought in to act as an impromptu bodyguard for the Senator, down into the middle of it all. Tragically the press of supporters stymies Heller’s effort to reach Kennedy and save him.

What few people today recall is that several other people were wounded in the shooting, thankfully none fatal other than Kennedy. They were wounded because of all the bullets that were fired supposedly by the lone gunman. This is the contradiction that confronts Heller days later when attempting to recall the event. He remembers too many bullets. Ultimately he is hired by newspaper journalist Drew Pearson to personally investigate the shooting and determine the truth.

Weaving Heller through an historical landscape, Collins offers up a suspenseful, well laid out narrative that is rife with inconsistencies and outright falsehoods. Heller knows a cover up when he runs into it head first; but that’s not enough. He needs to know the who(s) and is ultimately led down a highway that goes nowhere near the place called Justice. “Too Many Bullets” is both sad and thought provoking; a testimony to the one inescapable fact, we live in an imperfect world. So does Nate Heller.



Monday, October 02, 2023




By J.D. Robb

St. Martin’s Press

358 pages


The setting is the future in which mankind has gone out to the stars and colonized other planets. Meanwhile, back on good old Terra Firma, crime still exist which is what keeps New York City Homicide Detective Eve Dallas hopping. In this particular tale, she and her new husband are only just back from their honeymoon when she is called to investigate the murder of a former police officer; Captain Martin Greenleaf. Upon arriving at the scene, Eve discovers the killer, having shot the retired chief, then attempted to make it appear as if Greenleaf had shot himself. Whereas Eve quickly sees through the subterfuge clearly recognizing the flimsy scenario for what it is.

But why try to disguise it as a suicide? It also doesn’t help her case that Greenleaf, while an active cop, was the head of the Internal Affairs Department and, during his lengthy career, he put away lots of crooked cops. Thus the list of possible suspects is a long one indeed. Dallas realizes the only way she’ll ever solve the case is to meticulous go through all of Greenleaf’s past files. Somewhere in them is the identity of his killer. In other words good old fashion, tedious, boring, police work. 

This is our first encounter with J.D. Robb and we found the first half of “Payback in Death” slow going. Granted the lengthy set-up is necessary, but at the same time not overly conducive to turning the pages. Thankfully the story does shift into a faster pace by the second half as Eve begins to rely more and more on her gut instincts. We should mention this book is part of a series and loyal readers will most likely appreciate reconnecting with her eclectic supporting cast. Whereas they were all strangers to this reviewer and we kept our focus on the mystery. 

In the end, Robb does balance a stogy police procedural with a deft look into how effective detectives employ a basic knowledge of both psychology and criminal law merging the two to conform to the age old truism; people only kill for one of two reasons, love or money. Now let’s see if you can figure out which one before Eve Dallas does.