Thursday, April 28, 2022

THE MENACE

 

 

 

THE MENACE

By Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins

Rough Edge Press

189 pgs

 

This book is a gem in that it actually contains three different works by the indisputable master of private-eye fiction, Mickey Spillane. The first is a novella based on a television script and adapted by Collins. The second is a long lost short story and the last a non-fiction true crime essay based on an actual murder case. All three are memorable in their own way and combined, offer up a small glimpse of the unbounded talent and imagination Spillane possessed.

“The Menace” itself is a thriller regarding a grotesque serial killer targeting doctors in small southern county. Sheriff Cutter, a veteran of the NYPD, puts the pieces together and discovers the killer’s next victim is a likeable pediatrician and his young son. Yet despite surrounding the doctor and his family with a cadre of officers, Cutter soon learns his monstrous foe is not going to let anything deter him from his savage goal.

“The Duke Alexander” is a hilarious tale of mistaken identity. A garage owner is on vacation when he is crosses paths with an exact look-alike who happens to be a foreign gigolo in this country to marry a wealthy debutante. Honestly, Spillane’s comedy is worthy of a Marx Brothers feature. It is that funny.

Finally, Collins wraps it all up republishing a short true-crime essay wherein a young woman’s body, left at the bottom of freezing cold lake, eventually rises to the surface and kicks off an investigation, which via the science of the day, eventually tracks down the killer.  

Three for the price of one sums up “The Menace.” A satisfying fun read you don’t want to miss.

 

Friday, April 22, 2022

CAULDRON OF THE HOLLYWOOD HEADHUNTERS

 

 

 

CAULDRON OF THE HOLLYWOOD HEAD HUNTERS

Man of the Mist # 3

By Darryle Purcell

Digital Parchment Press

165 pgs

 

Darryle Purcell returns with a third Man in the Mist adventure which is his homage series to the classic pulp avengers. Industrialist Ralph Thorne learned mystic abilities while on his trips to the world’s exotic locales. Now, using his power to cloud men’s minds, he battles an assortment of bizarre master villains. Reading these fun adventures, one is immediately reminded of classic heroes ala the Shadow and the Spider.

In this particular adventure, Thorne, and his lovely blonde assistant, Moxie Malone, take on a secret facist cabal insinuating itself into the Hollywood entertainment community. From the movies to music, led by the mysterious Phoenix, the group threatens their way to power in order to subvert the public. From sadistic torturers, zombies and a crazed werewolf, the cult becomes one of the greatest challenges ever faced by the steely avenger. “Cauldron of the Hollywood Head Hunters” is a page turning hoot. If you love old pulps, this one was made for you.

 

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

POLLEN IN PRINT 1955-1959

 

POLLEN IN PRINT 1955-1959

Edited by Robert Deis & Wyatt Doyle

Men’s Adventure Library

# new texture

159 pgs

 

With this book, Men’s Adventure Magazines historians Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle once again shine a light on the amazing, and prolific work of artist Samson Pollen. In the two previous volumes, “Pollen’s Action” and “Pollen’s Women,” the authors focused on those particular themes that were the hallmark of the artist’ majority of published work. In this, their third collection, they turn their critical eyes to Pollen’s smaller black and white illustrations that appeared in those periodicals.

This is no easy task, as many of the wonderful illustrations they reproduced were from tiny originals no more then three or four inches in length and width. What generally happens when attempting to reproduce such small pieces is the disintegration of the line work when enlarged. Yet, somehow, they have deftly manipulated the digital scanning progress to prevent such from happening and the end result is clear, beautiful copies detailing the mastery of Pollen’s composition and shading skills.  

Another noteworthy element in this volume is that unlike all their previous titles, this one was crowd-funded on-line. I.e. it was produced by the generous donations of art and MAMS lovers around the world. This in itself is a testimony to both Pollen’s work and the legion of fans the authors have increased by their tireless efforts in preserving these artistic treasures for future generations. We heartily applaud them both and encourage all of you to pick up this gorgeous book.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

THE COWBOY AND THE CONQUEROR

 

THE COWBOY AND THE CONQUEROR

A Bob Howard Adventure

By Teel James Glenn

Pro Se Press

180 pgs

 

In 2020, writer Teel James Glenn wrote “A Cowboy in Carpathia” and in 2021 it won the Pulp Factory Award for Best Novel. The conceit of the story was that pulp writer Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan, and other great characters, did not commit suicide and in this alternate world went on to have real adventures. In one such he took and defeated the Vampire King, Dracula. Talk about a great pulp concept. It was no surprise to this reviewer that it went on to win the Best Novel title. 

And so here we go again, back to this “what if” world and this time the battler from Cross Plains teams up with another pulp writer. This one is German and his name is Adolf Hister. Whoa. Up reading the opening chapter, this reviewer sat back and wondered if our eyes had deceived us. Was the first person narrator of this sequel actually an alternate world version of Adolf Hitler? Answer, yes, he was. Only this little fellow with the Charlie Chaplain mustache is married and has two sons. His life has been blessed and he is a successful spinner of tall tales. Wow. You have to give Glenn kudos for have the courage to pull this switch. 

Howard and Hister meet on a boat in Egypt traveling the Nile. Their ship is boarded by Arab revolutionists who kidnap a British headmistress and her girls on a field trip. Our two pulp scribes give chase, assuming the girls are going to be held for ransom by the bandits. Little do they know that behind the raid, is a mysterious cult known as the White Hand and their objection is a great deal more sinister. When this comes to light, the Cowboy and German wordsmith return to London where they will uncover the White Hand’s master plot, the true leader.

In Glenn’s topsy-turvy upside world, our good guys are villains and vice versa. As if that wasn’t enough plot for this non-stop action adventure romp, he even gives us a very unhealthy dose of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cluthu mythos. Oh, yeah.

“The Cowboy and the Conqueror” may be Glenn’s most accomplished work to date. He cleverly sets the table with all kinds of familiar pulp tropes and then peels back a philosophical layer that at the core of all stories. The myths behind life and death and the choices we make. What else can we say but…bravo!!!  Clean a space off your trophy self, Mr. Glenn.

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

BLOOD ON THE TRAIL

 

OD ON THE TRAIL

A Jeremiah Halstead Western

By Terrence McCauley

Pinnacle Books

315 pgs

 

Mystery writer Terrence McCauley burst on the western scene several years ago with his first Sheriff Aaron Mackey novel, “Where the Bullets Fly.” At the end of that four book series, Mackey was sworn in as Montana’s U.S Marshal and residing in Helena, the state capital. We cannot say enough good things about that series and happily reviewed each and every one of them. Though we were led to believe that after the fourth book that would be the last we’d see of Mackey and his likeable cast of characters.

Happily we’ve been proven wrong as McCauley has now returned to Montana and begun a second series this time featuring one of Mackey’s Deputy Marshals, Jeremiah Halstead, who had first appeared in the previous books as a supporting character. Young Halstead was the son of one of Mackey’s closest friends from the war. In this first story, Deputy Halstead is sent down to the small town of Rock Creek to locate the whereabouts of the murderous Hudson Gang. That he manages to do easily enough. It is only after he captures the gang’s leader, John Hudson, that his trouble begins. Fleeing Rock Creek with the rest of the killers chasing him, Halstead manages to escape but not before killing two of them; one being Hudson’ younger brother.

Desperate to get back to Helena with his prisoner, the Deputy Marshal stops in the town of Silver Cloud, a half-way point on his trip. But when goes to the local jail to lock up his prisoner, he’s confronted by the mean-spirited Sheriff Boddington and his two dimwit deputies. Halstead has no patience for men like these and quickly puts all three out of commission with the use of his rifle butt; an action guaranteed not to endear him with the good people of Silver Cloud. Then he gets a telegram from Marshal Mackey telling not to return immediately, but to remain in the burgeoning mining campe, Halstead’s situation becomes less than enviable.  

Then within twenty-hours of his arrival, a popular prostitute is murdered, her body discovered in the alley behind the saloon. Thus our hero is forced to stay in a town where he has already antognized the sheriff, is embroiled in a murder investigation and very much aware that the remainder of the Hudson gang is most likely to attempt to free their boss at any time. Suspense builds upon suspense as McCauley skillfully weaves his narrative at a remarkably well established pace. There is plenty of action throughout the tale skillfully interwoven with genuine characterizations of believeable people. As a series debut, “Blood On The Trail,” is a magnificent launching which only has us hoping the sequel isn’t too far off. This is what good westerns are all about.

Saturday, March 05, 2022

VERMIN CALLING

 

VERMIN CALLING

By Darryle Purcell

Offbeat Reads

198 pgs   

Young Vernon Jiles was bullied as a child. His worst tormentor, his older brother. To survive these daily beating, Vernon lost himself in his comics and soon developed a true love of graphic storytelling. Enough so that he began drawing his own comics and grew up to become a professional illustrator.  But there was more to Vernon’s story for he possessed a very unique imagination, one his mind learned to harness is a most spectacular way. Vernon discovered early in his comic creating career that he, by the power of his mind, could bring his cartoon characters to life.  

Soon, his colorful friends, led by the fighting DuckTard, were parading around his studio and adding to the fun and mayhem of his daily life. Ultimately, realizing he had the ability to do good and protect people, Vernon assumed a secret identity and the Vermin, scourge of the underworld, was born. Again, all because of his amazing imagination.

When the beautiful Tenacity Mills answered an ad to be his assistant, she was instantly brought into his top secret crusade. At first the poor girl thought she was losing her mind, but gradually Vernon’s na├»ve sincerity won her over. Soon Tenacity was fighting crooks and communist agitators alongside Vermin and his cartoon posse.  

Darryle Purcell is a gifted storyteller unafraid of exploring the wild and bizarre and he has no problems making the impossible seem totally believable. Never more so than in this crazy romp with two of his most likeable characters ever. In fact when you consider the plot, this reviewer doesn’t wonder if some of these exploits weren’t based on his own life. Now that would be crazy! And fun!

Friday, February 25, 2022

MOONLIGHT SERENADE

 

MOONLIGHT SERENADE

Book Three of the Vim Hood Chronicles

By Terry Mark

285 pgs  

With this volume, writer Terry Mark continues his thrilling alternate history series featuring some very famous personalies. He picks up the narrative in Europe shortly after the Normandy invasion by allied troops. We find General Patton leading his armored command across France at such speed as if to threaten his own gas supply lines. Meanwhile in the South Pacific, Amelia Earhart, is alive and operating as an island spotter for the U.S. Navy observing the movements of Japanese warships. When that mission is completed, she recruits a young Navy flier named Paul Newman to accompany her to Europe and a rendezvous with Patton.  

Meanwhile a frightened young teenage Anne Frank has escaped her family’s hiding place and while on the run encounters a trio of savage Nazis werewolves. All of which has to do with Hitler’s attempt to find the source of the mysterious Vim gems that grant people arcane powers and the ability to make super weapons of mass destruction.

Once again, Mark weaves real history with his daring alternate world supernatural storyline to achieve the maximum in spills and thrills. Oh, and did we mention a certain trumpet player named Glenn Miller also has a part to play in the adventure. Just like his first two books in the series, “Moonlight Serenade” is pure pulp from start to finish. We urge you not only to pick it up but do yourselves a favor and also latch on to those first two books, “Kill the Night” and “And the Sun Goeth Down.” Really, you’ll be glad you did.