Thursday, March 26, 2020

Review: Massacre at Umtali

Massacre at Umtali Massacre at Umtali by Peter McCurtin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Set in 1970s Rhodesia and telling the story of a mercenary named Rainey who has been engaged to lead a ragtag team of hired killers to capture a terrorist kingpin who recently massacred civilians in a village called Umtali. There is quite a bit of 1970s Rhodesia information and geopolitical discussion which was interesting until the point that it got boring. Fortunately the book escalated into high gear quickly and left no doubt that hardcore action was the emphasis of the tale. Rainey is faced with a difficult dilemma at one point, which was a nice touch and added significantly to the story. An engaging and highly testosterone-fueled adventure that should appeal to readers of 1970s military action fiction.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Review: Body for Sale

Body for Sale Body for Sale by Richard Deming
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Resourceful and cunning ex-cop Tom Cavanagh blackmails his adulterous boss into giving him a sales director job which starts the ball rolling in this terrific rollercoaster of a noir. Not much more that I can say about the plot without spoiling so I’ll just say that this efficiently plotted gem is full of surprising twists and is impossible to put down. Another forgotten noir essential that deserves to be read. Highly recommended.

Available as an inexpensive ebook from Prologue and Wildside Press.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Review: Thunder Wagon

Thunder Wagon Thunder Wagon by James Reasoner and L.J Washburn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sheriff Cole Tyler and the other endearing citizens of Wind River, a Wyoming settlement, are threatened on multiple fronts, railroad worker labor unrest, a possible Indian uprising, and robberies whose victims have their ears cut off. Appearances by a Chinese cook and his family, and the US Calvary only serve to add to the tension. Even though there is a lot going on here the authors smoothy tie the events and characters into a nicely cohesive narrative that tie up the loose ends in a satisfying conclusion. I’m fond of books that revolve around a town and it’s cast of interesting characters and their individual stories. Thunder Wagon is a great example of this type of storytelling. I’m looking forward to book three in the series.

Buy the ebook here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Review: Girls' Dormitory

Girls' Dormitory Girls' Dormitory by Orrie Hitt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

More thoughtful than sleazy, Girls Dormitory tells the story of rich college girl Peggy, her money hungry roommate and lover Helen, who is also a prostitute, and horny Jerry the pimp and dormitory handy man who makes time with several of the rooming guests possibly impregnating one of them. The writer really stirred the pot with multiple plot lines and the female character's shifting sexuality, however the pacing is strong and the story kept my interest. Sex is only implied and never described, frequently using the chapter ending device "Show me you love me." And (s)he did.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Review: A Trap for Sam Dodge

A Trap for Sam Dodge / High Thunder A Trap for Sam Dodge by Harry Whittington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sheriff Miles Ringo is gunned down and Sam Dodge comes back to town to find the killer of his old friend. Turns out that Sam and Ringo were once competing for the same girl and the same job, and Sam lost on both counts, inspiring him to leave town to start a ranch.  Sam Dodge has a plan to draw out the killer but ends up creating a trap for himself. Courtroom drama ensues with a nice twist and an unexpected ally. Whittington delivers another propulsive crime thriller with Sam Dodge acting as the detective and protagonist. Sam’s relationship with the steadfast doctor and the soiled dove’s daughter were a couple of highlights for me. Recommended.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Review: Tears Are For Angels

Tears Are For Angels Tears Are For Angels by Paul Connolly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paul Connolly is a pseudonym for Tom Wicker, a notable writer of political non-fiction and NY Times journalist for over 30 years. Wicker started out writing paperback originals for Gold Medal, all sadly out of print. This novel "Tears are for Angels" is much more than a typical pulp crime book. It tells the story of a man who has fallen into the deepest pits of despair and his struggle back, motivated first by vengeance, and then by love. The novel is fast paced with clever and surprising twists, and plenty of sex and violence.

UPDATE: Stark House Press has just brought this superb book back into print. Available here from their Black Gat imprint.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Review: The Silver Tombstone

The Silver Tombstone The Silver Tombstone by Frank Gruber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A pair of somewhat silly grifter buddies Johnny Fletcher and Sam Cragg find themselves immersed in a caper involving a disputed silver mine, a mysterious old book, and a corpse in their car. An amusing romp in the style of of other 1940s hard-boiled-lite mysteries such as those by Craig Rice and Brett Halliday, propulsive plotting, witty banter, and humor. I'll keep my eye out for other books in this series, which are mostly out-of-print and unjustly forgotten.

This book is long out-of-print and not likely to be reprinted. I created these ebooks from scans that I found online. Download and enjoy.

EPUB - The Silver Tombstone - Frank Gruber.epub
MOBI - The Silver Tombstone - Frank Gruber.mobi

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Review: The Executioner: Vegas Vendetta

The Executioner: Vegas Vendetta The Executioner: Vegas Vendetta by Don Pendleton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mack Bolan stops off in Vegas to relieve the Mafia of a load of cash and ends up rescuing undercover cop Carl Lyons who tells Bolan about some sinister mob activity in town. Bolan decides to stick around, help out a comedian that has been targeted, and take down a Casino-Resort that is mobbed up. The hip 70’s idioms were a gas, the police are called “the fuzz” and independent women are “Women Libbers”. Bolanverse regulars Hal Brognola, Jack Grimaldi, and the deadly  Talifero brothers all make appearances too. Another lean and muscular action thriller in the long running series that is difficult to put down.

Available for Kindle

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Review: Take A Step To Murder

Take A Step To Murder Take A Step To Murder by Day Keene
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Kurt Renner needs money to keep his motor court in business while the expressway interchange gets built. He devises a truly repugnant plan to blackmail a rapist’s rich father, but things don’t go as planned. A rollercoaster of events keeps the book rolling at breakneck pace, and although I liked the plotting, I found that the lack of any sympathetic characters took the heart out of the book. I didn’t really care if Renner succeeded in saving his motor court. Not one of Keene’s better books.

View all my reviews

Review: Strangers in My Bed

Strangers in My Bed Strangers in My Bed by Allen O'Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good example of rural swamp noir, and a solid coming-of-age story, as kindly brother Willie tries to pick up the pieces when bad brother Elroy comes home from college and creates a unholy mess of everything. Although the title and cover blurbs promise some sleaze the book is not nearly as salacious, consisting of horny hillbillies talking about sex in metaphorical terms with no gratuitous or graphical depictions. The books touches on the discrimination of urban Southerners against the uneducated backwater folks, and some pretty disturbing examples of racism in the Deep South. A talented writer, Mr. O'Quinn wrote three backwoods/swamp novels for Gold Medal and then disappeared. Another great cover by Barye Phillips.