Saturday, June 25, 2022

Review: A Gun For Honey

A Gun For Honey A Gun For Honey by G.G. Fickling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Large breasts and murder are the focus of the third book in the Honey West series, a female private detective that the authors describe as a cross between Marilyn Monroe and Mike Hammer. Honey is engaged by a Hollywood director to protect his young second wife and step-daughter from “The Kissing Killer”, however the young wife is immediately found dead. The suspects are a foursome of amorous men who take every opportunity to grope, kiss, or remark upon Honey’s well-endowed physique. Honey fends off these advances admirably, clearly determined to solve the crime without such distractions in a very classic detective whodunit murder mystery plot, even bringing the suspects together at the end for the big reveal. Lots of terrific set pieces with Honey bouncing between the elusive suspects who all have dark secrets to hide. I won’t spoil the conclusion - only to say that it was a real shocker. A fair bit of nudity, plenty of discreet references to sex, and a tight plot make this book a sexy and enjoyable reading experience. I will be on the lookout for the other books in the series. Four stars.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Review: So Rich, So Dead

So Rich, So Dead So Rich, So Dead by Gil Brewer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was Brewer's second novel and it reads fast and loose. Early on Brewer is channeling The Maltese Falcon: A private investigator with a dead partner, weird criminals trying to find loot, multiple femme-fatales. The descriptive writing is better than in some of his later books. The dialog, however, is clunky and doesn't move the story forward very well, in fact it is actually evasive. At first I thought it was just bad dialog, but I've seen this in other Brewer books and it is actually a tease and deny technique he uses. The dialog is rarely on the nose, the right questions are rarely asked, and any answers avoid communicating. Gets a bit frustrating in this one at times, but that's kind of OK because there is constant action as Bill Maddern is caught and then gets away, over and over again. He's jumping out windows, off roofs, and running a lot. Ultimately, this is a whodunnit where it is not too hard to be smarter than the investigator, so the concluding wrap-up is no surprise.

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Monday, June 20, 2022

Review: Sin Pit

Sin Pit Sin Pit by Paul S. Meskil
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Love the gritty beginning that starts in the middle of the action. Plus great circa 1954 East St. Louis setting. I can see why this is considered a classic of the genre: the prose is lean and mean and the characters are all the opposite of the Ozzie & Harriet image that the mainstream media of that era was promoting. The first meeting between the cop protagonist and the femme fatale is explosive and that sets the stage for his trip to hell. More police procedural than noir, but all the behavior is beyond the norm, and that's what makes this an exciting read. In eBook format now, so readily available.

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Friday, June 17, 2022

Review: Operation Ice Cap

Operation Ice Cap Operation Ice Cap by James Dark
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The beginning, inside a submarine under the polar ice cap, is hooky, especially when the submarine starts melting from the outside in. Our hero, Intertust agent, Mark Hood doesn't show until the third chapter, and then he appears in a very James Bond-ish scene in a sports car on a mountain road with a "tall, sun-bronzed" girl named Elke. Before the end of the chapter they have sex (not described) in the bushes alongside the road and dispense with three hoods armed with guns and knives. This, like the other half-dozen fight scenes, is described in great choreographed detail. Gun battles, karate fights, sword fights, knife fights. Did I say it's fast-paced with plenty of action? It is. The plot, if you can suspend your disbelief and allow some sci-fi/future technology into your 1960s espionage, is plausible, minimal, and tight. Liked this better than the other two I've read in the Mark Hood series.

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Monday, June 13, 2022

Review: Under the Sweetwater Rim

Under the Sweetwater Rim Under the Sweetwater Rim by Louis L'Amour
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Set in 1863 Wyoming, this 1971 L'Amour western begins with the aftermath of a wagon train massacre. Although the point of view is omniscient and shifts around frequently, it mostly sticks with Tenadore Brian, ex-mercenary, but now a Lieutenant in the Cavalry. The renegades are led by Reuben Kelsey, a mad-skilled villain. Complications abound. Brian and Kelsey knew each other as boys when they survived a wagon train massacre together. One of the women in the wagon train is the daughter of the Cavalry Major tracking down the renegades. There's missing US Military payroll, in gold. With the stakes set sufficiently high, L'Amour launches into a chase and escape driven plot as Kelsey's renegades pursue a wagon, led by Brian, that escaped with the gold and the Major's daughter. Pretty much non-stop action and gun battles for 150 pages to the end, with occasional character analysis in service of the cat and mouse plot, as each character is trying to figure out what the other will do. I'd place this in the upper tier of L'Amour's books.

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Saturday, June 4, 2022

Review: Candy

Candy Candy by Sheldon Lord
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another early Lawrence Block book. The first chapter is a doozy as our first-person narrator Jeff comes home late still reeking with his mistresses' perfume and is confronted by his wife. The narration is flavored equally with asshole-ness and self-loathing and really starts the book off with an edge. Then we get a back story chapter showing how Jeff gets involved with Candy. Candy's goal is to be a kept woman and clearly Jeff doesn't make enough to keep her. He becomes obsessed with her. She dumps him. His wife leaves him. He hits the bottle. Losses his job. And then tries to find Candy. To say more would be spoiler, except that the crime elements all come late in the book. In the iBook store this is classified as erotica. It isn't, not even by 1960 standards. Couple of sex scenes, but they are not even written to excite. Overall, some good stuff here, but also plenty of filler, and it's easy to see that Block was ready to make the move to Gold Medal style books.

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Friday, June 3, 2022

Review: Angel!

Angel! Angel! by Carter Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

These Carter Brown novels always annoyed me when I first read them back in junior high because they all had the sexy Robert McGinnis cover art and then, unlike the sleazers they were made to look like, they never delivered. That's what we have with Angel. Lieutenant Al Wheeler, the cop on the beat here, spends a lot of time describing sexy women, but never gets to partake. He does solve the crime, however, and in typical mystery novel convention, the wrap up comes, after quite a few red herrings, in the last ten pages. This is a quick and easy read with plenty of interesting characters and a decent plot. Some of the Carter Brown dialog stylistics get slightly annoying, the too clever repartee, and particularly the speech tags (he growled, he snarled, he said laughingly, etc), but this is a beach read, so who cares.

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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Review: The Greenback Trail

The Greenback Trail The Greenback Trail by Jon Sharpe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A gorgeous young woman and her elderly father are aided by Skye Fargo not knowing that they are counterfeiters with a map to dig up a long buried cache of millions of dollars of counterfeit bills. Of course Pop spilled the beans in prison and a band of outlaws are in hot pursuit looking to get the map and the moola. Fargo ends up in the middle of this mess and has to use his investigative skills to figure out what everyone is after and why. So yeah, like most Adult Westerns its a detective novel set in the Old West with a couple of sex scenes thrown in. The writing, dialog, and plot are all great and, although there is no author name attributed The Trailsman novels were written by some of the most respected work-for-hire authors in the business at the time. I’ve enjoyed all of ‘em so far.

Plenty of The Trailsman reviews at Steve Myall's Western Fiction Review blog.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Review: Slab Happy

Slab Happy

Slab Happy by Richard S. Prather
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I somehow ended up with three copies of this book and figured that I ought to read one of them. A Hollywood movie producer hires Shell Scott to investigate a blackmail scheme involving some of his up and coming young stars. Once again Shell digs himself into deeper and deeper trouble this time with competing mobsters out to kill him, a corrupt desert horse ranch resort, and a hot young starlet to bed. All of the Shell Scott books are a wild ride with Shell getting beat up a few times, some cat-and-mouse set pieces, and some outrageous humor and wisecracking. This one plays it pretty straight. Less goofiness and a solid, albeit somewhat convoluted plot. I liked it a lot. Speaking of Hollywood, I’m surprised that there was never a effort to put Shell Scott on the big screen. His character and his antics would have translated well in my opinion. Four stars.

Wolfpack Publishing has acquired the rights to this series and has reissued them as very affordable ebooks.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Review: Spy Ghost

Spy Ghost Spy Ghost by Norman Daniels
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The current Russian aggression had me seeking out a vintage Cold War espionage book and found this one from 1965. John Keith is The Man from APE (nothing to do with evolution) a secret USA spy agency who is tasked with keeping the KGB from persuading a Soviet scientist to design a rocket, ostensibly to rescue a cosmonaut who is lost in space, in a really bonkers plot to use ESP to convince him that the spaceman is still alive. More lunacy ensues with Keith trying to disprove a clairvoyant and a telepath that the KGB has tricked into duping the scientist to work on the rocket. Not surprisingly Keith beds the attractive females and gets beat up. Super silly plot, bordering on self-parody, but entertaining as hell. A fun and nostalgic read for those who lived through the Cold War and the spy/secret agent media rage of the 1960s. Four stars.

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