Saturday, March 31, 2018

Review: Fargo

Fargo Fargo by John Benteen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book is a blast featuring over-the-top action, multiple double-crosses, and a sizzling fast moving plot. Neal Fargo is a typical bad-ass pulp action hero, the Doc Savage or Mack Bolan kind, with almost limitless skills when it comes to fighting and seduction. Heavily plot-driven books like this succeed based on the strength of the story and this one is a crackling good one. I'm glad to see that Piccadilly Publishing is releasing the series in ebook format.

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Review: War Against the Mafia

War Against the Mafia War Against the Mafia by Don Pendleton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having read a smattering of randoms Executioners over the years I'm glad that I finally got around to reading the first book in the series. Mack Bolan's motivations and actions are clearly more morally ambiguous in this book, and although Bolan has dedicated himself to a relentless and brutal destruction of "evil", readers may find this somewhat bordering on psychotic. I think that this level of depth makes Bolan a fascinating character, much more than a typical action hero. All in all an excellent action book.

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Friday, March 23, 2018

Review: Hot Lead issue one: The fanzine of vintage western paperbacks

Hot Lead issue one: The fanzine of vintage western paperbacks Hot Lead issue one: The fanzine of vintage western paperbacks by Justin Marriott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Slick production, a slew of paperback cover artwork, and nicely detailed info covering the "Piccadilly Cowboy" books of the 70s and 80s make this an excellent addition to my fanzine collection. The "Piccadilly Cowboy" books were a response the sensibilities of Spaghetti Westerns, ultra-violent and sexually explicit, typically in long-running series, and written by British authors who weren't constrained by the conventions and tropes of the American Western writers of that era. I'll be keeping my eye out for many of the series reviewed here in my frequent used bookstore excursions.

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Review: The Brain Scavengers

The Brain Scavengers The Brain Scavengers by Paul Edwards
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Written by Manning Lee Stokes the second book in the series continues to be more espionage/adventure than action focused. Much of the book is devoted to the beautiful Russian "psychoneuropharmacologist" who frets about losing her virginity to a man that she does not intend to marry, which makes her borderline rape later in the novel quite distasteful. John Eagle attempts again to defy insurmountable odds to rescue some insane American psychologists and a couple of defectors, including the woman, and also destroy some salvaged brains of insane geniuses that have been harvested by the Russians for diabolical purposes. The writing is strong and it's well enough plotted, although the first half of the book was a bit slow moving for my tastes. I have the next few books in the series in my collection and intend to read them.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Review: The Crime and Corruption Novel MEGAPACK

The Crime and Corruption Novel MEGAPACK from Wildside Press is a real bargain. Four novels for $0.99. Available for Kindle  or other formats at Wildside Press. If four novels seems overwhelming then the essential reads are arguably Run, Brother, Run! and Kiss Me Hard.

A Season For Violence by Thomas B. Dewey
Dewey strays from his comfortable crime novel genre and attempts a drama involving a large cast of country club politicians and their powerful allies whose lives become unhinged during a scandal involving one of their own rich kids, and an upswing in drug trafficking. The novel starts out slowly - introducing many characters, then picks up steam a bit as the the lives of the characters begin to intertwine. Dewey manages to tie up the loose ends to a satisfying conclusion, although too many characters and an unfocused, meandering plot drag this one down.

Run, Brother, Run by Thomas B. Dewey
A terrific short novel from 1954 that was recently brought back into print by Wildside Press. Like the best of the ’50s paperback pulp fiction, the story has a lean and propulsive plot with plenty of hard-boiled dialog and violence. What set it apart for me is the originality of the plot, the well-drawn female characters, and a couple of twists that totally surpised me. A top notch gem that clearly deserves to find a bigger audience.

Empty Saddles by Burt Arthur
Marketed as a Western, the novel is instead a character study of a young lawyer named Joe who has recently returned from World War II, his difficulties getting reintegrated into his former small town life, and his quest to unseat the popular, albeit corrupt, politicians running the town. Joe has two love interests, the former flame and girl-next-door type Mavis, and a young and neurotic ingenue with the wonderful name of Avril Fawcett, whose fathers both happen to be corrupt politicians. The novel is a solid small town drama, perhaps a bit slow moving, with interesting characters and prose. It wasn't what I was expecting, however I liked it a lot.

Kiss Me Hard by Thomas B. Dewey
The short novel starts with a bang as an alcoholic piano player inadvertently rescues a missing heiress from carnival sex slavery while being pursued by an extremely angry husband. Doubts about the authenticity of the attractive and damaged young heiress preclude an eventful trip across the country in an attempt to return her to family - who don't seem very enthusiastic about the return of the missing sister. The protagonist was exceptionally well portrayed with insights into his blatant alcoholism, self-doubt, and loneliness as his relationship with the helpless young heiress evolves from good samaritan, to responsibility, and then to love.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Review: Showdown at War Cloud

Showdown at War Cloud Showdown at War Cloud by Lewis B. Patten
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like many Gold Medal Westerns this novel is essentially a crime story that takes place in the Old West. This helps to enhance the typical crime story concept in a couple of ways. First, bigotry against Native Americans and the mob mentality that goes along with it drives the plot, and second, the fear of a retaliatory Sioux attack against the town and the sense of impending doom and escalating tension keeps the story moving at a rapid pace. The entire story takes place in a 24 hour period. An intelligent, thought-provoking and somewhat grim novel. I liked it a lot.

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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Review: The Case of the Murdered Model

The Case of the Murdered Model The Case of the Murdered Model by Thomas B. Dewey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another fine entry in Dewey's "Mac" series of hard-boiled detective fiction. Mac is somewhat similar to Mike Shayne, Johnny Liddell, and Shell Scott - less of a brutal tough guy and more of a pragmatist and problem solver. Nicely paced with a solid and engaging mystery plot.

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