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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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Pulpgen Archive Now Online

Something that I accomplished while quarantined with COVID-19 was to bring the Pulpgen documents back online.

Pulpgen was a labor of love of many individuals to reproduce scanned pulp magazine articles digitally - rendering them as clean documents rather than yellowed scans using optical character recognition and various Adobe tools and the PDF format. The website was online from 2002 until 2021 when it unexpectedly went offline - at the time containing over 2200+ documents.

The original Pulgen static HTML files are archived at this link thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

The 2200+ PDF documents have fortunately been archived several places including here. You can navigate the document repository and download or read online these treasured documents using the Browse and Search links.

Sure, I tried to keep the same minimalist aesthetic of the original site (ugly) and maybe I'll modernize it a bit someday, and yeah, I need to cleanup some redundancies and author names still. A work in progress.

Check out the Pulpgen Archive.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Review: Thuvia, Maid of Mars

Thuvia, Maid of Mars Thuvia, Maid of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A beautiful young princess is kidnapped and needs to be rescued by a heroic Earth/Mars adventurer is once again the plot here with the hero being Carthoris, the son of John Carter and Dejah Thoris (who are now perhaps too old or important for this type of thing) and the princess being Thuvia, a character from the previous books in the series. To complicate matters Thuvia’s hand has been promised to another, of course Carthoris is in love with her, and then he is framed for her kidnapping which threatens a global war. Again the meat of the story is discovery and adventure providing Carthoris with exciting travels across Barsoom meeting new creatures and civilizations from ERB’s amazing imagination. I particularly like the ancient imaginary bowmen that could materialize and take substance and the then greatest of them becomes a sentient being and an ally to Carthoris. The stilted dialog and prose, and the predictability of the story took away some of the enjoyment here and I give this entry three stars.

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Sunday, April 17, 2022

Review: The Warlord of Mars

The Warlord of Mars The Warlord of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Takes up immediately following the cliffhanger at the end of Gods of Mars. John Carter has remained on Mars and is consumed with rescuing Dejah Thoris and Thuvia from the year-long trap. Unfortunately the troublesome Thule and First Born captors escape with them first and Carter becomes the pursuer with plenty of near miss rescues and exciting escapes. Burroughs continues with the blistering pace of the previous book and introduces yet another lost race of Barsoom, yellow skinned humanoids. A very worthy final chapter to the Barsoom trilogy, just as imaginative and exciting as the preceding stories and perhaps the best of the three. The epic battle at the end and the followup tie up everything nicely. Loved it. Five stars.

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Thursday, April 7, 2022

Review: Desire in the Dust

Desire in the Dust Desire in the Dust by Harry Whittington
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The characters are all stock and by the time they are introduced in the first few chapters you will already know what is going to happen. I read on in the hope of being surprised in the way that so many of these Gold Medal books do with plot twists and off-the-rails character behavior. Unfortunately, that did not happen in this one. Everything I thought would happen did, including the big reveal that was guessed at back on about page 10. In the meantime I had to endure long stretches of expository dialog. The characters are well-drawn and the plot nicely ordered, but this is all so familiar and predictable. First published in 1956, so maybe it gets a pass because reading it now, after several generations of TV and movies have followed this formula, I shouldn't be surprised that it seems familiar. However, this one is completely formulaic in a way that is unlike most of Whittington's other novels.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Review: The Seventh

The Seventh The Seventh by Richard Stark
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This seventh Parker novel is a beaut. One of the things I'm really enjoying as I reread all these Parker novels is the way that Stark (Donald Westlake) varies the formula from book to book. The style has the same forceful elegance. And Parker is the perfect mix of amorality and practicality. There are heists and complications from within the crew and antagonists from without. There's the four part structure, with the third part in the POV of the antagonist. These are the staples of a Parker novel. But StarkLake always mixes up the emphasis. Sometimes it's the heist planning, sometimes it's the heist itself, sometimes it's the aftermath, and sometimes it's all about complications with the crew or with the antagonists getting the upper hand. In The Seventh, which begins with Parker kicking in an apartment door, it starts right off with the antagonist having the upper hand along with the loot from the heist. The heist itself already in the rear view mirror from page 1. Although we do get a nice backstory recap in summary form later in the novel. (Starklake was so confident in this story that he felt he could skip a cool heist about a stadium robbery!) So the progression here is Parker trying to figure out and find who stole the loot Parker was safeguarding for the crew. First he has to determine if someone among the crew is freelancing. The Seventh is probably my favorite so far of the first seven books in the series. A bit shorter, a bit faster paced, and Parker is equally in danger and kicking ass. Has some really nice set-piece scenes.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Review: The Gods of Mars

The Gods of Mars The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

John Carter, reluctantly transported back to Earth at the end of PRINCESS OF MARS, manages to get back to Mars after several years and ends up in the Barsoom forbidden zone fighting a slew of plant and ape monsters, and a surprise meet up with his pal the green Tars Tarkas the Jeddak of Thark. The novel then races at breakneck speed through fights, captures and escapes, and epic battles. ERBs world building skills are exceptional and he introduces more Barsoom races with their histories, imaginative foreign landscapes, and creatures. The character Thuvia is introduced and she will play a bigger part in the series going forward. Bear in mind that the stilted and florid early 20th century style of prose might pose a barrier to some readers. It’s clearly worth the effort to accommodate the language and enjoy this terrific sci-fi adventure novel.

This work is in the public domain and freely available from

Review: Sex and the Stewardess

Sex and the Stewardess Sex and the Stewardess by John Warren Wells
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

John Warren Wells was a pseudonym used by Lawrence Block for a whole series of these supposedly sociological/cultural studies of sexual behavior during the Sexual Revolution in the mid-late 1960s and early 1970s. Here we have "interviews" with stewardesses conducted by Wells. Made up, of course. There are interviews with eight typecast stews: the swinger, the good kid, the hooker, the celebrity hound, etc. Lots of made up biography and armchair psychology and cliched fantasy about hyper-sexual stewardesses. In the introduction it is suggested that stewardesses have replaced farmer's daughters as the new male fantasy (this is 1969). "She is every man's dream mistress, pleasant and poised, neatly groomed and becomingly coifed, cool under stress, always smiling, and - because she is booked on another flight tomorrow morning - as conveniently disposable as an air sickness bag." Even if this ilk of book is all fictional it is an interesting cultural time-machine.

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Thursday, March 31, 2022

Lone Star and the Master of Death

Lone Star 66 Lone Star and the Master of Death by Wesley Ellis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Old pro Paul Lederer, author of 250+ novels, contributed this one and he loads up the story with gunfights, corruption, race riots, silver robberies, explosions, plus Ki’s teacher and master from Japan is in town to kill him for deflowering his granddaughter! Lederer is a fine writer and his prose and dialogue are pitch perfect for the established characters, the tough-as-nails Jessie Starbuck and her faithful protector Ki, the Japanese Samurai and martial arts expert. The premise behind the Lone Star novels, the strong partnership and friendship between Jessie and Ki, distinguishes itself from most other Adult Western series which typically involve a lone male gunslinger type. I really like this. This is a terrific entry in an entertaining and fun series. I can find no faults with this novel, even the often superfluous and puerile obligatory sex scenes are well integrated into the story and well written. Five stars.

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Monday, March 21, 2022

Review: One Endless Hour

One Endless Hour One Endless Hour by Dan J. Marlowe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great sequel to Marlowe's The Name of the Game Is Death, which is one of my all-time favorite crime/noir novels. In this one Earl Drake gets a new face to replace the one he burned at the end of the last book, followed by escaping from a prison sanitarium with plans to rob a couple of banks. The ending sequence is completely whacked out and not something you will see coming.

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Sunday, March 20, 2022

Review: Sugar

Sugar Sugar by Gil Brewer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Uneven - at times exciting and propulsive, yet also frustrating because I can feel Brewer making this up as he goes. Was starting to lose interest and then just before the midpoint, in pages 60-68, blammo! Two major plot twists and Brewer has the story off and running again. Not without some more wheel-spinning though, as if Brewer couldn’t quite figure out where to take things - including a scene that literally involves a car stuck in the mud spinning its wheels (yes, the unconscious is a cruel master!) - but the last 70 or so pages (160 total) really rip as it is one complication after another and the first-person narrator is in a constant state of agitation. Brewer at his best brought the hallmarks of Woolrich and Poe - narrators consumed with obsession, paranoia, agitation, all converted to tension and suspense - to noir. His style tends more to short paragraphs than Woolrich and Poe, and that gives a propulsive pace to Brewer's books. This style is ever-present in Sugar as we have Jess Cotten, who owns a business selling and installing air-conditioners, in the throes of desperation because he needs money, money, MONEY. He's the everyman who crosses the line into crime when he meets the minx Selma and she asks for his help to get the MONEY she and her murderer boyfriend stole and hid. Brewer is so good at describing the sexual tension when he has his everyman and femme-fatale alone in a room, but rarely is this tension consummated. There are 4 or 5 of these tease and deny scenes in Sugar. Too bad Brewer didn't write for Midwood or Beacon or some of the other sleaze publishers!

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Sunday, March 13, 2022

Review: Manhattan Massacre

Manhattan Massacre Manhattan Massacre by Peter McCurtin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Peter McCurtin’s take on the “Lone Man against the Mafia” theme is heavily derivative upon Don Pendleton’s Executioner series in ways that I won’t go into and rather focus more on the differences. The main thing that sets the Assassin apart is that Robert Briganti operates in the open, he announces himself and his intentions to the media, then doggedly pursues his targets much like a hard-boiled cop or private eye. The Executioner relies more on stealth and espionage techniques, more James Bond than Mike Hammer. Not much new here from a plot perspective (even Pendleton ran out of ways to kill off the Mafia after 38 books) although the Briganti character is well fleshed out and interesting, the story moves at a blistering pace, and McCurtin’s writing is solid and evocative. Manhattan Massacre is easily equal to the best of the slew of 1970s war against the Mafia books. I would like to read more books in this series. Not sure if they have been republished or if I have to track down the old paperbacks. I’ll give this one four stars.

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Saturday, March 5, 2022

Review: Too Hot to Handle

Too Hot to Handle Too Hot to Handle by Orrie Hitt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another noir-ish plot with a vice angle, in this case prostitution circa late 1950s. A bit unique because it is narrated from the female protagonist's point of view. She drifts into prostitution because her husband isn’t making enough money and he is a “little man” and she is a nymphomaniac and anyway why not make money doing what she most enjoys? Ahem. Okay, if you can get passed that kind of character motivation - it is a pulp novel after all - it’s a decent tale of the ascent into crime and the inevitable fall.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Review: Longarm and the Outlaw Empress

Longarm and the Outlaw Empress Longarm and the Outlaw Empress by Tabor Evans
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Longarm Giant novels are about 50% longer than the traditional Longarm series books which gives author James Reasoner, writing as Tabor Evans, some breathing room to pen a team-up that includes Longarm plus Jessie and Ki from the LONE STAR series of Adult Westerns. The protagonists are unaware that they are both following clues from unrelated crimes that are leading them to a Nevada ghost town called Zamora that has been secretly repurposed into a haven for outlaws by a beautiful and wealthy Prussian outlaw, the titular Empress. The author nicely weaves the two narratives into a cohesive story with a terrific climax when the team-up culminates in Zamora. Reasoner is a dependably adept and entertaining writer providing some fine prose, plotting, and dialog. The only thing that I didn’t care for much was the intrusive obligatory sex scenes, although even those were written pretty well. I really enjoyed the novel and give it five stars.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Review: Walk Softly, Witch

Walk Softly, Witch Walk Softly, Witch by Carter Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Danny Boyd, the annoyingly smug and misogynistic private eye, accepts his first case assisting a gorgeous broad to get her sane stage actor husband out of the way by getting him institutionalized. This sets off a chain reaction that spills the blood of various folks attached to the production and Boyd discovers that he’s the sucker. Pretty typical Carter Brown fare with a convoluted plot that I’m not quite sure that I fully understand, and plenty of dialog whose purpose is to set up Boyd for one of his outrageous wisecracks. Despite some faults the short novel is immensely readable and enjoyable. It can be read in a sitting or two and is good for some laughs and an entertaining, albeit somewhat silly, story. The Carter Brown books are not known for their consistency. I thought that this was a good one and give it four stars.

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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Review: One For The Road

One For The Road One For The Road by Robert Dietrich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first third of the book employs a familiar noir theme, an irresistible drifter scamming a beautiful rich widow, nothing too original although well written and interesting enough. The next third has a Las Vegas hooker falling for him while he blows his big score gambling. Seemed like pointless filler in the grand scheme – again well written and interesting. This sets the stage for the final third, again a familiar noir theme with with our charismatic drifter seducing a young heiress and plotting to kill her rich husband. This was the best part of the book, clever scheming and tension as plans go awry and need to be reconfigured, crackling dialog, steamy sex, and a nice twist at the end. Turned out to be a fine book, not too original but nicely written and well executed. I liked it enough to award it four stars.

Available in the Best Pulp Noir Super Pack from Cutting Edge Books

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Review: Mac Detective Series 08: The Girl Who Wasn't There

Mac Detective Series 08: The Girl Who Wasn't There Mac Detective Series 08: The Girl Who Wasn't There by Thomas B. Dewey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mac is back in familiar territory in his hometown of Chicago tending to his neglected private eye business when a young woman who was married to a deceased colleague asks him to check out suspicious activity regarding some snooping around her apartment. She is soon blown to bits in a car explosion and Mac is out for revenge. Restaurant Supply racketeers, shady lawyers, estranged sisters, and a secret will are all part of the complex mystery that Mac has to unravel by using his smarts instead of violence, although he does get beat up and can dish it out when required. This is the eighth book in the superb Mac series and somehow each book seems to improve upon the previous one. This is my favorite private eye series. I like the Mac novels better than Hammer, Noon, Liddell, Shell Scott, and other PI books of the era. An easy five stars and highly recommended.

Wildside Press has republished this as an inexpensive ebook.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Review: Wild Town

Wild Town Wild Town by Jim Thompson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Although not the main protagonist, Lou Ford, a character from two other classic Thompson novels - The Killer Inside Me and Pop. 1280 is nonetheless the prime mover as he sets things in motion by releasing Bugs McKenna from jail and arranging his hire as a hotel detective. Plenty of noir dealings and double dealings, but the plot and the narrative shifts are almost incomprehensible at times. The ending, where Lou Ford spends five pages describing what really happened, pretty much confirmed my sense that Thompson had lost control of the narrative and had to tell us what he'd fail to show in the course of the novel. Not Thompson's best, but it does have buried within some details best described as the Lou Ford origin story.

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Saturday, January 8, 2022

Review: The Wayward Wahine

The Wayward Wahine The Wayward Wahine by Carter Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this the third of 28 books featuring private investigator Danny Boyd, the action and the double-crosses drive the narrative at a fast pace and Boyd is resourceful enough to survive car chases, gun battles, and a burning yacht. Not as much pointless banter compared to other Carter Brown books I've read as Boyd actually does some investigating, but let's not kid ourselves that he's actually solving anything, as one by one the conspirators confess their roles. Not a spectacular crime/noir, but there's still plenty of activity and the story moves relentlessly forward without too much annoying dialog to bog it down.

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Haiku: The Devil's Dooryard

 Haiku: The Devil's Dooryard

The Devil's Dooryard
by Wilbur Coleman Tuttle




Action and Chuckles
Hashknife and Sleepy style.
Bullets and Rustlers collide.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Review: A Swell-Looking Babe

A Swell-Looking Babe A Swell-Looking Babe by Jim Thompson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a strange little novel. The first chapter really baits the hook and then the narrative wanders for 35 or so pages, where I was wondering ok what is the point of all this? - although it will all become important by the end of the book - and then blammo, we are headlong into a blackmail and hotel robbery scheme. So there are two main threads involving Dusty, our noir protagonist, who is a bellhop at a hotel. He is "taking care" of his father who is in ill health. As the novel progresses this thread goes from what appears to be filler material to the primary arc of the novel. And then there is the hotel robbery as Dusty gets involved with gangster Tug and Marcia, the "sweel-looking babe" of the title. The robbery thread has all kinds of twists and turns, appears to be the primary arc, but by the end is actually a side plot. The close third-person narrative gets all inside of Dusty's manic head and that is what gives the novel all of its forward energy. The robbery plot doesn't always make a whole lot of sense and at times it seemed like Thompson was making it up as he went along, as if he added in the robbery as filler for the story he really wanted to tell about Dusty's relationship with his father. The ending was a bit confusing, and even after reading it a dozen times I'm still not sure what happened.

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Sunday, January 2, 2022

Review: The Jade-Eyed Jungle

The Jade-Eyed Jungle The Jade-Eyed Jungle by Carter Brown
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This is the fourth of 35 in the Rick Holman series and the second one that I've read. Plot here is pretty much the same as Murder in the Key Club: Holman is hired and the jerk who hires him spends the whole book doing an end-around Holman, which begs the point of why hire him in the first place? Never explained. Throughout, Holman snarls a lot of dialogue that goes nowhere, investigates without investigating, and, spoiler alert, but not really because there are 31 more of these Holman books to follow, he wins the concluding gun battle, which is the only action in this 125 page book. Carter Brown (pseudo for Alan Yates) had a gazillion books in print in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. I've yet to hear from a true fan, so keep trying these out to see what the excitement was all about. Answer not found in The Jade-eyed Jungle.

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Saturday, January 1, 2022

Review: Swamp Nymph

Swamp Nymph Swamp Nymph by John Burton Thompson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Written in 1962 Thompson’s literary and elegant prose are a poor fit for a swamp sleaze novel and I found myself skimming and looking forward to the end of the book. The first three quarters of the book are alternating expository character studies introducing the two main characters, and the last quarter their inexplicable meeting in a Louisiana swamp. The author doesn’t seem to have a good grasp on male/female relationships providing a series of bizarre and nonsensical romantic and sex scenes. The solid prose and dialog were enough to keep me from ditching the book, but Thompson’s fine writing skills aren’t enough to redeem this snorefest. One star.

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