Thursday, August 27, 2020

recent read; DC Jones (and Adventure Command International,) Volume 1

DC Jones, Volume 1 by Jim Beard

There was a time, when toys were toys, action figures were not dolls, and the spirit of fun play came before cartoon tie-ins. (also, the toys were larger and offered many accessories.)

Jim Beard offers up three stories of heady nostalgia, wherein the names have been changed to appease the copyright gods. But, you'll know Jones from Joe soon enough, especially if you grew up during the 1970s.

Jones's Adventure Command are a crack team of action experts who live for adventure. They utilize state of the art (for the 1970s) equipment to accomplish their many missions around the world. In the first novella alone, they must deal with sharks, anomalous Egyptian ruins off the coast of California, cultists, and an incoming hurricane. It's the Perils of Pauline meets Doc Savage.

Jones will have you remembering similar toys you played with, and the adventures which would spring forth from imagination ... and the television commercials, and the Sears catalogs.

A fun, quick read down nostalgia lane.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

recent read; Merkabah Rider: High Planes Drifter

Merkabah Rider: High Planes Drifter by Edward M. Erdelac

Did you ever have a book title on your To-Be-Read list for a long time - like, too long - like, you really knew you should get to the book sooner rather than later but never did? Yeah.

I'd been aware of this one for a long time, even to its previous edition.

If it's on your TBR pile, stop waiting. If it isn't in your TBR pile, drop it on top.

This is a great book!

The Rider is a nameless Hasidic gunslinger who searches the West for the his mystic mentor who betrayed him. The Rider also fights on the nether world of the astral plane, hence the pun title on "High Plains Drifter."

Despite the punning (which carries on with further titles in the series) these are horror weird western stories that deliver. Erdelac steeps the Rider in Kabbalah magick and more. From the first novella, we are immersed in the old West and in the Rider's mystic world and tragic backstory. The Rider went deep into the occult, and then his mentor betrayed him. Hunting for his teacher, the Rider encounters other adventures along the way, of course. Demons, ghosts, occultists, mad preachers, ghouls, and much more.

This first volume contains four novellas and a bonus short story.

If you are a fan of occult horror, horror, monster hunters, occult detectives, westerns, weird westerns ... heck, it's all here. This is one unique Weird Western!

Highly recommended!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

recent read; DILLON Annual Collection 2018

Continuing my foray into New Pulp, this DILLON Annual Collection 2018 has a spot on Derrick Ferguson's 100 New Pulp Books To Get You Started. What's that? You ask when happened the 25, the 50, the 75? Well, it was always Derrick's goal to create a list of 100 titles. Well worth your time to keep it handy. Pick a title now & then as part of your reading mix!

Back to the collection. Not only do we get a round up of DILLON novellas and short stories, this collection also includes the complete novel, DILLON AND THE PIRATES OF XONIRA, so it's a deal, especially at ebook prices.

Among the mix you'll find; a kidnapped movie star, lost artifacts, action, pirates, submarines, trains, intrigue & betrayals, showdowns with foes and friends, and a coveted bad ass belt buckle!

DILLON stories are very much action movies in prose form, and if you enjoy those flicks, any kind from the 1960s through today, you'll have a blast going along with Ferguson and Dillon on this collected joyride.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

recent read; VEGAS HEIST by Van Allen Plexico

It's the Holiday Season of 1965 and the fabulous Caesars Palace Resort and Casino is about to open in Las Vegas. And the vault is filled to bursting with cash. 
John Harper and Saul "Salsa" Salzman roll into town with inside information: A secret way into the casino, leading right to the vault itself. 
Putting together a small but highly skilled team, they make their move, aiming for untold riches. 
But jobs like this never go as planned. 
A beautiful widow, a jealous enforcer and a murderous rival casino owner all want a piece of the pie. 
Before New Year's Day arrives, Harper and Salsa will be lucky to escape Sin City with their lives!
The cover tease is exactly what you get. Reading VEGAS HEIST is like watching a crime-caper right out of 1960s cinema. It's easy to see why this novel won the Pulp Factory Awards Novel of the Year, 2019.

In an interview I heard recently, author Van Allen Plexico described the novel as 'Donald Westlake meets OCEAN'S ELEVEN.' That description is spot on. Harper is clearly influenced by Westlake's Parker. Though, VEGAS HEIST tends more toward Westlake whimsy than the ruthless aura of Westlake's Richard Stark pen name tales of Parker.

VEGAS HEIST could be dropped right into the Hard Case Crime line without missing a beat.

The narration of the audiobook by Pete Milan is stellar. So good, in fact, that Van Allen Plexico stated on Twitter that those are now the voices he hears as he is writing the sequel, MIAMI HEIST.

You can place your bets I'll be all over that sequel when it it released.

Monday, April 27, 2020

recent read; Bulldog Drummond: On Poisoned Ground

Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond is ex-SAS with a problem--he's easily bored. Civilian life holds nothing interesting for him. He places ads for excitement. Once he's sifted through the dross, he finds himself pulled into an international plot set on destroying Great Britain as a world power. Only Bulldog and his team of former comrades-in-arms can save the day, weaving between the law and the villains.

I.A. Watson brings us a modern Drummond. This novel is as high-octane as any action movie out there today. The novel is wall-to-wall action, does not let up, and leaves you breathless. There is also intrigue, and a plot that twists around like a motorcycle chase on a switchback.

Watson captures the core of "Bulldog" - his tenacity, more than anything, drives him to see a job finished until the bitter end.

If you like pulp, new pulp, action thrillers, James Bond, etc., you'll be right at home with Bulldog. After all, he inspired of many of those action hero creations. Bulldog Drummond was there first, and now he is back!

This revamp impressed me enough that I went back and started to read the first original Bulldog Drummond novel. I'm even more impressed, now. Not that the novel (so far) is terrible, but the overarching plot--financial destruction and destitution of Great Britain--and some of the villainous characters are the same. Watson truly delivered a reboot, not only using Drummond and team, but tapping the first novel to bring into the 21st century action milieu.

Hats off the I.A. Watson and the team at Airship 27! If you want to understand why they chose Drummond, and why they chose to update him for the 21st century, give this bit of podcast a listen/watch. I'm starting the link at 16:55. The Drummond discussion goes until 22:25.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

recent read; Sinbad, The New Voyages (Vol. 1)

I like what Ron Fortier and Rob Davis produce over at Airship 27. I've enjoyed what I've read (listened to) and they have many more titles intriguing me.

Inspired by the Ray Harryhausen SINBAD movies, they have arranged a new set of adventures for Sinbad and set him loose on the world, again. Sinbad sails the Seven Seas with a core international crew--first mate, Omar; a Gaul archer, Henri; a hulking Viking, Ralf; and even a woman samurai, Tishimi.

This volume contains three rousing novellas by Nancy Hansen, I. A. Watson, and Derrick Ferguson. Rest assured this is a cinematic, pulp Sinbad--though echoes of the original classic tales still remain.

I'd even argue these are sword-&-sorcery tales. Yes, they have a bit more levity which might impress a feeling of "(high) fantasy" but Sinbad is a rogue. While loyal to his crew and friends, he's often out for himself--seeking new lands to explore and searching for treasure.

I enjoyed these stories, and I'll be getting to the other volumes in the near future.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

recent read; FLAME AND CRIMSON by Brian Murphy

Brian Murphy has put together an invaluable study and reference guide to the rise, fall, and resurgence of the fantasy subgenre of sword-&-sorcery. From its proto roots, to its birth, its heyday, its decline, and its return as a staple, if not a headliner, Murphy's research has left no stone un-turned. The subgenre goes beyond muscled barbarians, diabolical wizards, and buxom babes--and Murphy shows the reader how & why.

If you are already a sword-&-sorcery fan, you'll want this book on your shelf. And if you're not, this book might illuminate to you why the genre speaks to its fans.