Saturday, December 09, 2023

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Dime Western Magazine, February 1939

I don't own this one, but that's a heck of a cover and I'd read it if I had a copy. I don't know who did the art. Tom Lovell, maybe? But there's no doubt the line-up of authors is great: Walt Coburn, Harry F. Olmsted (three times, twice as himself and once with a Tensleep Maxon story as by Bart Cassidy), Ray Nafziger, Cliff Farrell, Robert E. Mahaffey, and Lloyd Eric Reeve. That's an All-Star bunch of Western pulpsters. And yet, it's just another issue of DIME WESTERN. What an era that was.

Friday, December 08, 2023

Whip Hand -- Rod Patterson

I read a Western pulp story not long ago by Rod Patterson and enjoyed it enough that I wanted to read more by him. His first novel is WHIP HAND, published by Lion Books in 1954 and expanded from the novella of the same title published by RANCH ROMANCES in the Second October Number, 1953. I don’t know who did the cover on the first paperback edition, but the novel was reprinted in 1957 with a cover by Mort Kunstler, and that’s the edition I read, pictured at the top of this post.

This is a save-the-ranch yarn, as Cole Brazee, forced to flee from Wyoming with a murder charge hanging over his head (the killing was actually self-defense, of course), comes home to seek justice and vengeance when his father is gunned down. This puts him in the crosshairs of his old enemy, cattle baron Doane Williams, who marries Cole’s old sweetheart just as Cole gets back in town. Many ambushes, shootouts, and brutal fistfights ensue as Cole tries to get to the bottom of the troubles in the area. Oh, and there’s a romantic triangle, too.

Patterson springs an effective plot twist late in the book, but for the most part WHIP HAND makes use of a very traditional plot, the sort of thing you’ve read many times before if you’re a long-time Western fan like me. Plenty of other writers, such as L.P. Holmes and William Heuman, do the same thing. Unfortunately, Patterson wasn’t as good a writer as Holmes and Heuman were, so this novel sort of just plods along despite the occasional nice line or bit of business, so it never really engaged my interest.

Patterson wrote a handful of other novels, all of them published as halves of Ace Double Westerns, and I own several of them. I might give one of them a try someday, or I might not. Your mileage certainly might vary, but I wasn’t very impressed by WHIP HAND. That’s a really nice cover by Mort Kunstler on the second edition, though.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Violet Rising #1 - Tony Petry, Rodney Jean-Etienne, Ihuoma Nnabuchi, Tuyi Ekes

I admit I don’t keep up with modern comics very well, but from what I’ve seen I have no interest in what the big companies are doing these days. But there are still good comic books being produced, you just have to know where to look for them. VIOLET RISING #1, from Alp Comics and Tony Petry, is the first issue of what looks like will be an excellent series in the classic superhero style.

Homicide detective Toya Robinson is haunted by the unsolved murders of several family members including her father and her husband. She’s raising her young son with some help from her mother. Then her twin brother, who’s a championship boxer, is kidnapped, and hard on the heels of that, Toya’s son James disappears, as well. This leads her to some family secrets that change everything, as she discovers the mysterious project that her scientist parents were working on . . .

The script by creator Tony Petry and Rodney Jean-Etienne is top-notch, packed with action and a few humorous touches and plenty of drama. The artwork by Ihuoma Nnabuchi and Tuyi Ekes does a good job of storytelling with some really effective perspectives on the action. This is a solid production all the way around and made me eager to read the second issue, which I hope will be coming along soon.

You can buy a digital edition of VIOLET RISING #1 here. Print copies are also available by contacting Petry at petry(underscore)tony(at)yahoo(dot)com or on X (formerly Twitter) @TonyPetry3. It’s good stuff whether you’re a new comics fan or an old-timer like me.


Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Fatman (2020)

We haven't watched many movies lately, but we saw this one which I'd only vaguely heard of. FATMAN is a perfect example of how to play a movie with a goofy, over-the-top premise: absolutely straight. I'm not sure this movie about a badass Santa Claus (Mel Gibson) being stalked by a ruthless hitman (Walton Goggins) would have worked any other way. It could have descended into silliness very easily, but instead, it was funny and has excellent action scenes. I really enjoyed this one, and if you're in the mood for an offbeat Christmas movie . . . well, you don't get much more offbeat than FATMAN.

Monday, December 04, 2023

Now Available: New Mexico Trackdown - James Reasoner

Beautiful, redheaded Iris Tillman is on the run. A Pinkerton operative working undercover, she has uncovered evidence linking a sinister saloon owner to a deadly plot that will change the course of history. Fleeing from the killers working for this man, Iris boards a stagecoach that will take her north across New Mexico Territory on a desperate journey to deliver that evidence to her superiors.

Former Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Sawyer is being pursued, too, but in Sam’s case, it’s the demons of his violent past that threaten to catch up to him. But he may be the only chance for a brave young woman to save her life and stop a criminal conspiracy that will ruin the entire territory.

NEW MEXICO TRACKDOWN is the latest action-packed Western novel from bestselling author James Reasoner. It’s a tale full of adventure, plot twists, and intriguing characters that’s sure to entertain readers of traditional Westerns.

This book came out today and is now available at Amazon. If you're a fan of traditional action Western novels, I think you'll enjoy it.

The Lowestoft Chronicle, Issue 56 Now Available

In Paris, an imprudent menu selection withers a tourist’s hopes of escaping the oppressive heat, and a married couple waylay their wedding anniversary celebrations while stuck on a grounded flight en route to the French capital. In Latin America, an expat battling sickness goes on a backcountry trek in search of the man who hijacked her cell phone, and miscommunication over money has unhappy consequences for the team leader on a promising archaeological dig in Oman.

We proudly present the work of James Gallant, David Havird, Mark Jacobs, Julie Allyn Johnson, Susanna Kittredge, George Moore, Tim Morris, Daniel Robinson, Brian Sacca, Diana Senechal, Stuart Watson, and Chila Woychik.

(The Lowestoft Chronicle is the only literary magazine I read. The level of the writing is always superb, the variety in the content means there's always something of interest, and the artwork, an example of which is above, is excellent. I recommend it highly, and you can read the new issue online here.)

Sunday, December 03, 2023

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Top-Notch, November 1936

I don't know who did the cover for this issue of TOP-NOTCH, but it's eye-catching, that's for sure. And there are some good writers inside this issue, including Philip Ketchum, Richard Sale, Nat Schachner, and George Armin Shaftel. Despite having seen Schachner's name for decades now, I don't think I've ever read anything by him. I have e-books of some of his science fiction stories. I suppose I ought to read them one of these days.

Saturday, December 02, 2023

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Texas Rangers, March 1946

This is a pulp that I own and read recently. That’s my battered, scribbled-on copy in the scan. When I see a math problem written on a cover or in a book, I can’t help but wonder about the person who wrote it and what they were trying to figure out. I like that vague connection with previous owners/readers of the book or pulp. At any rate, I think the cover art is by George Rozen. It sure looks like other Thrilling Group Western covers attributed to him.

The Jim Hatfield novel in this issue, “The Empire Trail”, is by A. Leslie Scott writing under the house name Jackson Cole. There’s no question this is Scott’s work, as the story revolves around plot elements he used over and over: smugglers bringing contraband over the border from Mexico in pack mule trains; owlhoots under the command of a mysterious mastermind trying to stop the railroad expanding into a new area; an underground stronghold from which Hatfield has to escape; Hatfield working undercover and not revealing that he’s a Ranger; and multiple suspects for the true identity of the outlaw boss.

So if you’ve read other Hatfield novels by Scott and liked them, you ought to like this one, because even though the plot is familiar, he’s really at the top of his game as far as the writing goes. I love Scott’s work because of the vivid (some might say florid) descriptive scenes and the over-the-top action scenes. “The Empire Trail” is full of both. The pace races along, and for once I was truly uncertain for a while who the villain would turn out to be. Usually, I can pick him out as soon as he appears. This is top-notch Scott and Hatfield, the kind of pulp Western yarn I’ve been reading and enjoying for close to 60 years, and I had a great time with it.

The Hatfield novel is long enough that there are only two short stories in this issue, “Doc Swap’s Fiddle Talk” by Ben Frank and “Things Happen in Threes” by Barry Scobee (the only pulp writer with a mountain named after him; you can look it up). I’m not a fan of the Doc Swap series, but I read this one, which features Doc Swap’s dangerous encounter with a bank robber, and it’s okay. The Scobee story is about a superstitious rancher and a drought, and it never engaged my interest at all. Reading these sure made me miss the days when Lee Bond’s Long Sam Littlejohn stories were the regular back-up series in TEXAS RANGERS.

So if you have this issue, you can safely skip the short stories, but you definitely should pull it down from the shelf and read “The Empire Trail”. It’s one of the best Jim Hatfield novels I’ve read in a while.

Friday, December 01, 2023

Solomon Kane: The Hound of God - Jonathan Maberry

SOLOMON KANE: THE HOUND OF GOD by Jonathan Maberry is the latest e-book in the Heroic Legends series of stories based on characters created by Robert E. Howard. As it begins, the Puritan adventurer/avenger Solomon Kane is traveling through Germany when he finds the remains of a whole village of farmers slaughtered by a band of brigands. If the tracks the villains left can be believed, they’re being led by a werewolf! Kane sets out to track down the monster and his henchmen, of course . . . but things don’t work out exactly the way he expects. The plot twist that Maberry springs is a good one, very effective even if it’s not entirely unexpected. The writing is good for the most part, and Solomon Kane rings true to Howard’s character. Maberry does something at the end that’s a fairly common technique, but it happens to be one that I don’t care for. Despite that, I enjoyed the story overall and would be happy to read more Solomon Kane stories by Maberry.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Introducing the Toff - John Creasey

I read quite a few mysteries by John Creasey when I was a kid because all the libraries had them, but only a few about the Hon. Richard Rollison, the gentleman adventurer known as the Toff. They always seemed a little tame to me. I preferred Creasey’s books about the Baron and Inspector Roger West. But I recently read the first book in the Toff series, INTRODUCING THE TOFF, first published in 1938 and expanded from a novella that previously appeared in THE THRILLER in 1933. There’s nothing tame in this yarn about the Toff’s battle against an international drug smuggling ring known as the Black Circle, which includes a sinister Egyptian and an American gangster.

This book is good old-fashioned British blood and thunder, full of gunfights, fistfights, car chases, and explosions. It’s reminiscent of Sax Rohmer, Edgar Wallace, and very much of Leslie Charteris’s The Saint, a character also introduced in THE THRILLER. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I’m told it’s not really representative of the series as a whole. I have a few more Toff novels on my shelves and may read them if I can get around to them. This one is available as an e-book on Kindle Unlimited, and I recommend it if you want a fast-moving, action-packed yarn with a likable hero.