Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Now Available: Death in Dark Places

Six full length detective novels with a mix of longtime bestselling mystery authors and some new to the genre.

This set includes James Reasoner’s legendary debut novel TEXAS WIND. Originally published in 1980, TEXAS WIND has been acclaimed as one of the finest private eye novels ever written.

DEVIL IN A CAGE is a classic private eye novel by renowned action/adventure author W.L. Fieldhouse. Featuring a compelling protagonist in John Weller, a complex plot, sheer storytelling energy, insightful social commentary, and a vivid portrait of Las Vegas that could only be provided by an insider like Fieldhouse. A powerful novel of crime and detection.

Multi award winning novel WILD NIGHT is a historical detective novel. In the 1920's Lucas Hallam was something of a legend: a Texas Ranger turned Pinkerton agent turned Hollywood P.I. And when the occasion arose, Hallam mounted up again and rode with Tom Mix, William S. Hart, and the other famous movie cowboys of the silent era. He didn't think of his past often, and it was the furthest thing from his mind when he went into Chuckwalla, California, hoping to turn the ghost town into a movie set . . . even when the two men started shooting at him.

SOME DIE HARD is legendary mystery and thriller author Stephen Mertz's first novel, originally published in paperback nearly forty years ago and long out of print. Part hardboiled private eye yarn, part classic novel of detection (with a locked-room mystery unlike any other), SOME DIE HARD is pure entertainment.

In TRIPL3 CROSS, veteran author John Hegenberger spins a yarn that is both an exciting thriller and a compelling piece of "noirstalgia", expertly recreating a sense of late-Eighties paranoia and double-dealing and painting a vivid picture of Washington and Cuba during that era, as well as saving a shocking twist for the very end.

Acclaimed, bestselling historical novelist James J. Griffin makes a stunning debut as an author of contemporary thrillers with MURDER AMONG THE CLOUDS. Fast-paced, populated with compelling, intriguing characters, and filled with fascinating police procedure and breathtaking suspense.

A Middle of the Night Music Post: Will You Be Staying After Sunday? - Peppermint Rainbow

Yeah, they look a little silly all these years later, but I still like the song and miss those days.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Ten Detective Aces, January 1940

What a great bizarre cover by Norman Saunders on this issue of TEN DETECTIVE ACES. I wonder if the story by G.T. Fleming-Roberts lives up to it. He was a pretty good writer most of the time. Other good writers in this issue are Lawrence Treat and John A. Saxon, plus a number of other authors I haven't heard of.

A Middle of the Night Music Post: No Shade of Green - Flatland Cavalry

I saw this group perform live recently. They put on a mighty good show.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Western Novels and Short Stories, September 1951

That's a colorful, eye-catching cover on this issue of the long-running WESTERN NOVELS AND SHORT STORIES. Once you get past that action-packed scene, there are stories by Walker A. Tompkins, Joseph Chadwick, Dean Owen, Ray Townsend, and a few other lesser-known writers. WESTERN NOVELS AND SHORT STORIES was considered a third-string Western pulp, at best, but most of the time it had pretty good writers in its pages.

A Middle of the Night Music Post: I Will Follow You Into the Dark - Death Cab for Cutie

One of the saddest songs I've ever heard, but it sure is pretty.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Forgotten Books: The Widow - Orrie Hitt

This guy Orrie Hitt can really write, see? This book here called THE WIDOW, it’s about a tough guy named Jerry who gets fired from his job building a highway, so he goes to work washing dishes and sweeping out at this crappy café that’s got some crappy tourist cabins with it. It’s a lousy job, but Jerry’s okay with it because there’s this girl named Linda who’s married to the son of the old lady who owns the place, and she’s a real babe. Then there’s this other girl named Norma, and she used to work as a nude model, so you know she’s gorgeous, but she’s also really nice and would just as soon put all that behind her. So Jerry likes both of ’em and figures, well, why the hell not, he’ll just make a play for both of them and see what happens. But then Linda’s husband, who’s a hotrodder, wrecks his jalopy and kills himself, which means Linda’s a widow now, and you know how widows are, and at the same time Jerry finds out that the land where the café and the cabins are is actually worth a bundle, and if something was to happen to the old lady, hey, Jerry might be able to get his hands on some of that dough and get one or both of the girls to boot . . .

Well, you gotta read it to find out what happens, but this guy Hitt is good, I tell you, pal. You should pick up a copy.

A Middle of the Night Music Post: Only Time - Enya

Yeah, not sleeping well these days, but I enjoy hunting around for music I like in the middle of the night.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: The Phantom Detective, September 1935

Do some people collect noose covers? Surely they do. No matter what sort of cover is on a pulp, somebody somewhere collects that kind. I don't collect noose covers, but I do have a real fondness for THE PHANTOM DETECTIVE and have never read a novel featuring the character that I didn't enjoy. The Phantom novel in this issue, "Master of the World", is by Norman A. Daniels writing under the Robert Wallace house-name, and there are also stories by long-time pulp author/editor Anthony M. Rud and two authors better known for their Westerns, Allan K. Echols and A. Leslie Scott, writing as A. Leslie this time around. Quite a few Phantom Detective novels have been reprinted, and I need to round up some more of them.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: .44 Western Magazine, August 1949

Like all the other Popular Publications Western pulps, .44 WESTERN had good covers, evocative story titles, and top-notch authors. The biggest names in this issue are Giff Cheshire and Tom Roan, but Max Kesler, Harold F. Cruickshank, and Rolland Lynch were all prolific, well-regarded pulpsters. Kesler wrote quite a few oil field stories, which I nearly always like. This looks like a good solid issue.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Forgotten Books: Richard Bolitho, Midshipman - Alexander Kent (Douglas Reeman)

I like to read a good sea-going adventure novel now and then, even though I’m about as much of a landlubber as you’ll ever find. Boats and I do not mix. Similarly, I like aviation fiction, too, even though I’ve been in a plane twice in my life, hated it, and will never go up again if I can avoid it. But to get back to the sea, I recently read RICHARD BOLITHO, MIDSHIPMAN, the first novel (chronologically, not publication order) in a long-running series that was written by Douglas Reeman under the pseudonym Alexander Kent. I’ve seen these books around for years but have never tried one until now. Based on my enjoyment of this one, I’ll be reading more.

This novel is set in 1772, as sixteen-year-old Richard Bolitho is about to set sail as a midshipman (not exactly an officer, but a higher rank than common sailor) on His Majesty’s ship Gorgon, a huge vessel that carries 74 cannon. Despite his young age, Bolitho is an experienced midshipman, having gone off to sea when he was twelve because that’s what the males in his family do. His grandfather was an admiral and his father was a ship’s captain, and great things are expected of him as well. The Gorgon is going to patrol off the east coast of Africa and search for pirates who have been plaguing shipping in the area.

It comes as no surprise that Bolitho and the Gorgon encounter those pirates, but before they do, Reeman provides a vivid and interesting look at life aboard ship during this era. Bolitho makes both friends and enemies and proves to be a likable protagonist. I enjoyed this part of the book, but the pace gets a welcome kick in the pants when the Gorgon comes across an abandoned ship that’s been looted by the pirates they’re after. This leads them on the corsairs’ stronghold, an old castle on the African coast.

There are good action scenes on both land and sea with plenty of hacking and slashing, and you know I always like a good swordfight. Reeman leaves the door open at the end for a sequel, and I’m eager to read it. Best of all for my tastes, RICHARD BOLITHO, MIDSHIPMAN is no bloated, overlong historical epic. It’s a nice, brisk action yarn that’s probably not much more than 50,000 words. If the other books hold to this pattern, I’ll definitely continue with the series.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Mystery Book Magazine, Summer 1950

"The Best in New Detective Fiction", this cover from MYSTERY BOOK MAGAZINE proclaims, and I think they could make a persuasive argument. Inside this issue are "The Case of the Dancing Sandwiches" by Fredric Brown, also known as one of the famous Dell 10 Cent Books (see below), as well as stories by John D. MacDonald, Philip Ketchum, D.L. Champion (creator of the long-running Phantom Detective series), the house-name John L. Benton, and a couple of authors I've never heard of, Jonathan Joseph and Bryant Ford. I don't know if that's actually the best, but it's pretty darned good.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Two Western-Action Books, Spring 1952

Two pretty good covers and two pretty good authors in William Hopson and William Heuman. I think it's a pretty good bet that this is a pretty good issue. I'd read it, that's for sure.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Forgotten Books: Portrait in Smoke - Bill S. Ballinger

Bill S. Ballinger is one of those mystery authors I’ve been aware of for decades without ever reading much by him. I recall reading a couple of his espionage novels featuring secret agent Joaquin Hawks back in the Sixties, but I couldn’t tell you anything about them. However, I just read his early suspense novel PORTRAIT IN SMOKE, which Stark House is reprinting in a double volume along with the novel THE LONGEST SECOND, and I can see why it has a reputation as an excellent novel.

To start with, Ballinger uses a technique that I hardly ever like, alternating between first and third person, but makes it work really well. The first person sections are narrated by Danny April (great name), who runs a low-rent collections agency in Chicago. In an old file from long before he bought the agency, he finds a photograph of a beautiful young girl named Krassy Almauniski. And to put it simply, he becomes infatuated with her, all because she reminds him of a girl he saw once when he was a young man but never talked to. Love at first sight? Maybe, but certainly obsession at first sight. Danny starts trying to find her, or at least find out what happened to her, and these parts of the novel form a top-notch procedural yarn as Danny traces out the details of Krassy’s life, step by step.

At the same time, in the third person sections, Ballinger gives the truth about Krassy’s life, as opposed to Danny’s somewhat skewed view. This part of the book reads more like a naturalistic novel about a young woman’s determined climb out of the poverty and squalor of Chicago’s stockyards district all the way to the heights of wealth and power, no matter what it takes. It’s inevitable that these two storylines will intersect eventually, and when they do, that’s when PORTRAIT IN SMOKE becomes a noirish crime novel with a very nice twist ending.

Ballinger’s writing is smooth and polished, and his control over the complex plot really had me turning the pages. This one hits the mark all the way around for me with the writing, the pace, the plot, and the compelling characters. Highly recommended.