Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Amazing Stories, December 1948

I wrote a couple of days ago about the Richard S. Shaver novelette “Daughter of the Night” in the December 1948 issue of AMAZING STORIES, and I thought while I had that pulp out, I might as well go ahead and read the rest of it.

Despite saying that I wasn’t going to read anything else by Shaver, what should come up second on the table of contents except a short story called “The Plotters”, published under the house-name Alexander Blade. And who might Blade be in this particular case? Why, none other than Richard S. Shaver, of course. Thinking that this yarn couldn’t be any worse than “Daughter of the Night”, I plunged right into it, and I was a little surprised to find that . . . it’s not bad. The writing is a little clunky in places, and the plot, which concerns an alien spy who comes to Earth to find out our atomic secrets, is pretty stereotypical, but the story moves right along and winds up being somewhat entertaining, which makes it a lot better than the incomprehensible mess that’s “Daughter of the Night”. Actually, I never would have guessed that they were by the same writer.

The next story, “Tillie” is by Craig Browning, a pseudonym for Rog Phillips, who also has a story in this issue under his own name. “Tillie” is about some physics teachers at a small university who discover a new element and use it to power a homemade rocket ship on a journey to Mars. Of course, numerous things go wrong and endanger the lives of the protagonists. This is a really silly story with a weak premise, but it’s decently written.

Next up is “Once Upon a Planet” by J.J. Allerton, an author I’m not familiar with but evidently a real person, not a house-name. It’s about an alien warlord whose consciousness is transferred into the brain of a soldier on Earth during a war in the 23rd Century. The idea has some potential, but Allerton’s writing is so bland it was hard to finish this one.

Rog Phillips returns under his own name with “The Unthinking Destroyer”, a tale that consists of two sets of characters, one human and one not, having conversations about the nature of intelligence. That’s all there is to it other than a would-be twist ending that’s painfully obvious from the first page of the story.

All that leaves is a serial installment from “The Return of Tharn” by Howard Browne, which I didn’t read because I haven’t read any of the other Tharn stories, and “Beyond the Thunder” by H.B. Hickey (really Herbert Livingston), which is my favorite story in this issue. “Beyond the Thunder” is a novelette in which aliens attack Earth through a rift in space with a death ray that can destroy cities. It’s up to two-fisted rocket jockey Case Damon to locate the source of the attacks, put a stop to them, and uncover a conspiracy that reaches into the highest levels of Earth’s government, all in 10,000 words. As you might imagine, it’s fast-paced (Palmer calls it “mile-a-minute reading” in his introductory column), full of fistfights and blasting ray-guns. It’s fun, even though it is pretty much pure hokum. I don’t recall ever reading anything by H.B. Hickey before, but based on this one, I’d give his work another try.

As I said in my comments on “Daughter of the Night”, I don’t generally write reviews of things I don’t like, but honestly, this issue of AMAZING STORIES is pretty bad. If it’s representative of the late Forties AMAZING, I can see why that era in the magazine’s history doesn’t have much of a reputation. The Hickey story is okay, the two by Rog Phillips are weak but readable, and the “Alexander Blade” story by Shaver is at least fairly entertaining. Nothing rises to a level that I’d actually recommend, though, and I’m not even fond of the cover painting by H.W. McCauley. If you have a copy of this one, I think you can just leave it on the shelf without worrying about reading it.

A Middle of the Night Music Post: Last Date - Floyd Cramer

I've mentioned before that I used to go with my dad a lot when he made his TV repair service calls. He listened to country music in his truck, usually KBOX, 1480 on your AM dial, out of Dallas. So I heard this song a lot, and I still like it.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Range Riders, February 1939

I read this issue about 20 years ago and don't remember anything about it except that I liked it. Oscar J. Friend is best remembered as a literary agent and editor, but I've read several of his Range Riders novels and enjoyed all of them. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, it features the adventures of three range detectives, Steve Reese, Hank Ball, and Dusty Trail, who work for the Cattleman's Protective Association. I can't help but wonder if they knew Hashknife Hartley and Sleepy Stevens, or even Tombstone and Speedy. Anyway, I've read quite a few of them by different authors and always liked them. I'm a little surprised none of them were reprinted in the Sixties and Seventies when the other Western series characters from the Thrilling Group, Jim Hatfield, The Rio Kid, and The Masked Rider were all being reprinted.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Forgotten Stories: Daughter of the Night - Richard S. Shaver

Despite being warned not to, I decided I really ought to read something by the notorious Richard S. Shaver. I happen to own a copy of the December 1948 issue of AMAZING STORIES, which features Shaver’s novelette, “Daughter of the Night”. So I sat down to read, and—

Wait . . . What?

That was my reaction to just about every paragraph in this story. It’s written in English, I recognize the words, but they’re put together in such odd ways that sometimes I had to back up and reread several times just to figure out what Shaver was trying to say. And this is prose that supposedly was heavily edited and rewritten by Ray Palmer, the editor of AMAZING.

It actually doesn’t start off that bad, with a sword-wielding, mighty-thewed barbarian hero lopping off the head of an evil sorceress. But then that head remains alive and winds up grafted onto the tail of a snake that also has mystical powers, and the hero’s girlfriend gets turned to stone, and he finds this other sorceress who’s the embodiment of female attractiveness, and they team up to fight the goddess Diana, who’s really a transgendered male god but didn’t realize it (to quote Dave Barry, I am not making this up), and there’s this mysterious being known as the Red Dwarf, who, like the Watcher in the comic books, is supposed to just observe and not take part in events, but he kinda does anyway. I got all that, but I’m still not sure what actually happens in the story.

You know I don’t often write bad reviews, and I have a tendency of finding something to like even in the most universally reviled books and movies, but Shaver seems to be in a class of his own. Remember that weird kid in seventh grade who filled up the fronts and backs of countless sheets of notebook paper scribbling out his crazy stories? Well, that was me, of course, but that’s what “Daughter of the Night” reminded me of, too, only Shaver never outgrew the sex and power fantasies and the paranoia of his adolescence. His brief rise to fame, if not fortune, is interesting, but in the future I think I’ll probably be content to read about it, rather than reading the actual stories.

A Middle of the Night Music Post: The Horse - Cliff Nobles & Co.

If you grew up in the Sixties, this ought to perk you up for a little while, anyway.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Now Available: Shoot First - Ed Gorman

With the 20th Century fast approaching, Butte City, Colorado, has put its wild and woolly past behind it, and that’s just the way Sheriff Reed Matthews likes things in his town. 

But then a secret from ten years in the past rears its ugly head, and one of the town’s leading citizens is murdered. There’s a Pinkerton detective poking around in Butte City, too, and when he also winds up dead, Matthews knows the peaceful days he enjoys are every bit as dead as those two victims. A lunatic with a grudge is stalking the town, and Matthews will have to rip apart several carefully preserved webs of lies to get to the truth and stop the killing. 

Once again, Ed Gorman proves why he is the master of Western noir in SHOOT FIRST, a cunningly plotted tale of lust, greed, and murder, peopled with compelling characters and told with razor-sharp suspense.

(This is one of my favorites of Ed's Westerns. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tuesday's Overlooked TV: Rocky Jones, Space Ranger

(This post originally appeared on December 4, 2005. I have no idea what DVD I'm talking about below, and at any rate, it's long gone whatever it was. But I still have fond memories of ROCKY JONES, SPACE RANGER from my childhood.)

I've now watched both episodes of ROCKY JONES, SPACE RANGER that are on that DVD I bought the other day. They don't hold up extremely well, but they're fairly entertaining. The special effects are very crude, but that's to be expected. I've always felt that Richard Crane, who plays Rocky, looks more like a villain than a hero, but he works all right here. One bit of sort of interesting trivia is that the Space Patrol, for which Rocky works, has no jurisdiction on Earth. Rocky and his sidekick have to wait until criminals leave Earth's atmosphere before they can arrest them. That makes perfect sense, but for some reason I never even considered it before. I would think that jurisdictional disputes might make for some interesting episodes.

I did a little research and found out that this series was produced for only one year. 39 episodes are all that exist. I would have thought it ran longer than that, because I watched it in syndicated reruns on Saturday mornings for a long time when I was a kid.

A Middle of the Night Music Post: Someone Like You - Van Morrison

I'm a big Van Morrison fan. And this is a really pretty song.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Adventure, June 1946

Well, there's a situation that could get a little uncomfortable in a hurry, in this cover by Rafael DeSoto. This wasn't a great era for fiction in ADVENTURE, although you can still find some good stories in these mid-to-late Forties issues. E. Hoffmann Price is really the only author in this one I'd heard of.

A Middle of the Night Music Post: You Gotta Be - Des'ree

Back when there was still a smooth jazz radio station in this market (KOAI . . . The Oasis), they played this song quite a bit and I came to really like it. I enjoy most smooth jazz and miss that station, although of course I can listen to that or any other type of music on the Internet now any time I want to. Somehow it's not the same. I'm just a radio guy.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Star Western, November 1935

Nice cover by Tom Lovell on this issue of STAR WESTERN, and inside are stories by Luke Short, T.T. Flynn, Walt Coburn, Harry F. Olmsted, Barry Scobee, Stephen Payne, and Robert E. Mahaffey. Dang! I wonder if the readers 80 years ago realized what spectacular line-ups of authors so many of these pulps had. Probably not, because they were used to seeing those names on the newsstands week in and week out.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Forgotten Books: Outlaw in the Saddle - Tom Roan

I've read and enjoyed a few of Tom Roan's pulp stories, but this is the first novel of his that I've read. It has a great opening: a gang of outlaws led by the Apache Kid (a totally fictional Apache Kid, by the way; no relation to the real-life Army scout known by that name) robs a train and is then betrayed by one of their own and ambushed by a posse.

Roan writes great action scenes. After that, though, there's a long stretch where the book sags as the Kid is rescued by a beautiful girl and nursed back to health by her and her father. He falls in love with the girl, of course, and winds up fighting for her and her father against the villains who are out to destroy them. The book concludes with a couple more excellent action scenes.

Roan is no prose stylist. His writing is full of awkward phrases and oddly constructed sentences. He doesn't handle the romance angle well, either, slipping too easily into flowery melodrama. But he creates sympathetic characters, and I can forgive a lot of flaws for good characters and good action. Roan delivers both. His biggest problem in this book is the pacing. I suspect he's one of those writers who is better at novelette length, but I'll have to read more of his novels in order to determine that.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Amazing Stories, March 1947

The late Forties issues of AMAZING STORIES aren't noted for their fiction. This one has stories by Richard S. Shaver (heard a lot about him, never read a word he wrote), Leroy Yerxa, John and Dorothy de Courcy, and Heinrich Hauser, a German author who wrote only three novels. But it certainly had some eye-catching covers. I mean, look at this one by Robert Gibson Jones. A giant Viking punching a dragon in the belly. I repeat, a giant Viking. Punching a dragon. In the belly. Perhaps not the coolest thing ever, but probably in the top ten. You can bet I would have bought this one if I'd seen it on the newsstand in 1947.

A Middle of the Night Music Post: Heart of Courage - Two Steps From Hell

I'm battling that bad cough again, and it looks like I may be at it most of the night. But I have plenty of good stuff to read, and I have Two Steps From Hell songs playing through the computer, including this one, to keep me inspired.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Rodeo Romances, April 1948

A nice Sam Cherry cover on this issue of RODEO ROMANCES, and the list of authors inside confirms my impression that the Western romance pulps drew on the same group as the regular Western pulps: L.P. Holmes, Stephen Payne, Johnston McCulley, Chuck Martin, Lee Bond, and "Jackson Cole". I have a rodeo story in my head that I may get around to writing one of these days.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Forgotten Books: Dead Man's Walk - Richard S. Prather

There's a reason why I picked this Shell Scott novel to reread for Richard S. Prather Week on Forgotten Books, even though in some ways it's not really typical of the rest of the series, but to explain it you'll have to allow me to wax nostalgic for a minute.

As some of you know, my dad was a TV repairman for many years, and during the summers when I was a kid, I often went with him when he made his service calls. I was no great shakes when it came to electrical stuff, but I could carry tool boxes and tube caddies and help load and unload TVs. Inevitably, though, I got bored, so I always slipped a paperback in my pocket. While my dad was on his knees behind one of those giant console TVs of the Sixties with his head buried among its guts, I'd find a place to sit, haul out the current book, and read for a while.

So one day--probably in the summer of 1966--I took along a book in a series of private eye novels that I'd seen around all over the place, although I hadn't read any of them up to that point. That book, of course, was DEAD MAN'S WALK.

Well, I instantly became a fan. In those days I bought most of my books at Thompson's Bookstore in downtown Fort Worth, and they had a bunch of Shell Scott novels. I grabbed as many of them as I could afford and continued to do so, read them throughout the rest of junior high and high school, and had a great time doing it.

Unlike most of the other books in the series, which are set mainly in Los Angeles, DEAD MAN'S WALK takes place almost entirely on a Caribbean island called Verde. Shell inherits a small percentage in a resort hotel there, and he's summoned by the hotel's proprietor when a mysterious murder takes place. Accompanied by a beautiful blond tomato (that's the way Shell talks, and it's catching), he arrives to find that Verde is a hotbed of voodoo and other sinister goings-on. There are a couple more gorgeous babes, including the dancer on the cover, several more murders, some double-crosses, and a voodoo showdown between Shell and the local hungan. The humor, the fast pace, the sexy girls, and Shell's own irrepressible personality are all there, even though the setting is different. I can certainly see why I started gobbling up the rest of the series.

To be honest, although DEAD MAN'S WALK is pretty entertaining, it doesn't hold up quite as well as I thought it might. The plot seems to meander around quite a bit in the middle of the book. But it ends with several great action scenes, and Shell is . . . well, Shell, still one of my all-time favorite fictional private eyes.

Now, I'm pretty sure I've told this story before, but I'm going to tell it again, since it's appropriate to this week's topic. When I was a freshman in high school, my Algebra I teacher was the head football coach (and an excellent teacher, too). One day in class, Coach Hall gave us time to start our homework. I went through mine pretty quickly, and since I was done, I hauled out the book I was reading, one of the Shell Scotts. Coach Hall got up from his desk, walked toward me, and said, "What are you reading there, Reasoner?" I thought I was in trouble, but I said, "It's a, uh, mystery novel, Coach." He smiled and said, "I think I've read all those Shell Scott books. They're great."

The coach and I were fast friends after that, bonded by our enjoyment of Shell Scott. And to be fair, I may well have been the only other person in our high school reading them.

Years later, I was lucky enough to correspond briefly with Richard S. Prather, so I got to tell him how much his books meant to me. I'm glad I did.

A Middle of the Night Music Post: Cast Your Fate to the Wind - Vince Guaraldi

So I'm sitting here sneezing and coughing from a cold and battling insomnia, and I decide to kill some time by going back through some of those Music I Like posts I ran a few years ago. For some reason Blogger has stripped the video clips from many of them, So I thought maybe I'd post some more, not every night, certainly, but on those nights when I'm not sleeping much anyway, which are becoming increasingly more common. And I suspect the selection will be as wide-ranging as ever. The great Vince Guaraldi gets us started.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Now Available for Pre-Order: Crossfire - John Hegenberger

A vanishing corpse...a clout on the head...industrial espionage with millions of dollars at international conspiracy that threatens the 1988 Summer Olympics...These are just some of the problems private investigator Eliot Cross has to untangle in CROSSFIRE: THE SCALES OF JUSTICE, the newest novel from popular author John Hegenberger. Fast-paced, filled with mystery, action, and humor, CROSSFIRE is a private eye yarn in the classic mold and a sure bet for entertainment.

"Cross is engaging, the secondary characters are colorful and skillfully drawn, the writing is crisp and well-paced. It all makes for an entertaining trip down the hardboiled side of the street." - Wayne D. Dundee

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: The Mummy's Hand

I'm a little under the weather, so this will be quick. Like several other movies I've watched recently, THE MUMMY'S HAND is really a pulp adventure yarn masquerading as something else, in this case a horror movie. Although it's definitely creepy in the late stages after the Mummy (played pretty effectively by cowboy actor Tom Tyler) and starts shambling around and killing. Before that we've got two-fisted archaeologist Dick Foran, his sidekick/comedy relief Wallace Ford, the stage magician who finances their expedition (the great Cecil Kellaway), his beautiful daughter Peggy Moran, and George Zucco (who else?) as the High Priest of Karnak (Sim-sallah-bim!) who wants to stop the Americans from finding the ancient tomb of Princess Annanka. Some of the movie does resemble an early version of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. The acting is no great shakes, but journeyman director Christy Cabanne (whose career goes all the way back to 1912!) keeps things moving along fairly well. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Not a great film, but certainly fun.

Monday, January 11, 2016

New Low Price for Blaze! #1

 BLAZE! by Stephen Mertz, the novel that launched the bestselling Western series, is now available for the new low price of 99 cents. With nine books available and more coming later this year, this is a great time to start reading the Blaze! series. High quality Western entertainment! (Ignore the price in the link. If you click on it, the book is actually 99 cents the way it's supposed to be.)

Tripl3 Cross On Sale for a Limited Time

 John Hegenberger's next Eliot Cross novel CROSSFIRE will be available next Monday, and to mark the occasion, this week the previous novel in the series, TRIPL3 CROSS, is on sale for only 99 cents. It's a great deal on this critically acclaimed book!

Now Available: The Bandera Brawl (A Judge Earl Stark Story) - James Reasoner

In Bandera for a trial, circuit-riding Judge Earl Stark volunteers to referee a prizefight between the local champion and a pugilist from out of town. Stark—who was once the shotgun-wielding Big Earl Stark, toughest stagecoach guard in Texas—doesn't realize that this bout is going to lead to gunplay and an explosive showdown that threatens the whole settlement! 

One of award-winning Western author James Reasoner's most popular characters returns in this 6,000 word short story originally published in the boxing anthology FIGHT CARD PRESENTS: BATTLING MAHONEY & OTHER STORIES.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: All Star Adventure Fiction, May 1936

There's almost an all-star line-up of writers to go with that action-packed cover on this issue of ALL STAR ADVENTURE FICTION. Stories by Hugh Pendexter, J. Allan Dunn, Frank Richardson Pierce, Eugene Cunningham, and Anthony M. Rud, among others. Prolific, long-time, well-respected pulpsters, each and every one.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: New Western, November 1948

That is a tough-lookin' hombre. And with stories inside by Peter Dawson, Talmage Powell, William R. Cox, and Tom W. Blackburn, among others, I'll bet this is a pretty good issue of NEW WESTERN, too.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Forgotten Books: Honkytonk Brand - Walker A. Tompkins

"The chips were down, and Banning bought a dance-hall queen to buck the range-hog's ace..."

This short novel first appeared in the Spring 1951 issue of the pulp magazine TWO WESTERN ACTION BOOKS and was later reprinted in a large print edition, which is where I read it. An odd thing about TWO WESTERN ACTION BOOKS is that in the indicia (the tiny print at the bottom of the table of contents page) it's listed as TWO WESTERN ROMANCES. Actually, either title would be appropriate for HONKYTONK BRAND, since there's plenty of action in it, yet it's also unmistakably a Western romance.

Rancher Wes Banning, who operates a small outfit in Washington Territory, has a problem as this book opens. The local cattle baron, Greg Costaine, wants to take over the range that Wes has leased from the government. Costaine plans to push his herd through a small section of land that hasn't had a homestead claim filed on it. Wes can't claim another section himself, but his wife could...if he had a wife. Luckily, he's already engaged to a seamstress in the nearby settlement. All he has to do is talk her into a hurry-up wedding.

Naturally, complications ensue. Wes winds up with a wife, but not the one he intended. Troubles keep piling up on his head, as every time he tries to foil Costaine's plans, the ruthless cattleman has some other trick up his sleeve. And Wes's new bride has dangerous secrets of her own that may doom all his efforts to save his ranch.

As you can tell from that description, if you've read many Westerns you won't find much in HONKYTONK BRAND to surprise you, but that doesn't really matter. Like L.P. Holmes, another favorite of mine, Walker Tompkins produced stories and novels that were very traditional in their plots and characters, yet he spun those yarns with such skill that it's easy to forgive their predictability. In this case, I raced right through HONKYTONK BRAND and enjoyed every page of it for its sure-handed prose and Tompkins' mastery of pacing. For a fan of traditional Westerns, it's pure entertainment and well worth reading.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Free for a Limited Time: Blaze! - Stephen Mertz

   If you've been meaning to read the Blaze! series but haven't gotten around to it yet, right now you can get the first book absolutely free for the Kindle. You can't beat that deal!

J.D. and Kate Blaze are two of the deadliest gunfighters the Old West has ever seen. They also happen to be husband and wife, as passionate in their love for each other as they are in their quest for justice on the violent frontier! 

BLAZE! is the first novel in a thrill-packed, all-new Adult Western series created by bestselling action/adventure author Stephen Mertz. J.D. and Kate find themselves facing a deadly ambush by Apaches, then they're hired to track down a gang of ruthless outlaws led by the beautiful, savage bandit queen Rosa Diablo. It's gun-swift excitement all the way in this gritty tale from Stephen Mertz. Rough Edges Press is proud to present BLAZE!

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: Mr. Moto Takes a Chance

A while back, John Hocking suggested that I watch this movie, and I'm very glad he did. Somehow, I'd never seen any of the Mr. Moto movies, at least that I remember, and I've still never read any of the books by John P. Marquand. I might have to remedy that, too, although I have a hunch the books are considerably different from the movies.

Anyway, like THE MOLE PEOPLE last week, MR. MOTO TAKES A CHANCE is pure pulp adventure. You've got a plucky aviatrix played by Rochelle Hudson (Wotta babe!—although her jodhpurs could have been a little less baggy, if you know what I mean). You've got a couple of American newsreel cameramen, one stalwart and two-fisted (Robert Kent), the other reasonably tough but also serving as the comedy relief (Chick Chandler). You've got an ancient civilization ruled by a sleazy rajah in the jungles of Southeast Asia. You've got an evil high priest and the ruins of an old temple. You've got henchmen, revolutions, sword fights, hidden passages, disguises, double- and triple-crosses, and most important of all, to sort it all out you've got "archeologist" (really intelligence agent) Mr. Moto, played by Peter Lorre.

This one rambles along for a while, but once the action starts it's non-stop, culminating in a huge battle in and around the temple with machine guns. The photography is excellent, and there are quite a few shots that look like they could have been covers on issues of THRILLING ADVENTURES or SPICY ADVENTURES, including one of Hudson tied to a pillar in the temple with her shirt ripped off one shoulder. Hubba-hubba!

Despite what they may sound like, none of these comments are intended as ironic, post-modern snark. You know me. I'm absolutely sincere in my love of this stuff. Watching MR. MOTO TAKES A CHANCE made me feel like I was twelve years old again, sitting cross-legged on the floor in my parents' living room on a Saturday afternoon, watching the movie on Channel 11 on our old black-and-white TV, interspersed with commercials for the drag races at Green Valley Raceway and Monday night wrestling at the North Side Coliseum. I need to watch more Mr. Moto movies. I know I can't retreat completely into adolescence, but more and more, it's nice to visit.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Now Available: Blaze! A Son of the Gun - Stephen Mertz

When Kate and J.D. Blaze set off in pursuit of the Ludlow brothers, as crazed and vicious a trio of owlhoots as they've ever encountered, J.D. never expected to run into the biggest surprise of his adventurous career: a fast-on-the-draw young man who claims to be his son! Not only that, but young Joe Bridge has trouble of his own dogging his trail—a ruthless cattle baron and a gang of bloodthirsty nightriders! Joe just wants to settle down with the beautiful girl he's fallen in love with, but he'll have to fight his way through hell to do it...and who better to help him than the man who just may be his father, gunfighter J.D. Blaze? 

Legendary author Stephen Mertz, creator of the BLAZE! series, returns with another fast-action novel filled with all the thrills and passion of the Old West. Read A SON OF THE GUN and see why BLAZE! is the bestselling all-new Adult Western series.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Sunday Morning Bonus Pulp: Detective Tales, July 1937

I love the dangerous, gun-totin' women in many of Tom Lovell's covers for the Western pulps, and here's proof they showed up in his detective pulp covers, too. This one's a blonde, not a redhead, but still not a gal you'd want to cross. Inside are stories by Norvell Page, Paul Ernst, Wyatt Blassingame, Ray Cummings, Wayne Rogers, and more. Hope they lived up to the promise of that cover.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Saturday Morning Western Pulp: Western Story, January 20, 1940

We start the year off right with another cover from the longest-running Western pulp of all, and a nice action scene to boot. Good contents inside, too, with stories by T.T. Flynn, Harry F. Olmsted, Norman A. Fox, Wilfred McCormick, and Frank Richardson Pierce writing as Seth Ranger. This was a great era for WESTERN STORY.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Forgotten Books: The Ham Reporter - Robert J. Randisi

Robert J. Randisi has long had a fondness for using historical characters in his fiction. Many of them appear in his Westerns, especially the Gunsmith series. But one of the best examples is THE HAM REPORTER, which has one of the most intriguing concepts I've come across: Bat Masterson, who has long since retired from being a lawman and has become a reporter and newspaper columnist in New York City, and his friend and fellow columnist Damon Runyon team up to solve the disappearance and ultimately the murder of another newspaperman. This brings them into conflict with a number of dangerous men who rule various factions of the city's criminal underworld.

Randisi has always known how to spin a fast-moving yarn with plenty of action and dialogue, and he's at the top of his game in THE HAM REPORTER. Masterson and Runyon may not be great detectives, but they're fine protagonists. Randisi does a fine job of working in all the history involved with the plot, explaining in an afterword the parts that really happened and the parts that are fiction. I read this book when it first came out and liked it, but I recently read it again and was even more impressed.

THE HAM REPORTER is available in a brand-new e-book edition as part of an impressive boxed set from Western Fictioneers called LEGENDS OF THE GUN. I don't know if it's Bob Randisi's best book because I haven't read all of them, but it's certainly near the top. If you enjoy historical mysteries, you definitely should check it out. Highly recommended.