Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Red Rider of Smoky Range

“The Red Rider of Smokey Range” by William Colt MacDonald. John Demming, owner of the Rocking D Ranch is at odds with his son, Jeff. The boy doesn’t get along with his foreman, Quinn Barker, and thinks the foreman is rustlings their cattle. Figuring it’s time to sell the ranch, he leaves his son out of the deal, and sells to Barker. However, the foreman is a crook and plans on the murder of the senior Demming, and getting the money back. Having his gunman set up an ambush on the trail during a heavy rainstorm. That night there is a mudslide and the crime scene is covered up, but a body is found crushed by rock, the only thing recognizable are the clothes, and they belonged to John Demming. Also that night a man wearing all red robs Barker, taking the sales receipt for the ranch, and thus was born the Red Rider.
He was dressed all in red, with a long cloak of the same color flowing from his shoulders. A red mask covered his face, and a pair of holsters were on his hip with twin Colt .45s.  The first sighting, the man was merely wearing red underwear, and had wrapped a red bandana around his face, but now he wears a western suit of red, with a red facemask and Mexican style sombrero of red. He also issues a mocking laugh. No one knows his identity, but everyone thinks he’s Jeff Demming in disguise, warring against the man who stole the ranch and murdered his father. Jeff does team up with Three-Star, a rangy red-head and Hefty, both cowpokes from the Rocking D, as well as another rancher and Senor Medaro, thought to be a bandit. Cita, Medaro’s daughter is Jeff’s love interest.

This story originated in the western pulp magazines five years before The Red Ryder comic book appeared. And though the Red Ryder was actually based on another character from 1938, The Red Rider of Smoky Range appeared in 1935. The story was typical from that period, and may have been aimed at the masked rider mystery men of the pulps, modeled after Johnston McCulley’s many costumed characters. Actually, The Red Rider’s costume is designed by a Mexican after the red underwear is dropped for a real costume. Overall, an interesting character, and the secret identity had me fooled till the very end. A hint, it wasn’t Jeff Demming. Now read the story and find out who The Red Rider really was.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Dying Space

The Destroyer #47: “Dying Space” by Warren Murphy (Molly Cockran). Mr. Gordons is back. A Russian spy enters a secret lab to steal a super computer at UCLA. He can’t escape with it openly, so places in next to the trash bin for pick up the next day. That night the garbage truck arrives early and carts the LC 111 computer to the trash dump. It’s also the location where the remains of the robot, Mr. Gordons were left. Gordons is a survival robot and immediately incorporates its remains into the super computer and they assimilate. Mr. Gordons doesn’t have all his memory yet, but knows where LC 111 originated, and goes there to find the professor in charge. Chium and Remo are sent to find the missing computer, plus the Russian spy is trying to find it. Thinking the computer has been taken to Russia, the Remo and Chiun head there, and so do Mr. Gordons and the professor. This was a fun little story, and a fast read.

Sunday, June 4, 2017


Charles Hood #1: “Hammerhead” by James Mayo. Hood’s cover is an art dealer with many other talents. He works for a British intelligence group known as the Circle. Hood had dealt with Espiritu Lobar before in his capacity as art dealer, and when the Circle believes the man is running a spy organization, they send Hood to meet with him on the pretense of selling more art. Lobar has the nickname Hammerhead because of his similarity to sharks by the same name, and if Hood isn’t careful, he could be eaten.  Lobar is after much more than just spying this time. He has a man working for him that is a genius mimic, who can imitate anyone, and Lobar has his eye on the British Ambassador, Sir Richard Calvert. The story moved slowly but when there was action, it was fast, and good. There just wasn’t enough of it. Over all it was too slow, and that was a negative. The curious tone of this, seeing as it was a men’s action novel in the spy genre, was the lack of sex. There were some sexy scenes, but no sex. Usually our hero is jumping into bed every chapter, if not every few pages, but not so with Charles Hood. In fact, at one point a beautiful girl slips him an erotic pill, more commonly known as Spanish fly, but he walks out on her. In another case a woman takes him to her room to seduce him, but again, he begs off and leaves her in a state. Now I’m one who believes sex in books slows the pace down, so I don’t mind the lack of sex in a story, but I think this may be why the books never truly caught on with spy fans.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Terror In Rio

The Private Army of Colonel Tobin #2: “Terror In Rio” by Alan Caillou. Brazil has hired Colonel Matthew Tobin’s private army to do what they haven’t been able to do, put a stop to Juan Xira’s revolution. The revolution has now become army size with tens of thousands of men and women, and their tactics are those of terrorists. Assassinations; hit and run murders, and deadly ambushes. Their own military is ineffective. Colonel Tobin brings in 120 fighting men, using military tactics capable to stopping Xira’s army of killers. Tobin’s command consist of Major Paul Tobin (the colonel’s son), Pamela Charles (aide de camp), Betty de Haas (maps), Major Rick Meyers, Major Bramble, and Captain Duyvel. Considered a men’s action novel, there is a difference. Most men’s action novels are primarily about sex and mass killing. Colonel Tobin is more military tactic, and well-written adventure, without the need of mass killing and sexual encounters every few pages. In other words, this series is more professional than mere mindless action we usually get in these series.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Blood of Strangers

Dirty Harry #10: “The Blood of Strangers” by Dane Hartman (Unknown). The Libyan minister, Gamal Abd’el Keyyim, is visiting L.A., where he plans to donate money to the university. Harry is sent from San Francisco to help guard him, and actually saves his life when a man in the audience tried to kill the minister. Now Keyyim wants Harry to accompany him to Beirut as an extra guard. In the meantime, KCVO news anchor, Ellie Winston, is following Harry to get a scoop for the news. Behind it all is a group of terrorists. In Beirut things go bad, and they are caught between crossfire at a warehouse where the minister is buying weapons from an international dealer, who may be a CIA agent. I think this was one of the worst plots in the Dirty Harry series. And the action was just as goofy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Real Cool Killers

Grave Digger Jones & Coffin Ed Johnson #2: “The Real Cool Killers” by Chester Hines. To be a black cop in Harlem, you have to be big, tough, and carry a big shiny gun with a long barrel. Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson are the best. “If you don’t answer my questions, I’ll drag you under the bridge and pistol whip you. If you try to run I’ll shoot you in the back of the head.” No one messes with these two, and they get results. In this case, a white man was in a Harlem bar when a black man goes after him with a knife. The bartender tries to stop him, but is cut, so grabs an ax under the counter and chops the knife arm off, while the white man runs from the bar. But outside another black man wants to have some fun with him, and pulls a blank pistol and starts firing blanks at him. The white man runs for his life with the black man running behind him, as a crowd gathers. When the white man falls, and the police respond, its discovered that he is dead from a bullet wound. They arrest the black man with the gun, but know he didn’t kill the white man with blanks. But who did. The police set up command at the scene and police surround the neighborhood and Grave Digger is sent off to investigate. Coffin Ed has been suspended because he killed a gang member at the scene when the teenager threw perfume in his face. Coffin Ed Johnson (called the Monster by locals) has scars on his face from acid and thought he was being hit with acid again, and shot in self-defense.

Grave Digger Jones solves the case within a few hours, and never leaves the neighborhood, but the story was very good. The white man was a pervert. He liked young school age black girls, and used a whip on them. But he paid them one hundred dollars for his fun. The man in the bar was the father of the girl. The man arrested for the murder was the leader of the black gang, The Cool Moslems – but there is a twist here that I won’t mention. The book was published in 1959, and the author is a black man familiar with the black community and their problems, so his story is good from that angle also. One thing, though, this was written before the pc police got involved with literature, so it is full of racially expletives, and the “n” word is used quite often. Other than that, I found the story enjoyable and can recommend it to mystery lovers. You just have to understand the time it was written. I read all of the Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson mysteries when they first came out, but lost them over the years. It was fun finding this one again. It is an interesting mystery.