Sunday, August 28, 2016
The Shadow In Review (Non-Fiction)
by John Olsen.
In this nicely produced tome, John Olsen has investigated and reviewed all 325 original pulp novels of The Shadow, plus the two short stories, a paperback original novel, a lost Shadow story, and a Shadow turned Batman comic book story, the serial, and the 1994 movie.
This huge work would have fit nicely among ALTUS PRESS Companion books to other series, as basically it provides similar data, though more aimed at reviews. It’s only lacking in not providing scans of the covers, but those can be found on the Internet.
I’ve also read every Shadow novel, and I may not agree with some of the author’s ratings, but we each have our own likes or dislikes, and for the most part he does give valid reasons for the ratings of each novel, and that’s his right. For instance, in one example he gives THE GOLDEN VULTURE, a mishmash by Lester Dent & Gibson a 5-star rating, while dropping TEETH OF THE DRAGON to 4-Stars; I’m sure Gibson had to do a lot of rewrite to Dent’s adventure-style yarn in order to make the novel half way read like The Shadow. While TEETH OF THE DRAGON, on the other hand is a topnotch Shadow set in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and introduces the marvelous Myra Reldon/Ming Dwan, one of best stories in my opinion. I only suggest the reader may consider other ratings. Read the novels, and by all means add this fantastic book to your shelf. Highly recommended.
Author of THE BLACK BAT COMPANION
Monday, August 22, 2016
The Baroness #1: “The Ecstasy Connection” by Paul Kenyon (Donald Moffitt). I normally enjoy a "good" spy novel, but this one was more sleaze than spy fiction. There is an ecstasy drug showing up in America, and the CIA, FBI, and all the other government intelligence agencies want to know where it’s coming from. They contact the mysterious “Key”, the only known contact to the top-secret agent code-named “Coin”, requesting the end of the supply and supplier, as well as the formula. “Key” (John Farnsworth), contacts the beautiful Baroness Penelope St. John-Orisini, model, millionaire, and international playgirl. She brings her well-trained team in: Dan Wharton, ex Green Beret, Tom Sumo, the Japanese electronics whiz, Joe Skytop, the Cherokee unarmed combat expert and ex Greet Beret. Also on the team are Paul & Yvette, black models: Paul is into explosives while Yvette is a costume and disguise expert. Other team members from Penny’s modeling agency, International Models, Inc., are Eric, Fionee, and Inga. When they aren’t modeling, they are fighting terrorists and bad guys around the world.
Although this is listed as issue #1, it was actually written after the second published story, as reference is constantly made to that case. Mr. Sim, a grossly fat man in Hong Kong runs drugs from China to the rest of the world. He is also experimenting with drugs and the brain. Discovering what drugs do to certain areas of the brain, to bring pain or pleasure. He’s found the ecstasy drug that can make a person do one thing, and never want anything else, whether it is food, drink, starvation, or sex. The first hundred pages is little more than drugs and sex, and can be left out of the book for my part, except The Baroness does have her agents do some investigative work, which many authors fail to do. The real story kicks in with the second half of the book when they travel to Hong Kong, where the real action is. Unfortunately, this series appears to be little more than soft porn, as the pace is slowed every few pages by descriptive sex scenes only of interest to boys in their puberty. The author was supposedly a science fiction writer, and you can see this in the many gadgets and science in the story. If the porn had been left out, it could have been a good spy novel. In fact, it appears to be patterned after Modesty Blaise and other female spies. I give the book a 3-Star rating for the action, but really debated a lesser rating due to the extreme use of sex and drugs that were not needed to tell a good story – at least to adults.
Monday, August 15, 2016
The A-Team #2: “Small, But Deadly Wars” by Charles Heath (Ron Renald). This is actually two short novels based on two TV episodes, “A Small And Deadly War” and “Black Day At Bad Rock” (Yeah, I get it, taken from “Bad Day Black Rock” – ha). In the first, Police Inspector Ed Maloney puts the word out that he’s looking for the A-Team. They hear his story before taking the case. Four SWAT officers are in the murder business, taking assignments to kill for pay. Maloney has discovered their secret, but he and his family are threatened if he reports them. He wants the A-Team to get the goods on the men. The second is about a biker gang in the white slavery business. They’ve set up a trailer park with prostitutes, young girls they’ve forced into the game. Amy is working on a story with a private detective, Simon Commonble, to bust the business, and the A-Team is heading to Bad Rock to assist. When they arrive, they find the D.A. has already acted, and the park was raided, and the gang leader arrested and locked up in the local jail, but the bikers escaped. The A-Team runs into the bikers on a narrow road, and B.A. is shot. They rush him to town and find a doctor. She takes care of the injured man, but calls the local sheriff. Hannibal Smith and Face are arrested and locked up also. The sheriff runs their prints, and now Military Intelligence finds out the A-Team is in jail and send Colonel Lynch and MPs to collect them. Meanwhile the bikers are coming to town to rescue their leader. This was a fun book, and read like the old TV series, it was like seeing the episodes again in my mind. I can understand why the fans of men’s action novels passed on this series, there is no sex, profanity, are killing in the book. Just a lot of good action. The only seriously injured is B.A. Well worth the read.