Friday, June 23, 2017
The Enforcer #2: “Calling Doctor Kill” by Andrew Sugar. Jason, a man dying from cancer had been saved with a clone’s body, but the body is only good for three months, so he needs a new body regularly to stay alive. The Institute provides that body, but Jason must be their Enforcer to earn each one. In this current story, Rosegold, the scientist that discovered the cloning process, has been kidnapped by the Syndicate and locked away in an escape proof asylum run by Doctor Guider. This time Jason’s new body is a clone of Doctor Douglas, a pathologist, who has been hired for the asylum. That will get him in, but how will Jason get out with Rosegold? Actually, not a bad plot, but there’s really not much to this adventure. The author is a little too winded in this yarn, and it could have used more action. But it was a fast read, and easily killed a couple of afternoons.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
“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
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.