My Blog

Where Heroes reside. Where Good always triumphs over Evil. As a twenty-year Army veteran, I served on the Korean DMZ under fire, as well as Vietnam. I have always been a voracious reader of many genres, and review books for numerous publishers. The main goal of PULP DEN is not only to showcase my books, but also to promote other writers and their books. I review Mystery, Science Fiction, Action and Adventure – and most everything Pulp. I do not read, review, or promote erotica, alternative lifestyle books, horror, vampire, zombies, or werewolves. Warning, if your idea of good writing is an over use of profanity, you will not get a good rating from me. Please keep that in mind. I do not join groups like Linkedin, Grouply, Grammarly, or other communities, so please, no invitations. As a pulp magazine collector, I have complete runs of the major character pulps, and have read them all. I have been in pulp fandom since 1970, though a fan much longer. I publish my reviews on this Blog, Amazon, and in a print magazine I also write for. If anyone would be interested in reviewing any of my books, most can be found on Amazon – see the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. And contact me for pdf copies at fadingshadows40@gmail.com

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Japantown

Japantown (A Thriller)
By Barry Lancet
Simon & Shuster (hardback)
ISBN #978-1451691696
Price $14.83
400 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“Just A Darn Good Thrill-A-Minute Ride.”

Jim Brodie lives in San Francisco where he owns an art shop, specializing in Japanese art and Asian artifacts. He is also half owner of Brodie Security in Tokyo, Japan, his co-owner was his father’s partner in the business, and Jim inherited his share when his father died. Jim Brodie is also a single father raising a six-year-old girl alone since his wife died in a fire.

Then one night his friend, Lieutenant Frank Renna of the San Francisco Police Department called for his assistance at a crime scene in Japantown. At the scene of the brutal murder of a Japanese family and their bodyguard, a scrap of paper with a unique character printed on it is found near the bodies. Lt. Renna hopes Brodie can identify the Japanese character and give them a clue to the killers. The same symbol had been at the scene of Brodie’s wife’s death, and this may prove that she was also murdered. Though he doesn’t know the meaning of the characters, he promises to use his detective agency in Japan to research it.

The next day he is approached by a billionaire Japanese businessman who wants to hire Brodie to investigate the killing also. He explains that the woman murdered in Japantown was his daughter. But Brodie learns the man has other reasons, as well. And before the case concludes, Brodie, his company investigators in Japan, and the San Francisco police will be up against professional killers: The Soga; a private army of assassins for hire of Japanese origin based somewhere overseas.

This was a fun and exciting read, with the action set in both America and Japan. There were a lot of similarities between Jack Seward’s Curt Stone, and Earl Norman’s Burns Bannion, but better written (maybe not the same kind of fun as Burns Bannion, though, but much better written). The Soga group reminded me of CYPHER, the organization of ex-soldiers who were also an army of hired assassins The Shadow put out of business in that series. The difference being, CYPHER was an organization made up of trained soldiers, Soga is made up of martial arts experts from all walks of life. But the ideals are the same. This thrill-a-minute action will keep the reader turning the pages. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson

Detective Mystery Stories

Friday, February 27, 2015

Tunnel Through Space


“Tunnel Through Space” by Tom Johnson. Long out of print. Originally published by NTD, but no longer available on the market. Sucked into a Black Hole, their cargo ship is spit out at the edge of the universe. Crashing on a primitive planet in a binary star system, Captain Lamont Rogers and his copilot, Lieutenant Marsha Tomlison are separated by hundreds of miles in a savage jungle on an alien world, where they must survive deadly peril while attempting to reunite. Each must deal with personal dangers in their own way, knowing they can never return to their home world. Copies are available from Tom for $16.50, plus postage, while they last.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Olive U

An aging Baptist preacher in small-town Kansas. The members of a band who play contemporary Christian music in Los Angeles. Beyond their love for the Lord Jesus and His people, they have only their struggles with failure and success in common—until tragedy brings them together on Christmas Eve. When Paul Knight joins the members of Olive U, the group instantly jumps from local cover band to sought-after opener at concerts across the nation. The problem is Paul may not know the Lord as well as he claims. After a tornado of historic proportions rips through Kansas, an elderly Baptist preacher, Ron Best, faces challenges to his doctrinal beliefs and failure after failure in his ministry. But the Holy Spirit keeps pushing him forward. Olive U is the story of how God brings these men together for Christmas Eve on the wind-swept Kansas Plains.

Olive U (Christian Literature)
By David L. Johnston
Prayer And Promises Publication
BOONOEGWFA
Price $2.99 Kindle
175 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“A Witness For Christians And Non-Believers Alike.”

On a spring day in Ruth Junction, Kansas, an F-5 tornado devastates the nearby community, killing many along its path of terror and destruction. A father is ripped from his tractor, the child pulled from its mother’s arms, and then both whirled into the maelstrom. The baby survives, but dies in the hospital. Pastor Ron Best of the Ruth Junction Baptist Church was the one who found the baby while assisting in the search of the rubble, and feels connected to the baby and community. His home and church was spared, and he wonders why.

In California, Eli Garcia, lead singer for the Olive U Christian Rock Band feels his group is struggling. They play weddings and parties, but are not achieving much as musicians. Yet they pray and worship God, and keep his commandments as best they can. At a wedding one night, while taking a break, a heavyset man steps up to the mick to sing a special for the wedding couple, and his heavenly voice pulls the Olive U members back to listen. The singer has been in church all his life, and studied theology and music in college. Eli hires him as lead singer, only to learn later that he has doubts the man is saved.

This well written novel is a strong witness for both Christians and non-believers, as Christians have doubts at times about the true meaning of the Word, and non-believers who may not be looking for Christ. It shows that we all struggle with our faith at times, but if we turn our doubts over to the Lord, He will show us the way, and put a burden on the non-believer’s heart. The reader experiences a real tornado, not some imaginative fantasy event. Told in tragedy and sermon, the story gives insight into the Word, and leads us all on a clear path to salvation. This is a Christian book that we can read without shame. Highly recommended for everyone.

Tom Johnson

Author of The Soul Stealers

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Venetia

In the twelfth century AD, Venice is little more than an agglomeration of small islands snatched from the muddy tides. The magnificent city-lagoon of Venice, the rich and powerful Serene Republic, is yet to be born. Here, in this northern backwater, a group of artisans have proven themselves to be unrivalled in an art form that produces works of such astounding beauty that many consider it mystical in nature and think its practitioners possessed of otherworldly gifts: glassmaking. Presciently aware of the power they wield and the role they will play in the Venice of the future, the Venetian glassmakers inhabit a world of esoteric practices and secret knowledge that they protect at all costs.

Into this world steps Edgardo D’Arduino, a cleric and a professional copyist. Edgardo’s eyesight has begun to waver—a curse for a man who makes his living copying sacred texts. But he has heard stories, perhaps legends, that in Venice, city of glassmakers, there exists a stone, the “lapides ad legendum,” that can restore one’s sight. However, finding men who have knowledge of this wondrous stone proves almost impossible. After much searching, Edgardo meets a mysterious man who offers him a deal: he will lead him to the makers of the lapides ad legendum in exchange for Edgardo’s stealing a secret Arabic scientific text that is kept in the abbey where Edgardo lodges. When a series of horrific crimes shakes the cloistered world of the glassmakers, Edgardo realizes that there is much more at stake that his faltering eyesight.

Venetia (Historical Mystery)
“A Novel of Venice”
By Roberto Tiranoschi
Europa Editions
288 Pages
$17.00
Rating 5-stars

Edgardo, a young cleric, deformed at birth, and now going blind seeks a miracle. A miracle to restore his eyesight in order to copy great manuscripts. It’s the early Twelfth Century, and the church refuses to accept anything new, believing it will not be from God. Yet there is a rumor that manuscripts exist in the archives of a church library that might hold the key to the discovery of sight once more. Edgardo travels to Venice where glassmakers seek great discoveries in their field of art also.

However, Edgardo discovers something else is going on when he arrives. Red-algae is filling the lagoon, and babies and animals are born deformed. To add to the mystery, someone is killing glassmaker apprentices, removing their eyes and replacing the eyes with colored glass marbles. And the cleric falls in love with a slave, which will lead him away from the church.

Although the story moves slow the reader is pulled into the deep mystery, and the characters keep you turning the pages. The historical aspect of early glass making is done in an interesting way, and not at all distracting from the flow of the story; in fact it is embedded into the mystery in a way that adds purpose to the over all story telling. This may not be for readers of fast action, but fans of mystery lovers will find it a good read, as well as having a strong twist at the end. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson
Detective Mystery Stories



Sunday, February 22, 2015

Faith Seekers

She raised her head when she felt the warmth. A violet cloud poured into her hands and over her head. He spoke like water falling into a deep pool. “The sapling belongs to me.”
When Hannah’s family loses their home, she drops out of college and joins them as they take their RV on a journey through fractured America. Struggling with her loss of identity, she attempts to embrace her new life as a nomad until a California campground unveils a nightmare that only she can see. She questions her sanity as her family continues on their journey, and her unearthly visions increase.
Faith Seekers (Young Adult Christian Fiction)
By Sherry Rossman
ASIN #BOOQVY62OG
Price $2.99
216 Pages
Rating 3-Stars

“Pure Fantasy”

Hannah’s architect father loses his job, and the family loses their money and home. All that’s left to them is their gas-guzzling RV, which they load up and head for the flea market circuit. Hannah, mom, dad, and brother Ian consider themselves traveling hobos. Her mom, Rose, sews quilts while Hannah paints. What they sell at the flea markets puts gas in the RV, and food in their belly. But on the road, they run into evil. The devil has plans for Hannah.

Hannah is gifted with Sight. She sees things that are going to happen, and recognizes the battle between good and evil. Called a prophet by her inner circle, she knows the coming war will be terrible, and it’s all around the flea markets they go to. Satan has plans to destroy America with a revolution, using the people found around the flea markets, and Hannah has met God, the Great I Am, in the body of an elk. To protect her from the evil, she has an elk tattooed on her back. Her boyfriend has a Cross tattooed on his chest to protect him. His uncle has an old coat that is filled with righteous power, as well.

God commanded that we make no image of Him, but man consistently builds images to worship, from the golden calf to cats, birds, and whatever else man wants to put God into. This would have been a good story, I think, if the author had just used evil people in the story, and left God, the devil, and his demons out of the plot. The author used flowery language, but the writing was awkward throughout. Here’s a sample, “She backed away from him, stood up and paused to gather her faith.” Seems to me she should have “stood up” first. Whenever the story starts to drag, the author has Hannah run into the woods. Of course, the devil-man is waiting for her. The reader knows exactly what is going to happen. I guess her Sight doesn’t work all the time. And God and his angels are elks? And bowing to an elk, and worshipping images? I still can’t understand why Christians would mar their bodies with tattoos. I never really felt the hunger in the characters, as they seemed to always have food, never feeling the pain of an empty belly. The so-called final battle scene is a real mess. Shadowy demons. Tornados. People and trees blown hither and yon, yet only one person dies. It’s hard to keep up with everyone, and understand what is really going on. The scenes seemed to get away from the author, and half the time I was wondering what was happening. I’m sure the author had good intentions with the story, but as a Christian I was completely shocked by most of the imagery. When Hannah gets on her knees to worship an elk, I almost quit reading this book. Yes, she sees the Great I Am in the image of the elk, but this seemed too much like idol worshipping. As a Christian I was disgusted with the book. The only way I could continue was to read it purely as a fantasy novel, and at that it only rates a 3-Star. I can’t recommend this as a Christian work, but fantasy readers may find it appealing.

Tom Johnson
Author of The Soul Stealers

Excerpt

The Trailer smelled like last night’s onions and morning breath. Hannah cracked the window and coiled her dark hair away from her face. Her dad’s snores from behind the sliding door were getting softer—he and Mom would be awake soon. she glanced at her brother, still asleep in the bed above hers. she needed to leave before he woke. Ian didn’t need to come this time.
The rolled-up mat sat between the door and kitchen cupboard, waiting to resume its post in the ever- revolving landscapes of America. she grabbed it and slid outside into fresh air. Welcome, it said, in large black letters. Only two months old, it looked like it had seen a lifetime—a lifetime of sun and the treading of unsettled feet. Hannah placed a heavy rock on either side to keep the edges from curling. 
Her mother was convinced no home was complete without that offer, even for the simplest of visitors.
Hannah stepped onto a tree-lined trail. The textbook under her arm was the last one she had left. American history. Although her dad considered it the keystone of the future, Hannah found no solutions within the pages. As the trail faded into wilderness, she found a tree scorched to death. At its blackened base, Hannah dug a hole and laid the book to rest. Damp soil invaded her nails as she scattered the last of it on top of her old college book.
The ground cradled her sorrow when she stretched out beside the new grave and searched the heavens above the arms of the forest. The ache in her chest rose to meet her tears as they slid into the earth. How do I find answers from a silent God?
A sudden whisper danced from branch to branch and flowed around her for a moment. Perhaps the forest still remembered the earliest inhabitants that took less and lived more freely. Or maybe it was God’s voice, indecipherable, like always.
Noises of a waking camp interrupted her peace. she hungered for solitude like a woman craves chocolate. she searched the ground until she found the path that led to the shore. Hannah quickened her pace when salty air joined the trees. Starfish accented the rocks like God had decorated, but Hannah didn’t want to sketch this time—she wanted to run until her legs shook.
The wind loosened her hair, whipping it into tangles. she pumped her legs until the sand began to dissolve beneath her feet and then faced the waves, returning their roar. When she ran out of breath, she collapsed into the sand.
Hannah hugged her knees and caught sight of her hands. These aren’t nails, these are claws. The jagged edges on her fingers framed the dirt from the burial of books and dreams that had been her life over the past few months. Up until her family had lost everything, Hannah had kept her nails in perfect condition—a French manicure one month, custom airbrushing the next. If my friends could see me now, they wouldn’t recognize the hobo I’ve become.